Staying 'international' during lockdown

One of the challenges we’ve faced during the pandemic has been how to make videos for our international clients on those occasions when using Zoom has either been difficult to achieve at the client end, or just not the preferred route. In the UK, government guidelines have meant that we’ve been able to offer Covid-secure shoots for most of the pandemic period, but with international travel restricted our usual roster of overseas shoots came to an abrupt end.

At some financial risk to ourselves (!), we came up with the idea of ‘shoot-in-a-box’, or, to decipher our marketing bluster… we sent video cameras overseas for the clients to use themselves.

The kits included a camera, a microphone, and perhaps just as importantly, a detailed set of instructions. While people are very tech-savvy these days and can use a range of devices to make their own videos, the step up to professional or semi-pro kit does require a small leap, with areas such as lighting and sound being particularly challenging for a novice. However, we knew that many of the people receiving the kits would have limited interest in developing their film making skills, so it was essential that the usage guide we produced was clear, concise, and only as ambitious as was necessary to achieve the desired outcome. In other words, we did not waste the clients’ time with an overly complicated set of instructions for making a Bond film.

So while we stayed in the safer waters of ‘don’t stand in front of a window’, and ‘turn your radio off’, we also provided a step-by-step visual guide to every single important button and menu on the camera. We also directed some shoots remotely, with the client operating the camera but one of our experienced team ensuring the technology was working smoothly and posing interview questions to elicit the best responses.

And our efforts paid off – the footage we received back was very competently produced, and gave the resulting films a level of polish that isn’t quite achievable over an internet recording.

Feedback from the users has been very favourable; the clients we’ve worked with have found the process very simple, and are planning to repeat the exercise on further projects later this year. Of course, we’re looking forward to getting back to working overseas, but for now shoot-in-a-box is proving to be a great compromise.

Mark Burgess