I have been meaning to shoot a few promotional videos for Baby Grand to put up on my YouTube channel, so yesterday I took (dragged) my daughter, husband and youngest son with me to Hofstra University for a video shoot. My daughter is thinking about a career in directing and my oldest son has expressed an interest in video editing, so I figured why not encourage (take advantage) of these aspirations and get some publicity as well. Well, after an hour of frolicking in the sun on campus, I learned seven important lessons:

  1. Make sure you have a charged battery. If my husband hadn’t come along for the ride, it would have been a very (very!) short shoot. The minute my daughter, who served as camera-person, pressed record for the first take of the afternoon, the screen went black. “I had a feeling that would happen,” my husband said, pulling an extra charged battery out of his knapsack. I didn’t know if I wanted to slug him or hug him. :)
  2. Know your lines. I wanted to kick myself for not having memorized my script. There are so many things that are out of your control during a photo shoot, like the weather or the amount of people milling around if you’re in a public place. The last thing you should have had to worry about is knowing your lines. Lesson learned.
  3. Empty your memory card beforehand. Luckily, it was after an hour of shooting that my memory card screamed, “No more, please!” Otherwise, as I said in Tip #1, it would have been a very short shoot.
  4. Vary your shots. As an undergrad at Hofstra, I took a few television classes so I know a thing or two (but that’s it) about video production. So I had my daughter video me saying the same paragraph several times — while sitting on a bench, while walking, etc. This helps to make your video more interesting and dynamic when it’s put together in post-production.
  5. Have cutaways. Basically, a cutaway is a shot of something different from the main action. In my case, for example, we shot the university’s name on a sign for a few seconds and my legs walking. Cutaways are crucial to the editing process, particularly when you have talent who apparently hasn’t memorized her lines. It gives the video editor options and helps piece together different shots that wouldn’t otherwise go together so that they look cohesive.
  6. If you’re not going to pay your tech people, feed them. And if you’ve got anyone 10 years or younger there for the ride, it might behoove you to feed him BEFORE the photo shoot. It keeps the complaining to a minimum (and while you’re at it, bring a jacket for him too).
  7. Have fun. My daughter and I giggled the entire way through. “I feel like I’m in a writer horror movie!” she squealed when I asked her to walk backwards with the camera as I approached. Sure enough, we watched the playback, and it did. Perhaps an idea for my next book…