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Pre-Production and Planning Tips for Making Better Family Videos

Part 3 of a series about capturing the joy of family events on video

Last week we covered the first of four phases used in creating multimedia productions to capture the joy of family events – concepting / scriptwriting. This week, I we will talk about phase two – pre-production and planning.

As Hal Landen puts it in his book titled Marketing With Digital Video, “Murphy’s Law works overtime in video production. If something can go wrong, it will. Your only defense is planning. Planning will help you to anticipate potential problems and solve them before that big day when your script is transformed into videotape.”

So plan, plan, plan and then plan some more to make thorough preparations before the event. This saves time and money, eliminates surprises and makes things go so much smoother during the shoot. List everything you will need in detail and allow for travel, weather and other contingencies as much as possible.

If you can, also scout the location or locations where you will be shooting your video in advance to check on a variety of factors. Check for available light, possible backdrops that could enhance your scenes, camera angles, and advantageous points of view. Also look for electrical outlets, adequate clearance for vehicles, space for safely storing equipment, and a staging area for any props or other items that will need to be prepped and assembled.

Although most personal video projects don’t have a budget for things like makeup, hair and wardrobe, you should still think about those things too. You might be surprised what a difference a little hairspray, powder and touch of color in a necktie or scarf can make in a scene – particularly for close-ups and lengthy interviews with key subjects. So if you, a family member or a friend have any experience in these areas, use it to make your production even more polished and professional. The same goes for floral arrangements and other nice touches that can fill out a frame composition and really bring a scene to life.

Speaking of recruiting people with extra skills, a good production manager knows that it pays to have additional help on hand for things like moving and setting up equipment, for “set decoration” and whatever else might be required. Think of them as your “crew” and assign tasks ahead of time to avoid confusion before and during the shoot.

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