Remote Production: Pros and Cons

COVID-19 has impacted every angle of agency life, including production shoots. Navigating this new world of remote video production definitely has its ups and downs. We did a little crowdsourcing from a team that was just on a remote shoot and had them weigh in on the pros and cons of this new terrain.

Pro:  With a smaller crew comes smaller budgets because we have less people we are paying, less meals, less craft services, and less travel expenses. This also increases productivity for those who aren’t on set, because they’re able to work on other deliverables that are needed in the time period between shots. And then the on-set team can just send reminders when things are about to get rolling again.

Con: Video and photo work can be expensive and a huge investment for clients to make. A client being on-set and witnessing all of the people and effort that go into their project, seeing all of the bells and whistles it takes to pull off a great production shoot, helps them realize WHY these things cost money, why it’s worth it, and how it can really elevate their brand or product. We want them to feel like they got what they paid for, and sometimes the remote-ness of it all diminishes that. 

Riley, Junior Content Producer

Pro: Using technology, we can involve different members of the client team at various points of the shoot, leveraging their expertise when needed and not taking up their time when not needed. We can pinpoint exact times for when we needed each product owner to join Zoom to review and give feedback in real-time, enabling the production team to work more efficiently.

This was a game-changer for a recent shoot where we had to get through 40+ shot setups across three days.

Con: Having the opportunity to spend time with our clients outside of the workday is key to building strong relationships, and having a casual conversation with clients over coffee, dinner, or drinks is just not the same when it’s done over video chat. I understand the need to be safe given our current environment, but I’m looking forward to a time when we can enjoy these outings in the future.

Matt Webber, Senior Producer

Pro: Shooting remote makes working on other components of the project, like a VO record, or designing art cards, easier. And for the most part, we were able to avoid the classic "Trains, Planes, and Automobiles" scenario that inevitably descends on at least one of a shoot’s team members, leaving a producer stranded at Russian passport control or taking a call from the 5th hour of going absolutely nowhere on a tarmac. 

Con: While we got to dial in from the comfort of our own homes there was a noticeable dearth of high fiving after nailing a great shot. In all seriousness, if given the choice of a Covid-free world, I’d prefer shooting live every time. 

Sara Becker, Copywriter

Pro: One thing I love about remote shoots is how much extra alignment and planning we do to prepare for any issues we may run into. With us knowing that being remote could potentially cause delays in communication, we thought through any potential issues we could run into and had our plan for how to handle pivots fully laid out - even issues that would’ve required an act of God to happen. If there was an issue on set we had a plan, but even more, we had trust that the team members on set were making the best possible game time decisions.  

Con: When we planned the remote shoot, we accounted for times that we would need key team members present in our virtual room to review the shoot. This allowed us to be really efficient with our review times and ultimately have more key stakeholders present to review shots. But just like any virtual meeting I think the biggest barrier you can run into is the attendees running behind to join the session or being distracted. This is something that anyone on the call can run into and I had to be intentional about setting up messaging on communication channels to allow focus to be on the shoot.

Greg Frank, Senior Art Director

Pro: There was something super special about being on a zoom call with the client and art director watching the live feed streaming in directly from the camera. I liked that we could also quickly converse and share thoughts and truly see what was being shot without having to sit through multiple playbacks. 

It felt like we had a front-row seat at the 50-yard line in a private suite.

Con: This is going to sound crazy but being a member of the remote team felt too easy. There is a bonding that happens when you spend 10 hours on your feet at a shoot with your client and team members. You lose a part of the sense of accomplishment that comes from truly exhausting work. 

Samara Anderson, VP, Sales & Marketing 

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