By Mike Kepka and Amanda Needham
Running our video production company used to be about jumping on a plane to meet the next story in person. That all stopped the second week of March - when Covid-19 hit, my team went from talking face-to-face with our clients with full-sized cinema cameras to get the best angle to...nothing. Working on-location wasn’t an option. We weren’t allowed to travel. We weren’t even allowed out of our houses, let alone to work with a crew.
Many of my industry friends decided to just wait things out. We pivoted.
At first, the term “remote video production studio” sounded like a joke. If we couldn’t actually be in the same room as the subjects, how were we going to do what we do best? One of our retainer clients, however, had a pressing need to manage and record roundtable discussions about the downfall of the economy with key thought leaders. Overnight, we found ourselves iterating a new remote process for production.
We learned quickly that consumer video conferencing platforms are extremely limited. Our real cameras routinely output Ultra HD as a minimum requirement, and we were now tasked with producing dynamic content using footage that was worse than a 1980s soap opera. So we did some research. We found a workable solution in an emerging platform that allows us to remotely direct and record multiple subjects on any iOS device and output in HD and 4K. I can remotely control basic light exposure, and our clients can watch while our producer Amanda back channels with them. The system isn’t perfect (or free), but the footage looks dynamite, and we’re able to run a professional set.
Now, once we figure out our client’s video needs, we send them a studio in a box, give them a recipe to buy their own, or just prop their iPhone on an inexpensive stand. Frankly, the format is a preferred option for clients who want lower production overhead but don’t want to compromise on quality. Right now, we’re managing an expert-oriented 18-person shoot on three continents for a global client. The cost of sending our crew around the world in-person would have been extraordinary, but now I dial in from DC and my producer dials in from NYC, and we’re in business.
When ProductionHUB began advertising for virtual and remote services, we knew we weren’t alone in understanding that virtual production is here to stay. Every remote shoot we’ve done calls on our traditional full-service production skills. We set up the shots, run the camera, coach the subject, coordinate with the client, and then edit and deliver a top-notch final product. If it weren’t for the global pandemic, I doubt we would have pushed so hard to make this remote studio part of our business model. Now that we’ve entered this space, however, I’m positive the concept is here to stay. We have found a new niche and the demand is real.
To learn more about Kepka House’s remote production services, please visit: http://www.kepkahouse.com.