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John Kofonow November 26th, 2017 06:14 AM

Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
Hello all,

Soon I'll be shooting some training videos in an industrial/manufacturing plant. The videos will be used to train or refresh entry level machine operators on how to do procedures. Example, an instructor standing in front of a large piece of machinery explaining and showing how to do certain procedures.

Any advice on how the flow of this might go?

I did a similar job like this some time ago. However, that instructor could do the walk through just once so I captured a wide shot and then moved in for close-up with another camera. However, me entering into the WS frame to do the close-ups disturbed the instructor's flow.

For this job, I plan on using a Sony PXW-X180 for the wide shot and Sony A7s II for close-ups. The instructor will have a lav.

I thought it would be better to film the instructor going through his entire procedure and then redo it where I would focus just on the close-ups.

Any tips would be appreciated.

Thanks, John

Roger Gunkel November 26th, 2017 10:01 AM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
There are a couple of ways to approach it, either live as it happens, or carefully planning it after careful consultation and working with the instructor and trainees.

I prefer the latter, because there are many times during that sort of instruction where a close up of a particular action or process is necessary to focus the viewer's attention. A wide angle or general shot just doesn't have the same impact. When you are watching an action, your brain automatically focuses in on the important bits, but a training video really needs to guide the viewers attention with planned shots or at least pausing the instruction whilst the shot is changed. I've always found that careful briefing of what is required for filming the action with all the participants, works well. That is doubly true if they are not used to being filmed and can easily get self conscious or nervous. If everybody involved knows that pauses or even re-shooting sections is normal, then they are likely to be much more relaxed.


John Kofonow November 26th, 2017 08:35 PM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
Thank you Roger for your quick response.

For these videos, the instructor will speak just to the camera. There are no students/machine operators receiving instruction. They will be on the receiving end of the completed videos.

I plan to shoot each instruction topic in a WS then have the instructor repeat the instruction as I focus in on the close-ups of what he is doing. I'll then edited the WS and CUs together to present a logical flow to the instruction topic. Well, that's the plan...

I will have a meeting with plant workers a day before the shoot to determine their desires and requirements.

One important consideration is still up in the air. That is, how will the future students watch the videos?
DVDs, flash drives or hosting on a company website have been brought up.


Roger Gunkel November 27th, 2017 02:38 AM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
Hi John,

Doing the repeat run through using a different shot for each run through is one way of doing it, although unless the guy is working from a script you may find that there are variations in his delivery that make both the audio and video editing a little more tricky.

Personally, I prefer the stop start method where I just stop the action where I need a change of angle. At least that way you can get the optimum position for each part of the action and the audio will be consistent on every shot.

On the odd occasion that I do those sort of shoots, I usually render out to mp4, which I can then easily transfer into each of the delivery formats that you mention.


John Kofonow November 27th, 2017 06:27 AM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
Thank you again Roger.

I see your points about using the stop and start method. Perhaps I'll know more after my meeting.


John Nantz November 27th, 2017 10:31 AM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
Project seems like it would be good for a B-roll cam. In the last few years there has been a number of cams that operate with a remote - one that does Start, Stop, and zoom. If there was a place where it could be set up on a tripod, even if it was in the frame, it wouldn’t be as distracting as if a human walked into the frame.

Of course this would depend on if the nature of the closeup shot - if it has to move around vs being fixed (like when running a punch press, say) vs if different angles would be required.

With regard to distribution, the company may not want their procedures to be known to others. Also, if there may be a job-related health issue with the work, and this could be just about anything, that might be another reason for restricting distribution.

Paul R Johnson November 27th, 2017 03:23 PM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
I do too many of these kinds of things and they can be frustrating if you have to use their staff.

It's practical things really. If you use two cameras, then you need to plan for head turns on the cuts, nothing is more difficult to integrate than a presenter talking to another camera - it just looks horrible. Before you even get that far, you need to edit the script. I get presented with what they want to say, and then I re-write it for the audience. They frequently use too high level language, jargon and it just goes whoosh over the averegare viewers head. They use statistics, often complex ones. The ABC process uses 24Kilo Joules of energy compared to the XYZ which uses only 23 Kilo Joules in a non-heat pumped, return flowed cavity extractor. What?

I then don't use two cameras, but one camera with autocue and do it with manageable chunks of dialogue. I do all the position 1 stuff, then move and reset and do position 2. They get used to the sequence jumping about. Problems? Autocue. Some people are naturals, others far, far, less so. These people will also struggle with doing it from memory and the takes go up and up.

Keep it very simple, make the picture the critical part. use diagrams and animations to get over the important bit. They will be very keen on the thing they spent the most money on - but in one of my videos, this gadget was simply a 30 foot stainless steel tube, and dirty washing went in one end, and clean washing came out the other - wonderful chemistry inside, but boring - so I did an animation to explain it. You need to tell a tale.

I found this quite old one we did - and it's been updated since when new machines appeared - the one is simply for their customers, to show what happens to the dirty stuff. You can see the sorts of snags you get.

Dave Baker November 28th, 2017 01:05 AM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
Hey Paul, I found your Camplings video very interesting, but not for the reasons you posted it. For a few years I worked for a branch of Initial and my job occasionally entailed visiting their linen depots. I usually saw the linen being sorted, but never what they did to it afterwards. Now I know!

Kevin O'Connor November 30th, 2017 09:24 AM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
One more suggestion: My day job as an engineer in an industrial setting allows me to practice shooting in this environment. My suggestion is have the customer sketch out a flow chart of the processes they want covered in the video. Sense I understand the assembly process in my job I have an advantage right away to setting up my shots and know when to capture CU shots or coach the operator on what key elements to cover. The flow chart will help you, the camera operator, with a little pre-production understanding of what needs to be in the video. It does make it easier for you if you understand the whole manufacturing or machining process ahead of time.

John Kofonow December 6th, 2017 08:21 PM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
2 Attachment(s)
Thanks to all for your replies. I do appreciate them all.

I went to the shoot with a well laid out plan. When reality hit, the plan flew out the window.

I had two cameras but set up just one. I put a lav mic on the machine operator as he was to talk and walk through the procedures. However, he was so soft soften his audio wasn't usable (I discovered that quickly). I then put a mic on his supervisor who spoke the operator through his paces. Trying to capture the complete walk through, I discovered the operator was going to fast to meaningfully capture what he was doing. I then stop everything and had the operator go back to the beginning and do each step one at a time. I captured each step from at least two angles or a WS and CU. This worked out.

Kevin, I like your suggestion of having a script or at least a work flow to go by. During my shoot, the supervisor held the task performance work standards in his hands. He gave me a copy to take home to help me edit. Once home, I saw that an important step had being missed. Thus no video of that step. I'm going to try to cover that with some still pictures of the step (one picture of one item will suffice).

So far I done one draft of the first training task. I sequenced the clips to correspond to the proper steps, included bullet lists to reenforce the steps, and did the voice over myself (I will hire a professional VO artist for the final video). The decision maker at the plant is "very happy" (his words) with the first draft.

The shoot was challenging and a learning experience. It has the potential to be very profitable for me too.

I've attached two uncorrected screen grabs from the shoot. Another thing I learned was to ensure all future operators cover up their tattoos.


Josh Bass December 6th, 2017 08:58 PM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
I have gotten close to doing videos like these several times but it's never happened (usually a budget/expectations/client couldn't "get it together" kind of thing).

I would THINK the only safe way, as in, we make sure we get everything we need, and that it's being done correctly so that my video isn't responsible for a horrible accident down the line is to properly write a script that goes through several folks' approval, and then come up with a shot list based on that. If you get all the footage, VO or text could be added later.

What the clients who have contacted me WANT to do is simply "go through it a few times with the camera running, no big whoop. Why you askin' so many questions, guy?"

Kevin O'Connor December 6th, 2017 09:14 PM

Re: Advice on shooting industrial/manufacturing plant training videos
Good to hear you worked it out John, its hard to get line workers to be actors. Then it's even harder to get actors to make it look believable that they know what they are doing.

Looks like an interesting manufacturing process. Maybe the still shots you get as pick up shots can have some After Effects graphics applied to emphasize key controls or number a sequence / process with the VO giving instruction.

Good luck, KPO

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