General Cheat Sheet for Clients

A professional video production company sends crew that vary in size and necessary gear to any given client location. It is good to know ahead of time the commitment and scale of the production.

What to Tell Your Subjects

Try to wear solid color clothing. Tightly knit patterns appear strange on camera.

No brands can be seen on camera for legal purpsoes.

Ensure there is a dedicated, secure space for crew members to store equipment. Location should be easily accesible by crew (key preferred), but not for the general public.

Electricity is needed to pwoer lights. Always ensrue the crew is shown nearby outlets and circuit breaker boxes.



Interview Basics (for Crew)

  • The first frame of every take should include the slate.
    • The slate should include a specific and relevant title in the Production field e.g. “Exelon: Power to Lead Interviews”, not just Interviews Day 1” etc.
      • For the first slate of the day, read the Production, Scene and Take aloud, followed by clapping the sticks. After that, just read the Scene and Take and clap the sticks. No need to read the Production again that day unless it changes (perhaps it’s Exelon: Power to Lead in the morning and Exelon: Emerging Leaders in the afternoon).

      • If the slate is right in front of the subject’s face, don’t let the clap be too loud. It only needs to be loud enough for the mics to hear it.

      • The Take numbers should change each time the camera cuts and rolls again. Re-dos without cutting are called “soft cuts” and should not be counted as new takes.

      • Most interviews won’t require Scene and Shot numbers (23A etc.) so the Scene field can just be the subject’s name (be sure to verify the spelling with the subject). If there’s not enough space, you can number them or let their name bleed into another field. Deviation is fine as long as it’s consistent, organized and clear.

      • If a slate is unavailable, still state the relevant information followed by clapping your hands in the frame.

      • For multi-camera shoots, the slate should be visible to all cameras and audible to all microphones. If it’s impossible to be seen by all cameras at once, clap once for the A cam and as required for any other cameras. It is appropriate to call out “second sticks” and so on for each subsequent clap. “Second sticks” should also be called if the first clap is interrupted and needs to be done again.

      • If recording is interrupted and restarted on any camera or recorder mid-take, do a “tail slate” by clapping the sticks in the frame before cutting at the end of the take. To signify this, hold the slate upside down and call out “tail slate” followed by the other relevant information. It’s fair game to clap it upside down, but then flip it right side up for easier reading.

Interview Basics (for Interviewer)

    • After the slate of each subject’s first take, but before beginning questions, have the subject state and spell their name, as well as their position/company. Have them include any other information that may be relevant in a lower third title.

    • During questioning, encourage the subject to speak in complete sentences when answering. This can often be accomplished by having them incorporate the question in their answer.
      • “What’s your favorite color?”
      • NOT GOOD: “Blue.” (Not a complete thought)
      • OKAY: “What’s my favorite color? Blue.” (Repeats question)
      • GOOD: “My favorite color is blue.” (Incorporates the question)
      • BEST: “Blue is the best color, it’s the most calm.” (Complete thought)

    • Help the subject keep their answers concise. It’s wise to let them finish their thought in long form, but then say, “give that answer again, but try to keep it to about 20 seconds.”

    • Try to get them used to the idea that if they stumble on a line they can take a breath and keep going. Have them restart the sentence, but they don’t need to start at the top or acknowledge every issue. It’s the interviewer’s job to watch out for flubs that can’t be edited around and prompt a re-do.

    • Pauses are good for the edit.

    • Help them keep their eyelines consistent. It should be decided by production beforehand whether they should be looking at the interviewer or at the camera. Whatever is decided, try to keep them from glancing back and forth between the two.

    • Don’t let them step on your lines. If they start their answer before you’ve finished your question. Have them pause and start again clean. And likewise, resist the impulse to verbally agree with things they say while they’re still speaking, just nod and put on your best listening face.

  • If you have the option, try not to have the subject sitting in a swivel chair. If they can swivel, they will. If there’s no choice, try to have them minimize any movement.