How I Saved Thousands of Dollars in On Location Video Production!
How times have changed – in the past years, I worked with a clunky video camera (starting with expensive digital video tapes and then later with a new camera with a built in harddrive). But yesterday, I had an opportunity to shoot some digital HD video for a client project using my Apple iPhone 5s, iPad and MacBook Pro. Here is how I did it!
My project was simple. Setup a video shoot for a client looking at some training for staff and education for clients. With my iPhone 5s, I decided to shoot the entire video with my phone. That would deliver HD 1080p high resolution, 30 frames a second…it was all I really needed.
For shooting the video, I chose to use the software app FilmicPro, as it allowed me to configure and set the Auto Exposure Lock (generating excellent lighting) and Auto Lock on the focus. Normally with a regular camera app, you cannot set these separately.
At this stage I needed to find a way to easily connect my iPhone with my laptop so I could preview video quickly and didn’t require cables. The secret – I purchased the downloadable PhotoSync app. This app (available on the App Store) allowed me to send images and video between my iPhone 5s, iPad and MacBook Pro. In seconds, files were flying back and forth and I was able to critique the lighting and work closely with my client as I was filming.
In addition to the phone and laptop, I brought along my 4th generation Apple iPad and using an app called “Telepromter”, I transfer my script that I had written and shooting notes, from my laptop to my iPad and then edited the spacing, font sizes, and colors, creating a functional Teleprompter that will scroll the dialog visually to my client. We tested the location and decided that the iPad could be positioned beside the camera (facing the client) on the left side. It worked well and it also allowed me to hand the iPad to the client for practice while I setup the shoot and lighting equipment earlier.
I brought along a single large white boxlight on a 6 foot telescoping stand. It included a white diffuser and was part of a three light portable studio I had purchased (at 70% off plus FREE shipping on Ebay). I generated a nice white fill light for one side of my clients face while natural sunlight on the opposite streamed in from the large office windows, but diffused through a white solid window blind.
For recording higher quality audio, I set up a RÖDE Microphone attached to my clients lapel and wires discreetly tucked under the desk direct to my camera. The cable I used included a monitoring plug that I could use with headphones for volume levels.
The iPhone 5s itself was mounted on a small 3 leg tripod with a flexible, adjusting legs that bent and could be moved into any position. I clamped the mini tripod onto my full size photography tripod. The rubberized spring mounted attachment clip made adjusting the iPhone easy and facilitating quick removal as needed. With remarkably simple access to the screen.
The video shoot went well and after 2-3 short video clips, I could send the video samples to my laptop sitting on the desk beside the client. Together we would review the videos and critique. This made for an engaging meeting / film shoot.
Next steps…. processing / cleaning up the audio in Adobe Auditions (an excellent audio editor that I pay monthly for now) and then importing sound and video into Telestream’s ScreenFlow 4.5 (my favorite editing program for quick and easy assembly of my videos). With full customization and transitions, I can produce a professional looking client video in a very short time.
My final presentation will also include high quality images and stock video clips (purchased online from companies like iStockVideo) as well as effects (Adobe After Effects files). All purchased for a reasonable low cost fee on my laptop.
While on this particular video shoot, I was able to utilize the local office wireless (encrypted). I could have turned on my “personal hotspot” on my iPhone and created an Internet / wireless connection where their was none. This gives me the ability to work on a project almost anywhere.
Another great option was my backpack I carried most of the equipment in. It includes a 10W solar panel on the back of my pack. Inside one of the packs inside pockets is a storage battery. I was able to charge the battery packs on my phone, and tablet fully while working on this video shoot.
What is so cool about this entire process was this was so easy to setup, generated quality lighting and recorded audio. Easily tweaked and adjusted in software programs like Adobe Audition, before sending to ScreenFlow for final assembly.
There is no question I could have used Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro….but I really didn’t need that level of sophistication for this project. For individuals on a budget, saving money on software is comforting. The results look great and the clients are happy.
Another strength of my system was my client was very comfortable as we worked on this video together. She particularily liked the TelePrompter which allowed her not to panic over forgetting her words and getting confused. Many clients are NOT professional actors or actresses so they don’t memorize reams of text. The TelePromter app made it all happen!
If you think about the impact of digital video, the low costs to get into an entry level system, its no wonder people are moving in droves to set out and create HD quality videos using their phones or tablets. Apple has made it so damn easy and affordable to get GREAT results. I am now giving my clients higher end results for a fraction of the cost! A video shoot like this could easily run $3000 to $5000 plus staff costs. My price will come in a fifth of that.
If you are interested in making videos or more stories and tips / tricks like this post, please take few minutes to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an update on more topics as I post them online.