How to Shoot Quality Video When Time Is Short

Working with patients at St. Jude means working around their schedules. The patients and their families are extremely generous to donate their time to be on camera for various video projects and our department has to be respectful of their needs. So, when it comes to shooting with patients, we have to plan accordingly. Of course, for those working in video production, this is not an unusual situation. We all need to capture high-end, professional footage while staying on schedule.

So, how can you capture cinematic imagery when time is of the essence? 

  1. Identify a visual style for the piece. Do some research and look for work that inspires you. Look for a particular tone, mood, color palette, etc. that fits the story you want to tell. Establish that up front so you, the producer, and your crew know exactly the kind of look you're going for.
  2. Storyboard. Write out an extensive shot list and sketch out a few storyboards. Always write more than what you think you can shoot. It never hurts to have additional shots ready to go if you find out that you have more time.
  3. Rehearse. Don't just show up the day of the shoot and try to figure things out. Take time a few days before the shoot to break out the camera and the lights and set everything up. Test out your composition, your camera moves, and your lighting scheme. Identify potential problem areas that could slow you up on the day of the shoot and try to fix them.
  4. Shoot the complicated set-ups first. Once you have those knocked out, you can move on to grab your pick ups and other simple shots. If you start your day by shooting all the easy stuff first, you may find that you don't have time on the back end to set up and shoot scenes that are more involved.
  5. Have a Plan "B." It's important to have a back-up strategy in place, in case you find yourself with even less time than you originally thought. Video production is often fluid. Things change and evolve, even at the last minute.

Even with this strategy, your shoot will not be perfect. There will always be shots you couldn't get, because of time constraints. However, if you prepare and prioritize, you can capture what you need to tell a good story.