Cameras dying. Drones not getting airborne. Lighting changes from uncooperative weather. No matter how much you plan, as a videographer you’ll constantly face spontaneous challenges on every shoot—especially when you least expect them.
That’s why the greatest quality a professional videographer can have is adaptability. The Prolex Media crew has been shooting videos, photos, and everything in between for the better part of the decade. Adaptability has consistently played a major role in every single shoot we've been a part of.
Challenges on set shouldn't make your progress grind to a halt. Instead, you should embrace the situation, and pivot to turn the setback to your advantage. Our Audi e-Tron shoot is the perfect example of this, which we show in our behind the scenes video at the bottom of this post.
Here are five lessons in adaptability we pulled from this experience that can be applied to any shoot:
1. Focus on the creative vision, not the details.
The purpose of any shoot is to capture a creative vision to communicate a message. That is your primary task. Keep the big picture creative vision top of mind for each shoot, and don’t get hung up on the small details. Things don’t always go perfect, but there is always more than one way to fulfill the vision.
2. Anticipate potential risks and come with backup plans.
After you brainstorm a great idea, have a secondary brainstorm to identify risks or potential pitfalls. Work out ways you could mitigate those risks if things don’t work out. And it’s always a good idea to have a back up plan: it’s easier to film a few ideas in one shoot than to schedule additional shoots if something doesn’t turn out from the first one.
3. cope the set for hidden threats and opportunities.
Most shoots don’t occur in a controlled environment. The first thing you should do before setting up any equipment is a thorough inspection of the environment to pick out anything that could take away or add to the shoot. In the case of our Audi e-Tron shoot, we discovered an ugly hole in the wall in the background. We took advantage of that eyesore to create some incredible backlighting that made an amazing beauty shot we never would have had otherwise.
4. Be a creative problem-solver.
This is the most important skill to have as an adaptable videographer. Learn to think outside the box. Take inventory of any available resources on set and work with what you have. As you’ll see in our video, even seemingly insignificant objects like cinder blocks and fans can play a crucial role in a shoot. Also, by looking ahead you may think of ways to overcome challenges in post-production.
5. Once the main job is done, get extra everything and experiment.
After you get your primary idea, shoot your backup ideas. Improvise to potentially capture interesting unplanned footage. And always (always!) capture extra everything for the editor: extra takes, extra B-roll, extra sound effects. You never know what could come in handy—or potentially save a video—in post-production.
Throughout all the challenges of 2020, and from all out experience with different shoots, we’ve learned to always expect the unexpected. If you can shift your mindset to accept and even welcome the unexpected, you have the opportunity to learn from every problem, become a better videographer under pressure, and master the craft.
We encourage any videographer or creator to look forward to bumps on the road and the different perspectives and opportunities they offer.
Please check out our behind the scenes video below to see adaptability in action!
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