Generally the best way to get around town is by using a shortcut. Driving the freeway might not always be the quickest way to get where you’re going, making the side street approach an option. So it is with shooting video. While some productions require linear acquisition, sometimes it’s faster to shoot out of sequence.
Some pre-planning strategy is in order when we’re faced with limited access to locations and occasional rescheduling due to weather or from talent running late. The easy, not necessarily economic thing to do, time or budget-wise, is to keep on shooting, going from one setup to the next, then trying to relax while you figure out how to schedule your pickup shots (shots you missed) after the fact.
Most of us realize special setups are unique to more than one scene. Instead of taking everything down, going somewhere else, moving the cameras and props, shifting stuff around, start thinking about what you can do to maximize your time.shot sheet for specific locations and times as they’re available not only avoids headaches but can save time and money. Shooting out of sequence to maximize efficiency can actually cut down on production pressure, not to mention energy. Thinking non-linearly doesn’t always come naturally. Many of us focus on the story and don’t think about the efficiencies of a non-linear approach. Shooting linearly, scenes 1, 2, 3, and so on, works. But non-linear shooting, only one hour available at a scheduled location for scenes 2, 5 and 18, saves time and resources. Get them while you’re there. Chances are you don’t have to go back, nor will you have to try for pickup shots you could have acquired while on location.
Most of us realize special setups are unique to more than one scene. Instead of taking everything down, going somewhere else, moving the cameras and props, shifting stuff around, start thinking about what you can do to maximize your time. Fortunately, it’s an easy habit to get into, thinking non-linearly.
Another great thing about thinking non-linearly in a controlled video production, especially if there’s a budget to adhere to is whether or not we can better utilize our talent for out-of-sequence shots. Talent can be on hand while specific sets are already in place, the lighting is already mostly correct and only slight adjustments are necessary. This keeps any talent not needed for several scenes from having to hang around, becoming fatigued from all the waiting.
Even if we have all the time in the world for an indoor shooting and we don’t have to worry about the time of day because we can control or adjust for what comes through any windows, chances are we can keep things going far more efficiently by shooting out of sequence. Who wouldn’t like to finish up two hours earlier and go home?
What about the static set, where nothing changes, talent comes on, does their part, goes off, and heads home? Working with a group first, even if the group sequence is for later in the production, helps with the non-linear process anyway. Gradually dropping off the number of talent in any given sequence, helps keep production moving along smoothly and keeps distractions at bay.
The next time you work a production, think about shooting everything you can before you have to change anything; then, the next setup and related scenes. Thinking non-linearly is often the shortest distance between arriving at work and going home.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.