We recently completed a project with Overstock for their holiday commercial. Mike Sorrentino and Omar Lopez Jr., our Director of Photography, discuss some of the challenges and benefits of working in a remote production environment for broadcast television. Check it out below!

Mike: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining. I wanted to talk about the challenge of working on a remote video production environment, but for broadcast where standards are extremely high. With me is Omar Lopez Jr., our director of photography who works with us on so many projects. You can learn more about his work at omarlopezjr.com. Omar, thanks for joining us.

Omar: Thanks for having me.

Mike: Tell us about what specifically on this overstock commercial spot was a real challenge and how you overcame it.

Omar: For me, a really big challenge for Overstock was that, because it is Overstock and we’re trying to highlight all these products, it’s framing. So luckily, they also had a director of photography on their team, so when we’re working on a streaming side, it’s really easy to explain to another technical person like, “Hey, you’re limited by how these mobile kits are set up. We could send something fancier out, but then your talent won’t be able to use them.” So now, as a director of photography talking to another director of photography, it’s like, well, there goes all the bells and whistles that I used to rely on.

So it’s kind of difficult from a visual perspective. Behind the scenes, you’re always dealing with the normal back and forth of production, like talking to talent and especially for props for Overstock, costuming, wardrobe and all this stuff. So it really becomes challenging in terms of communication. You have to do everything step-by-step, one at a time, each person taking their turn. When on set, you can typically have six people all having different conversations. And when it comes to roll, they’re all done before the director knows what’s going on. But in this case, the director knows everything. So if you’re like, “Oh, maybe I should move that plant in the background.” Everyone heard you, not just one person that you’re whispering to who might be your assistant or something.

Mike: And there’s a lot of positives here. We found that one thing that people were surprised to learn is that, as soon as they see a picture we’re recording, and we’re always recording, right? So there’s also some benefits to our remote production kits set up. Tell us about that!

Omar: Yeah, there’s some really great benefits. Honestly, with our kits set up, I’ve seen a couple of remote productions and had the experience of witnessing how other people do it. But the benefit of ours is that we’re always recording in two places. If the stream is up, it’s up and we have those recordings. And then the other benefit is it’s so easy to use.

So many other productions will try to send out these fancy cameras, but when you’re dealing with, especially now influencers like with Overstock, not all of them are as tech savvy as the other. Some of them are gearheads and they have eight different cameras and they have all the lighting setups. Some of them, the first time they ever touch a light stand or a camera is when we send it to them. And that’s the reason why we decided to use mobile phones for our remote kits, because it’s so much easier and the picture quality honestly is really great for how small and easy to use it as well. Mike: Well Overstock was a great project. That spot is running nationally for Black Friday and a holiday ad campaign. So check out the final cut in this blog. Thanks, Omar, for your creativity, ingenuity and all-around good attitude.