It’s a brisk winter morning in Atlanta, and the clock is approaching 7:00 AM. Weak, smoky tendrils of fog drift around the repurposed industrial buildings of the burgeoning Westside as a small fleet of cars begins to arrive at a film studio development. Our grips, camera experts, and production managers trickle into the loading dock area: chipper greetings of “Hey, how are you?” and “Good morning!” can be heard from the small parking lot as they all begin deftly lifting, wheeling, twisting and unfolding a collection of high-quality professional video equipment.
It’s shoot day in the studio. Time to make some DVI magic.
Interested in what goes on in the studio? Let’s peek behind the curtain for a moment.
After the weeks of project discovery, creative development, pre-production approvals, and tireless coordination from our talented production managers, it’s finally your time: the day, or days, when you get to see your project come to life with real actors and a real crew.
But shoot days aren’t always what you might expect. They’re certainly 100% business along with 100% creative expression, but that’s all mixed in with a fair bit of unpredictability, waiting, meticulous organization, high energy, and plenty of laughs. It’s a slow burn and a whirlwind all at once—so below, we’ve highlighted a few studio day characteristics shared by members of our very own production team.
Studio shooting can be unpredictable.
David Frey, our sound engineer and voice-capturer extraordinaire, warns against expecting shoot day to go exactly as planned—even in a controlled environment like a studio.
“What we do may look formulaic to an outsider. It’s true; we do have a foundation of methods and resources that we rely on,” he says. “But we also have to be prepared for the unplanned. Maybe it’s a noisy location, limited space, or inconsistent lighting. That’s where we really have to be flexible and creative.”
What we do may look formulaic to an outsider. But we also have to be prepared for the unplanned.
- David Frey, Sound Engineer
On-location mobile shoots always have their fair share of environmental hurdles to jump over…but as our on-set sound experts have discovered time and time again, noisy vehicles like motorcycles and planes still travel directly past even the most isolated of film studios!
Studio shooting can be slow.
As Micah Taylor—our camera operator and in-house editor—notes, quality always takes time.
“In the studio, everything takes a long time…longer than you'd think,” he admits. “There are three very important reasons for that: first, the professional equipment we're using to get perfect results takes a long time to set up, even as experts who’ve done it a million times before; second, we have to tweak details up until the camera rolls to make sure everything really sings; and third, as DVI-level perfectionists, we will (when possible) do everything multiple times to get it right.”
In the studio, everything takes a long time…longer than you'd think.
- Micah Taylor, Camera Operator & In-House Editor
Since he’s often assembling and editing the same footage he shot, Micah is also thinking about the finished product when he’s in the studio. He adds, “There are times in studio when it seems like things are ‘fine’ and we should just move on, but believe me: you don't want to end up in the edit room tearing your hair out because a crucial shot was slightly out of focus or the lighting wasn't very flattering. You could have just taken a few extra minutes on set to really get it right—and that’s the level of excellence we’re always striving for at DVI.”
Studio shooting is buckets of fun.
It’s hard work. It’s tiring. It’s unpredictable. But at the end of the day, we live for the creative expression that comes when we give shape to your creative vision. The studio allows us this expression every time, and we can’t get enough of it.
And we have plenty of fun on shoots, as well—shoots where we hunker down with crew members and clients at studio basecamp (read: a bunch of cushy couches and charging laptops squished together), share some laughs with the talent, and even where we let loose with coworkers to film some special DVI profiles.
Shoot days are always a big adventure.
They’re a lesson in both patience and exhilaration, and we couldn’t be prouder of the magic we make “in secret” at the studio.