Creating Content Remotely

Changing the roads of production during a pandemic

During times of isolation in 2021, I fell in love with the meditative app Mini Motorways, a game where you draw roads between cities to keep the traffic flowing. The cities keep expanding, and the player needs to change them to keep the traffic flowing continually. Our video production plans felt the same way in the real world.

Like many sectors, the last couple of years have been very tough on video production. We have had to rethink how to create video content for our clients and find new ways to work remotely.

Typically, we pride ourselves on being a video production service that films cinematic content on location with humans (crazy, I know). Many jobs we had lined up in 2021 required us to travel regionally, work in schools with vulnerable communities or conduct interviews with people speaking (without wearing masks). So, this meant, at times, we had to change our direction completely.

How did we change our path?

Well, Zoom quickly became more than just a meeting space. We promptly became advisors on recording Zoom interviews and consultants on filming footage on smartphones and other small devices. It was a hard pill to swallow, editing grainy low-res footage after we had prided ourselves on shooting beautiful cinematic imagery for many years.

Singing Bowl Media was contracted to document some artist/school partnerships as part of Regional Arts Victoria's Creative Workers in Schools program. One hundred fifty artists across Victoria were provided with a six-month paid residency in a Victorian government school. We were meant to travel to regional locations and film artists at work in schools and document all the outstanding educational and wellbeing outcomes. After multiple lockdowns and travel restrictions, we quickly realised this would not be a reality and had to change paths.

Instead of travelling to multiple destinations across Victoria, we conducted twenty Zoom interview recordings with artists and educators. We collected visual assets that support each project's story via a fast upload portal. It was a strange feeling meeting someone for the first time via Zoom and doing an interview recording. However, we had already had a year of Zoom life, and each interviewee seemed to relax eventually, and the conversations became more authentic.

Another example is a video we created for BGIS Australia. They originally came to us wanting a company hero video that encapsulated their commitment to innovation, sustainability and advanced technology. We had limited existing footage to incorporate in the edit, and our windows to film on location became very small.

After a script development process, we developed an approach that used 90% stock imagery and a compelling voice-over to provide BGIS with the messaging and high production values required.

What have we learnt?

Overall, we enjoyed the challenge of having to think differently. It has given us some new ways of thinking when it comes to creating work when we can't physically be out on shoots. We realised that the pandemic has reshaped the way audiences view the quality of footage. They are more likely to accept a raw production aesthetic, if the story and message is still strong and the editing is clever.

However, be honest, nothing beats getting out on location with a quality camera kit and a small crew that knows exactly what they're doing. Face-to-face interactions with real people in real life is what we love about what we do!