What can you do when all your best-laid plans fall apart in front of your clients? There is no such thing as preparing for every outcome or eliminating every problem. Here is a recent story of one of our biggest public failures and how we were able to pivot in real-time and innovate a solution to a true worst-case scenario. What challenges have come at you out of the blue and how were you able to handle them?
Good morning, Arizona, and welcome to Lead Maker Media’s podcast. Today I have an awesome story about a huge failure. The reason I think this is important is that we’re all going to struggle. We’re all going to fail from time to time, fail ourselves, fail our customers, fail our employees. It’s part of being a business owner. The important thing here is how you can pivot and pull the success from the teeth of your failure, which is fortunately what we were able to do in this story.
So we’ve got a customer who is a psychiatrist, super busy. She’s got a lot going on. But her new venture is called Outdoor Psychiatry. And with that, she wants to be recording outdoors. Makes total sense, but is full of problems from a recording standpoint. So what we’ve got is we’ve got one opportunity a month where we get to go on location with her and do her videos.
We’ve got one opportunity to get a month’s worth of content, blog articles, the script for the video, social media posts, and everything all at once. We try to get this down for our clients in one to 2 hours. And shooting in a studio like this. It’s no problem. We’ve got prompters if they need it. We’ve got staff that can tell them ideas of what to change, what to do.
We have full control over the environment and the lighting, so they’re not going to get too hot or too cold, and the lighting is always going to be perfect. Good, clear audio. Once you go outside, all of that goes down the tubes. So knowing that we planned three different cameras each with their own built-in microphones and two different level ears and a shotgun mike with a pop screen and a dead cat to just try and make sure that everything would go right.
We got there early and got on location. We were planning on shooting at seven 30, so we got there early, and got all of the B-roll shots that we would need of the environment to just punch up the quality of the video, and make it feel more immersive for her clients who would be watching this video so that they could take a breath, they could unwind, and they could really take in what she was going to be talking about.
It’s an incredible subject matter. I highly recommend and we’ll be linking to that in the show notes of today’s podcast and in the article on our website. Lead me for Medium.com. So definitely go and take a look at that. I think you’re going to love it. All of that to say that we thought we had covered all of our bases.
It was a cloudy day. We had scheduled on a day that we knew it was going to be overcast. Fortunately, in monsoon season, we have that luxury because boom, the sun comes up over the mountains and you are in either glaring sunlight or crazy shadows with a nice overcast day. We were able to ensure that we had nice even lighting, no harsh shadows anywhere, and we didn’t have to fight with bounces and negative cells and lighting, like bringing all that stuff on the location where we do have battery packs for lights and stuff.
It turns a two-person production into a six-person production pretty quickly, and that was not what we were going for. So taking care of everything that we could try to control, found our location, scouted it, found the perfect shots, and when the client showed up, we went to meet her and came back. And this is where the first problem happened.
The first problem was from the time that we walked down the path got her, walked back to the path or back up the path to the shooting location. Somebody had already swooped in a cute little couple with an infant baby just out on their hike, sat down right where we were planning on shooting, and just spent 15 minutes playing with their baby next to the brook.
They were adorable and we didn’t have the heart to push them along. So, fortunately, we had a second sight within throwing distance of the first location where we were going to be shooting the social media stuff. Set up our cameras right there where we can see when this couple leaves with their adorable little girl and move all of our stuff right back there.
So where we’re set up, we’re in our spot and we shoot all three cameras we’ve got two and we’ve got a face on, we’ve got a 45-degree angle, and then we’ve got an active camera gimbal stabilized to get more dynamic and epic footage because behind the scenes shots of us getting the shots that we can use for our own purposes, everything rolling, trying out a lot of earlier and the shotgun mike and we want to, we want to preserve the audio that we’re getting of the birds and the running water and the wind and the trees and everything.
We’ve got to have all of that. So we’re trying to keep it as natural as possible and everything goes wrong. Everything goes wrong. The built-in microphones are giving us no audio because they’re just a little bit too far away. And both the shotgun mike and the love are picking up everything. We tried both of our different lives.
One was a powered condenser, just from nothing. We didn’t choose either. Zero volume or she was 100% volume where every chipmunk, every bird, and every step in the rocks was all of the same audio as her speaking. Didn’t matter if it was right here, didn’t matter if it was five feet away with the shotgun mic. The audio was a huge, huge problem.
So after a couple of minutes of that testing on all of our different mike setups with her we were really in a tough spot rock and a hard place situation. It was bad. And I’m sure I don’t want to think this, but I’m sure in the back of her head was this question, do these guys really know what they’re doing it?
Did I really make the right decision coming here? Maybe, maybe greenscreen would have been the way to go and greenscreen has its place. You can see we’ve got it in this studio right here, but you don’t get the feel of nature when you’re pulling a graphic and throwing it up on the green screen or pulling stock video of somebody else’s shot somewhere else in the country.
It just doesn’t feel right. And you never get the right audio. You can do your Foley work to the best of your ability. It isn’t the same and it isn’t what her vision was. So we had a very narrow window of time to make that vision work. And Stoney and I have been kicking around an idea that that would work, but that we hadn’t talked to this client about.
And this was the pivotal moment. So what we decided to do, what we pitched to her and what ultimately was the perfect solution was we’ve got her framed up. The other couple has left. We shoot this second, second scene where we’re going to be doing all of her social media shots. We’ve got her framed in. We’ve got a recording of what the lighting looks like, pull her out, hit record, stay silent, just the shotgun mike doing its thing, picking up all of that ambient noise for about 6 minutes, 6 minutes of on location, in the right spot.
Beautiful scene with all of the nature being recorded through that microphone. And then shut that down. Go to our primary shooting location where she’s going to be doing her long video for you to sit her down there, get the shot lined up have her talk a little bit so that we can see how everything needs to look. Pull her out and just shoot the scene.
Just shoot the location. Again for several minutes. Just the audio of the water flowing down through the stream, the wind coming through the trees. All of the birds and gorgeous, gorgeous audio then we reconvene later. So we spent about 40 minutes with her on location there. And then we met up later in the day back at our studio in our green screen where we know we’ve got the scene set.
We record her reading, not reading her script, but telling her script and giving her customers the information that she was planning on giving out in nature so that what we could do is take that video and audio and turn down the audio, make it a lot more ambient and put her right back into the scene right back where she wanted to be out in nature.
She was already there. We had shot the right scene already. We’ve got all of the B-roll of her interacting in that environment, everything that we needed to put together the perfect video with full control. Again, of lighting, temperature, and audio. So we were able to record crystal clear audio of everything she needed to do. It still took the 2 hours that we thought it was going to take that we had planned for, but instead of it getting hotter and louder and airplanes flying overhead and everything that could go wrong causing more and more frustration, we were able to eliminate all of that by bringing it back into the studio and shooting it again.
This might sound pretty simplistic, but if you are looking for live backgrounds of the desert or of the forest or of wherever you’re going to be shooting, what you’re going to find is either a still image, a cartoony-looking image, a CGI scene of that image, or moving like drone shot or walking shot or a panning shot of that.
You’re not going to find several minutes of one scene actively being shot in nature. So because we have that, we can now use that for anything else that we want to tell, that we want to throw in that background for ourselves, it’s going to open a lot of doors, a lot of possibilities for us in the future.
And very likely it’s going to be the way that we shoot everything for her going forward. The alternative is the old way of doing it would be to shoot her there, come back to the studio and have her rerecord, and have her dub her own audio into a microphone. You lose so much when you do it like that because matching the timing, it takes a real actor, a real professional to be able to watch themselves match the timing, match the inflection in the tone that they were feeling and thinking and saying on location.
Much better to shoot the location bring it back in-house and have them give their actual emotive content right there. In the room. So those were the hurdles that we got to overcome on the spot and think on our feet this last week. And I’m sure that this week there will be something new. And this week for you, there will probably be something that comes up that you’ve got to think fast on your feet but remember that you don’t learn anything from the successes.
When everything goes right, you don’t improve anything it’s only when we fall, it’s only when we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and analyze what we can do better that we improve. And the faster you’re able to do that, the faster you are going to be able to deliver the product that your customers need. Whatever industry you’re in think fast on your feet and take every failure as an opportunity to solve a problem in your industry.
Good luck. I hope you guys have a great week and we’ll be back to you with more. I’m sure stories of our successes and more importantly, our failures as we talk in the future. So again, take a look at the final product and let us know if there is any work that you need to have done or if this type of video recording will be helpful for you and your industry.
I’m sure that it will. If you’re not sure how, give me a call. Let me know what you do. And we will come up with a solution where you can get great stories, and great content to show your customers who you are so that they can get to know you, like you, and trust you before they ever pick up the phone to call you.
And we look forward to working with you. And even if we don’t, we look forward to hearing your stories. Tell us how you have overcome a failure recently and blown your customer out of the water. Just really made their day and so next time I’m James Bitter with lead maker media and I will talk to you again soon.