September 10, 2019
3-man crew? 5-man crew? 10-man crew? Are these terms you’ve heard or seen in your quotation sheets or from your production friends? Honestly, even those are extremely loose terms. Why? Because 3-man crew doesn’t necessarily mean 3 people running the set. More likely, there’d be 5 or 6 people on the day of shoot. So, what exactly do these terminologies stand for?
Here’s a rundown of the key roles on set before we dive in!
Director – Spearheading the performance of the talents on set; how they act or express themselves
Assistant Director – Responsible for running the set; movement of extras, and the flow of the scene.
Director of Photography – Deployed to frame and mark a scene; meaning he/she will decide on the outlook of the scene through the camera lens.
Camera Assistant – The DP’s right hand man; in-charge of setting up the camera, pulling of focus, changing of lenses and general camera operations
Gaffer – Head of Department for lighting, he/she determines what kind of mood and tone the lighting should be set for the scene.
Grip – Brandished as G&E department (Grip and Electric), Grips set-up lightings based on the Gaffer’s vision, as well as other electrical devices.
Propsmaster – In charge of beautifiying the background, foreground and overall look of the surrounding environment in the scene, adding volume to the set.
Sound Recordist – All of his/her attention will be on the quality of the sound in the scene. He/she may record ambient sounds if a certain mood is required.
Producer – Overseer of the entire video project, the Project Manager. He/she is in-charge of everything; from the budgeting, to the talents involved and even selection of the crew, as well as the operations across the set.
Production Assistant – A PA is the right-hand man to the Producer; helping the set run smoothly in terms of logistics, food & beverage and time-keeping. He/She is the backbone of the operation.
Usually, the bare minimum for a set to operate is what we call the 3-man crew in videography context would consist of a Director of Photography (or in most cases a Camera Operator – branded Cam-Op), a Grip and a Sound Recordist But where would a 3-man crew situation be applied? More often than not, sets such as Testimonial Videos or Internal Instructional Videos, as there need not be much performance or key lighting involved.
Going back to our point earlier, a 3-man crew does not necessarily mean only the DP, Grip and Sound will be on set. There are mandatory roles that will have to be on set no matter the scale of the shoot; namely the Producer (also known as the manager of the entire project), and usually his/her Assistant; a Production Assistant (PA), who will be the Producer’s extra hands in terms of logistics such as food and time-keeping.
But what about bigger scaled sets? There is an obvious call for more manpower. 5-man crew usually consists of a DP, Grip, Sound, as well as a Camera Assistant (CA; the Director of Photography’s right-hand man) who helps with setting up the camera, and changing of lens, primarily – as well as a Gaffer (H.O.D of the lighting and electric department), usually deployed for conceptual lighting and his/her expertise on aesthetically pleasing lighting and angles before the team goes for a take. Usually, shoots such as Corporate Videos or Promotional Videos call for at least a 5-man crew.
And how about full-scale coverage shoots? We’re talking TV Commercials or Brand Videos. Here’s where it gets tricky. Most of the time (candidly, the author stresses) for the sake of the project, clients may tend to try their best to cut down on the size of the crew in exchange for saving the budget. However, there are still key essentials that should not be left out in such big scaled sets. Usually, a 7-8 man crew would suffice; consisting of a Director, Director of Photography, Camera Assistant, Gaffer, Grip, Sound Recordist and a Production Assistant would suffice. But again, depending on the end-vision of the video, more hands may come into play.
But what can you gain from this information? Well, we pray that you now better understand the roles in the industry and how teams and crews are formed based on the scale of the video project. Nonetheless, it is important to know, as someone looking to make their next video; on what is necessary and what is not.
We hope that if you’re ever in a jam on how much to price your video or if you ever need a reference for your next project, this article would serve as a decent enough guideline to help smoothen the process!