Few things in life work well without a plan. The same goes for video. Planning a shoot by completing shot sheets, storyboards, logs, and slates can help you to get the shots you need and help your video to look planned and professional.
Video production is a business; and as with any business, it's key to success lies in wise planning and organization. Even though planning a production can take a lot of time, if you do it right, it will save a ton of headaches on set and assure that the project will come out the way you've always envisioned it.
By far the best way to keep a project planned and organized is to use storyboards. Storyboards are used by every kind of production from Hollywood films to local commercials. As such they can range from something as simple as a series of hand-drawn frames to something as complex as 3D animations. Storyboards help iron out any problems or mistakes in the story and give those you'll be working with a clear idea of the kind of shots that you would like to get without having to give a lengthy explanation.
The most common type of storyboard that you can expect to see is the hand-drawn storyboard. These storyboards usually consist of pages with a series of boxes that represent the framing of the camera you will be capturing with. In these frames, scenes are drawn that represent the angle and zoom level of the camera as well as the direction objects are facing. In order to save time on set , many storyboards also include notes or arrows depicting how the camera will be moving in the scene. These kinds of storyboards can be a great way to make sure you get all of the shots you need on set. Once a shot has been captured, you can simply place a check mark or "x" next to the storyboard frame that relates to the shot you just took As you'll probably be showing these storyboards to other members of your crew, they should be drawn with as much direction and detail as possible. At the same time though, something is better than nothing, so in a pinch, even stick figures can be effective. In fact, many storyboards just show traced outlines of objects and people without shading or coloring.
ii.Computer Generated - If you're not an artist and don't have access to one, you could also use one of many storyboard applications to make one instead. These programs have entire libraries of common objects used in storyboards such as cameras, people, cars, and arrows that help you make a clean and easy to understand storyboard quickly.
In some cases, as in a complex shot sequence, it might be a good idea to make an animated storyboard. The benefit of this storyboard type is that you can virtually edit your entire film and find good camera movements before any shooting is actually done. However, for those with a small budget and an even smaller amount of time, animated storyboards are probably not realistic. Even so, it is good to keep in mind is that it is cheaper to make mistakes on paper than on the set so storyboards are a good idea for any production.
Another great tool to keep your production organized is a shot sheet. A shot sheet, like the name implies, is simply a sheet of paper with a list of shots that you need to capture. Most people order the shots on their shot sheet either by location, talent, or time depending on what's most important. These sheets can work as a checklist, making sure that you get every shot you need in your production in an organized manner.
It's every editor's goal to make sure he or she has the best take to use in a scene, but sometimes finding those takes can take a long time. In order to cut down on that time, it might be a good idea to use a shot log during your shoot. A shot log is typically a sheet of paper listing details about each take that you filmed during production. Most importantly, it shows the timecode and notes about which takes were best during your production. With this log, an editor can quickly identify the best clips to use for a production without even having to speak to the director.
Another tool that can help make an editor's job easy is a slate. When a production is using a seperate audio deck from the recording deck, using a slate is one of the best ways to get accurate audio syncs in post. The editor can see both the details about which shot he or she is looking at as well as use markers to line up the clapper audio hit with the visual hit from the video. Using a slate might take just a little more time than usual in production, but when you begin to edit your project, I'm sure that you'll be glad you did.
Shooting a large production can feel like a daunting task but knowing how to keep organized using storyboards, logs, shot sheets, and slates will keep your productions running smoothly. They are a crucial part to giving a project consistency and structure, and allow you to create and share your vision with the kind of people that can help make your idea into reality.