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What Are The Roles on a Video Production Team?
Business leaders may be surprised to find themselves assembling or hiring a video production team. Just over a decade ago, video content wasn’t nearly as central to corporate media as it is today. Consumer access to high-speed mobile internet and smart devices has changed everything, however.
Now, high-quality video production isn’t just about creating the next hit feature film or television show — companies are increasingly counting on using videos with impressive production values as part of their digital marketing strategies, training efforts and more.
This expansion of video means film production teams are in higher demand than ever before. The impact of this rising demand has reached all corners of the video space, creating opportunities for professionals to join the field and make their mark.
There are a few important questions to answer about the rise of video teams: What does it take to make a balanced video production crew? What are the individual roles in a typical group? How do businesses of various kinds use video talent? And what are some paths into the video industry?
Building a Balanced Film Production Team
It’s worth thinking about video production in terms of the finished product. Namely, what kinds of skills and talents will be necessary to create the kind of video content that gets results?
A balanced and comprehensive video team is one that will be able to craft a compelling video, one that fulfills its objective, whether that’s to build brand awareness, teach employees important concepts, deliver product information, or any other role.
Before delving into the different aspects of production, it’s worth noting that in some cases, the right team for the job is an efficient, one-person operation. When capturing a simple corporate video, a solo videographer can sometimes get the job done, handling everything from selecting the camera to editing the footage.
In cases where a full video production team is necessary, there are a few topical areas to sort individual film production team member roles into:
- Preparation and planning: Before a video shoot can proceed, everything must be verified and checked in advance. Selecting the right filming location is one part of this process, and acquiring the necessary permits is the essential follow-up. This is the stage of production when leadership must find the right talent and technical crew members, while drawing up a schedule and realistic budget.
Example roles: Producer, director, location manager, writer, cinematographer
- Video and Camera: Since filmmaking is a visual medium, the skills and experience of the people behind the camera play an enormous role in the quality of the finished product. A crew needs people who can handle technical aspects, such as gear choice and camera operation, as well as creative choices like camera angle selection.
Example roles: Cinematographer (director of photography), camera operator
- Lighting: The lights on a production are a subset of the visual side of filmmaking, and getting them right is absolutely essential. This may mean setting up reflectors during outdoor filming, properly lighting a soundstage or handling any responsibilities in between, hand in hand with other visual professionals.
Example roles: Cinematographer, lighting director, gaffer, grip
- Audio and Sound: Capturing clear sound can represent the difference between a highly polished video and one that fails to connect with its audience. There are numerous technical concerns that go into the audio part of the equation, including mic selection and protecting against the elements, especially wind.
Example roles: Audio technician, grip
- Post production: When a director crosses the last item off the shot list, a piece of video content is far from done. Post production, editing and visual effects are all necessary to make sure a video lives up to its potential. In today’s digitally enabled age, there are more options than ever before for editing and effects software, but audience expectations are also very high, demanding an attention to detail.
- Example roles: Director, editor, visual effects technician
Depending on the scale and type of production, companies will employ more or fewer professionals in each of these departments, as needed. Creating a balanced production crew that can meet every requirement and deliver high-quality finished content is a process that’s slightly different every time.
Roles on a Production Team: What Do They Do?
Within the flexible framework of a video production team, there are plenty of specific roles. The following are just a few of these film production team member jobs, selected to show off the various sides of filmmaking.
Learning more about the different job specifications within video teams is a great way for business leaders to think about assembling crews, and also for professionals to consider their future careers. It’s also important to note that advancement paths are not locked in, and employees can cross-train and move between departments as they rise through the ranks.
A producer is an important behind-the-scenes presence on a large video shoot, making contacts between various organizations, people and departments. Whether a producer just shapes the program from behind the scenes or gets involved on set will depend on the scale of the crew.
The director is the individual who keeps a production moving along. The director makes creative choices throughout the process and acts as the authority figure on set. From pre-production through the final edit, the director is the person to sign off on every decision.
First Assistant Director
On larger productions, directors have assistants who can take on some organizational responsibilities. As 522 productions notes, the first assistant director (1st AD) is the keeper of the schedule and shot list, making sure every necessary piece is being captured.
Video shoots that involve on-location filming need people to find the right spots, along with receiving permission to work there, and setting up backups in case something goes wrong. Indeed adds that the location manager is the contact person between the crew and local authorities, so relationship-building is essential.
Cinematographer (Director of Photography)
The cinematographer is the person on set with authority for all visual decisions, from aspect ratio to individual shot composition. Working closely with lighting and audio technians is an essential part of the role, and on smaller crews the cinematographer may directly control a camera.
The number of camera operators on a given set will depend on the scope and scale of the project. In today’s production environments, there are numerous kinds of cameras to work with situationally, including steadicams to capture dynamic shots from a moving perspective.
Audio technicians can help videos sound great by setting recording levels and watching over audio capture as it occurs. These professionals should be ready to work with a wide variety of microphones, from directional shotgun mics and boom mics to lavalier mics designed to get clear dialogue audio.
On large enough crews, there is a specific lighting director who can coordinate with the cinematographer to ensure all lighting is adequately arranged. As 522 production ntes, lighting directors control teams of grips, gaffers and production assistants.
Gaffer and Key Grip
Roles on the roles on the lighting team include the key grip, who rigs up the lights, as well as the gaffer, who serves in a role as leading electrician and the person tasked with setting and executing the lighting strategy.
Hair, Makeup and Wardrobe
Whenever a video production is using on-screen talent instead of simply filming B-roll, it’s worth asking who will be on set to make everyone look as good as possible on camera. Storyboard Media notes that small productions will often have talent do their own hair, makeup and wardrobe, but on larger shoots, there are chances to get professionals involved.
Visual effects aren’t just the kinds of splashy lasers and explosions shown in Hollywood feature films. Indeed notes that these professionals could create practical effects on set, make changes during post production or take on a variety of other editing jobs.
Digital imaging technician
Who is actually responsible for storing the data captured on a film set? That’s the digital imaging technician (DIT), who must take good care of the storage media. Both 522 and Storyboard Media note that sometimes DIT is not a distinct role, and the director or cinematographer handles this job.
Turning footage into a cohesive and compelling finished product is a job for a video production’s editor. This individual should have a strong grasp on the latest video editing software, along with a strong creative vision — and a great working relationship with the director.
The production assistants on a film set are the people who get things done, taking on whatever work needs to be handled. While this can seem like a small job from the outside, it’s highly useful — and a way for new professionals to get started in the video space.
Different Models of Organizations Employing Production Teams
Since there is so much demand for corporate video today, it’s not surprising that there are multiple kinds of businesses taking on the creative duties of making video content.
It’s important to note that there is no one correct model of video production, and businesses using an agency decoupling model — meaning they’re not tied to a single creative partner — can pursue a hybrid production style, working with numerous other companies.
- Independent video crews: These businesses are free to work with multiple clients and create video to fit a variety of roles and niches. They may be large or small, or expand on demand by teaming with freelancers. They could be defined by working in a specific style of video, or by the region where they operate.
- All-in-one creative agencies: These agencies are associated with the classic coupled production model and take on every step of video creation, from the initial ideation to crafting the finished product with their own teams.
- In-house corporate video departments: Some companies have made video such a deeply ingrained part of their creative priorities that they’ve hired their own creative professionals and talent and built in-house studios.
Pursuing a Video Production Career
One of the most exciting, though potentially daunting, aspects of video is that there’s no one career ladder to climb. Professionals can enter the industry through networking, by attending film school, or even by cross-training between another creative department and a video team.
Industry gatherings offer a great chance to learn more about video careers, and Crews Control offers two types of these meetings, for professionals at different stages along their paths:
- Video and Broadcast Executive Roundtables are where established leaders trade thought leadership about the present and future of corporate video.
- Media and Communications Career Roundtables offer a forum for professionals to network, gather insights and hear from their peers.
To learn more about video careers, download our ebook.