Recently my coauthor Tim and I wrapped up our part of a Microsoft Learning video production. As a project manager, I took a great interest in the real-time project management used in a video production studio. It’s clearly a knowledge-worker environment but the project management demands are quite different from anything I had experienced before.
Here was the setting: a small studio laid out for “talking head” and computer demo videos. Usually the talking head was mine, while Tim drove Project through the feature demos and I narrated. We were the “talent” in the studio, as they say. In addition we had a director, a camera operator and another person who basically kept track of the very large number of segments in our production.
As you’d expect, the director was in charge. The camera operator managed two video cameras and teleprompters plus the system they had set up for computer screen capture. The third person “behind the camera” had an inventory of video segments (identified by line number) that he transcribed to the camera operator and director. A great deal of attention was paid to properly identifying and cataloging each video segment in this way. Overall our sessions were free of drama and technical problems.
Here are the observations I made about the project management inside the studio:
Most decisions were reached by consensus. The three staff in the studio followed a decision-making style that valued full buy-in. There were no “Do it my way!” directives from the director. There was a lot of discussion between the three that generally concluded with all-around agreement of the best way to do something. From my observations, all three involved had tremendous technical experience with the equipment and video production process, and I took their decision-making approach to be a recognition of each other’s expertise.
The video segment is the unit of work. A video shoot of the type we’re involved in really would not benefit from a Project-style tracking approach. Really all that was required was careful accounting of the individual video segments and labeling them correctly in the catalog.
Quality, not time is the driving factor. Although our sessions in the studio were tightly scheduled (usually to four-hour increments), during the sessions the director would not hesitate to reshoot a segment if it didn’t meet his quality bar. Usually this was caused by a verbal flub by yours truly. We never had the sense of extreme time pressure.
This video project was pretty small in scope. I’d like to get a peek into a large movie production and see how project and schedule management is handled in such a setting.
The videos are instructional content and draw from our Project 2013 Step by Step book. I’ll share more information about the videos once they’re completed.