How to prepare a video shoot (pre-production)?

How to prepare a video shoot (pre-production)?

So you want to prepare a video shoot but you don’t know where to start? You’ve already made videos but want to learn some new tips to improve? That’s fine, let’s get to the point.

The pre-production phase of your video is the most important before you can move on to the production stage easily and without wasting any time. The preparation of a video shoot is more or less complicated depending on your objective (a feature film, a short film, a video for social networks, etc) and will be different depending on this goal. But in all cases, it is essential and should not be neglected.

Video shooting: the idea, the subject and the writing

For any type of video, whether it’s a vlog, a short or feature film, a promotional video, a documentary or any other type of video, it’s all about having an idea. Without any first idea, the video will probably not interest anyone.

So you have to identify your subject and your story before you go out to shoot anything.

  • What do I want to tell?
  • How do I wish to tell it?

You have to be strategic in your choices in order to prepare a video shoot according to its style.

But on the other hand, in all cases, it is necessary to build a video with a structure, the best known being the structure of the three acts (beginning, middle and end).

Pre-production of a film

You have the idea, the subject, now you have to write. Indeed, a short or feature film mainly requires a perfect film script. You can write this one if you want or you can work with a screenwriter. The film script is an art in itself, its writing is nothing like a novel or a play and requires very special knowledge and techniques (I will talk about it in more details in my screenwriting category, dedicated to this art).

Pre-production for a vlog

Most often when you vlog, you have to be ready to improvise. BUT that doesn’t prevent you from planning your video! On the contrary, it’s better to do that too.

e.g.: You are going to spend the weekend with friends, you have a global idea of what activities you are going to do, but being in real life, you have no idea of the future and therefore of how your weekend is going to go.

So how do you do it? Well, have an idea of what you want to tell, an idea of your subject (which may be totally different from what you’re doing) and write down, before you even leave for the weekend, a list of the points you want to address. This way, throughout the events that are taking place, you will know where you are and what you want to tell in your video.

In a vlog, you have to take into account that the rhythm is not the same as for a movie (no matter what type of movie) and this rhythm can quickly be broken. To keep it up, it is interesting to add B-rolls that are in line with the subject of your video. Also, to keep the audience interested, you need to add value whether it is through education or entertainment, and even both!

Preparing your video shoot: from words to images

Once you have prepared the previous step, identified your topic and story, it is time to move onto the second part: the preparation for the video. You can do the following for all types of videos, from vlog (for the parts you’ve prepared, not those that will be improvised) to feature film.

The second part is the making of a storyboard. This is the part that worries me, I know, I went through it too! 😉 Indeed, how to make a storyboard when you can’t draw?!? 😱

Well there is a second technique that can be used in addition to a storyboard or without it, it’s the shotlist. In it you detail the shots you want to shoot with the technical specifications, but also a visual description of the shot so that your collaborators understand what you want to shoot. If you are alone, it will be easier, write in a way that you understand yourself! 😉

For the storyboard as well as for the shotlist, you have to take each scene from its script (if you do have a script) and break it down into shots. The shots will be broken down into angles, movements and actions in order to create the story and show what should happen on screen in a clear and simple way so that all your team (even two) understand what should be filmed.

To learn more about storyboarding there are a few interesting books :

As for the shot list, you can download the template I prepared.

It is when you make the storyboard or the shotlist that you will also think about the different angles and movements for your shots and the transitions between them as well as the music and the general mood of the film. If knowing how to improvise is a good thing, knowing how you want to edit your video will be of important help during the shoot.

Video is a whole thing: knowing how to act is a plus for scriptwriting and knowing how to edit helps a lot when making a film.

Find the locations for your video shoot

When looking for locations to shoot your video, try to be original, even if you choose locations that have been seen tons of times in lots of different videos and movies. That is to say, even if you choose a well-known place, put it forward from a different angle, with your personal point of view, without trying to be like everyone else.

Be careful, it is also possible, depending on the location, that you may have to ask for permission to film your movie. Either to the owners of the place, to the managers if you want to shoot in supermarkets or restaurants for example and also to your city hall.

When you have your locations, take some time to “discover them”, to find out at what time of the day it is more crowded because maybe you need to have people in the background or not, and watch out for the sun’s path as well. Golden Hour (the time when the sun is low in the morning and evening and the light is golden) in the city can result in a lot of shade if you have buildings, on the other hand in nature it can be beautiful with a golden light that brings a very special energy.

Video is a whole thing: knowing how to act is a plus for scriptwriting and knowing how to edit helps a lot when making a film. Click To Tweet

Collaborating in the audio-visual world

Collaborating with others who share the same passion as you can only help you. You will learn from more experienced people, you will teach some things to others and you will grow with other people who will be at the same level as you. But what’s great is the richness of the collaborations, the shared ideas, the added value that will be brought to your productions.

Don’t hesitate to join audio-visual production groups in your area via Facebook or Meet-Up. This way, you can also participate in other people’s projects with groups, meet potential collaborators for your own projects and help them to set up theirs.

Did I manage to bring you answers with this article? Do you have any other questions? I will do my best to answer them and to complete this article!

Understanding what a film script is is essential to get started in screenwriting and to put all the chances on your side.

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