Monday, 31 October 2011

Strategic Video Unit

I thought I might continue with a few of these small doses of production tips, from my perspective, they suit the underground filmmaker.

You may have heard of the term "Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing - Adjourning". A fundamental theory on the premise of Teamwork structured by Bruce Tuckman an American Psychologist who worked primarily on ideas of Group Dynamics. Most Production Work is done in teams so I think it is useful to apply some of these principles in order to achieve a satisfactory unit of coordination - especially when operating with small production teams. I have used the ideas behind FSNPA and applied them to what is a kind of Oompa Loompa method to Project Production.

This is the direct allocation of Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production tasks in a cross-functional way by collaborative effort in order to streamline the outcome of a desired project. This method is designed particularly for production teams of up to three people.


This technique is particularly efficient for projects that aren't driven by one creative. It could be a music video, a performance piece or a loose idea. Upon meeting, the three members of the production team can sit down and each take a section of the pre-production requirements. Firstly one person is allocated as scriptwriter. At the same time as the script is being written, the storyboard is concurrently being drawn up shot by shot, scene by scene.

A scene is a continuous linearity of shots in your piece that changes when the continuity breaks from the linearity. Then you have a new scene. When a new scene begins it is a form of Reactive Pacing where by we manipulate Temporal mechanisms in order to show our project effectively, some of these Temporal mechanisms include the order of your shots, the frequency, the duration, and also rhythmic allocation to particular moments or scenes.

So, while your scriptwriter is mapping out each scene, your storyboard artist sketches the draft shot compositions, and the third person will be writing a Shot List.

A Shot-List may look like this.

Scene One.

1. CU - Wild Watermelon Man psyching himself up.
2. MLS - Crowd begin to gather around.
3. MLS - Watermelon Man picks up watermelon.
4. CU - Woman in crowd gasps.
5. Two-Shot - Elderly couple shield their eyes.
A Shot-List is an effective index of every shot you are wanting to set-up in the written form. The Story-Boards are also useful for visualising but with a Shot-List you can easily high-light using different coloured highlighter pens each shot you've covered as you go. This way you don't have to shoot in order, you can cover appropriate footage when it comes along or is convenient.


Time-Code Log Sheets are the long forgotten art of amateur filmmaking practicing but when you come to editing the piece you will discover that with Time-Code you can set your in and out points or do a Batch Capture without the pains of viewing hours of wonky camera work, masked shots, or just plain awkward framing. The option for putting in the reason "why" on your Time-Code sheet is because after a few days away from importing your footage it is easy to forget for what reason you thought a particular shot worked.

Take#  Time Code Start Description Good-Useable-Poor Why

On the day of shooting you will have one person operating the camera, one person marking off the Shot-List and another recording the Time-Code. The team members covering the Shot-List and Time-Code jobs may also be responsible for lighting and sound, depending on your needs.


Hopefully if you have covered enough Pre-Production and Production planning in this fashion you will spend less time stuck at a computer screen putting it all together. The basic principles of allocating Teamwork in Post is having someone cutting the clips, the second person should have exported the sound and begun mastering it. The third person should be concerned with Colour Grading and Titles.

Well I hope this has unveiled a few useful practices and processes that may help when forming the FSNPA of your production objectives.

I've found that this technique gets small teams cracking efficiently without the delays of taking material away and then returning it for lengthy revision, and because everyone is kept on the same page working together, it opens up opportunities for more group discussion on the project.

No comments:

Feed me, Seymour!

I like to watch



Creative Commons License
snuffboxfilms by rups is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License.
Based on written and pictorial posts at

Further reading ...

ping rss