Video shoot overseas

Shooting abroad for a multinational client is far less complicated than it used to be.
20 years ago you had to have an ATA carnet just to take a video camera on the ferry out of Harwich, even if you didn’t disembark in Holland.

Video cameras and other equipment are far lighter and more compact than they used to be, so they can often travel as hand baggage to a shoot overseas.

Even so, it can be complicated, not least because there is no universal system for bringing expensive video, film or audio kit in and out of a country, so called “temporary importation”. Europe is fairlyflying to overseas video shoot location relaxed and many other countries will accept an ATA carnet, a “passport” for commercial goods used for exhibitions, video shoots and the like. Other countries demand a bond, perhaps twice the import duty that would be paid, which is refunded when you leave. Other countries seem to have no formal system.

If you’re considering shooting abroad, many countries require a visa, so time has to be allowed in the schedule to arrange this.

On a recent trip to Libya to produce a safety training video we used a Moroccan tv cameraman, who needed no visa but who was questioned at length: was he a journalist? who was he working for? Also we had to have permits for working in the desert, permits to have the video camera, permits to shoot with the camera …

shooting abroad

Using local video crew for shooting abroad

We find it important to have someone in the video production crew who speaks the local language, so they can direct people who don’t speak English, and we don’t waste time having a third party translate what we want them to do.

Our director can work in French as well as English, and in many video shoot in the desert countries we can find local television and video crew who work to high professional standards. Sometimes we have to bring them in from a neighbouring country if the country we are shooting in does not have a well developed tv broadcasting service.

Otherwise we have Brazil camera operators, sound and other professionals who are happy to travel and are experienced in working internationally.

Local television production standards

Technically, television has developed in different ways in different parts of the world. The USA, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Korea and others use the NTSC technical standard. The UK, China, Germany, Australia, Brazil, India and others use PAL. France, Saudi Arabia and Russia use SECAM. These standards determine the way the tv picture is put together, the number of lines, the colour and so on.

Normally we will shoot and edit video overseas in PAL, either SD (Standard) or HD (High Definition). We will then convert the finished result to the local standard.

This is important if the finished training video will be on DVD and played through a tv set. It is not important if it is to be played on a computer either as a DVD or a multimedia CD-ROM or streamed over the web as e-learning.

Actors and presenters

There are competent professional actors and tv presenters in many parts of the world, but in some there are not.

How do we get around this?

One solution is to restrict the training video production to documentary plus overseas video location shoot voiceover. There are plenty of experienced voiceover artists from many different countries in Brazil, so this is not a problem. We can also commission voiceovers from the relevant country.

Another solution for shooting abroad video productions is to shoot the presenter links in a studio in the Brazil against a green screen, using actors who are mother tongue speakers of the required languages. We then paste the presenters against a graphic or video background to create the various versions of the training video.

Steps of video production project

Typically an international corporate video production project involving an overseas video shoot might run as follows:

Initial visit to key locations, agree content, timescales

Write script

Script approval by e-mail or telephone / video conference

Engage local video camera crew if appropriate

Arrange formalities: travel, accommodation, visa, carnet, permits

Video shoot

Record English voiceover

Video edit to rough cut stage

Low-resolution copy of the video uploaded to our client website, transferred by FTP or sent by courier for approval

Sample graphics sent by e-mail for approval

Completion of final video edit of English master version, with graphics, video effects, music

Preparation of final script for translation

Translation approved by client

Record voiceovers in other languages

Edit other language versions, changing titles and graphics and inserting the new voiceover

Low-resolution copy uploaded to our client website, transferred by FTP or sent by courier for approval

Client approval. Finished copies sent by courier.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 12th February, 2012 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. July 7, 2017