We are all used to unexpected changes popping up in life – it’s part of what makes life, life – however, I think it’s safe to say that no one outside the scientific community was anticipating COVID-19 and the ramifications that followed.
Here at VMG Studios, a creative marketing and branding agency based in the Seattle area, we have been fortunate enough to remain open through it all thanks to technology, which made it easy for us to complete our projects remotely.
However, as an agency that specializes in video production with our own in-house studio, Studio 520, we’ve had to pivot our content strategy to adapt to the decreased demand for shooting live-action video in person due to concerns about the ability to safely socially distance on set.
We’ve identified alternatives to live-action video shoots that normally require a large crew, but as restrictions begin to ease nationwide, we are slowly transitioning back into the studio.
With that said, the health and safety of everyone who comes into our facility is of the utmost importance and we are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
This article will outline how to safely shoot in a studio so that you can still move forward with your corporate and marketing video efforts.
Renters are required to appoint a health and safety crew member
Here at VMG, we (of course) use our own studio for both client projects we’re contracted for and internal projects. We also frequently rent our studio to people outside of our organization.
Because of this, we’ve developed a set of guidelines based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Washington State Department of Health.
Keep in mind that the restrictions, guidelines, and mandates are constantly changing (and differ from state to state), so we’re continuously updating our own safety guidelines accordingly. However, we believe that what we’ve outlined in this article is a solid overview, regardless of where you may be shooting a video.
On set, VMG has a dedicated team member whose job it is to ensure that all health and safety rules are being followed internally, and since we allow outside renters, we’ve made it mandatory that renters also assign one person as their health and safety liaison.
This person acts as an infection mitigation coordinator and will manage all other protocols, including providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face coverings, gloves, and hand sanitizer for all crew and talent.
This person is vital to the health and wellbeing of the people on set from arrival to departure.
Temperature screenings at point of entry
One of the symptoms of COVID-19, which appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus according to the CDC, include a fever. Therefore, all people coming into the studio must have their temperature checked upon entering the building.
The dedicated health and safety crew member is responsible for ensuring each person on their team completes a temperature check using the VMG-provided no-touch thermometer. Each person also needs to log their name and temperature prior to entry.
Anyone displaying a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38.0 C) or anyone who has a cough will be denied entry and directed to appropriate medical care.
Health officials have found that people who aren’t showing symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who have yet to show symptoms (pre-symptomatic) for COVID-19 can still transmit the virus. To combat this, the CDC highly recommends the use of face coverings, especially when indoors with other people.
At VMG, people are required to wear a cloth face covering or mask that covers their mouth and nose when people cannot maintain 6 feet (two meters) of separation. This includes wearing a mask in shared areas such as the kitchen or bathroom.
Per protocol, the health and safety crew member is responsible for providing cloth face coverings and enforcing their use when appropriate.
Gloves and hand washing
The CDC also recommends wearing gloves to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Gloves are especially helpful when it comes to multiple people handling the same equipment (more on that shortly) or in situations when people cannot maintain physical distance.
While at VMG, people must wear gloves when:
- Conducting health checks on crew
- Applying make-up
- Handling or helping with a microphone
- Handling food or any items on which infection can be transmitted
- When using cleaning or disinfecting materials
On top of wearing gloves when appropriate, it’s extremely important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when:
- Beginning and ending each shift and break
- After using the restroom
- After sneezing, coughing, touching your face, or blowing your nose
- After cleaning, sweeping, and mopping
- After eating, drinking, and smoking
The CDC also recommends washing your hands even after wearing gloves. Health officials say washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs, however, if that isn’t a readily available option, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, which the health and safety crew member is responsible for providing.
All of this is extremely important when it comes to the next guideline…
Sanitizing and handling of equipment
Cameras, tripods, lights, and microphones are necessities on a video production set and are often adjusted and moved around the set to capture the desired aesthetic. But studies show shared surfaces can be a danger for spreading COVID-19 since the virus can live for a fairly long period of time on objects and surfaces.
In general, we advise that you avoid handing off and sharing equipment, if possible.
If multiple people need to be handling the same equipment, we recommend that those people wear gloves while doing so. It’s imperative that all equipment is sanitized before and after each use. This includes equipment in VMG’s sound booth (which is also available for rent) such as microphones and headphones.
VMG will provide sanitary wipes in the studio, however, it would never hurt if renters brought in their own inventory as backup.
Minimize the number of people in the building
Each state has its own restrictions about how many people can gather in one place. At VMG Studios, we’ve implemented a “less is more” strategy to further prevent infection and we implore all renters to do the same.
Studio renters can source VMG employees, such as a camera operator, gaffer, or production assistant, to crew a video shoot. In these cases, we can help identify how many people are truly needed on set to capture the necessary footage for a project while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
As previously mentioned, those who will be on set will need to complete a temperature screening upon arrival.
Shooting video safely during the COVID-19 pandemic
While things are slowly starting to return to some semblance of “normal,” we are committed to the health and safety of everyone who walks through the doors of VMG Studios.
As a small women-owned business, we are committed to fulfilling new projects while also helping others keep their businesses up and running.
Video marketing, especially in a time where people are physically separated and working remotely, can help a brand connect and communicate with their target audience.
Sometimes, animation is the best option for an explainer video or training series, but other times, live-action is the optimal route to take. If your vision includes a live-action video shoot, we’re here to help.
One of our taglines is “keep creating” and we want people to do just that while being safe. We hope you keep creating and stay healthy while doing so.
Interested in renting our studio (and having a blast like our social media manager, Bridget Raftery)? Click the image below for more information!