|R & B Communications, Inc.
Tips for a Successful Production
A successful production depends on many factors when looking for qualified personnel and
quality production equipment. Similar to any other craft or trade, the best outcome will be
produced by people with experience, skill and having the right tools for the job. Let’s face it,
anyone can purchase equipment. It is important to hire experienced professionals that
know how to get the most from their gear and make it work for your production. Some of
these tips may assist you in better understanding the production process and in hiring the
right professionals for your production.
Location: Where will you record your production?
Our crews have traveled throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico
shooting video for a variety of clients. We are experienced in gathering footage in a many
environments. We have been shooting video and producing programs since 1982.
What format will you need?
We have experience in shooting most HD and Cine formats and own cameras that shoot
Panasonic DVC Pro HD, Sony XDCam EX, XDCam HD (disc) and HDV tape formats. Before
selecting a production vendor, it is critical to ensure they can record the HD format you
need. Our clients request the following formats from us on a regular basis:
DVC Pro – Panasonic manufactures the DVC Pro format. Panasonic offers several flavors of
the format including DVC Pro 25 and 50 (both standard definition) and DVC Pro HD. DVC
Pro HD is used for acquisition of high definition material.
XDCam – Sony’s XDCam format comes in several flavors. It can be recorded onto XDCam
discs (not tape) or onto Sony's SxS flash drives from different cameras offered by Sony.
XDCam is a relatively affordable and high quality format.
HDV - HDV is a cost effective format for producers looking to record a lower end high
definition image. HDV offers producers a lower cost HD production solution while
compromising a bit on quality. It is also useful as a secondary shot to a higher end format.
HDV can be shot with several models of Sony cameras and a few JVC cameras.
Unfortunately, each version of HDV is not compatible with the other manufacturer.
What other equipment will you need?
As a producer, you want to be assured that you are getting appropriate equipment for your
production and in good working order. Our high definition video crews will provide
everything needed for your production (camera, batteries, tripod, monitor, lighting, audio,
grip gear, media, etc.). In addition, our video crews travel with extra items that may include
wide-angle lenses, HMI lighting fixtures, camera jib, teleprompter, etc. In addition, we
maintain all of our gear on a regular basis to assure that it works properly for your
What crew members are needed?
Every production is unique and may require different staff on location. Many times, the crew
may consist of just a producer, DP (director of photography) and a sound mixer. Other
productions may include make-up artists, production assistants, grips, gaffers, prompter or
jib operators and other disciplines. The larger the crew, the quicker set-ups and moves
become from one location to another making your production more efficient.
Booking the crew local or portal-to-portal?
Ours crews usually work locally and are also willing to travel longer distances to your
production location. A local location is usually up to 30 miles of travel. Usually, there are no
travel expenses if the production is local. Portal to portal means the crew must travel a fair
amount of time. If the crew must travel, they bill for travel time, mileage and other related
costs. Usually, if the production has multiple locations in one day, the production is charged
What travel expenses are involved?
Standard industry practices dictate that production crews charge for travel expenses and/or
per diem for any work more than 30 miles away from their office. These expenses include
any travel related costs such as hotel rooms, mileage, airline fees, ground transportation,
tolls, skycap tips, meals, etc.
When are you booking your crew?
Sometimes, we are booked days, weeks or months in advance. It is always a good idea to
contact us as soon as possible to let us know your intended production dates. Many times
we accept a “standby shoot”. Standby is similar to “Right Of First Refusal”. This practice
allows producers and clients to ensure crew availability without limiting the crew from
taking other assignments. Once a crew is placed on standby, then we are responsible for
communicating with you before accepting another assignment on the same day. Many times
when you call and ask our availability for a specific date, we may already be on standby for
that day. If you offer us a firm shoot, we will then call our other client and either firm up
their shoot or be released to take your assignment. This is a very common practice. It is
beneficial to both our clients and our crew.
What if a shoot gets cancelled after you book a crew?
Standard industry practices dictate that if a production gets cancelled with less than 24
hours notice, then the crew will invoice for their day rates less the equipment rental. Within
48 hours notice, they bill for half their day rate. It is only fair since they either turned down
other jobs to confirm yours, or they cannot book themselves on another assignment in
time, or both.
How long is your assignment?
In the production world, it is common practice to offer full-day and half-day shoots. A full
day usually means up to 10 hours. If you book a crew for half-day (or 5 hours) and you roll
over into the sixth hour, you will be billed a full day rate. Full days typically start at crew call
of the first assignment and end when the shoot is completely wrapped, even if breaks or
lunch were taken in between. If long distance travel is required before the shoot starts,
then travel time is included within the 10 hours. Keep in mind that overtime will be billed for
each crew member after 10 hours. Overtime is typically billed as time and a half for labor,
but no extra charges for equipment rental. After 12 hours, overtime is charged at double
How do you handle transportation?
We are responsible for the transportation of our equipment and crew. However, there may
be additional charges for mileage or travel expenses as noted earlier. Producers and clients
should arrange for their own transportation. The equipment we transport fills our
production vehicles and we sometimes only have one passenger seat – usually reserved for
crew members. In addition, there are insurance and logistical reasons for not traveling in
production vehicles. It is usually best for the producer and/or client to meet us on location.
What insurance coverage does your crew have?
As a producer, it is important to make sure your production crew has appropriate insurance
coverage. R & B Communications always carries liability coverage for our business, workers
compensation coverage to protect against any crew member that may be injured during the
course of a production and automobile insurance to cover our production vehicles in the
event of an accident. Make sure your crew carries appropriate insurance coverage.
What information does the crew need?
It is important to us that your production to go as smoothly as possible. To help facilitate
that, communicate as much information about your production prior to the scheduled date.
Here is a list of information that is helpful to provide us:
Crew call time
Location address(es) - We use GPS and require exact addresses
Production schedule - Interview times, event starts, locations
Estimated wrap time
Location contact information/phone numbers
Other crew members names and contact information (if not hired by us)
Parking situations and loading instructions
Any special attire
Amount and format of tapes/media (hoe much are we shooting?)
Shooting indoors or outdoors
Special equipment needs
Nature and/or purpose of shoot
End use of footage
We hope that these tips and information help you in making decisions in hiring the best
crew with the appropriate equipment for your next production. Please feel free to call us at
440 946-9511 if you have additional questions or if you need more information.
The staff of R & B Communications