We offer a full in-house video production service at Echo Video – from pre-production to filming, editing, motion graphics and animation and we’ll often bring in additional help to work on individual productions. Sometimes we’ll refer a client to another company as they offer a more specialist service or we are simply too busy. However, we very rarely turn down the opportunity to work or advise a client against having a video produced but that’s just what we did a short while back and I thought it would be interesting to write about how that unique situation came to pass.

The client was after a multi-camera shoot of a live band performance at a London venue. The footage would then be edited, the sound mixed and we would deliver a file ready for use on DVD. When discussing the project with the client we came across three potential problems that would hinder us from producing the best quality product possible and ultimately led us to advise the client not to go ahead with the work. The three key problems were lead time, budget and technical restrictions.

Lead Time
When we’re discussing a new project with a client one of the first questions we ask is – when is the deadline for completion? This then gives us a date to work back from in order the plan the shoot and post-production time. For example we might allow 2 weeks for editing, 1 week for filming and 1 month for pre-production. That means in order for us to complete the work on time we need to have started pre-production seven weeks before the deadline. This gives us time to plan the shoot, book equipment, crew and a location and make sure we have enough time to do a really top class job.
The project that I’m discussing was to be filmed on a Saturday night and they only contacted us on the Thursday morning. It is possible to put a fairly good crew together in just two days but it is far from ideal as you have little or no time to plan and do a recce at the location to find out what might be needed. In addition you run the risk of having to simply use whoever is available and whatever equipment is available just to get the work done.

Budget
Another concern was how much money our client had to spend. When it comes to live music events we try to aim to have at least 4-5 cameras rolling to guarantee a great selection of footage from which to create the edit. We would always also prefer to have a dedicated sound engineer to record the audio and mix it for the video. This can all prove to be rather costly but they are necessary expenses to ensure a great end product. Unfortunately our client was working with a restricted budget so they could only really afford 2 camera operators and no sound engineer.
We informed our client of the limitations that this would create but they seemed happy to continue with the project until we came to the last stumbling block.

Technical Restrictions
I’ve already mentioned above how that our client couldn’t afford for us to take along a sound engineer so we were going to rely on recording the live sound from the night. They were happy with this solution until they mentioned wanting a 7.1 audio mix. We work alongside an audio post-production studio called Brown Bear Audio to offer our clients stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 sound mixing but in this situation, a 7.1 mix wasn’t really ideal as Tom from Brown Bear explains…

“In order to have flexibility and achieve a professional sounding surround mix a multi microphone recording has to be obtained. This should consist of mono sources as well a number of stereo configurations (X/Y, M/S, Blumlein etc) that can be used to create natural width within the mix. It is possible to upmix a stereo recording to surround using plug-ins such as Penteo 4 but the results will never be as good as creating a surround mix from scratch from the multitrack files.”

So with these three factors taken into account we advised our client that even though we were able to produce the video for them they simply would not end up with the product that they wanted. There were going to be too many cut corners and sacrifices and in the end it was better that they kept their money planned another shoot with a longer lead time so that they could end up with a really great video that we could all be proud of.

If you need any more information about the services Echo Video offer please don’t hesitate to get in touch and to find out more about sound engineering and everything Brown Bear Audio do then visit them at brownbearaudio.co.uk

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