What's in a "Video Village"?

Setting up a "video village" can be a real livesaver on long shootdays.  Think of it as your "home base" for your production crew and client to hang out and get work done during your shoot.  Here is an example of a simple video village:

 A simple "video village" setup.

A simple "video village" setup.

So, what makes a great video village?  For starters, placement is key: it is important to setup your video village near to where you are shooting so that you and your clients can have easy access to the action when appropriate (offering critiques and encouragement between takes, tweaking lights & sound, etc.).  However, you also need to take care not to set up anywhere that is within your acting/interview talent's field of vision as this could distract them during shooting.  Similarly, you'll also want to setup at a safe enough distance so as to prevent any conversations or other noises from your video village from leaking into the recorded sound at your shoot location.

Next, you'll need the right gear.  Start with a sturdy, portable table that you can setup easily and packs away easily.  This 4 Foot Solid Plastic Folding Table works well for our needs. 

Another crucial piece of gear is a video monitor to allow clients and crew to watch and listen to what's being shot.  We use this Flanders Scientific, Inc. monitor for our shoots:

 A Flanders Scientific, Inc. CM 171 monitor in action.

A Flanders Scientific, Inc. CM 171 monitor in action.

This monitor has handy professional features such as video evaluation scopes, exposure check, and timecode display.  And while it's great to have a pro-grade video monitor with these types of features as a part of your video village, even a consumer-grade HDTV can work in a pinch.  You'll also need durable HD-SDI cables or HDMI cables to connect your video monitor to your camera(s).

A pair of high-quality over-the-ear headphones such as these from AKG can be plugged into the video monitor.  Again, any headphones (such as the "earbuds" that come your mobile phone or portable music player) will do, but professional headphones are preferable because they can deliver a fuller range of sound frequencies and can also block out the ambient sound and noise at your location. 

Lastly, and this is optional, is a PC or Mac laptop equipped with a card reader such as this one from Kodak.  This comes in handy for offloading footage from tapeless media formats such as SD cards, etc.  You or your client can also use the laptop to type up production notes, log footage from the shoot, and access the internet if there's accessible Wi-Fi nearby.

  A laptop computer equipped with a card reader.

 A laptop computer equipped with a card reader.

 Offloading video footage from an SD Card onto the laptop via the card reader.

Offloading video footage from an SD Card onto the laptop via the card reader.

Hope you found this helpful!

Joshua