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How many people do you really need in your video crew?

For some shoots, one person can be enough. If you have a tight budget but do have control of the situation, lots o’ time and the demands are light, you can sometimes get away with a one-man-band who can handle everything on the shoot. But, beware!

The danger is that if the demands placed on that person are too many- and all at once - something has to give. That usually means reduced quality and/or technical mistakes, which can be hard or impossible to fix.

Here are a few questions that will help you determine what issues you are up against and where it may make sense to allocate for budget to increase the crew size to meet your needs.

The Big Questions

What do you need to accomplish? What’s really important to show?

How good does it need to look? How important is lighting, shot composition, etc?  For instance, when it’s really important, like film, you’d generally give just one job per person.

What types of footage do you want to get for your edit? How important is variety and options of footage to cut to?

Is audio important? Might you need someone to monitor audio levels and adjust?

What is the experience, talent and tools capability of your crew likely to be like? You get what you pay for!

Will you need someone to help pick shots, grab people for an interview, conduct interviews, etc. ?

How many things can one person handle in the situation? It can be really hard to get good shots while monitoring audio, light, composition, etc. all while staying safe, keeping track of media cards, batteries, a tripod, etc.

How long will it take to pick and set up each shot? How much time can you really afford for lighting/shot set up, etc?

Do you know what you are going to shoot ahead of time or is it documentary style? (capturing what happens, unscripted.)

What kind of time do you have? Is it an hour-long event, all day, etc. Will it be hard to get everything in that time?

Are the things you want to shoot happening concurrently or are they one at a time?

Do you need more than one angle? What about camera moves like a dolly, jib, etc.

What about ‘placed cameras’ that capture time-lapse, wide angles, etc.?

What kind of budget do you really have for production?

What trade offs will sting the least?

What’s “plan B”, if you don’t get what you hope?

Key take-aways:

You may not know all the answers so it’s best to cover your bases and give yourself options. The permanent pain of a poor quality product stings worse that the temporary satisfaction of saving a few bucks. Once you start cutting corners, it’s hard to stop and before you know it, you don’t have something you can stand behind.

Good luck!

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