Tell, Tell and Told – How I (accidentally) improved quality in production and post

Still trying to figure out what to write as a caption for this picture. If you think of one, tell me in the comments section.
Photo by Jay Mantri

Last week I had a three-day shoot in New York City. It’s been a few months since I’ve shot anything of substance on a location and I could feel my “cameraman muscle” atrophying. During the shoot I did something I’ve been doing outside of shooting entirely on accident. Afterwards I realized I improved the quality of the video, lessened time spent in post and made the client happier.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time writing posts and editing videos rather than shooting. An approach to writing, and content creation in general, is the Tell, Tell and Told method. I’m going to go over with you what it is, how I used it on my shoot and where it fits in in post production.

Honestly I have no idea what this is actually called. Someone help me out in the comments section if you know!

Tell, Tell and Told – Explain this, please.

Tell, Tell and Told is simple – tell the audience what you will tell them, tell it to them and then tell them what you told them.

Tell the audience what you will tell them is the basic introduction. I did this above when I said “I’m going to go over with you what it is, how I…” Tell it to them is what we’re doing now. I’m telling you the information I want to give you in the post. Tell them what you told them is a recap. Ex: Today we went over how to change point text to paragraph text in After Effects.

You should do this in any sort of informative product (written, video, other). Think about most of the non-fiction programming you watch. There’s a short introduction that says what’s going to happen in the show. That introduction teases something big that you always have to wait until the last 5 minutes to see. Then the meat of the show happens. Finally there’s a recap of everything that was covered in the last 45 seconds that the editor squeezed in before the credits get squished over to the side to show the start of the next show.

The Shoot

Day 1 of my shoot was wrapping. We had a solid non-talent talent and were actually done early. This was an amazing feeling after getting up at 3:45am to catch a train to NYC. But since we had some more time, and despite of some sleep deprivation, I decided to stop everyone from packing up and leaving when we thought we got everything done on the shot list. Together I guided us through everything we shot and our notes. This turned out to be tremendously helpful.

We realized that 1) we skipped a shot 2) two of our notes were wrong and 3) we should shoot these couple quick items that weren’t on the list.

Missing a shot may have required me taking another trip up to NYC. I probably wouldn’t have noticed until this week as I lay everything out. Fixing our notes saves me time in post because I would have spelled these complicated industry terms wrong (no matter how much Internet research I do) and then end up having to fix them later on. Or worse, the client would not have noticed and it goes out to the public with the wrong information. Lastly, we shot these extra videos that the client really wanted. Getting these improves relations with the client and will give us a better overall product. We left the shoot happy and so did the client.

Before our first shoot on Day 2 I found myself going over everything we were filming that day with our next non-talent talent and team. Before we started shooting we were able to eliminate a couple shots and add some better ones. We had our shoot and we reviewed the list of everything we shot as our allotted time with the talent dwindled. We left the shoot happy and so did the client.

By the end of the third day I had the process down. We left NYC with a bunch of full SD cards, dead batteries and a completed shot list.

Tell, Tell and Told in Post

So how is this supposed to help you in post? If you are shooting then this method should give you proper notes and make sure you got all the shots you were supposed to get. Using it in post is a little different.

In post try using this method when it comes in interacting with your producer and client. Before viewing any part of the video tell them what they are about to see. If there are unfinished parts let that be known. Then show it to them. After that, recap what they watched and what’s still to be finished before opening the door for them to give comments. Tell, tell and told.

Telling them what they will watch will help lower expectations if the video is not complete. Obviously you have to show them the video. Getting the first word in after viewing the video is important because you can tell them what is wrong with it before they can. Trust me, if you know something is wrong then you saying it is better than them saying it from a pure emotional standpoint. You can also say when you’ll have it finished before they throw out a ridiculous date that you end up agreeing to (I’ve been there far too often).

Tell them what you told them

It’s time for me to tell you what I told you. We went over what Tell, Tell and Told is, how I used it during a shoot and how you can use it in post.

There are all sorts of interactions that I want to use Tell, Tell and Told for now. Will you try this in production or post? Where else do you seeing it fitting in?

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