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Intro to Production

So you want to stream video from your Web site, but you have a couple of concerns. Basically, the idea seems more complicated than you ever imagined, holds the potential to look embarrassingly awful, and you're...let's say...tentative about trying it.

You're right. But the good news is that if you've figured out enough to be worried, you've already taken the first step. Over the next few weeks, to keep you on track, I'm going to present a series of tutorials covering all the elements of producing video and audio for the Web. If you follow these recipes, you should bring the possibility for disaster to an absolute minimum.

While there are many approaches to producing streaming media, the process can be broken down as follows.

Pre-production

  • budget
  • scope
  • script/storyboard
  • crew
  • equipment
  • live/on demand
  • location/studio

Production

  • casting
  • rehearsing
  • setting up
  • shooting

Post-production

  • editing
  • audio post
  • digitizing/formatting
  • uploading

As this suggests--and what may be surprising--is that there are relatively few differences between producing video that will be streamed and video for other formats. Nevertheless, the differences are important--even vital--and demand that you make a number of judgements in their service throughout the process. If you want to make your final product effective in the Internet environment, you'll have to call these shots right. Bottom line is, you can't neglect either the traditional or the Web side of the process.

Pre-production
The first step in any production is as important as it is un-glamorous: planning. Before you even touch a camera, you need to consider the first three inter-related elements: budget, scope, and script. Which one of these you need to address first, or whether their natures become clear together, depends on your situation. In any case, the first step is to ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your video. You might want to run around shooting artistically with a handheld Hi8 camcorder; shoot a simple, businesslike talking head; or produce an epic with a cast and crew of thousands. One way or the other, be sure you clearly articulate the answer to this question to yourself before proceeding. Throughout the project, you'll need to keep your goal in mind, and balance it against the amount of money and time you can spend.

The next step-with your budget, scope and goals in mind-is to write a script that both outlines the scenes,objects, characters and events that will appear in the video and includes all the dialogue. Keep in mind that dialogue has to sound good, and not just read well. Next develop a storyboard from the script: a series of simple sketches that illustrate the production's most important visual elements.

This is the first point where the scope of your project dictates what you do. Do you need a big cast, or just a narrator? Can your venue be a "natural" location, or do you need a sound stage, props and the crew to handle them? How sophisticated does your lighting and sound need to be, and do you require gaffers and recordists? I'll detail these considerations in a future piece, but remember while you write the script to call for a shooting environment that's within your budget.

Tim Tully has written two books and hundreds of articles about music,audio, video and technology in publications ranging from Videography to TheNew York Times. In 1995, he created Radio Hyperstand, one of the first-everstreaming media programs on the Web. His company, Wild Dog Productions,produces video, audio, music and written copy.

Streamingmedia.com's Tutorial Section is designed to help you make informed decisions. Industry professionals in all aspects of the business from creation to delpoyment will be contributing their knowledge and expertise in the weeks to come. If you're looking for information not included in our tutorial section, please send a request.

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