The regulations to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are gradually being eased – at least in countries like Germany. But a return to the old normal is not in sight. No wonder that many people are unsure what is possible with regard to film and video productions in Corona times – and above all how. In the last few months, despite contact restrictions, we have been able to realize several video shoots and have thus gained important experience which we would like to share in this article.
The top priority in pandemic prevention is to avoid unnecessary contacts. Therefore, as few people as possible should be present during film and video shootings. Many video shoots can be realized with only one person.
If a more elaborate set is needed, you have to be creative. For our large-scale livestream for FuckUp Nights in Germany, for example, we were able to place the image mixer and live director in a second room, separated by a glass wall. Besides physical separation, it is also possible to work at separate times. A lighting technician, for example, only has to be on set during setup – and can later be on standby for lighting changes.
Important for scheduling: the smaller the team, the more time must be planned for setup and shooting.
No matter how many people are involved in a shooting, one thing always remains the same: masks are worn. Because during set-up and take-down, but also during the shoot, it can easily happen that distances are difficult to maintain momentarily.
During interviews or dialogue scenes, masks in front of the camera are certainly disturbing. However, they may ONLY be left out if everyone who is not in the picture continues to wear masks and, above all, strictly observes the rules of distance and hygiene.
Every minute of loud speech, people eject over 1,000 drops of saliva. This is why hygiene is especially important with microphones. The safest option are boom microphones, because they allow the necessary distance between the speaker and the sound technician.
Handheld microphones should be held by the protagonist himself and lavalier microphones should be attached by the person’s own hands (if necessary under guidance). It is also recommended to use a disposable plastic cover for microphones and to change it after each interview. This will do little to reduce the sound quality, but will improve hygiene a lot.
The greatest possible distance should be maintained not only to the microphone, but also to the camera. In order to visually compensate this distance, and not to have to film everything in a long shot, there are various possibilities of image composition.
With long focal lengths and telephoto lenses the distance can be shortened optically. Alternatively, you can record in a higher resolution and then digitally zoom into the video during post-production.
When using public transport, contact with others can hardly be avoided. Therefore, you should refrain from using bus and train on the way to the set. When it comes to environmental friendliness, travelling on foot or by bike is far ahead. For more distant film locations or for the transport of equipment, the car is a good option. What’s important here: it’s best to travel alone or at most in pairs and then wear a mask.
Air travel is partly possible again, but even here travellers are sitting in confined spaces. The best thing to do would be to avoid distant locations, to use stock footage if possible, or to have the shooting done by a local team – for example, coordinated by a leading video agency that can ensure consistent quality.
Not only does the journey to the location play a decisive role in the choice of a filming location, the same goes for ventilation. Since corona viruses can spread through the air, it is easy for them to spread in closed rooms. The best option is therefore to shoot outdoors, which should always be at least considered.
If outside shooting is not possible, the largest possible room should be chosen in which all people involved can maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres. This room should also be well ventilated. And don’t forget to allow for additional breaks.
Since the corona virus survives on surfaces for several days, it is important to disinfect equipment and props before and after use, but also surfaces on location. Further protection is provided by gloves, masks and goggles. Practical tip: Distribute tasks clearly! If only one person is responsible for each item, contact with equipment and props by others can be avoided.
The reason for this is that sensitive and expensive hardware can be attacked and irreparably damaged by disinfectants or moisture. Whether this is the case with the equipment to be used should be clarified in advance.
With protagonists from different cities or countries or those who belong to a risk group, shooting is sometimes simply impossible. Especially not at short notice. In such cases, interviews via video call can help. And don’t worry, even an interview via Skype, zoom, hangout and co. can look professional with a few stage directions, good lighting conditions and a standard webcam. Moreover, it is authentic and comprehensible in the current situation for all viewers.
Just as livestreams are an alternative for face-to-face events, there are also creative solutions for producing other types of video without contact. For example, filming can be completely avoided or supplemented by the use of animation. Examples are animated explainer videos, 3D product videos or the use of archive or stock material.
It’ s not easy, however, to decide when to do without a shoot – after all, a recorded film conveys entirely different emotions and has a number of other advantages. We recommend: ask yourself what you want to achieve with your film. And talk to others about it. Often you will come up with new ideas during the conversation. These can be colleagues, superiors or specialized film productions. Preferably those who have proven to offer different styles of implementation.
During the planning and post-production of a video, personal contact can be completely avoided. Coordination by phone or e-mail is no news and meetings can be replaced by video conferencing. Things get interesting when it comes to feedback on specific details in video edits. Even for this, sitting together in the editing room is no longer absolutely necessary. Specialized tools like Vimeo offer the possibility to feed-back previews frame-by-frame, and via screen-sharing you can participate live in editing from anywhere in the world.
In order to prevent pandemics, basic rules such as distance, hygiene and compulsory masks must also be observed on the film set. Our practical tips make it easier to assess what is possible again in video production for marketing, PR and internal communication. Anyone who would like to learn more about this or is planning their own projects is invited to contact us at any time.
mindnapped is a video agency and film production specialized in video-based communication solutions for companies and public clients. mindnapped offers video shoots, animated explainer videos or live streams with fixed price packages or individually calculated productions.