Pre-Production: The Importance of a Shot List

By Phil Short, Video Director

Video has no doubt become the most engaging and effective method of storytelling that people and businesses use to convey a message to viewers. With so many videos being made and content being shared, a lot of businesses are trying to figure out how to do it themselves.

The process of video production can be a daunting one. A production can arguably be as simple as someone with a smartphone shooting a quick vlog post in their bedroom to as complex as a movie set in Hollywood. The differences between those levels of production are vast but one thing that all successful video productions should be doing is spending the necessary time in the pre-production phase. One of the most vital steps of pre-production is a shot list.

A shot list is typically put together after you have finalized your script or at least some kind of vision board that allows you to decide what footage you need to capture to tell your story, and at its simplest form is a checklist for production. It includes information that instructs the production crew of all the details they need to know to get the right shot, at the right location, with the right equipment and also in the most efficient order.

Let’s break down the components of a basic shot list and along the way, discuss the benefits of each so you can decide what information you might want to use on your next project.

Scene/Shot/Take Numbers Not all productions will require you to label your shot list via scene, shot and take number, but this can be extremely helpful to keep everything organized through the life of the production. This naming convention can then be integrated with your import/log process of the footage after the shoot and no matter who ends up handling the post-production, there will be no question what each and every video clip is and what order it is intended to be edited in.

Location Including the location of each preferred shot in your shot list can help divide up your production day(s) in the most efficient way possible. Let’s say your story starts outside at a park, then moves to a coffee shop, then ends up back at the park. The shot list order should always be organized around the best way to capture the best version of each shot and in the most efficient order for production. This will allow less set up and strike time for the crew, fewer instances of traveling between locations, and helps to consider all variables related to the location of each shot.

Talent Who will be on camera? Similar to location, knowing who will be on camera can be a variable used to decide shot order. This will also be used to create the call-times for talent.

Interior/Exterior Specifying whether a shot is occurring inside or outside is very helpful in determining what gear will be needed to bring on set. Specifying time of day can help in considering the amount of sunlight that will be available during production, which is a very important factor when shooting outdoors than indoors, for instance.

Shot Size/Framing Now we’re getting into the fun stuff.  How will you want to frame the shot? Wide shot? Mid-close? Over the shoulder? Outlining the framing of each shot before you’re on set can save huge amounts of time during the shoot and can really position you for success during the editing process. I prefer to think of the most pivotal shots in the story and outline the framing of those first, then work around those shots to move into and out of those pivotal frames.

Equipment For low-budget productions, the equipment can be as simple as an iPhone, but outlining any specific equipment that is required for each shot can help organize what needs to be prepped and packed along for the shoot. You don’t want to be the reason why a shoot is delayed because no one brought the necessary camera or piece of lighting gear. It can add up very quickly in production costs for simply not planning appropriately. A comprehensive shot list can do wonders when creating your gear list, so don’t skip this step!

Duration Including the expected length of a shot can have a large effect on the equipment that is required for the shoot. Many shots are 2-5 seconds long, but others can be a static interview set up that lasts as long as an hour.

Sound Depending on the size of your crew, detailing sound requirements will indicate to the sound engineer whether or not the subject on camera or the scene itself needs to have the production audio captured and what kind of gear will be required. This will also be important to know if it needs to be “quiet on the set” for audio isolation purposes of a given shot. Sound quality is often neglected with low-budget productions and can have a dramatic negative effect on the overall viewing experience of your content. Go the extra mile when it comes to capturing quality sound, and you won’t regret it.

Not all of this information may be required for your shot list, especially if you aren’t working on a movie set. But the next time you’re thinking about starting any kind of video, think through your project and come up with a shot list when preparing for your production date(s). You’ll find that the fewer details you have to be thinking about on the shoot day, the more you’ll be able to actually be in the moment on set and be sure that you captured every scene, shot, and take.

In Praise of Old-Fashioned Media Relations

By Ali Cox

In the age of self-promotion, self-publishing, and self-everything, it’s rare to announce a new endeavor through the press. Over the course of my career, though, there have been a few special times when I’ve had the privilege of doing so.

I believe in journalism and public relations. I have a traditional PR background. In my younger days, I worked for the agencies Ketchum and Emanate and was part of the $21.5 million Series A announcement for the now-defunct Aereo TV.

But those experiences were 10 years ago — a lifetime when it comes to PR. Journalism has changed in that time, and PR has evolved tremendously, too. My employees might think I’m rambling about the good ol’ days here, but I’m not. I’m a marketer, and I love telling stories through many mediums.

One of those stories is that of First & Main. It’s a new restaurant in downtown Turlock, and it’s been a wonderful brand development project for AC&C. Our detailed project management has included social media content, a logo, a menu, signage design, and — of course — PR. In this case, we went the traditional route in addition to announcing the new restaurant via social media.

This project has reminded me of how much excellent journalism matters. I worked with Marijke Rowland from the Modesto Bee directly, as well as with reporters from the Turlock Journal. There is a time and place for professional journalism and PR practitioners to work hand in hand, and this restaurant is a stellar example of how the relationship can unfold beneficially. It’s been a pleasure to work with these news outlets and to serve as collaborators.

Of course, we’ll continue our work with First & Main on social media. That’s what savvy marketers do these days. But we’re grateful for the boost that traditional media has given this deserving restaurant, which promises to be a bedrock of downtown Turlock for years to come.

Learn more about First & Main through the Modesto Bee article and Turlock Journal article. Follow First & Main on Instagram @firstandmainturlock.

Ali Cox on Ag Marketing & Olympics to Digital Rage Podcast

Our CEO, Ali Cox, was recently featured on the podcast, Digital Rage, a show that covers topics concerning marketing and technology, hosted by Matt Ramage and Jeff Byer. On the podcast, Ali reminisced upon her experience as an Olympian and shared her insights on the Ag Marketing industry.

In 2004, Ali competed in the Olympics as a rower, in Athens, Greece, after making the women’s eight rowing boat.

“The Olympics were very hard, obviously. Training is typically six and a half days a week. It requires an extraordinary amount of teamwork, but then, also, a lot of independent grit and just confidence in yourself… ,” mentions Ali.

“It was an amazing team experience, and really has positioned me well for my career,” said Cox. As founder and CEO of Ali Cox & Company Marketing (AC&C), Ali mentions that her pivotal life experience has, in turn, translated to her position as CEO.

“How I run our business and our agency is with a team-first perspective. Most of our team members touch all of our work and work very collaboratively. We are there to support each other, and I think that really was cemented from rowing the Olympics,” says Ali.

Located in the heartland of California agriculture, AC&C serves a diverse group of farmers and growers in the area and provides them with the tools to keep their business thriving. We develop innovative marketing strategies for our clients, assist with grower relations through email marketing, and provide a full videography team to create compelling storytelling.

As a fifth-generation farmer, Ali chose to focus primarily on Ag marketing because she saw an opportunity and necessity to give cultivators a platform to share their experiences in the industry.

“We want growers to feel comfortable telling their stories. By nature, farmers are very gritty, confident, quiet, and hardworking,” explains Ali.

“It’s not first nature for them to go and tell their stories to the world. We work to help growers tell stories that are very authentic, based on whomever their audience is and understanding, right now, that audience is global.”

With the ever-changing technology in today’s world, AC&C also supports their clients with adapting to each new innovative tech that rolls out in the ag industry as well as the marketing industry. From smartphones to electronic moisture sensors, to privately owned weather stations, Ali knows the immense amount of modernization that is taking place in farming operations.

“California ag, in particular, is innovating very rapidly. While yes, we require a lot of resources to do our jobs, we, unapologetically, are moving, adopting, and adapting,” says Ali.

One case study that makes Ali proud is the Monte Vista Farming Company project.

“The CEO [Jonathan Hoff] is very innovative. He’s a younger CEO and steadfast advocate of ag and the California almond industry.”

Ali recalls a risk Hoff took when developing a new website with AC&C for his company. “I am so proud of that website…It really was Jonathan, the CEO, saying ‘Let’s just go for it, let’s do something different’”.

The risk paid off – Ali mentions that the Monte Vista Farming Company has developed strong relationships with partners because of their transparent and traceable process in the plant we took the same approach with their video and website strategy.

Ali credits Monte Vista Farming’s growth to their willingness to take a chance and be original. “Now, they’re so successful and growing their tonnage, and have deep relationships with their growers and customers.”

This courage to take strategic risks and mission to deliver authentic marketing campaigns has kind of become the secret sauce of our agency. Bon appétit!

Digital Rage issues new podcasts every week, highlighting the newest topics concerning marketing and technology. To listen to the full episode, click HERE.

Ali Cox & Company Named One Of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces 2019

Ali Cox & Company Marketing is one of the highest-scoring businesses,
with standout employee engagement

TURLOCK, CA (May 16, 2019) – Local marketing firm, Ali Cox & Company Marketing, has been named one of Inc. magazine’s Best Workplaces for 2019.  To win the national award, Ali Cox & Company Marketing was singled out as one of the top 346 finalists out of 2,000 applicants for creating exceptional workplaces through vibrant cultures, deep employee engagement, and stellar benefits.

Ali Cox & Company marketing will be featured in the June 2019 Inc. magazine issue, and as part of a prominent Inc.com feature.

Each nominated company took part in an employee survey, conducted by Omaha’s Quantum Workplace, on topics including trust, management effectiveness, perks, and confidence in the future. Inc. gathered, analyzed, and audited the data. Then all the employers were ranked using a composite score of survey results. This year, 74.2 percent of surveyed employees were engaged by their work—besting last year’s 72.1 percent.

The strongest engagement scores came from companies that prioritize the most human elements of work. These companies are leading the way in employee recognition, performance management, and diversity. It’s a different playbook from a decade ago, when too many firms used the same template: free food, open work environments, and artifacts of “fun.”

“When making decisions about how we develop our company culture, it’s really quite simple. I’m looking to facilitate an atmosphere where people are encouraged to be themselves and challenge their skills in an inspired setting, with cool people and where any idea is welcome,” mentions CEO Ali Cox. “Oh, and benefits, generous holiday PTO, flex time, office yoga, off-site team-building adventures, etc. are part of equation, too.”

All companies had to have a minimum of 10 employees and be U.S.-based, privately held, and independent—that is, not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies.

While researching the finalists, Inc. and Quantum saw distinct themes:

·      99 percent provide health insurance—and some cover the cost.
·      49 percent allow employees to bring pets to work.
·      65 percent take employees to offsite retreats to relax and recharge.
·      16 percent offer paid sabbaticals to reward length of service.

“With today’s tight labor market, building a great corporate culture is more important than ever,” says Inc. magazine editor in chief James Ledbetter. “The companies on Inc.’s Best Workplaces list are setting an example that the whole country can learn from.”

About Ali Cox & Company Marketing
Offering unique marketing strategies steeped in digital literacy, the firm has been built on the founder’s twenty plus years of marketing experience to provide stellar service. Services include content generation, social media, graphic design, analytics, websites and video creation. With office headquarters in bustling downtown Turlock, we’re proud to offer our experience and enthusiasm to leading regional businesses and the agriculture sector. With a focus in agriculture, the firm has differentiated and is a go-to local resource.  Ali Cox & Company Marketing has recently rebranded to AC&C Marketing and will be opening offices in downtown Sacramento August, 2019.  For more information and portfolio of work please visit ALICOX.COM

About Inc. Media
Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders. Winner of Advertising Age’s “A-List” in January 2015, and a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in both 2014 and 2012, Inc. has a monthly audience reach that’s grown from two million in 2010 to more than 20 million today. For more information, visit Inc.com.

About Quantum Workplace
Quantum Workplace is an HR technology company that serves organizations through employee engagement surveys, action-planning tools, exit surveys, peer-to-peer recognition, performance evaluations, goal tracking, and leadership assessment. For more information, visit QuantumWorkplace.com.

# # #

PRESS CONTACT:
Ali Cox  / ali@alicox.com / 917.882.4132

We’re Headed to the Ag Tech Summit Coming to Modesto on February 7th. Please Join Us!

We’re looking to get the word out to our clients about an ag tech summit, “Adapt or Die, Sowing the Seeds of an Innovative Ag Tech Ecosystem” conference, which is taking place February 7th at the MJC Ag Pavilion. 

At first glance, you might be thinking: “Why would I want to go to such a tech-y event?” we assure you that the content will be excellent for growers, ag service industry experts and people who are just genuinely curious about the future of ag.  

You don’t need to drive to San Francisco or Silicon Valley to learn more about how tech will affect the way we farm — the Summit will be bringing it all to Modesto! We’re always thrilled to be involved in events like these because we’re 100 percent focused on innovating from the field to the internet. Using tech to tell the untold stories of ag is one of our key goals; it’s the most direct way to connect consumers to the real people behind the products. 

During lunch, AC&C Founder Ali Cox will speak about the importance of content marketing in agriculture, and why millennials in ag are actually the least lazy generation when it comes to business decisions. 

Ready to secure your seat? Click here and use our special discount code to get the friends and family rate! Use code ALICOX when you check out to save 10 percent on tickets. 

Reps, grab your growers. Growers, grab a friend. And clients, call your AC&C account manager — your ticket is on us!

Same Agency, New Name. A Note From Ali

Thanks to my friend Jason Falk at TANK Industries, my first real baby — Ali Cox & Company — was born in 2007. I had just left my post at IMG as the director of sponsorship services and was on my own in New York City. 

Sure, I knew a ton of people and felt confident enough in my marketing skills, but being on my own didn’t get real until my automatic direct deposit and health benefits were cut off. A self-employed veteran, Jason took me under his wing, designed my logo, help me hone my story, printed my business cards and scooted me back to my studio apartment on his Vespa.

Those early days were exhilarating and petrifying in the same breath. I had freedom! With that came risk — and I gamed up, over and over again. In those early days, the “& Company” portion of my company name referred to the friendly army of freelancers who were my partners and collaborators. We would team up depending on client needs, refer each other’s work, and support each other.

Fast-forward about six years to 2013. I relocated to my hometown of Turlock, California to focus on agriculture marketing (my true passion and now lifelong mission). The “& Company” quickly became about more than freelance partners — it now referred to full-time team-members on the payroll. All of a sudden, we were a full on agency!

Now, after three offices, a revolving door of interns, the addition of several key team members, and a few tremendously smart hires, we’ve outgrown our name. The agency is not just about Ali Cox anymore. It’s about a team of highly motivated, creative, disciplined, collaborative, and driven people who are making a name for themselves on their own with our clients. I just happen to be at the helm.

Do I still approve all of our strategy and see each item before it goes to print or is blasted? Of course, but all of the ideas are not mine, and all of the credit shouldn’t be mine. So we’re becoming AC&C Marketing. We’ve got a fresh new logo, a fresh new mindset, and a fresh new agency persona. AND … a new website with this very blog post — our first one!

We’ll continue to focus on delivering perfect work each and every day. And we’ll continue to hold ourselves accountable for two reasons: our pride and our clients’ trust. No one person at our agency will ever be perfect, but as a team we can deliver perfect work. And we do.

I’m more confident than ever in the future. Please help me in welcoming AC&C Marketing to 2019.