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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tips to making your job smoother

"Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the from way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it." - Kafiki, The Lion King (1994)

Tips to making your job smoother

Your given a job and you head straight into doing it, only to realize that had you stopped and just thought for 5minutes at the start, of what you needed to do, you then would have saved a lot of confusion and time going back and forth and probably a lot of money for the production house as well. This is true not just for beginners but a lot of experienced people as well.

What am I talking about?
Its like when you land up for a voice dub but are not carrying the VO lines, or like when you reach for telecine without blank tapes, or in modern times w/o hard drives on a digital shoot etc..  Had people just taken that 5 mins they would have carried a print out with the VO lines, or sufficient blank tapes, or the hard drive on the shoot.

The reason I have used the word job is that at any given time, most people are given multiple tasks to do. Each task would have its own set of requirements that would be required in order for it to be achieved, thus making each task a job within itself.

Here is a very simple method that should help you do things very efficiently but also train you to prepare problems that could arise and efficiently avoid most of them. This method would not only apply to the production side, but to anyone in any field of work to help make their tasks easier.

So how do you do that.. whenever you are given a job / task to do.. just take 5 mins before you start and ask yourself the following questions WWWWH

Just answering these questions will give you all the insight you need into making the job at hand a smooth one. Each questions should / could logically lead you to another set of questions that you should arrive at automatically.. Here is a quick look how this works..

1.    What?

What is the job assigned to you?
E.g. - In pre production – referencing, casting, costumes, art?  So in order to do any of this

Have you read the script?
Without reading the script is like working in the dark.. you would be referencing for things without knowing what is it required for.. having read it just helps getting closer to what is required and faster.. this should lead to the How?

e.g. – in post production – offline, online, music, voice dub etc.. so in order to do any of this your next question would be..

What is the job assigned to you?
Go and finish the voice dub, or go for the offline and sit, or go and finish the supers on the online etc.. given these instructions should lead you to..

Do you have all the material that you need?
So are you carrying all the rushes, enough blank tapes, blank material for when done (DVD’s / tapes / hard drives etc) scripts, storyboards, supers, reference material (like packs for colour / shape reference for telecine / C.G.)

2.    When?

When is job required to be completed? Deadline?

This question both in pre and post production helps you prioritize the job, at most times you would be multitasking, so you can choose when to finish this part, I am not saying about putting things off for later but choosing which one to finish first. If you are a beginner its best to let the person handing you the job to decide what needs to be done first.

e.g. – in pre - your meeting with the art director the next day and the costume stylist the day after, so doing art references would be the priority, however keep in mind that the director, would most likely want to see all the references the same day before getting into meetings with these people.

e.g. – in post – when is your delivery scheduled for? And thus can the  voice dub or the online happen the next day? Knowing this usually helps to predict what to do in case of emergency, like when you don’t get your booking on time due to a power failure or the editor shows up late, you know the time required to finish the job in advance and thus applying the right amount of pressure at the right time to complete the job, rather than wait for the last minute to finish it.

3.    Where?

Where is job to be done?

e.g. - In pre do you need to go to stores to hunt for props? Or is it sitting on a computer finding reference pictures or videos or is it going to a studio which is not part of your office for casting? This should get you to repeat the question do I have everything to do the job, printed script copies for cast to read, tape to record, or a computer with net connection to work on or a scanner to scan reference material from books etc..  another important question to be asked is

Do you have the advance money to do this?
In cases of travel is there a advance to be taken or will you be compensated later? Money for food or to pay for printouts etc? therefore knowing that a advance has to taken before accounts shut down for that day is necessary.. or spend from your pocket, a very risky thing to do.

e.g. – in post doing online and music at the same time..
Where is the studio’s located at?
What is the travel time from one to the other? is there enough time to manage both your bookings, (this leads to)
Do you have confirmed bookings for these job’s? (this should lead to Who?)
Do you have the advance money to pay for food and travel do this?

4.    Who?

Who are the people involved in doing this job?
e.g. – in pre it’s the art director, costume stylist, etc
e.g. – in post it’s the freelance editors sound engineers etc?

Have you informed all the people involved, including freelancers?
once you have identified all the people involved you have to make sure
that they have been informed, (make sure that you are carrying everyone’s contact information on you at all times) not just about timings but also if there are delays or changes in timings in advance, no one likes to come and have to wait to begin work. Don’t forget to keep the director and the producer in the loop as well.

5.    How?

How are you going to get this done?
Is it simple? Can you manage to handle it by yourself? Do you need someone to guide you? Do you need someone to help you? (in case of multitasking / jobs to be done at the same time) 

First try and answer these questions by yourself, before you run like a headless chicken and that will help prepare you for all the complications to come. Some of these you can answer yourself and some you will have to ask your seniors to help you with, what this also does is it makes you a ‘thinking’ person and not just a ‘doer’. As you put this in practice you will realize that you can now manage to do a lot more work efficiently and in a lot lesser time. 

While all this above sounds a lot complicated, its not, it takes all of 5 mins and a clear head to do this, and experienced or not you should practice this. Trust me, it will do wonders to the way you work.

 Auggieism:- What do you call a unclear Auggie?
Ans:- Foggie..

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