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  • Writer's pictureDuncan Curtis - Director

VIDEO PRODUCTION CREWS or "WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE IN MY OFFICE?"



The number of crew members needed on a video shoot can vary greatly depending on the specific requirements of each project. Factors such as the complexity of the filming, the number of contributors, the level of equipment used, health and safety considerations, the length of the shoot, location logistics, makeup needs, practical effects, animation level, edit requirements, deliverables, and deadlines all play a role.

 

Crew sizes can range from a single person to dozens of specialists, each with a crucial role to ensure the production runs smoothly, safely, and on schedule. Below is a brief guide to the key individuals who may make up your video production team. The list is not exhaustive and further specialists may be required.




PRODUCER – The first point of contact for the client and the overall manager of the project. The producer oversees the budget, resources and schedule to ensure the production runs smoothly, safely and to time.

 





DIRECTOR – The visionary behind the project. The director will take the script and brief and turn them into the most effective and creative visual solution for the client. They will make technical and artistic decisions and communicate them to the crew, contributors and performers to ensure the final product aligns with the intended vision and purpose.

 





PRODUCTION MANAGER – The organiser for the production, PMs are responsible for sourcing kit and crew, liaising with all departments and reporting back to the producer on budgets and production updates. They raise purchase orders, schedules, transport, accommodation, timesheets and are often responsible for health and safety, wellbeing and sustainability targets.

 





SCRIPTWRITER/EDITOR – The spoken word is different from the written word. The scriptwriter will take a client’s essential information and distil it into an effective and succinct, spoken script for on-screen talent, contributors or voiceover artists.

 




STORYBOARD ARTIST – Working closely with the director, the storyboard artist will translate the director’s concept into a series of in-sequence illustrations in order to clearly communicate the vision of the director to the client, camera crew, animators and editors.

 



SMALL SCALE SHOOTS



LIGHTING CAMERAMAN – on a lot of small, lower budget shoots, the cameraman will often handle the lighting, camera operation and sound recording in camera. They may even take on the director’s role as the only person on location. Having said that, even the smaller shoots run more smoothly if they include the following crew.

 




DIRECTOR – Having the director on location enables the cameraman to concentrate on the technical side, while the director liaises with the client and on-screen talent. It also helps to ensure that the creative vision is adhered to at all times.

 




SOUND RECORDIST – sound can be challenging in various locations, Having a separate sound recordist on site will always ensure better quality sound. They will always be required if more than one person needs to be recorded at the same time.

 




ASSISTANT/RUNNER – An assistant to help set up/break down equipment, source food, transport, etc. on location will half the time a shoot will take.

 



MID-SCALE SHOOTS




DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY (DoP) – the head of the camera department is responsible for the overall look of the video. They decide where the cameras and lights are set for each shot and will liaise with the director to ensure the latter’s vision is achieved on screen, leaving the rest of the camera team to set and operate the cameras.





GAFFER/ELECTRICIAN – whenever a shoot demands large lighting setups, or a location presents electrical challenges, gaffers and/or electricians (sparks) are essential for health and safety reasons. The gaffer is the chief electrician, who liaises directly with the DoP on the lighting requirements.

 




GRIPS – Essentially responsible for setting up, maintaining and moving camera and lighting support and moving equipment such as tracks, dollies, ladders, diffusion frames, etc. Essential for not only the dolly shots, but also setting up cameras and lighting in challenging locations.

 




MAKE-UP ARTISTS – from reducing the shine from a perspiring forehead to more specialist beauty and makeup effects, makeup artists are often needed on shoots of every scale to make sure the contributors look their best.

 




ASSISTANTS – may be required by every department. The number will depend on the scale and complexity of the shoot.

 


 

DIT – essential crew member for organising, labelling and cataloguing all the footage correctly to make the post production process easier for the editor.

 

LARGE SCALE SHOOTS



The number of crew members involved in large scale filming can be huge. I won’t go into full details for each here, but can include, but not restricted to (long, deep breath)…

 

… art department, catering, drivers, Jib/crane/cherry picker operators, camera assistants, focus puller, boom operator, sound assistants, electrical crew, animal handlers, stunt performers/coordinators, practical effects crew, actors, construction crew, assistant directors, fixers, first aid/medics, health and safety, legal, wardrobe, armorers, location manager, PAs, prop department, photographers, drone pilot/operator…etc.

 

Many of the above are only required in the very high budget world of drama and commercials, so it is rare that businesses will ever come across a lot of them on general corporate video shoots. However, there will be times when some individuals may be needed, depending on the requirements of the individual project. Production companies will advise of these needs at the appropriate time and it is essential that businesses take that advice on board for legal and health and safety reasons.

 

POST PRODUCTION



EDITOR – Responsible for cutting the video together. On smaller productions, the editor will sometimes work alone, but more often they will be supervised by the director to ensure the creative vision is achieved. Occasionally, more than one editor will be required, depending on the scale of the project, the number of deliverables and to meet tight deadlines.





ANIMATOR/MOTION GRAPHICS – from simple eye-catching text and logo animation to fully rendered 3D creations and effects, animations can add an extra level of quality to a video. The cost, time and size of the animation team varies greatly, depending on the scale of the animations required.

 





COMPOSER – although many corporate projects will be edited to library and copyright-free, music, there are times when clients will ask for specially composed tracks for their projects. These are normally restricted to larger, multinational companies, but it does provide them with bespoke options, specific to their organization, which can be used on future projects.

 







DUBBING – Often, if the sound within a project is complex, a dub will be required to balance voices, music, effects and ambient sound. This is particularly true if the soundtrack is designed for certain venues, with separate tracks directed to specific speakers around the space.

 




VOICEOVER – Voiceovers are an important part of many videos and it’s important to use professionals to record them to ensure high quality (see my previous blog). Professional recording facilities should also be used to record them.




CONCLUSION


A professional, experienced video crew is essential for bringing any video project to life. Each crew member, from the director to the production assistants, plays a critical role in ensuring the production runs smoothly, meets its deadlines, and achieves its creative vision. By understanding and valuing the contributions of each team member, you can ensure a successful and high-quality video that resonates with your audience and meets your goals. Investing in the right crew is investing in the success of your video project.

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