Producing in My Pajamas: Adventures in Remote Production (Part 1 – Remote Production 1.0)

Video Creative Producer
Published 1/14/21
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It was March 2020, I was mentally preparing for a busy season of video production. Undoubtedly, I would be whisked away to any number of different destinations through the end of the year, staying in countless hotels and racking up all those frequent flyer miles. As I was making a mental note of my travel “must-haves” to preemptively pack in preparation for what we were predicting would be a busy season, I caught an earful of the news. The NBA was postponing their season because of COVID-19.  Um…what?

Yes, the virus became real for me when professional sports decided to shut-it-down. And while the first few weeks working remotely proved a welcome respite from the slog to and from the office and having to dress like a grown adult, as the weeks ticked by it became clear that we were going to have to pivot and pivot HARD in order to keep making videos for our clients. Sounded like a fun challenge, ever the forward-thinking team, we were up for it.

You’d be hard-pressed to find any other team at Miles that had to literally rethink everything in order to continue to produce work. And thankfully, the work kept coming. Destinations throughout the U.S. and beyond still wanted to put messaging out there that was relevant, impactful and most importantly, not tone-deaf. So while we did end up doing a lot with the hours upon hours of existing b-roll we’ve shot for our clients, not all of it was going to work with the current times. Inevitably, we would have to find a way to adapt what we do to the changing landscape.

Early-on during the pandemic, our first foray into solutions architecture for remote production came about by way of Delaware Tourism. Delaware came to us seeking a strategy to market local businesses with COVID-adjacent messaging that would encourage the local population to support these businesses. But, how do you go about shooting fresh content when you can’t travel to the destination and can’t have a group of people together? Enter remote production 1.0 – Cinebody.

Cinebody is an app-based platform that facilitates collaboration between the Content Studio, our clients and their partners.  It allows for us to easily aggregate shots and sound bytes from multiple contributors neatly into a project – all shot conveniently from an iPhone. The footage is available within minutes for download from the platform, enabling us to turnaround videos in record-time. And while this might sound a lot like user-generated content (UGC), we weren’t interested in any old random clips, we were interested in creating user-directed content (UDC). UDC is smart UGC.

So where did the boost in content I.Q. come from? In working with Delaware’s partners, various small businesses across the state, we provided them guidance in the form of a simple one-sheeter that included tips on how to shoot effectively, a shot list of desired b-roll shots, along with a set of talking points and questions for speakers to answer on-camera that we customized for each partner. By doing so, we were able to still have some degree of control over what was being supplied to us, thereby setting us up for success in creating meaningful content that satisfied Delaware’s messaging goals. The first video to launch across their social media platforms was for Crooked Hammock Brewery and the series was dubbed “Delaware Local Discoveries.” Three more videos would follow in May. Within the first month, Delaware saw their viewership reach increase by over 158%.  Clearly, we were onto something.

And this was just one of many different applications of how we leveraged Cinebody to continue to create content during the pandemic. However, Cinebody was not going to be a one-size-fits-all, it wasn’t the right strategy for every project. When San Francisco Travel came to us a month later with a challenge that provided even more obstacles to overcome, we were ready to dive-in and come up with another remote production solution. This time, however, I needed to ditch the PJs and resume a more business-appropriate wardrobe… at least from the waist-up.

Check out Producing in My Pajamas Part 2 here!