As COVID-19 and all things lockdown hit and most of us, including ourselves, physically shut our doors to our customers, many of us began to investigate the online options. In whatever shape or form that might be – Zoom, WhatsApp, Teams, or by creating video content. Video happens to suit this alternative reality world very well, though creating it in this environment does mean a few more hoops to jump through than normal.

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When Daisy Rogers from the West Hants School of Arts contacted us about recording some of her content for consumption online, this was a perfect example of how we could help small business move online. We ended up shooting and editing around 4.5 hours of art lessons and instruction.

We’ve experience with the lesson and instructional genre, but there are always things to learn and keep you on your toes, and that is exactly how we like it and how it should be. For example, in this particular case the view point of our cameras facing Daisy was not going to demonstrate what she was talking about from her perspective for her composition. So we needed to get point of view shots from her location, both to make sense of the objects’ layout, and critically for the lighting.

We used 3 cameras to get all the right angles, help bring the films above the level of the competition, and give the viewer all the information they need whilst and maintaining a connection with the teacher. A little picture in picture, as in the promo reel above, was another technique that seemed to help.

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We really wanted to bring something over and above what you could expect from the actual lessons, surely this lockdown couldn’t be all bad?! No doubt you lose something of the individual on-the-spot, blow-by-blow attention from the teacher, or the physical connection with them. But what can the cameras add? Of course we can really show the close up detail of what Daisy is doing, and we had one camera dedicated to that, but by setting up selected lessons with a point-of-view camera of the picture subject we allowed Daisy not only to describe, but to actually draw what she was thinking and intending to do.

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We were able to show the lines breaking up her composition, how objects in the frame were separated and related, and to do so in real time. Our idea was to add a glass screen in front of a monitor, on which Daisy was to draw in whiteboard marker to demonstrate her composition techniques.

We also filmed Daisy using an iPad app and pen, in real-time; a direct equivalent, which worked equally well.

Ultimately, we were blessed with an eloquent teacher, and managing to edit it all in time and budget was largely down to her. It was obvious Daisy could present from her previous self-shot videos, but otherwise we would have done a short screen test to check her abilities. Knowing her subject, and being 100% familiar with the lesson plans meant we never stalled, never took multiple takes on the shoots, and nor did we have to cut out large chunks or multiple stumbles in the edit. Doing so would be hugely time-consuming and cost prohibitive. The make-or-break message here, as with many films, is to ensure the on-screen talent is right for the job.

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It took two days to shoot all the classes, but by this point in the year full COVID-19 shooting restrictions had come into place. So that meant gloves, masks, social distancing, windows and doors open, and all equipment wiped and sterilised before the shoot, especially the radio mic kit, which was sterilised and sealed in a zip-lock bag (including spare batteries) 3 days prior. On the shoot itself Daisy was the only one then touching her audio equipment with bare hands.

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It was truly a great project to be a part of, I know at least myself and Luke were grateful to absorb a good deal of knowledge listening to Daisy, and no doubt her students will feel the same.

And finally, in addition to the main films, we produced a series of five social media shorts to help the in the critical process of publicising the course:

But maybe the best way to show what we got up to and how we did it, is this little behind the scenes sneak peek which we created…