How Video Production Has Evolved In the Lockdown

Rishabh Khatter, Business Head, The Rabbit Hole
Rishabh Khatter, Business Head, The Rabbit Hole

Authored by Rishabh Khatter, Business Head, The Rabbit Hole

What we’re experiencing today as ad film makers is a test of our resourcefulness, as individuals and as an agency. It’s been a period of trials and experiments to test how we can apply existing technology and repurpose the same, to serve our current needs. As someone who loves every nuance of on-location production, I do miss the adrenaline and depth one can go into, to get that one frame right. But after nearly 80 days of being in lockdown and having produced over twenty pieces of content, I now see the charm in virtual shoots.

With the allure of magnanimous sets, dazzling costumes, fancy locations now amiss, we’re back to the basics. The focus is on well written scripts and crafty editing. This takes precedence over everything  else. Audiences have been welcoming to the home production style of content and this is encouraging for brands and ad-filmmakers to go out there and make more content in this format. The key to breaking through the clutter is to make content, which is easy to replicate, relevant and relatable (humour is always a plus).

Netflix’s Behensplaining - WFH Episode

Production today is a test of your patience and your organisation abilities. What used to take 4 hours, now takes 8 (on a good day). Every shot is sent for us to check via Whatsapp, while our remote Director & DOP’s Zoom Call is focused on the display of the DSLR during the shoot. The days leading up to the  shoot are spent, choosing ‘costumes’ from the actor’s wardrobe. Guiding them with their ‘looks’, which they need to create themselves, during the shoot. Doing multiple video calls to map day light from each of their rooms over morning, noon and dusk. Daylight tracking today is a whole new process! You’re dealing with internet fluctuations and file transfers which take eons to download. Now since restrictions have eased, we do send equipment over to the actor’s home, but we ensure that they are doused in disinfectant. We spend hours remotely teaching them how to handle the camera & the lens along with the million setting options that are bound to overwhelm even the best of us. The actor today is a one man army. The DOP functions like a coder, with a set of precise instructions mapping out production to the last detail. Sometimes even going to the extent of making 3D tope models to map out camera angles and daylight tracking.

Netflix Space Force Promo - Shot entirely at Home, creating 3D Tope models to map lighting and camera angles.

Image: 3D Tope Models created by The Rabbit Hole team to map Daylight Tracking.

Image:  Floor Plan for Camera Blocking 

One of the other positive outcomes, that’s come from this time, is that even the most traditional brands have begun to experiment with formats they usually wouldn't have opted for. Had it not been for the lockdown, animation would not have seen the boom it currently does. We’re definitely moving in the right direction if brands are finally seeing the value in storytelling via animation especially in the absence of on-location production.

Project Leapp - An animation video created for Sharekhan's Project Leapp. A Gaming Animation video explaining Finance, is a first!

While the Indian government has rolled out production guidelines, there are still gaps on how one will be able to practically maintain social distancing on sets. No brand or production house will wish to take on any kind of liability. So we will need to wait for further developments. Till then we’re going to maintain the status quo and continue to create and elevate. After all, creativity must go on. 

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