Lessons learned during a year of remote healthcare video production.
Mechanism Digital is proud to support the vital work of our healthcare communications clients and the Key Opinion Leaders who provide ongoing Continuing Medical Education to the healthcare community.
For years our artists have taken for granted our effective workflow of producing animated supporting graphics for talking heads shot on green screen, which allows us to replace backgrounds and maintain a consistent brand-look for our clients.
Until March 2020, when we were challenged with the closure of medical trade shows and green screen studios, with the sudden disruption in our pipeline, we needed to help our healthcare clients find creative ways to pivot and continue delivering essential information.
Shooting a new episode each day with a different doctor meant it was not feasible to ship a green screen, lighting, and A/V recording equipment to each KOL's home location. Using Zoom seemed like a logical approach, but Zoom's compressed video format meant keying wasn't going to be satisfactory, and rotoscoping was too labor-intensive for an hour+ of footage each week.
Our entire team launched into a solution-finding mode for a week. We researched and tested dozens of video recording options over the internet, using desktops and mobile phones. After scientifically quantifying our options, we ultimately decided to simply embrace the Zoom format knowing doctors wouldn't have extra time to download, setup, test, and troubleshoot new software. Instead of greenscreen backgrounds, we adjusted our graphics templates and embraced doctors in their home/office environments. Fortunately, Zoom has an option for recording locally, which has a higher quality than the streaming version. This also allows us to have a backup recording if there is a slowdown with someone's internet.
Remote producers work with doctors and suggest small changes to ensure even-lighting and reduce any background distractions. Our staff even produced a humorous video to provide doctors with "webcam tips, pants optional."
Simple changes kept videos on "brand" by merely placing doctors in the box, and the graphics have been set free.
Some remote recordings require a bit of audio sweetening, reducing echo/reverb and EQ to remove a specific frequency of hum/buzz, then add low-end back in to keep the doctor's voice from sounding too thin, then a final mastering to equalize levels across the content. We used to jump over to Adobe Audition for a richer set of audio tools, but we found Premiere's toolset works just fine, and staying in one software is more time-efficient for our quick turnarounds.
This year of remote production has been surprisingly successful, and a good lesson in the KISS principle of Occam's razor; the simplest explanation is usually the right one. We can continue to focus on coming up with smart solutions that look and sound great while delivering crucial educational content to healthcare providers and essential workers this past year.
Originally published: 03/10/2021