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Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to prepare a good presentation document - The PPM Docket


"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends."  –Dumbledore, Harry Potter

How to prepare a good presentation document - The PPM Docket


If you’re the D.A. or the assistant that is given the responsibility to compile the material for the pre production meeting (PPM) with the agency and client, read on to get some tips on how you can do so quickly and efficiently. While this is just some very basic tips which most of you might already know, there may still be somethings that you could pick up from it.

Do you have good content?


Well for a starters a good presentation will always be excellent if the contents are good and that in turn will depend on your referenced material and how much of the directors vision goes into it. While it is the entire teams responsibility to collect various references and even actual material at times, it is the D.A.’s job to collect all these and combine it so that all is easily presented. The best way to avoid late nights before the PPM would be to start work on the docket right from the time the project has been given a go ahead. Make sure that all material gets collected in one place, at least all the reference material that’s digital collected and neatly separated into different folders like key props, location, costume etc, within which don’t forget to have subfolders of approved and rejected. (This of course is the director’s decision) Never delete rejected material till at least the ppm is over and mainly don’t forget to backup material regularly on a hard disk or a second computer, you don’t want to be stuck in case last min your computer decides to act up. (Tends to happen) Do not forget content of the non digital kinds, like a miniature set, shade card for colour references, material pieces for costumes or key props that have to be approved by showing the actual product. Make sure that you have all these collected and ready much before the PPM.

What is the Final Output?


Before you start making the final docket the first question to answer is what is the final output going to be, is it going to be projected, printed and filed, direct of the laptop, or a combination. That will lead to how do you want to make your presentation appear, mainly landscape or portrait.  
   
Pic -1

Usually for projections you would go for Landscape as that would fill up the entire screen, Print’s usually are better handled in Portrait, however if you have a docket that has to be projected and printed you can always work in Landscape and print it in Landscape as well, just have it bound on the top side so that the pages turn upwards. If you are printing your docket remember to leave some space on the side or top for binding. There is another method, where a folder with plastic sleeves are used during prep and as and when one finds references they are printed and put into it, this includes a Title page and an Index this way the director can show the references at all meetings during the prep also changes during this time means one page gets added in or one comes off or replaced. The other benefit of this method is that you save paper as there is only one file, which could be a problem at meeting where there are a lot of people present as its difficult for all to look at that one file.

TIP – 
You will find Landscape and Portrait option under 
Word - Page layout – Orientation, 
PPT – Design – Slide Orientation, 
Photoshop – File – New – International Paper – A4 (then flip the values if you want it to be Landscape.)

What is the best Software to use?


What software you want to use to compile your digital data would depend on how comfortable you are with the software and also what is it that the production house and director are comfortable with. It is best as a D.A. to know most  of the software’s, the reason being while some directors only look at docket and suggest the changes, which leaves you to control the entire way you make it, however there will be most of the directors who would actually work on the docket themselves, (not necessary to complete it but in parts at least) it’s for the later that you should know what software is most comfortable with them. The software that mostly goes into making of a PPM docket are Word, Power Point Presentation (PPT), Photoshop and even Corel draw sometimes. Of this personally I found Word to be the worst way of making presentation as every little shift or change of material has a corresponding effect to whatever is below it and even though you can control that* to some extent, it just a lot more painful to deal with. I find PPT to be the quickest and most controlled way of preparing your presentation material. The biggest benefit is that this software is the one that is mostly used and is also easily worked on by other’s. You can control what goes on each and every individual page (or slide as it is know in PPT) and therefore don’t have to worry how other slides get affected by changes done to any material on it. You can also quickly move slides or even  multiple slides up and down in the presentation**. Photoshop  & Corel Draw does help in making the presentation look good but does not help in making quick changes. It also does not make it easy for transfer to other work stations and the file sizes generally get very large. Remember that photoshop and corel draw can be used only if the files are going to be printed only, as projecting them will be a huge hassle*** However you can make your material like images etc look good in Photoshop before inserting it in PPT.          


TIPS- 
If it’s your first time doing the job, or if your first time with the production house then a good idea would be to look at a previous docket of the production house you will get an idea of what their style generally is, also its easier to lift of templates, production house logo etc from there.

* In Word – Click CTR and ENTER for things that you always want to start on a new page, that way each time you enter some new material above, this page will continue to begin at the top of the next page.

**PPT VIEW – SLIDE SORTER (you can switch using the shortcut button for SLIDE SORTER, NORMAL and SLIDE SHOW which you will find at the bottom right of the software) This lets u see most of the slides in one go making it easier to move pages around or a quick review of the entire project. (If you want to move a section up or down just select those slides and move it by just dragging it or use the cut paste method)

Slide Sorter

***Photoshop & Corel Draw - you can present from these software's by saving each page as jpeg's, then numbering them in the order that you want and using a basic jpeg software to present on full screen, (not recommended at all) alternatively you can paste these finished images in PPT which then makes it easier to project. You can also custom design your template here before using in PPT.   

What is the content that goes into the docket?


Following is the list of things that go into making of a docket for the PPM. 

1.   Title page - Name or Logo's of Product, Client, Agency, Production House, Date etc
2.   Index - Headers of each section's with page numbers if possible
3.   Agency Script - Unedited if there was one sent.
4.   Agency Storyboard -  Unedited if there was one sent.
5.   Directors Treatment Note
6.   Directors Storyboard - would include edits if required.
7.   Look and Feel
8.   Costume References
9.   Hair and Make Up References
10. Location Pictures / Set Design or References of look
11. Art References – Key Props, furniture or important stuff that go into making of a set / location.
12. Cast Options - Images or Names with character name and Video's
13. Music References - If any
14. Video References - If any which includes special effects references or just for style of shooting or edit.
15. Schedule - from PPM to Final Presentation
16. Contact Sheet / Crew Sheet – if required
17. Notes – blank page left to make notes (if the docket is being printed)

While not all of the above, would be present or required in all dockets and the order of appearance would depend on what the priority to that project would be. Video and audio references can be linked to the PPT but remember to keep all these in the same folder especially if material is being transferred from computer to computer. (links break if location of file has changed) Thus its best to have all the final material in one folder called the PPM, so that each time you have to share all is ready in just one folder. Other option is to make a separate CD / DVD for the video files / audio files and just mention a note on the PPT like "refer to CD / DVD or Video". Same applies with other materials like miniature set or fabric for costume etc.

Proper Finishing..


Proper finishing is a must in any presentation, while having good content is all important, presenting it the right way helps a lot in getting the job done a lot more smoother. No one wants to see jumbled up information. Here are some pointers that could help you make your presentation look good.

   1. Make sure all the images you place on each slide look good, use box borders if required* to make these look neat. If the images are of the same kind 
(like storyboard images) then make sure they are of the same size and the same position on the slides. (like in the same line next to each other or one below each other, same with text.)  


Borders

      2.  Don’t over crowd the page with too much information at the same time don’t keep it so less that you have to go through a lot of pages to get the information. eg. you can have 2 or 4 images of the storyboard per slide. (see pic - 1 above)
      3.  Remember to use page nos** especially in documents that run into a lot of pages. Do not forget to enter these at the Index page, but do so only last after the order and all material has been inserted into the docket.
      4.  You can custom the look you want for the entire presentation under VIEW – SLIDE MASTER. Here you can set a colour, font, design, image etc for your background. Basically what you set here is what will happen automatically when you say NEW SLIDE so you don't have to keep redesigning it. 

Slide Master

     5. Look under Background styles and Themes for ready choices. You can use the preset options for header and footer or you can even custom the positions and sizes. You can also custom your background design in Photoshop and use that by pasting the image here. (Master Slide) just make sure that this does not interfere with the content on each slide. 


Background Styles & Themes

      6.  Use the header & footer (if you want) to put the names / logo's of client, agency, and production house, make sure that these look like watermarks so that they are not disturbing the content on the pages keep them as tiny as possible.
      7. Make sure your entire docket is in the same font and size unless intended otherwise.



   TIP -

* Use of boxes can be found under format, don’t forget to check options of shape, shadow, colour and other effects that can be done to each image to make them look better and neater. Use the height and width shortcut for maintaining image size (images from the same source at least) this also helps when the image is large and helps in quick reduction. (see green arrow in pic- 2 below)
** You will find slide no’s under Insert – Header, Footer – Page no, Do not forget to select the – “don’t show on tile slide” option if you want to your title pages not to have a number. 

SOME SHORTCUTS AND TIPS

   1.  Start the work on your presentation docket right from day one, add or change material as and when things get finalised, this way you save on a lot of time right at the end which otherwise results in working till the very last minute before the presentation. This also give you enough time to work and rework a design / template which best suits that presentation.
  2.  If one has to email the docket and the file size is too big, because it contains large images etc you can compress the docket going under FORMAT – COMPRESS PICTURES - OPTIONS, select the options that suit your needs, this reduces file size quite drastically, Once this is done it can’t be undone, so remember to do a “save as” and apply your settings on the copy. For prints and presenting of the computer make use of the original file.

Pic -2

   3. If you don’t want the people receiving the file to make changes or don’t want loss of font due to default in some computers, remember to convert it to a PDF file before emailing it out. (Can do so after reducing file size)
   4. If you want your title pages not to have a numbers then just select the option – don’t show on ‘Title Slide’ when you use to insert the page numbers. To control the design of the title slide it is the 2nd slide under slide master. (See Image -slide master above)
   5. Remember your docket can have multiple title slides, like a header to a section, eg storyboards or costume references. You can also quick choose the design that you want by using the drop down menu.

Title Slide design options
   6. You can make some logos transparent, though this does not work always but if the logo has a decent amount of solid color it can be made transparent. The benefit of which is you can merge your logos into the backgrounds that you design. FORMAT - RECOLOUR - SET TRANSPARENT COLOUR

Remove solid colour
7. If you are using multiple images one top of the other or one a slide you can use the group option to avoid it from moving around once you have fixed the positions. You can also group images and text boxes together.  
8. Make sure the final copy is checked by the director or producer before it goes for printing and the presentation. A final check of the entire docket is a must.
    PRINTING OF THE DOCKET
9. If you are printing your docket, you have 2 option's, print the first color copy in the office its self so that could be proof read before colour photocopies are taken of it. OR have it printed at the printers but make sure the 1st copy is checked before copies are made. Check the page order, font change, shape and size change etc. Its best to take a pdf file to the printer so that mistakes like loss of fonts etc are avoided. Do not forget to check if the page nos on the INDEX that you have entered actually match with the final docket 
10. One print and rest as colour photocopies saves money as opposed to all prints. Unless you get a deal otherwise from your printer.
11. Know how many copies you have to get made in advance and therefore how much it would cost you, cause most of the time by the time you are going to the printer the accounts department would have shut for the day. So get your advance money so that you are not stuck at the last minute. 
12. If the production house has a deal with the printer to be payed later, in such cases make sure you have kept a note of how many dockets and pages etc you have gotten printed, ideally sign a receipt at the printer mentioning the name of the project.
13. Make sure when the copies are getting bound that the binding material does not overlap any of the content on it. Try and use same colour cover sheets on all dockets to maintain uniformity.
14. Know how long the entire process of printing takes, so that you are there at the printer much in advance not be late for the PPM. You could call and book some time in advance at the printers also asking that they would be open in case you are going to be done beyond closing time. 


     The more you work on it the better and faster you get. So all the best in making your docket and your director look good.


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