So you want to make a video — awesome! A great video requires great talent. However, your talent may not always be a seasoned video veteran. Let’s take a moment to walk through some best practices for establishing an ideal creative environment and getting the most out of your talent.
1. Clean Up the Room!
Maybe your talent has never been on camera before, or they are quite nervous to be a part of the production. A simple way to make your on-camera talent feel comfortable is to clean up the space you are filming in. Typically, having a clean and organized room free of clutter makes the space feel significantly bigger and more open. This gives your on-camera talent enough room to breathe, and enough space to take a step back and relax when they need a break from filming. When filming, you want to control everything you can — cleaning up the room is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this.
2. Make the Talent a Co-Pilot
It’s natural for the talent to feel self-conscious in front of a camera, especially if they are sharing something sensitive or personal. The last thing you want as a director is to make the talent feel like a test subject or that they are being interrogated. This means you must make sure you never make the talent feel inferior; you need to level the playing field.
To achieve this, make the talent a co-pilot. Loop the talent into the creative process as much as you can. Make them feel like they are “in on it.” Speak to them as a peer. Keep the mood light. If you can, show them the camera rig before you start filming. When testing audio levels with the talent, make it clear to the talent that you need their help to make the video sound good. Use language that conveys the message, “We are going to do ____” instead of the message, “I am going to do ____ to you.” The second example sounds a little strange, right? Don’t do that! Using the “we” language empowers the talent and gives them confidence; a confident talent makes for an engaging talent on camera.
3. The Rip Take
When you’re working on scripted material, it can be tough for the talent to know how to translate their enthusiasm to the camera. When they are behind the camera, they may feel like they are delivering a take in their normal demeanor. However, this can come off quite different on the camera, and lack the energy needed to engage with the audience. As a director, how can you help your talent overcome this?
A simple solution is the “Rip Take,” a concept that is borrowed from the music recording industry. To start, have your talent read the script with a very natural delivery, until you feel like you have a take where the talent is comfortable and natural. Then, ask your talent to “rip” the next take — going 110% beyond what they normally feel comfortable with. This extra 10% may surprise you — it can provide the extra sparkle that you’re looking for out of your talent. The awesome part is, you already have a great take, and now you have two different options with different feels.
With these steps in hand, you’re now ready to produce a great video, and your talent will feel comfortable and ready to deliver the content you need. Happy creating!