The Secret Sauce Covid Style.

Small or no crew production during Covid has been challenging, but we’ve adapted and gotten pretty good at it. We’ve been producing videos with either a VPK (virtual production kit), iPhones, or with a stripped down or no crew for almost a year now. In reality it’s quite a pivot from how we’ve done things in the past, but to innovate with technology is interesting and we can still deliver on our promise of creating great videos with our small or no crew production during Covid.

We’ve learned a few things and some worked, and some didn’t.

By far the best results for a virtual, hands off shoot, has been with the VPK we developed. The quality of the video is great, we have more control and the audio sounds great. The kit is built around an awesome vlogging camera, the Canon EOS M50 with a flip out screen and a RODE GO wireless mic. The mic and all the accessories are available from our friends at DVE Store, right here in Everett. As with any production, doing a tech scout of the location via a FaceTime call is very helpful. The last thing I want to do is to virtually rearrange furniture 15 minutes into our scheduled production.

A few things to check out include:

artificial or natural lighting, the time of day you’ll be shooting- bright direct sunlight or reflections
and what does the room sound like- echos, traffic noise, housemates etc.
If we have a little prep time we could have rearranged schedules and shot it in the quiet calm of a living room.


Small or no crew production during Covid- production kit

Our VPK for small or no crew productions during Covid includes everything that’s needed to shoot a professional quality video as long as the subject reads the instructions and follows the set up videos we created. The kit is customizable to handle most simple talking head video productions like customer interviews, some training, tabletop demos etc. That’s to say, even though the subject might or might not be doing all the production work, in any method, they are under the direction of an experienced cameraman/director. This is made possible through the HDMI link and a video conferencing app such as Zoom, Teams, WebEx etc.

One of the great things about his camera and HDMI link is that the director and or videographer can actually see what the camera is seeing and have the subject make adjustments to the camera accordingly.

For example, in one recent production we sent 2 of these kits to several executives and we were able to edit together 2 presentation video for CES 2021 without having to leave the studio.

Will small or no crew productions during Covid be the new paradigm for location based shooting?

I don’t think so but for now it works ok. Above all, most of the success of the projects depends upon how upbeat and cooperative the subjects are will to be. The rest is up to us to get a great delivery and performance.
On the other hand, there’s lots of info out there on how to take your own personal webcam set up using this same kind of setup. Using a larger format sensor camera is a great first start, along with upgrading your audio. No need for those ridiculous external large diaphragm microphones that broadcasters use. Most late night TV hosts use them as props anyway.  

If this is something you’re interested in, let me know. I’d be happy to walk you through the process. If you like this kind of information contact me for bi-monthly updates.

The VPK kit includes:

  • a sturdy shipping case
  • EOS M-50 camera
  • 2 batteries
  • SD card
  • A 40mm and 24mm lens
  • Mini tripod
  • Ring light
  • HDMI link adaptor
  • RODE Go wireless mic transmitter and receiver
  • Cables
  • Links to pdf instructions and video