Behind the scenes of a Dreamweaver mini-documentary
I recently got to produce the Giving back through responsive web design article for the March 2014 issue of Inspire Magazine. This was a fun project for me because I got to experience video production from it’s early planning, pre-production stages to filming and, finally, post production. It was the first time I have gotten to be behind the scenes and really drive the direction of one of these types of projects and I had a blast doing it.
I got to work with great teams on every aspect of the project:
- MIGHTYminnow – Kristin Long (owner and front-end developer) and Mickey Kay (developer) have been long-time users of Dreamweaver and have been long time users and trainers of Dreamweaver and other CC products. Both are extremely knowledgeable, well-spoken and a joy to be around. Jaime Boust (shown in the picture above), whose scenes got cut, only due to constraints of length we had on the final project, is the project manager for MIGHTYminnow who was crucial in setting up the relationship between MIGHTYminnow and Rocket Dog Rescue.
- Material Artifact – Quinn Warble, owner of Material Artifact, and his video production crew were clearly very experienced in video production and really set me at ease. I told them the story I wanted to get and they made it happen.
- Rocket Dog Rescue – Rocket Dog Rescue, started by Pali Boucher, continues to achieve the status of the Bay Area’s Best Charity and has saved the lives of thousands of dogs. Pali’s story, by the way, is a fascinating one and you should definitely check it out here.
This was the longest phase of the project since it required a lot of planning to make best use of the 2 days that we had access to Kristin, Mickey and Lena. Since we were already taking over MIGHTYminnow’s workspace for 2 days, we wanted to make best use of their time while we were there so as to make a little impact on their work schedule as possible.
I also had to stay in budget. Getting the formal interviews was the most expensive part of the project since it required extra crew and equipment to get the sound quality we expected for a polished final product. The interviews took place on the first day and it was important to have a tight schedule since this would be the longest day for everyone involved.
I live in Florida and the shoot was to take place in Oakland, CA, and it was not practical for me to come out and do a site visit before the shoot. So, Quinn Warble and his Director of Photography were able to check out MIGHTYminnow’s office ahead of time. They were assessing factors such as the amount of natural light coming into the space at different times of day, the amount of street noise that might impact the audio and how the composition of the indoor space impacted the number of different shots we could get.
It turns out the MIGHTYminnow office made for a great location for a shoot. It’s in an old building with a lot of character in the heart of downtown Oakland. Kristin has worked hard to make the interior office space a warm and inviting place to be. As a result, we had plenty of great backdrops to choose from for the different interviews and B-roll footage.
Day 1 of the formal shoot is the day we did all of the interviews with Kristin, Mickey and Lena. It was also the longest day of the shoot. The video and sound crew was able to get there early (7am) to setup. It would take them 2 hours to load in all of the equipment and do the initial setup before the first interview actually took place. We wanted to schedule an hour for each interview, with an hour in between to setup for the next interview.
We also only had access to Lena in the afternoon of the first day so we wanted to make sure we got her interview as well as any B-roll footage that she needed to be in. Planning for an hour lunch break was particularly important for the crew since they had started early and were working solid throughout the entire day. That put us at being done at 5pm, making it a 10-hr day for them.
Based on this, it was important to set the schedule ahead of time and plan very well for it. As a result, we limited the number of interviews to 3, even though there were others who were very important to the overall project and cause of Rocket Dog Rescue. Since the story was ultimately focusing on Dreamweaver, we narrowed it down to the folks who had a direct impact on the web project. Although, if you have time, you should definitely check out Pali’s story of how Rocket Dog Rescue came to be and learn more about its mission.
Here’s how the schedule looked for Day 1:
- 7am – crew sets up
- 9am – Kristin (setup and interview)
- 10am – video crew sets up for Mickey’s interview
- 11am – Mickey (setup and interview)
- 12noon – lunch
- 1pm – video crew sets up for Lena’s interview
- 2pm – Lena (setup and interview)
- 3pm – 5pm – b-roll (Kristin, Mickey, and Lena)
- 5pm – Load out
Day 2 was mostly shooting B-roll footage that I had either identified in the pre-production stages, directly as a result of topics that came up in the interview as well as ideas that the production crew had in order to make the story even more compelling. We were able to start a bit late that day (9am) and with less crew since we weren’t actually recording any sound.
We didn’t have to account for audio setup and the scenes were less formal, so we were able to get what we needed shortly after lunch making for a much lighter day for all involved.
Getting the B-roll was fun because we had a bit of freedom and flexibility in what to get and how to get it. The main goal for the B-roll for this project was to help the viewer visualize what the talent discussed in their interviews. We also wanted to establish a comfortable, welcoming tone to the video which mimicked the feeling one would get while being at the MIGHTYminnow office.
Most of the B-roll shots were done in different parts of the office. But some, like ones of Kristin walking into the office and Lena working on her computer were done outside or nearby.