As the “new normal” for production continues to evolve, it’s essential for production companies to be nimble, dynamic, and ready to evolve with it. What’s even more top of mind is keeping clients’ confidence in your ability to deliver content. Since we began transitioning our services toward remote production solutions for our brand clients back in April—has it been that long already?!—we’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
Hopefully this case study from a recent project with iHeartMedia x Hellman’s can provide some insight into what’s possible and what’s optimal for brands looking for high quality, steady communication, and fast delivery on their remote production projects.
Campaign: “At Home Sessions” for social distribution on iHeartRadio
Brand Partner: Hellman’s
Objective: Produce music performances for livestream with A-list music talent Jesse McCartney plus interview component with iHeartMedia host Emily Curl for brand integration with Hellman’s.
Timeline: 3 days of prep, 1 shoot day, 3 days of post which included notes.
Method Topline: Client and brand wanted minimal on-set footprint and the ability to shoot in multiple locations for ongoing branded content campaign. Client needed to be in touch with director, talent, and creative team in real time, remotely reviewing camera shot and requesting changes. Professional equipment to be used—no iPhone rigs! Strict safety and sanitation guidelines needed to be honored on behalf of on-set talent and crew. And of course, fast track delivery to post!
We’ve been working with our legal and safety team to carefully adapt our production procedures to ensure that our processes align with industry protocol and gain the approval and confidence of brands and talent. The TL;DR – mandated masks and social distancing, Covid background check questionnaire (issued prior and day of shoot) and contactless temperature check required for all individuals with set access, ample PPE and sanitizing product on hand, and pared down craft services (individual, pre-packaged meals). No shared meals or coffee stations (who knew how much they’d be missed). Crew members are instructed to eat off set and outside, and to take extra precaution with social distancing measures when removing masks for meal breaks. Crew limited to 3 people: DP, audio mixer, and AC. Set and gear sterilized before and after use.
Although we have our own arsenal of uninhabited, sterilized locations to choose from, we’re also happy to accommodate brand requests for custom location scouting. We settled on a backyard property in Los Angeles for Jesse’s performance and remote interview spot. iHeart’s host had her own remote set-up from her home backyard. Jesse’s set location had to be uninhabited and sanitized on prep day before shoot.
ADDITIONAL PRE PRO COORDINATION
Beyond the regular pre pro, we sent safety memos and Covid policy info decks to client and talent. This included a pre-screen questionnaire for any known symptoms or recent activities that may preclude on-set personnel from being able to work on shoot day.
Two Alexa mini’s were used to film Jesse’s performance and his side of the interview—more on that below.
SHOOT DAY + REMOTE VIDEO VILLAGE SET UP
The remote video village is where all the magic happens. By using Dejero connectivity to link real time camera feed from the ARRI Alexa to a Pitch 5-hosted Zoom call, iHeart’s team, and Hellman’s creative team was able to view the entire shoot remotely while collaborating in real time. As our director Justyn was setting up the shot, iHeart requested framing changes and other tweaks. Connection was maintained by our own wi-fi box throughout the shoot to support the streaming. The result was an efficient shoot that kept all parties connected without directors and client creative teams second guessing about what was actually being captured. Hopping on a live performance Zoom call probably wasn’t a bad day at the home office either. If nothing else, we hope we cured some Zoom fatigue.
If there’s any silver lining to this “new normal” of production, it’s the advantage you get in post. By logging the footage straight from our video village set-up, we can begin editing with no delay. There is no more waiting for footage to transfer on to drives and shipped. We’re no strangers to tight deadlines—and for this project we were able to have it ready for client and brand in a total of 5 days for its live debut on August 25th.
Ultimately, the shoot was a success for all parties, and we’re happy to announce some additional remote sessions on our production schedule for September, this time in Nashville!
Any questions on the processes outlined above? Feel free to reach out—happy to provide some clarity to brands, marketers and creative teams navigating the remote prod world.