Our crews are no stranger to working with people who are experienced in front of a camera. However, this is not always the case. Whether someone is an On-Air Personality, a doctor speaking about advances in surgery, or a Company President/CEO talking about 3rd quarter profits, it pays to be prepared for your shoot. Literally. Video editors charge for their time so if you know just what you need to do when the crew arrives, it can streamline the process during the shoot and in the editing room. We won’t bore you with stories about how the most charismatic people can clam up once the cameras roll. Believe me, there are many. Sometimes the opposite is true and a shy or timid person just lights up for the cameras.
We understand. Lights are in your face, a team of people in front of you to capture your every word, gesture and nuance. This can definitely be anxiety provoking. Here are a few tips that we hope you find helpful when preparing for a shoot. Some may seem obvious, but our experience dictates those are the tips that most often need repeating.
1. Set a realistic expectation.
It is much easier to be yourself in front of camera than it is to be anyone else. People sometimes set an expectation that they have to appear so perfect, they feel themselves failing the moment they open their mouth. Striving for perfection is fine but it sets the bar so high that it might not serve you as well as you’d think. Does it sound trite to say “Be Yourself?” Maybe, but good advice is worth repeating.
We’re not all celebrities that have trainers, massage therapists, spray tanners and stylists to prepare for camera time. That being said, it’s easy to forget about the basics when you have a busy life and then a crew walks into your office. Make sure you have gotten adequate sleep, don’t make the editor have to drown out the sounds of your stomach growling and if you know your mouth gets dry when you’re nervous, stay hydrated. I remember a woman telling me that she needed to hide her hands because her nail polish had chipped. Basic stuff here, really.
3. Matching Personality with Content. . .and bring the proper amount of “mojo.”
No matter what your content, dry and monotone is probably not the best approach. Depending on what you’re talking about, you may need more or less of a natural smile on your face. Even the height of your chin can make you seem warm and inviting if slightly dropped or happy and confident if slightly lifted. If your face is not matching the content, a lifted chin could make you seem overly confident and unapproachable. These are things to experiment with by watching yourself speak in the mirror. If you want to seem cheerful and friendly, make sure the position/tilt of your head conveys that. When your content requires a cheerful or upbeat quality, there can be more inflection in the voice and it may have a slightly higher pitch than if you were talking about how a personal tragedy has influenced your decision to pursue your work. The worst thing is to focus solely on saying words without paying attention to their meaning. Do any of you remember that scene when Austin Powers had his “mojo” stolen? Well, make sure you bring yours to the shoot, but not too much. Just the right amount for your subject matter.
4. Pace yourself
Once in a while, we get someone in front of the camera that appears to be in some kind of a verbal race. Believe me, your audience will know if you aren’t allowing time to breathe or swallow when speaking. Some celebrities can get away with “fast talking” if it’s their thing, but in reality, people are going to miss a portion of what they’re saying.
You’ve got to work with a professional crew that makes YOUR job easier. The last thing you want is to be 100% prepared but your crew doesn’t have the right insurance to be in that location or they don’t have the right equipment. There are many reasons why experience matters on a shoot and it’s hard to imagine the number of curve balls certain environments can throw at you. Even something seemingly harmless like sunlight through an office window requires the right preparation so it doesn’t interfere with the shot. The right crews are like McGyver with their ability to shoot in various environments and anticipate all the maybes so that the client is happy with the finished product. This comes from an ability to understand the scope of the project – beforehand – so they’re prepared on the day of the shoot. This topic will become it’s own blog shortly so check back soon!
*Note: If you were born after the 80’s and don’t know the show McGyver, do yourselves a favor and at least youtube the opening sequence.
Check back for more tips in a later blog or share some of yours. If you’re brave enough to share some of your …eh hem…out-takes, it might help others out there learn about what doesn’t work.