Storey’s associate director of marketing, Sarah Armour, gives readers a glimpse at the organized chaos that comes with bringing a book to life through video.
In today’s crowded digital world, nothing captures the eye quite like video. But when you have an information-packed how-to book as your starting point, how do you go about translating the page to the screen? And how do you make sure that what you capture on film simultaneously educates, entertains, and entices? This is just one of the challenges our video production team faces when we set out on a video shoot.
On this particular day, our work starts promptly at 8:30 a.m. — an hour-and-a-half before our first actor is scheduled to arrive. We need to survey the location and set up all the equipment — and it’s a lot of equipment! Two video cameras, half-a-dozen tripods and light stands, lights and light-filtering screens, a stepstool, a boom microphone and sound meter, and seven sandbags to keep everything in place while actors and crew work in the tight space — and that’s before we even get to the props we need in the shot.
Our set on filming day is in the kitchen of author Deanna Cook, which also happens to be where the photo shoot for the book took place. No professional kitchens or stages for us. We’re committed to keeping that DIY spirit!
Which leads me to our crew of … well, let’s just say that at least one of us is a professional! Mars — whose regular job at Storey includes serving as photo editor and in-house photographer for Storey books — also has a film background, which makes him a natural fit for the role of videographer and video editor. He knows what he’s doing. I act as producer, selecting the projects we want to film and then managing the shooting schedule and logistics. On shoot days, I’m also the secondary camera operator. Emily, our digital features editor, acts as primary sound engineer (which mostly means taking direction from Mars) and script supervisor.
Many of our videos also feature the authors of our books, but when we need extra talent, we recruit volunteers — sometimes a fellow Storey staff member, or their kids or their friends’ kids.
Once our equipment is in place, our stage is set, and our crew is ready, our talent arrives. Finn is making pizza in the morning; Inez will try her hand at carrot applesauce muffins in the afternoon. Both of our kid bakers were involved in the book’s photo shoot and have a good sense of how their recipes will come together. Before we roll the cameras, we do a dry run, positioning each baker so that their actions will fit in the frame and letting them get comfortable with the recipe steps. (Luckily for us, there’s no audio to worry about with this particular shoot, since we’re just adding music in over the action. This way, we can verbally coach the kids as they move through the recipes.)
They really don’t need too much coaching from us, as it turns out. They’re both naturals! Finn kneads and punches his pizza dough as if he’s being working at a pizza parlor for years.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Inez becomes a surgeon someday — she has steady hands, and we needed them for her recipe. She did everything from grating carrots to cracking eggs with flawless precision.
Or maybe, instead of a surgeon, she’ll be a pastry chef. The muffins she made were so good, she eagerly carted them off to hand out to friends. (And yes, she left a few for the hungry crew to share.)
We couldn’t really complain, though. After all, we did get homemade pizza for lunch!