I’m often asked about my process for creating video content. While every video production is different, I can share an example of one project that had a fairly in-depth pre-production process.
When the Greater Columbus Sports Commission approached me, they already had a pretty clear idea of what they wanted to achieve. What they were looking for was someone to help them pull it off.
The client wanted to create a presentation bid to bring the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four to Columbus. The theme for this bid was to “Run it Back.” The idea was to build off the extremely successful 2018 Women’s Final Four hosted in Columbus.
To build on this theme, they wanted to recreate some vintage commercials. On the top of their list was recreating the McDonald’s commercial starring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
Our version would be very similar, except we would use the city of Columbus and it’s more familiar landmarks in recreating the video.
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission’s, Jesse Ghiorzi had already started developing a script based on the vintage commercial. I began studying the vintage spot to get an understanding of how it was shot so I could capture the same feeling. Using this information, I began to develop storyboards. These storyboards were extremely helpful in shooting the raw footage needed to create the video.
Several challenges were discussed early in the project. The video was needed in a relatively short timeframe because the date of the bid presentation was approaching fast.
The facilities we wanted to use were almost always busy. Nationwide Arena and the Schottenstein Center were both gearing up for the hockey season, which meant ice would be down in both arenas when we needed to shoot. As an alternative, there was time available in the practice gyms at the Schottenstein Center. Though it was not ideal, we had to make do. We also had limited availability from Katie Smith and Tamika Williams-Jeter, who have extremely busy schedules but were willing to find time to make things happen.
We were able to find one day with a four-hour window where we could align all the facilities and the schedules of Tamika and Katie. This meant we had to work fast and move with purpose. I started to develop a plan with reduced lighting and more of a run and gun approach.
Once the storyboards were finalized, I developed a shooting schedule. We had limited time and several locations within Columbus that we needed to travel to. We could get into the practice gym at the Schottenstein Center early and those shots required more setup time with the lights, so I decided we would start there.
Then we would get the shot at Ohio Stadium, move to Short North, and finish at Nationwide Arena which also required a significant lighting setup. By bookending the shoots with those facilities allowed for setup time before the Tamika and Katie arrived and teardown time after they left. Any shots we could do without Tamika and Katie, we would do either before or after their availability to maximize time with them.
Using this schedule, I organized the storyboard into a shot list/shooting schedule instead of a chronological order. We didn’t need Tamika or Katie to actually make most of the baskets, we just needed to get shots of the ball going through the hoop. We recorded about a dozen “swooshes” before Katie or Tamika even arrived. At the end of the shoot, we recorded the bouncing ball going across the bridge and into the door at Nationwide Arena.
Laying it Down
The music helps sell the edits and for this particular video, I wanted to find music that was similar to the McDonald’s commercial. It starts with a jazz piano riff, and then moves into a high energy track with a few guitar licks.
For the jazz piano riff, I actually found segments from two different jazz piano songs in the same key through Storyblocks. I mixed them together for the intro riff to the video. I use Storyblocks for a lot of my music and stock footage needs.
Next, I found a nice high energy piece that was entirely percussion. I added an electric guitar element to the song at key moments to give a similar sound to the commercial.
When I edit a piece that tells a story, I generally get all of the elements laid out in the timeline and then trim it down to get the pacing right. The music helps guide this in some ways. Since this is a comedic piece, timing is important to maximize the humor.
Once I have the rough cut, I then go back and start to fine tune everything. I adjust audio levels, setting all of the voice tracks to the same level, then adjusting the music and adding sound effects as needed.
I also begin to adjust the footage, color correcting and adding effects. I want the footage to match throughout the piece as best as I can. The lighting in the practice gym was set up to only light the subjects, leaving the background as much in the dark as possible to try and hide the location a bit.
For special effects, I used a 3d basketball I created several years ago, and built a center hung videoboard to add to the Nationwide Arena shots. The “Run it Back” graphics and some other NCAA style graphics were added to the videoboard element as well. In the background of the Nationwide Arena, I replaced the ice with a basketball court. Once I was finished with the effects, I replaced the raw footage with the effects shots in the video and the edit was ready for approval.
After a few adjustments based on the client’s feedback, we finalized the video and it was ready for the presentation.