Advice / Production Ideas For Instructional DVD

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by gvdv, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. gvdv macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    #1
    Hi,
    I'm about to start writing the shooting script for an instructional DVD (psychotherapy) which I hope to produce in the next year, and I would like some thoughts and questions from all of you which will enable me to anticipate as many of the production needs as possible.

    I know that this section of macrumors may not be appropriate but don't know where else to post.

    I anticipate that some of your answers may overlap into technical suggestions which I can go away and research more fully in more appropriate areas, e.g. people might choose to recommend the type of camera set-up (e.g. 2 camera), and type of lighting I might use; you might mention the kinds of problems that I might encounter (e.g. sound from one lavalier mic. leaking into another, and what to do about it); or maybe some of what I'm trying to do would fall within the province of DVD authoring, rather than having to do with shooting/editing.

    I'm mentioning all this because I left photography, film and video after I finished my degree in 21 years ago, and I have also never produced a project.

    Here is some more information.
    1. The DVD will be instructional, maximum of 60 minutes long.

    2. There will be one, consistent host - probably me - at times presented on camera, at other times using narration off camera

    3. There will be several interior, office locations, and maybe a classroom - no exteriors.

    4. Content will be illustrated in various ways, some of them combined at times, e.g. through the use of 6 actors (max. of 3 or 4 at any one time, probably) in role playing situations, presented in the form of short (maximum 2 minutes) vignettes; narration; overlays of text on the screen (possible picture-in-picture); icons appearing on screen that are clickable via DVD remote control, and that take people to other sections of the DVD (most of them .pdfs or on screen lists of text material, but perhaps some links will take people to other video sections of the disc).

    5. I will be editing or co-editing the project (Final Cut Express HD), but not shooting it.

    6. There will be a relatively small run of DVD's - maybe 100 initially.

    7. If things go well, I will be producing 3 other 60 minute long DVD's to finish off the series.

    8. Clarity of image and sound are of paramount importance. So good lighting, the ability to see what is happening within the role plays, particularly close ups, is important, as is the ability to hear clearly sound at various levels from a whisper to a shout.

    9. I have a very GENERAL idea right now that the shooting will be 3 days long.

    10. I want to have the final DVDs in PAL and NTSC format.

    11. As I will be putting a lot of money into the production and will be offering the results for sale, copy protection is important because even therapists steal.

    I do have a video which has exactly the production values that I like regarding sound and lighting, but unfortunately there is only one interview in the video, and - if memory serves - it may be a one camera set-up, so there are some differences between what is depicted in the video and what I have in mind, but the basis is there.

    My main problem is keeping production costs as low as possible while maintaining high audio/video production standards. The former is important because the market that I'll be selling to is not very big, and the latter is necessary to present a product to that market in which sound and video issues do not get in the way of the function of the DVD, i.e. accessing the contents of the DVD in order to learn.

    Sorry about the length of this, but I wanted to be specific, and any help would be gratefully received, whether about costume storage or the fact that if I'm going to hear dialogue spoken in a whisper, then I'll have to watch out for camera noise (obviously I'm aware of this issue already).

    I would very much appreciate hearing about ideas/experiences of using student filmmakers/actors/graphic designers. Should I produce and direct or separate those roles?

    When I was a student photographer years ago in London (U.K.) I had a bad experience doing a project for my degree show with fashion students from another degree, so I really wonder about the above and am ready to pay for quality rather than trying to economise and have that reflected in the result.

    Also, if you're either a camera person, director, or actor in Toronto, please drop me a line if you'd like to be involved in this project.

    Many thanks in advance,
    GVDV
     
  2. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
  3. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Location:
    Socal
    #3
    It sounds more like you're asking about making the video than the DVD. After all, unless the DVD is interactive or something, the video will be the main thing on the DVD, and that's really where most of the production is.

    You don't mention what your budget is for this, which is really important. If you're really strapped for cash, I'd recommend renting some more professional gear instead of buying. A good tripod with a fluid head is critical, as is a quality microphone(s). Do you have a crew with any experience? A place that can handle the lights you'll need? How many people will be working on this?

    If you're going to shoot this all in one go, you'll need to do some serious preproduction planning to maximize your efficiency. Everyone who will be on camera will have to rehearse, and you'll need a strict schedule.

    Also, you might get more responses if you had posted more here.
     
  4. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    #4
    hi aloofman,
    thanks for the reply.

    Your comments are the kind of thing that I was after.

    To answer your question, yes, I'm talking about advice re. video production rather than DVD - looking for any kinds of questions/advice like those which you have given, which could help me with thinking things through; things that I should consider that I haven't posted about.

    I thought that I had been quite detailed in my description and specific about my needs in hearing about others' experiences in production (I said that in the post).

    The answers that I get will help me to determine the budget. For example, if someone suggests shooting in HD, I'd figure that into the equation.

    The suggestion that you made about rehearsing is exactly what I'm looking for. If you have any specific detailed advice about that, please let me know. I don't know anything about this kind of thing - for example, should I have a read through? If so, where - in situ or doesn't it matter? Should I explain the concepts to the actors or just let them run with it.

    If you have any experience with/thoughts about the other issues I mentioned (PAL/NTSC, lighting, one camera set up) I'd be grateful for them.

    Thanks, once again,
    GVDV
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    Seems odd but viewers can put up with and overlook slight video defects but the slightest problem with sound annoys them and gives a very poor overall impression of the work. The sound has to be perfect. I think the rule is to get the mic as close as possible, so you hire a guy to hold a boom. You need a mic and a digital recorder or track for each actor

    If your schedule is really that compressed (three days) then do consider using multiple cameras. You can get two camera angles per take.

    Are you shooting in HD? Even if the DVD is 480i shooting in HD gives more post production options

    Have a "plan B", and a "C". Nothing will go right and everything will take twice as long as you think. The battry will die and someone will trip over a cord.
     
  6. aspendenver macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    #6
    some thought's for you

    Are you living in T.O.?

    Putting together a DVD as you described can be a challenge.

    My suggestion is that you find a creative collective in T.O. and get some support from their members. Go here:http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com and look up Film Co-operatives. Contact one or more of them and find out who is available in Toronto. Then join.

    I will follow with more as I am off to a meeting.:) :apple:
     
  7. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Location:
    Socal
    #7
    Do you have a camera operator with HD experience? If not, then I say don't bother. The extra resolution probably won't result in a much better image and you'll be paying more.

    You should rehearse what each person will say, but unless you and the other speaker(s) have on-camera or acting experience, then don't bother memorizing it. It will just come off as fake. Figure out the points you want to hit and how long you want the answers to be, but let the words come out naturally. The one thing you don't want is for the conversation to expand and then have time constraints intrude on you. As far as where to rehearse, if you can access the site that far ahead of time, then go ahead and do it there. If your speakers aren't familiar with the lights and other gear around them, that might help them out.

    Whether you have multiple cameras might depend on how many experienced camera operators you have and how much you're willing to spend. In an interview format, one camera is very doable, but it takes a lot of planning. For example, if you want a one-shot of yourself asking the question, you'll have to record yourself asking the question separately from the speaker's answers, which can get a little confusing. (You don't want to move the camera and tripod between every answer and question!) One thing that I've done is to record the entire speaker portion (the answers first), with the interviewer off-camera but including his/her audio. Then go back and redo the questions on-camera based on that audio. Then it won't look quite so fake.

    Buy a book on video production (Zettl's Television Production Handbook or Compesi & Sheriffs' Video Field Production & Editing, for example) for the basics on editing, lighting, blocking, sound. And you'll have to practice with it some so you don't struggle to get it set up for the real thing. If you know anyone who does video, sit in with them to get some ideas.

    As for NTSC and PAL, there are different ways to go about it. You could produce the whole video in one standard, have a conversion made, then just make separate DVD masters of each.
     
  8. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    #8
    Hi aloofman, aspendenver and chrisa,
    great stuff; I really appreciate it.

    I used to be 'in the business' 25 years ago (very briefly after a photography degree) so I'm familiar with the concepts of 1 and 2 camera work, editing and so on, but I very much appreciate your comments because you've each included thigns that I either haven't yet thought of, or that reinforce my current thinking.

    I'm definitely going to overbudget in terms of $ and time. I will probably shoot on three consecutive weekends (which introduces a whole different way of working), rather than taking a block of a week. I agree about sound being crucial - in fact, I posted this in my original post. Also read some good advice on another thread about how to deal with overlapping sound leakage from lavalier mics. positioned closely together.

    I have considerable experience from many role plays when I've taught therapy in the past (and recorded role plays on mini dv), and I've found consistently that it's very difficult to stick to a time limit regardless of the amount of memorizing key points and then rehearsing one does. So, I'll be splurging on aspiring/semi-professional actors (as well as cameramen) who can do the job properly, and I may just shoot my questions on one camera and match them later as you suggested.

    Like the idea of a collective, but this could be a pain in a way; might just as well hire professionals from the start.

    Had toyed with the idea of shooting in HD, but think that I can create a professional look without going that route.

    What are the other options re. PAL/NTSC beside shooting in one and converting to the other. I am in T.O., so it would be in NTSC.

    Thanks once again for all the great ideas and keep them coming.

    GVDV.
     
  9. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Location:
    Socal
    #9
    "T.O."? Is that Toronto?

    Anyway, it's such an expense to shoot in both. So what I was suggesting was, shoot it in one of them, edit the whole thing together, then when you have a master tape, have THAT converted to the other standard, something you can use to make a PAL DVD.
     
  10. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    #10
    aloofman,
    hi, thanks for the clarification on getting the DVD into PAL/NTSC.

    I'm sorry for not answering your question clearly originally - yes, 'T.O.' is hometown slang for Toronto (Canada - there are several in the world apparently, which is interesting because the word actually refers to a meeting place or meeting place of several rivers or something in one of the Native languages. Maybe it's just an easy word to come up with as a coincidence).

    Can you think of any disadvantages or things that I'd have to look out for when transferring from one format to the other? For example, do you think clarity (more of sound, than image) would be affected by transferring from one - I guess it'll be NTSC since I'm here in T.O. - to the other?

    thanks,
    GVDV
     
  11. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    #11
    aloofman,
    can FCE do multi camera editing?

    thanks,
    gvdv
     
  12. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Location:
    Socal
    #12
    I think if you take it to a professional dub house, they should get the audio OK. I haven't noticed any major sound issues from conversion. It's more the color and framerate that can can have problems there.

    I don't use Final Cut, so I don't know the feature breakdown. But I would guess that you need Final Cut Pro to do multicamera.
     
  13. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    #13
    hi aloofman,
    thanks for the reply.

    All the best,
    GVDV
     

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