Going in as an observer with a video team is a unique opportunity and I was lucky to have accompanied them. The team roster comprised a cameraman, project leader, video team leader, and a quality assurance in-charge. The objective of the shoot was to get content to make a time lapse for one of our MOOC courses.

Camera work is not for everybody – it involves an immense amount of patience and loads of creativity. So, what goes into shooting a video?

To say that camera work is simple would be foolish. A great deal of work goes into making a good video – right from the drawing board to the final video output. And shooting it in external locations adds to the complexity. I accompanied the IIMBX video team to shoot a video on a busy road in Bangalore, and had a ringside view of the substantial work that it involves.

“There ought to be a clearly stated and defined process for the procurement of permission to shoot in public spaces. For lack of the same, we’ve had to make calls to and do rounds of various concerned offices and seek information piecemeal—which is not conducive”

–    Natasha Mujgule, Project Producer

To kick-start the process, shooting a video requires a letter of permission from no one short of the additional commissioner of police (traffic) for Bangalore, which takes roughly four weeks to obtain. The letter shows you which areas the camera team can shoot on, in this case, MG Road, and Brigade Road – two very busy streets.

Once this is done the camera team commences a location scout. Timewise this can be taxing, as it requires the team to place the camera down in various spots to identify the best positions. This is where the creativity comes in. And then 30-minute videos are taken at each spot to find the perfect angle and focus. You can imagine how this entire process works out and it is challenging to say the least.

Something no one tells you is just how long you need to shoot to get a short four-minute long time-lapse. I was surprised to find out that it was over an hour. The setup of the cameras itself took a half hour, to ensure the right camera angle. Once the setup is complete the camera are turned on and that’s it, or is it?

Turning on the camera is the easiest part. The bulk of the work involves making sure no one walks into the frame, which is easier said than done, especially on MG Road.picture1

Let me give you a glimpse into one setup – one person is stationed on the right side of the camera, another on the left, and the rest manned each of the two cameras. The cameras ran for almost one and a half hours.

Shoot 1 went off without a hitch and we got our content. And after lunch, we began our setup at site two. Site two was at a junction outside Mahatma Gandhi Park in an abandoned office complex. We had an expansive view of the junction and could complete the shoot without having to redirect pedestrians. The video team would later edit out pedestrians in their editing phase. This meant that once the cameras were rolling our work was done.

pic2The police graced us with their presence

In conclusion, I have learned that camerawork is certainly not simple. It is quite challenging and requires much planning, skill and expertise combined with loads of patience to complete successfully. In addition, it involves long hours of video editing and adding effects to complete the video. Eight weeks have now passed since the team began the arduous process of obtaining the permission letter and selecting the best spot to shoot. We now eagerly wait for our video editors to complete the editing and deliver the final output!

[This blog is written by Maanav Setlur, Intern, IIMBx, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore]