Create More With Less: Production in the Era of COVID and Beyond

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By Daniel Marin, President, JOAN Studios

To say filming has become challenging in the COVID era would be an understatement. And while the orderly three-phase opening schedule proposed earlier in the summer was promising, we’re realizing that life isn’t going to just snap back to normal as we deal with locations opening and closing for a second time. Now is the time to change the way we think about production – looking through a lens of innovation, creativity, and partnership.

The right approach to production will drive safety, exploit technology, and leverage the power of post-production. Optimizing all of these factors will help brands build stronger relationships with consumers, while also creating more with less.

Smart lean live action

Production crews often have extra hands-on set, but that has to change. These crews should be lean and limited to only necessary talent. Challenge the line producer and director to build a team that can wear multiple hats. In this environment, casting the right crew can go a long way. Crews will deliver more if they previously worked together, are creative problem solvers, and have a smart work ethic.

With on-set filming, make sure the team comes to an agreement on how to ‘create safely’ that aligns with local and state government guidelines. Make sure everyone understands and signs the agreement. A leaner, smarter crew can create the content brands need to deliver for less.

Content tech hacks

These unprecedented times pose an opportunity to exploit technology in new ways. We’re all leveraging conferencing software for shoots now, but production should establish a clear approval process. For snackable content, think about capturing lots of content strategically, leveraging transcribing software and then reverse engineering based on what is needed. Work with teams to create production guidelines that instruct teams on how to use technology and capture content remotely – from lighting to sound and do’s and don’ts.

Technology goes far beyond simple capture with tools that can provide hours and hours of user-generated content, other pre-produced footage and animation solutions that can be integrated into live-action. Thinking outside of the box can deliver volume at a fraction of the cost.

Outsmart post for more

With the right balance between design, edit, color, audio, sound design and motion graphics, production teams can create magic. With us, all working remotely this ‘magic’ is more important than ever. The “fix it in post” attitude can become costly if production teams aren’t smart about how they approach their work in this environment.

Be clear on all the possible file lengths and resizes needed. Work with partners to agree on a creative idea and process that allows for content to be easily and creatively optimized. For example 1:1 vs. 16:9 vs., 4:3 videos may need to be rebuilt and can get costly if not done right. The right mix allows for the time to deliver more assets with less effort and less expense.

The bottom line

COVID has challenged us all to live and work differently. For production, we can choose to see this as a challenge or an opportunity – an opportunity that can transform how we create content.

The competitive advantage will come from brands, agencies and studios that embrace a new way of working while continuing to fine-tune their processes. These are the teams that will successfully continue to build the conversation between brands and their consumers. To create safely is only the beginning of how technology and production will need to continue to innovate in order to create more with less.


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