As our culture embraces working remotely in many industries, creators must follow suit and produce video remotely as well. There are a few experts who are already finding ways to be successful with remote work on their projects. While it may sound complicated or inhibitive, it will sometimes be necessary. However, once you have developed the skills to do this well, you may find that it is preferable for some projects.

While many aspects will remain the same, now is an excellent time to learn to make adjustments to your typical workflow to allow remote teamwork. You can add digital tools into pre-production that will make off-site staff more productive. Also, changing up communication and filming routines will prevent extra work in post-production for remote employees. Doing so adds a new layer of connectivity that can help yield great results even during uncertain times. It is essential to have a strong understanding of how to get the most out of a team that works remotely.

Pre-production

Planning and communication

With classes and offices around the world learning to work remotely in long-term capacities, the tools available to make it productive are increasingly useful and accessible. It is critical to have some form of a primary communication tool to discuss and plan with your team. Video chats and online meetings have become a common means for collaboration and communication. Some popular apps include Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts. These are free —with a few paid upgrades available— and user-friendly for all ages and experience levels. Keep in mind that some might make more sense than others because of compatibility with the rest of the communication tools you intend to use. For example, Slack is great for team communications via text, but you might not know that it now offers video chat. You need to be able to share not only thoughts and ideas but media files such as videos and photos for purposes such as scouting, for instance

For group meetings, such as conference calls, Zoom has become a buzzword due to its immediate availability and ease-of-use during the early weeks of pandemic stay-home orders. Competitors are catching up quickly, though. Web-based meeting apps like Cisco Webex and GoTo Meeting are reaching for mainstream recognition. TeamViewer and Pexip are frequently noted on listicles as top contenders in the market with competitive features.

When choosing communication apps for your team, do your homework to see what application will meet your needs. Will it accommodate your entire team? Is it web-based or cloud-based? Can you share your screen view and send files? Does it offer recordings for anyone who misses a meeting? Are users required to create an account, or can anyone join with a link? Can it be used from both mobile and desktop? Does it have a free level —and if so, what are the limits? How reliable is the security? Knowing these answers will help you determine which tools are best to keep your productions moving smoothly.

Manage and assign tasks

Planning is always essential, but when you have team members working remotely, it is even more critical. The key is to plan out the entire project so that things run smoothly, allowing you and your team to meet deadlines effectively. Using video chats and conferencing is an excellent first step. Next, you will want a strong online tool to keep everyone organized and on-task. If your in-person project management style usually looks like color-coded stick notes, you might like Trello. It is collaborative and easy to use.

The most common alternative is Asana, which is more workflow-based. Asana allows you to assign tasks in order of continuation. When one task is complete, it automatically notifies the next person of their upcoming task. Your team can plan out the entire project and assign due dates or contingent dates so that everyone knows what to expect. You will be able to add links and documents, create subtasks and leave comment threads.

Many others exist, of course, so be sure to find which will be most efficient for your team. Jira is a software designed for bug tracking in software and apps, but it also encompasses agile project management. Workfront, Monday.com, Smartsheet and Wrike offer endless tools. Compare these sites and software to discover which options include the tools you want for things like budget management, collaboration, milestone tracking and automation. Understanding the benefits of different project management methodologies such as Gantt charts, cards, grids and calendars can help you decide between the various apps and software available.

Drafting a script collaboratively

There are times when video chats are the best way to collaborate and times when written task management is needed. When it comes to scripts, though, it might be hard to imagine working out the details without being at a table together. Combining a video conference with Google Docs can help get the script done seamlessly. 

The stand-out feature that your team will get with Google Docs is one you will not find in Office 365: multi-user real-time collaboration on a written document. You can share your script with everyone on the team and grant the read-only or editing ability to whomever you want to include. Each user is noted with a color, and everyone else will see coworker cursors in the coordinating colors. This way, everyone can work simultaneously and see where others are working in the doc. It holds the history of all edits, as well, so you can undo a change if needed.

Production

Keep everyone in the loop

If your team has helped put in the extra work during pre-production, you will find having remote employees during production can be great. Crew-view videos and photos from the set can be sent to your remote team members so they can see how things are going throughout the shoots. Fresh eyes on your work have advantages over a crew that watched the scene filmed for several takes, so be sure to listen to their feedback. Knowing early that you’ll need to reshoot something can save everyone from significant headaches, expenses and compromises later.

Have regularly scheduled check-ins even if you are using online project management tools. Decide whether your project will benefit more from video conferences with the whole crew or multiple meetings with smaller groups. Add these meetings to the calendar and stay consistent. These check-ins can be more conversational and might not involve viewing any footage. Ask your team members how they are feeling with their workload and tell them about things happening on the set. Update anyone who might have deadlines affected by things moving along faster or slower than expected. Collaborate on any issues as they arise and celebrate progress so that everyone working remotely is part of the action.

Viewing dailies

Conventionally, during a shoot, producers, directors, editors, camera crew and actors might huddle together to view the dailies during breaks or at the end of the day. Dailies —better known as rushes in some countries— is a term that refers to the raw, unedited sequence of footage captured the previous day. Tedious though it may be, it helps to gauge the overall progress and allows the team to catch errors or ensure that there are enough angles captured for the editors to use later.

When much of the crew is working remotely, the workflow of dailies can be easier. Working together to understand the equipment used will guide the process. These factors can help determine file sizes, syncing and delivery methods. Are your cameras 4K? Will footage need to be transcoded? What editing software is everyone using? Will there be scratch audio tracks or proxy footage from the cameras? How secure is your internet connection? Are the remote editors local to production sets where a runner can deliver the footage, or are they in another city? Will time zones be a factor?

Viewing dailies together is still an essential part of bringing your vision to life, though, so find ways to do that. Lean into the same communication methods you selected early on. Create a video conference with a screen share so that everyone is watching together. A Google Doc might be a great way to get notes all in one place. Use a firm schedule to stay on track. Figure out how dailies will be managed during the pre-production planning so that it runs smoothly during production. You may find that digital solutions save a lot of time and hard drive space while still allowing creative collaboration for your project.

Post-production

Using video for remote collaboration

With the right video collaboration set up and a solid plan, your post-production can be quite efficient. As with everything, compare the options. Ensure that your choices work well with existing software to prevent frustrations and lost time. If you have clients involved, be sure to consider how tech-savvy they might be —or how user-friendly your app or software choice will be.

If your team is already planning to use Premiere Pro, you may find that Adobe Shared Projects is an excellent solution for multiple editors working from the same storage service. It allows users to lock the piece they are working on and unlock it to enable other users to edit. It is versatile for use by editors sharing as well as remote collaboration. Since it does not cost extra to use the Shared feature, it is worth a test run. For those fortunate enough to have large studio budgets, CineSync is the top of the line. It has excellent security and allows multiple people to view rough cuts simultaneously. However, they have a web-based option, Frankie, that can get the job done at reasonable pricing.

When you know you’ll be processing a lot of footage, Wipster can get you through it with a simple interface and features like versioning and team-only notes. It has several integrations with Adobe Premiere and After Effects. On the other hand, you will find that Frame.io offers intuitive, easy-to-use tools that editors and clients will love to use. Users can comment and draw directly on the video. This reduces the struggle of figuring out exactly which frame a client is referring to in written notes. They have even published a series of tutorials to help navigate work-from-home workflows and learn tips and tricks to get things done right the first time. 

Communication is still key

Take everything you learned during pre-production and apply it here. Video conferencing will be the best way to stay in touch during post-production. Give your team enough space to do their creative work, but keep in touch with scheduled virtual meetings. Use the screen sharing or video collaboration tools you already implemented. Have constructive conversations to keep everyone on task and hitting deadlines. Plan a few update video meetings with your wider team so that everyone can see how the results are coming together. You can use the same tools to gain periodic approvals from clients, too, if needed. Taking these steps will keep your team on the same page and fully engaged throughout the project.

While working remotely on a video takes a lot of communication, with the tools we have at our disposal today, it is more than possible. The industry is taking on this challenge, too. New developments will make creating videos and films in the “new normal” environment of remote work more efficient. With practice, your team will build skills, and you’ll be able to move forward confidently to take on whatever opportunities arise.

Conclusion

As a final note, remember that it is necessary to be mindful of the difficulties that are inherent in working from home, especially in the early months of adapting. It can also create extra pressure for on-site crews who might be picking up slack where the absences are apparent—check-in with your team members privately about their stress levels, workloads and time-management. Go beyond giving them the tools they will need to get the job done. The results will be a more energetic crew who can turn out great projects together. Learn more at: fujifilm-x.com

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