Edit First, Shoot Later - Says Guest Blogger/Emmy Award Winner David Leveen

 Happy Wide

This is a guest blog post from my friend (and Emmy Award winner) David Leveen, who was the shooter, sound man, producer, director and editor of my Wiley DVDs on the Canon Digital Rebel cameras. David was also the shooter (etc.) for all the videos on my Light It! app.

David and I will be doing a video workshop here in Croton July 6 - 9, 2011. For info, shoot David an email.

Take it away, David!
• • • 

Rick Sammon and I recently finished a small video project for Square. Square enables people from all walks of life to accept credit and debit cards. What better way to illustrate this than a real world situation that Rick finds himself in multiple times a year, selling his books at his workshops and seminars and loosing sales because he doesn’t take credit cards. 

With the basic premise in place we started out the process for shooting.

First Concept (unable to accept credit card):
  1. Establish location and activity. Rick selling his books (the dude has written 36) after a workshop, which he does all over the U.S.
  2. Introduce a workshop attendee wanting to buy a book and being frustrated that he can’t use his credit card
  3. Show frustration for Rick and his assistant Susan that he doesn’t take credit cards and looses a sale.
Second Concept (happily accept credit card):
  1. Establish location and activity. Rick selling his books after a workshop. Which he does all over the U.S.
  2. Introduce a workshop attendee wanting to buy a book and happy that he can use his credit card.
  3. Demonstrate how Square works
  4. Show a successful sale and purchase because of Square.
Because I was the director, cameraman and editor and knowing what our basic set up was, I went about plotting how I wanted to shoot. One of the things I’ve learned as an editor, which helps make the videos message work, is the ability to visualize the completed video before I shoot! Sounds weird I know but boy does it make everything a lot simpler when shooting. 

Basically it’s a storyboard but not on paper, but in your head.  First thing we did is to do multiple run throughs of the action. While listening to the performances for pacing, timing and hitting the key story telling points I mentally blocked my shots.

First Setup (unable to accept credit card): 

I knew I wanted to have a wide shot to establish where and what we were doing.

 Wide of Book Signing

My next shot was going to be a close up of the attendee (actually one of Rick's former book editors, and now the mayor, who lives in Croton) who at first is excited to buy one of Rick’s books and get it autographed. It was important to show his disappointment and frustration in not being able to do so.

CU of Leo

Finally I knew that we needed to show a two shot between Rick and his assistant (played by his wife, Susan) that showed their disappointment in the lose of a sale.

Loosing a Sale

Second Setup (happily accept credit card): 

The front piece was similar to the First Setup but now I needed to also shoot the Square demo.

I knew we needed to shoot the iPhone with the card dongle in it, the credit card sliding through and then the app doing its transaction.

App Shots

I also wanted the buyer’s curiosity in what Square was doing.

CU Happy Leo

Finally I needed to see Rick and Susan’s successful sale.

Two Shot End

The actual shoot was done with a single camera - the Canon7D with two lenses (Canon 17-40mm and Canon 24-105mm). I felt that it was important that I shoot the performances all the way though for each camera angle. That allowed me to control the pace and flow of the action between the actors (okay, I used this term loosely, hee hee) and allowed me the freedom in the edit room to mix up the different camera angles. 

For the lights, I used a Westcott TD5 Spyder Light Kit:

See video below.

In Part II (which will be a video) I’ll go through the lighting setup and all of the equipment used. The whole shoot took about an hour including rehearsals and setup. The actual edit and graphics took just over an hour.

So remember: Edit before you Shoot – and visualize what you want your video to look like from start to finish.

For more info, click here.

• • • 
Thank you David... for making the shoot fun, and easy!

Explore the light,

P.S. During my still photography Croton Creative workshop, David will be running a cooking class here in Croton. In his spare time, he runs Skillet here in Croton. Yum, Yum.


For info, contact him directly. Hey, if your spouse does not take pictures, he/she can take the cooking course during my workshop! 

As you can see, we have a ton of fun on Croton!