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What You Need to Know Before Becoming a Freelance Video Producer


Aug 3, 2021

Becoming a freelance video producer has never been easier and all you need is the proper equipment, planning, and some cinematic techniques.

Thanks to rapidly advancing technology becoming more and more affordable with every generation, now is a great time to begin producing videos. As a freelancer, the key is to always maximize all your hard work to get better-paying clients. Follow the 6 tips below to help ensure your success.

1. Get Your Equipment

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

You don’t necessarily have to buy an expensive camera to become a freelance video producer. Your smartphone, with the right accessories, is capable of capturing quality raw footage. The good folks at Adorama have compiled a shortlist of accessories you need. This applies whether you have a phone or a traditional camera.

Here’s the gear you need to start capturing good footage:

Video Rig Case

The value of this protection for your camera of choice can not be stressed enough. Cases like Ulanzi’s U-Rig Pro are also pre-drilled for easy connection of external lights, a microphone, and a stabilizer of your choice. They have other holes for attaching other accessories such as filters and lenses. This all adds up to a sturdy case that makes mobile productions a breeze thanks to these pre-routed connections and also the included flip-out handles.

Additional Lens

No list for video is complete without an additional set of varied lenses. You need wide-angle, ultra-wide, and telephoto to begin with. You may also want to get macro and fisheye for more variety in your shoots. Companies like Moment offer these invaluable accessories specifically for phones or traditional cameras.

Gimbal Stabilizer

This handy little device keeps your shots steadier than a surgeon’s hands! All joking aside you need these to negate unwanted movements that could ruin your well-planned productions. Going into the field without them is a costly mistake as no one will want to watch your shaky camera movements. Professionals use them to deliver smooth and steady shots.

Lighting Equipment

External lights ensure a scene is well lit. They also can create the desired mood and draw viewer attention exactly where you want it to be. Going without them is not an option as natural lighting rarely if ever translates into good video quality.

External Microphones

Professional videos demand high-quality audio as well. There are many viable choices. They range from lapel mics for actors to shotgun mics for capturing a specific sound source in a crowded field and overhead boom mics for recording almost everything in a scene. For single cameras, a mounted shotgun is the best choice as it will follow the POV exactly and automatically filter out unwanted noises. The Rode VideoMic Pro is an excellent choice for seasoned professionals and beginners alike.

With this small investment in additional equipment, you are ready to film the footage you need. But what is it that you’re shooting? You need to know that and have it set up before you even think about touching the camera icon.

2. Write And Rewrite Your Script

A big part of pre-production (or planning your shoot) the planning stage is finalizing a script. A good videographer films the shots while a great video producer has a hand in all aspects of the project and that includes scriptwriting. Besides the obvious rough draft, the most important phase of the script is the rewrites. Save yourself time, money, and frustration by having your client review your script before you shoot a second of footage. Nothing is more disheartening than hearing that you missed what they were going for.

3. Storyboard Your Script

You can also help make sure that your client is on board with your vision by storyboarding your script. This can help them see what may come across as abstract images with nothing to tie them together into a central message. Storyboards also help you to get a clear understanding of the shots and locations needed. Finally, storyboards also help you finalize the all-important shot list.

During pre-production, getting these two in place will ensure everyone is on the same page and also help to make sure the shot list is capturing all essential footage.

4. Use A Checklist

This will also help you to avoid the many pitfalls that can ruin your freelance production. Remember the old saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

YouTuber Eric Sui highly recommends answering these questions before going to a location. Here’s everything he recommends to be squared away before you start shooting:

  • Are you speaking to the right audience with the correct tone?
  • Is your script finalized?
  • Are all your production needs covered in your budget?
  • Has the script been converted to storyboards?
  • Is the talent booked?
  • Has the crew been hired and the locations secured?
  • Does everyone know the schedule?
  • Do you have all the required equipment?
  • Is the shot list complete?
  • What are the backup plans?
  • Have key members had a previsualization session to work out the kinks?
  • Is the game plan set and does everyone know it?

Incorporating this checklist into your productions will help you alleviate so many things that could go wrong on a production.

5. Incorporate Dolly Shots

Once on location do not be afraid to flex your creative muscles. Looking over to the world of traditional filmmaking you will see many techniques you can apply to your productions to make them stand out.

One common technique is the use of dolly shots. They are used to record on-screen movement in the smoothest way possible. This eliminates human errors from destroying that precisely scripted and storyboarded long shot that is necessary to complete your vision. The fine folks at Soundstripe have a great article on how to use the dolly shot.

Dolly rigs are wheeled carts that house the camera as it goes across a track system laid down to perfectly capture the shot. Inside the cart, the dolly operator can still use other cinematic techniques such as tilting or panning. You will often see these employed in a tracking shot to highlight one character’s movements.

There are a few different approaches to how you can track the action. You can move the dolly towards the action, or roll the dolly away from the point of focus, and even circle the scene if you lay a circular track.

However, dolly rigs are not always available due to budget, time, or location layout Alternative stabilizers include the Steadicam and motorized gimbals like the Ronin-SC. Though more exhausting for the operator these alternates are still less expensive than a dolly rig.

Whether you choose to utilize a dolly rig or one of the alternatives, the underlying principles and techniques still apply. You just need to determine which rig best suits your needs.

Now that you have your footage, including your visually impressive tracking shots, you are ready to edit your masterpiece.

6. Embrace Jump Cuts

Another invaluable cinematic technique to master is the use of jump cuts. Once again, the good people at Soundstripe wrote an article explaining how to utilize this invaluable tool to make your freelance production videos stand out. Creative use of jump cuts can take your productions to the next level.

A traditional rule of film is that jump cuts are destroying audience immersion by being too disruptive. Content creators on YouTube have shown how this rule can be bent or broken to make engaging content. Jump cuts give you more creative freedom when editing your videos.

You can use the jarring effect of jump cuts to your advantage. Use them to underscore the quick change from one edit to another. This will re-engage an audience member’s sagging attention. Accentuate the disruptive nature to hide unsavory elements like an actor sturring a line. Or you can jump cut to one actor’s reaction rather than another’s delivery to emphasize the importance of the message.

YouTubers have embraced disrupting jumped cuts and use them in two primary ways. They build up energy in a montage scene which is then typically used as an intro or outro of a video. And the also jump cut to the “talk to the camera” style of vlogging to better convey certain points or to provide humor.

Jump cuts by their very nature increase engagement in the modern viewer. Remember the average attention span is around 8 seconds and you need constant visual stimulation to hold an audience’s interest.

It’s A Wrap

There has never been a better time to become a freelance video producer. Advancements in technology have made it so many projects can be completed in a fraction of what they used to cost. But before you move on to advanced cinematography techniques like a dolly shot and jump cuts, you’ve got to master the basics. So shoot everything you can to quickly hone those skills. And study everything! We are in the golden age of television so study shot composition and pacing to tighten up your productions. We are waiting for your masterpieces!

By admin