Whether we’re recording a commercial, a short YouTube clip or perhaps preparing to work on a film or television set, there are a few indispensable elements we need to take into account. The smooth transitions between scenes as we work, streamlining the whole process, assigning tasks to definite roles or securing the recorded footage for editing are all just a few key elements of every clip production. We have prepared concise guidelines for everyone who would like to create visual material for commercial or personal reasons. Want to know how to properly prepare a shooting day? Read our article.
Prepare a Shooting Day – table of contents:
- The basis for starting the recording
- Production department
- Director’s department
- Camera and photography
- Sound production
- Make-up and scenography departments
- Who else is responsible for the final recording?
- Summary – how to align the work of all departments
The basis for starting the recording
It all starts with the script – the text determines the appearance of the characters in our clip, the scenery, and the mood that will prevail. It also enables you to properly prepare a plan of work at subsequent stages of production. Then the director can make final corrections to the script so it’s coherent and in line with his vision.
Screenplay and storyboard – these are extremely important elements, especially in large feature projects. They form a blueprint for the director and cinematographer to create images resembling how the shots will look during the shooting. Others involved in the project can prepare props, set design, and those responsible for post-production and special effects can work on their part, all thanks to a well-prepared screenplay and storyboard. The director of photography sketches a storyboard and looks for the locations to shoot. When the script is ready and the director has chosen a cast, a screenplay and a storyboard. What comes next?
Calendar – a general production plan that is later converted into what is called a CALL SHEET, or otherwise known as the Work Plan for the day. This document is essential for each department, cast and producer. It helps to see the work schedule for a given period, but also the detailed daily plan to facilitate the preparation of the entire team.
People on set
Let’s go back to who is on set in general and what they are responsible for. The people working on the film can be divided into a few main departments.
This department is made up of people who do most of the pre-production and then make sure that the actual production goes according to plan and without problems.
- Producer – this is the person to whom comes a director or screenwriter who wants to create a new project. They deal with the creation of the crew (which we will get to in a moment) and “look” for money, for example in the PISF (National Institute of Film Art), but also among potential sponsors.
- Production manager– is the most important person in the production department after the producer. They establish such things as budgets for individual members of the crew, permits for shooting, prepares contracts with their assistant, time of shooting included in the calendar and all the smallest details that allow for smooth work without any slip-ups.
- Plan Manager – based on the calendar and especially the work plan, the plan manager coordinates the work of the entire team. Sounds easy? It’s not.
Apart from the fact that the crew may count up to several dozen people or even more, the set manager has to organize each shooting day. They appear on the set first, or even a day before, to prepare for possible problems, such as neighboring construction sites during the outdoor shooting, lack of parking spaces, or difficult entrance to the shooting area. In addition, the CAMP should be prepared, i.e. the place where catering vehicles, dressing rooms or power generators will be directed.
The manager is responsible for ensuring that everything runs according to plan, mitigates potential conflicts and leads to the successful implementation of the scenes scheduled for the day.
- 2nd director
The person responsible for the artistic vision of the project. It is important that he can focus on his work directly, without being distracted by other things that are happening on the set. Depending on his experience, he can allow himself more or less freedom to bend the script.
The scheduling support for director is the 2nd director, who takes care of smaller matters such as answering questions from episodes, preparing extras, generally supports the director by drawing attention to himself, and thus allows him to concentrate fully on the execution of his work.
A character found on television productions, feature films and commercials. He makes sure that the post-production process maintains the continuity of the scenery, and also pays attention to such details as holding objects in the same hand. This role is substantial for many reasons, one of which is avoiding slip-ups that can hamper film’s reception and reputation.
Camera and photography
Right after the director comes the director of photography. They compose the story with appropriately chosen frames and lighting and describe exactly where the cameras will be. Most often you can meet them in the director’s room at the previews. The director of cinematography, as they are also called, are people with great experience in the camera and lighting.
In addition, the photo division is made up of people such as:
- Seamstress or camera operator – is in close contact with the cinematographer. Their task is to realize the picture according to the arrangements and vision of the director of the picture;
- Focus puller is the person who is responsible for what object or person the image will be sharpened on. He or she agrees on this with the cinematographer. This requires great precision and concentration.
- Camera assistant – takes general care of the camera and the equipment directly related to it. They make sure that the cards are formatted, the batteries are always charged, sets the parameters set and lenses and filters changed. Depending on the size and sophistication of the production, they may also act as a sharpener.
- Lighting engineer (or gaffer) – determines with the director of the image what lighting units to use in the implementation of the scene. Together with his team (called skylights) prepares the light, as well as the elements that send natural light, which by its variability is not used in large productions.
Here, the number of people is quite limited, and their job comes down to delivering dialogue at the highest possible level and catching unwanted sounds such as a shoe rustling, a phone vibrating in your pocket, or a plane flying overhead.
On large sets, the production designer stays in the director’s room and the rest of the work is done by an assistant (otherwise known as a microphone technician), who takes care of the best possible placement of the micro ports on the clothes or body of the performers and sticks during the shots in close cooperation with the seamstress so that he can be as close as possible to the person playing, but remain invisible in the frame.
On smaller sets, the filmmaker occupies both functions outlined above.
Make-up and scenography departments
- Characters – are often underestimated, and in practice turn out to be extremely important, because it is thanks to them that we see the final appearance of the characters. Characterization is not limited to popular powdering but is several indispensable elements that build the reality of the character. Thanks to them, the face of actors does not reflect the light, and in other cases, we are able to believe that they were beaten or refused to live.
- Costumes – this division is shared by various people, although each is responsible for the final result. The main costume designer, together with the director, creates collections for the entire cast, and then before the start of the shooting, costume fittings and corrections are made. On the set, in turn, they are responsible for maintaining the costumes in impeccable condition during the shooting, they hide sweat stains and take care of the cleanliness and neatness of the clothes, i.e. washing, drying and ironing.
- Production designer – a person who is responsible for how much we can believe in the reality of the scenery and props used on the set. They construct scenery, create the necessary props according to the vision of the director. You can also find an interior decorator especially when the objects appearing in the scenes are unusual.
Who else is responsible for the final recording?
In the end – a person not always appreciated on film sets, who has a special role of preparing everything that was planned by the set manager and the production designer. Often moves in a car with a large capacity in which you can find almost everything. Takes care of repairing all technical failures. He is usually equipped with the necessary tools, tapes and everything that will help to improve the work of other divisions.
Of course, let’s not forget about the people who are crucial to the creation of the film – the actors.
Each of the risers consists of at least several people. During the shoot, all the risers are in constant radio communication and also each riser has its own individual channel.
The process of pre-production, production and post-production is an extremely complicated machine that will work smoothly only if we prepare for shooting in a solid way with attention to the smallest details. The production department works hard to make sure that the set crew has the highest possible comfort of work and avoids any problems. Everything is based on cooperation, mutual respect and communication.
Summary – how to align the work of all departments
Working on feature films, television productions, or commercials means at least a 12-hour work schedule, and for people like set managers, camera assistants, and set supervisors, it means extra hours before shooting begins and after the last scene scheduled for the day.
It is crucial to prepare for the project from the production side in all respects, the shooting schedule and the sequence of recordings are the basis of a well-produced material. Additional people on set, sometimes are necessary and cutting costs negatively affects the entire process of shooting.
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