For a lot of clients we are introduced to, the 2nd question we’re asked (after “How much does this cost?”) is: “explain to me the process to have a video produced.” At Steady State, our mission is to be as transparent as possible with both potential and existing clients. Therefore, we hope you enjoy this column as we’ll explain what our processes look like through a variety of projects with varying scopes.
This past summer, the folks who put on the annual Hillman Cancer Center Gala asked us to produce a suite of videos that would serve to introduce the co-chairs of the event, introduce the Elsie Hillman Distinguished Scholar Awardee, and list the benefactors of one of Pittsburgh’s greatest events, prior to the show and during breaks in the entertainment. Here’s a brief breakdown of what went into the video production, what some of our challenges were, and the eventual end products.
Step one in a multi-deliverable project like this is setting up the schedules for our shoots. So much of the timing depends on when our interviewees are available – whether they’re an employee at the company or a customer giving us a testimonial – nothing goes smoothly if we’re not all on the same page from day one. These videos were no different. We knew we had 2 days to film all of our subjects for each respective video and the accompanying b-roll, all at varying locations in the Pittsburgh area. The great thing about working with the Gala committee is that we had plenty of lead time to schedule these days out. With help in coordinating locations and our subjects (the co-chairs and the awardee), we were off and running early in the stages of pre-production. We knew we’d be filming the co-chairs at a location in downtown Pittsburgh, and the awardee at his lab in Oakland, followed by b-roll with his staff.
Pre-production for these videos were wrapped once we spent a couple of hours location scouting. Prior to that, our clients developed the script for the Co-Chairs Video and, based off of an outline of the required content of the Awardee Video, we developed a list of interview questions for that narrative driven feature.
The actual production of the Co-Chair Video included a well established set-up with a very clear directive from the clients in this case. They required a green-screen set with a teleprompted script. At Steady State, we have all of the necessary equipment and access to the right crew members for various jobs. The trick here was that, because of the co-chair’s busy schedules, we had to be out of the studio and on-location with our green screen.
Production was a breeze with the Gala’s amazing co-chairs. They were professional and prepared, and were in-and-out of our on-location makeshift studio after only a handful of close-up and medium shot takes. We had great support on set with a crew of 6, including a Camera Op/Director (Mike Hough), Producer (Pat Sehn), makeup artist, teleprompter operator, audio engineer, and gaffer.
The Awardee Video production is best described as a typical Corporate Gold video setup from our selection of products. We’ve done productions like this so many times, we’ve developed a standard package with all of the details worked out ahead of time. All that’s left to do is schedule our crew for the day our awardee was available.
Our crew was scaled back for the Awardee Video. Just as outlined in our Corporate Gold package, we had a crew of 4 filming one interview setup, followed by a couple of hours of b-roll with the awardee and his staff in his research lab. We traveled light. We had our Canon C-100 package with a Canon DSLR backup, basic interview lighting setup and audio gear. After conducting the video interview, we headed to the lab to film some live-action research and interaction between the Awardee and his staff.
Post-production went smoothly as well. First we edited together our rough cuts for both videos for client review. This involved us pulling the best takes where our interviewees looked and sounded their best. Once the board at the gala gave us sign-off, we were able to start adding b-roll, mixing audio and animating graphics. One or two rounds of revisions later, and the videos were ready to be delivered. Both videos went through what we’d describe as a typical post-production process. Sometimes a client chooses to sit in the edit with us, while some clients prefer to be kept updated via online video links as we work through the videos and achieve specific milestones. This project ended up being the latter, which worked well. Our clients were so busy with multiple other aspects of the gala, it was nice for them to have a vendor they could trust to do good work in a timely manner at a valuable price.
The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, which the Hillman Cancer Center is a part of, and UPMC has strong branding. That extends to the Gala as well. We were supplied with great elements with which we created our animations for each video. Title slides, lower thirds, and, namely, the design of the third video, the Video Wallpaper, all came from the Gala’s branding design. They were the elements from the invitations and programs for the evening. The music is recognizable as the UPMC brand music as well.
The last step in this process was delivery. We deliver videos in many different formats through varying media. In this instance, we actually hand delivered an external hard-drive to the staging company at the Consol Energy Center where the event occurred, the day before the event. We were there as the videos were tested on screen and run through multiple times. Once we were all happy with the way things sounded and looked, we considered the videos delivered and the project a success!
The University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center Gala is a great, annual event that consists of a host of moving parts. One of those is video. We were honored to be a part of this years gala and look forward to working with these clients again soon!