Winging It vs. Planning Ahead in Production

 In Podcasts

For any video shoot, there’s a baseline level of planning that’s necessary to get things done. The who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, and why’s. You need to know what your main objective is, and when it’s due. But there remains the question of approach on any given shoot. How rigid will we be in executing on this plan?  Our latest podcast is all about the balance between winging it and planning ahead.

We’ve talked at length in the past about documenting vs. creating when it comes to your video production efforts.  In the old world of content creation, production companies would roll in and charge clients (a very hefty fee) for a single end product.  One day, one shoot, one video.  That approach to content creation has shifted thanks to the rise of content marketing, and the need for brands to fill their social channels on a daily basis. 

Winging it may seem like it’s a negative thing, but the reality is that it can help you collect the footage you need in order to feed your marketing machine effectively.  In this episode, we break down the pros and cons of winging it, and talk through the appropriate way to strike a good balance in your next shoot.

Video Podcast: Winging It vs Planning Ahead

Video Transcript:

Phil DiMartino: What’s going on everybody? I’m Phil DiMartino here with Tyler Pyburn for another edition of the 5 Tool Productions video podcast and today we’re going to talk about production and winging it versus a lot of prep.

Tyler Pyburn: Like this episode, we are winging it!

Phil DiMartino: We prepped a little bit! I am a pretty organized person. I do not generally like winging it, so I might be a little biased on this topic. But I think I can see the, the benefits and potential costs for either approach here when it comes to going into a shoot and getting things done.

Tyler Pyburn: It’s funny because I’m, I’m not so far on the other end of the spectrum. I’m also organized, but I also tend to lean on the side of don’t over plan ahead of time because I like the spontaneity of things. The way things kind of come out with the way someone says something versus something super scripted, and rigid. Sometimes I don’t feel like that lends to too much authenticity I should say. So I lean more towards that side a little bit more. But on the flip side, I also see the benefit from a production standpoint of planning out, I need to get these six shots, these different looks in these different locations to make sure that the storyboard kind of comes to fruition.

Phil DiMartino: Right. And I think that there’s a couple of different parts to it here. So I think what you just mentioned is really important. Like what are you going to be, what is your end product? What’s the main thing that when you leave here today, you have to make sure you’re able to create. But we’ve talked a lot, a lot in the last year and made, you know, basically since we started this company about distribution and all the different places you need to have content and creating different things for different channels. And ultimately if you’re only shooting the bare minimum to put together your video and you have this really rigid shotlist and you’re going to say, “we know we need these 10 to 20 shots to make this video happen, and that’s all you get,” well you’re certainly not filling up – you know, your instagram feed, your facebook feed, your, you know, behind the scenes videos, you’re not filling those things up if you just go in and shoot only what you need. So the creativity and the kind of spontaneity allows you to do the stuff that in the past, you know, in old media days would have ended up on the cutting room floor, might end up on the cutting room floor for your main project, but it will still feed the marketing machine if you approach it thoughtfully. Right.

Tyler Pyburn: So here’s the thing, I mean, we said this, so one of the very first, probably, I don’t remember what episode it was, but one of the first handful that we filmed these, I’m probably about two years ago, we said talking about documenting versus creating. And we said it before Gary Vee was saying it, we were talking about it, we picked up on what he was doing and what Casey Neistat, what those folks were doing. And then it Kinda became a thing. But with the whole documenting thing, you’re just capturing what’s around you and then saying, okay, now let’s piece it into a story so people can see. Now on the flip side, there’s definitely a part for – You’re not going to create a campaign video or an advertisement for a TV commercial just doing that. You can, but it’s not going to be as good and as well thought out as if you’re planning to create it and you’re sitting down a war room with 10 executives that are saying, okay, what are the creative ways we can get emotion out of people versus “no this is something for Youtube,” and and I think it kinda goes back to what you were just saying. The medium plays a big role in it, right? If you’re just uploading something consistently on a daily basis to say youtube or facebook or IGTV, it can be a little more lax. It can be a little bit more fun. Whereas if you really prepping for a campaign launch type thing, yeah, you’re gonna want to plan in scope that out a little bit more too, right?

Phil DiMartino: Yeah. And turnaround time plays into this too, right? Like you don’t want to get back from a shoot and have this mountain of disorganization and you look at, you look at your sd cards and your hard drive and you’re just like completely overwhelmed. If you have a tight turnaround, you want to be able to get back from your shoot and know, maybe this shot didn’t work and this one did. But everything I have here is relevant. Right? So if you have a really tight turnaround for really specific project, you know, you want it to be that way. Whereas if you’re like, we’re going to go in and you know, yes we have this main product that we want to do. But also one of our big things that has been since the start is trying to be really efficient. We say create smarter all the time and we want to try to be more efficient about how we do things. Which means if you go in for one shoot, you’re not going to leave with one video. You’re going to leave with the core anchor piece of content that you want, but also in addition to that, you’re gonna get a lot more out of it that’s going to feed your machine in other ways and again that really rigid approach of going in and only filming the exact amount that you need isn’t going to get you there. So I don’t know. There’s definitely a balance to strike, but I think especially in this day and age where you have to fill so many channels, so much of the time, allowing the camera to roll a little more and trying to be a little more creative and just documenting a little more and trying to think a little more creatively. I mean it totally depends on what you’re shooting too, but allowing that to roll a little bit more and get a little more footage than you necessarily think you need is probably the way to go. Especially since storage is so cheap.

Tyler Pyburn: Well, what’s interesting too is you know, you can also say, you know from the production team side of things, if we go into a job and we say, okay, we’re scoped to do A, B and C, and then the client comes in, “hey, do you mind doing X and Y while you’re here?” Yes, the cameras are up. Yes, we can do this, but also know that this wasn’t part of the original scope.

Phil DiMartino: That’s a good point too.

Tyler Pyburn: Let’s talk about this. Where’s this going to live? I mean, I guess we can shoot this for you, but I can’t go back and edit and create another video for you for the same amount of money, right? For what we’re already doing because you’ve just added on maybe not so much time on site that hasn’t changed, but time in post production has been added, right? We’ve added another five hours of post production and that’s not easy to do. Do you mean people are busy? We got to make sure that we can account for it really.

Phil DiMartino: You’re right and it happens all the time. If you go on a shoot and it’s like, well the cameras are here, let’s just get more like, yeah, we can get it right and we’re scoped for a certain amount but we’re not necessarily scoped for this and it’s not just like a scope question. Also, you raise it a little bit, but it’s like who is it for, where’s it going to live and why? Right. Why is it going to, why are you creating this? And I think a lot of times once the lights go on and there’s a camera there, people get a little bit excited and they’re like, oh, we should knock this out in this out

Tyler Pyburn: Yeah – “so and so is here today, bring them in.”

Phil DiMartino: Right. And I think sometimes that works, but sometimes it’s like slow down a second and let’s actually think about like, should we be making this video a and b, does it need more planning? Is it going to be, is it going to be crap if we do it this way and it’s actually going to be good if we take the time to prep and come back in a week.

Tyler Pyburn: Yep, exactly. And one of the things we’ve actually started, you put a line in the contract, we were looking at it this morning about we can capture for a future project to be scoped later. Right. And I think that’s the way to kind of approach it from the end user side of things, you know the client side of things if you’re a company that’s trying to create content, if you’ve got a company, whether it’s us or another production company coming in to film and record and document things for you. Say, okay, Yup, you’re, we’re creating these six videos, we’re doing these eight interviews and we’re getting x amount of B roll. Great. While you’re here, could you also capture all this just because you’re here and you’ve got an extra hour of time in between interviews, grab these two interviews and shoot some of this b roll. We know later that we’re going to scope this project for later, but just know can you help us out and gather it right now? I think that’s the best way to approach it.

Phil DiMartino: I agree.

Tyler Pyburn: Because it’s, yes, you want to leverage the time and also – in the office it’s tough to say I’m going to close off our board room for the entire day for a second time. Right. You know, we go to one company that they literally never have conference rooms available. Right. So it’s tough to say, can I put a lock down a hold on one conference room for an entire day of filming and it’s not really possible. So if the backdrops are set up, the cameras are already set up and white balanced. You want to make the most of it right?

Phil DiMartino: Yeah. Yeah. No, I agree. I think the biggest thing at all times is like setting expectations, right? You mentioned like making it clear and upfront and you know, setting expectations, but also being willing to be a little bit flexible. Probably the case.

Tyler Pyburn: For everybody, all parties involved. No question about it.

Phil DiMartino: Well, let’s, you know, let’s wing it.

Tyler Pyburn: All right, we’ll see you guys next time. I wasn’t sure what…

Phil DiMartino: I wanted you to wing the outro.

Tyler Pyburn: He’s Phil. I’m Tyler. Thank you guys so much for tuning in. We’re 5 Tool Productions. We’ll see you next time.

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