A client's guide to video production - Business Web TV

Part One : Pre-Production
Domestic video cameras have been around since the early eighties, and we’ve all shot a video on our phone, so producing a video for your website is simple, right?

Well not really, having something that is high quality, engaging and gets across your key messages in the shortest possible time is not that easy. Here I’m going to give you a simple guide to planning and executing the perfect video project, whether you do it yourself, or employ professionals.

Planning is very important, time spent before the project starts will save time and money in the long run. There is a temptation to just start shooting everything thinking that it will all come together in post production, this never happens.

Process

The video production process is divided into three phases:

Pre-production: brief, budgeting, script, storyboard, casting, scheduling
Production: Video shoot, graphics design, gathering assets
Post-production: Editing, sound mixing, colour correction & rendering, approvals, revisions, output.
These phases can shift around a bit in each project, for example, you might be in post production and need to go back to phase one to re-write the script or maybe plan additional shoots. So let’s have a look at the phases in more detail:

 

Part 1 – Pre-Production

“Fail to plan, plan to fail”

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The Goldilocks Brief. A brief has to be tight enough to cover all the basics, like branding, cost etc, but loose enough to allow the videographer freedom to use their creativity, experience and expertise with the medium. The brief has to be ‘just right’. You may be happy to write this yourself or you can do it in conjunction with your production company – having a third party ask the tough questions can help. First question – what is the objective of the video, what do you aim to achieve by producing a video? Surprisingly the answer to this question is often, well everyone else has one, we need to be a bit more specific than that.

Second question, what format of video do you want? Many in this industry come from the ol’ one camera, talking-heads school, and if that is all your production company does, that’s all you will be offered. But you should consider animation as well, from the eye-catching kinetic text, that literally dances around your screen, to cartoon-like 2D and the more realistic 3D. As with live action the costs of animation have fallen dramatically over the last few years. Animation gives you creative freedom and you don’t have to worry about actors and presenters, locations, the weather, etc.

Set a realistic budget for the video. Again your production company can help here by explaining what is achievable. We work to a fixed cost with most projects but it is worth building a contingency into the budget for things like bad weather, illness and logistical issues.

Once the brief and budget are agreed we can start on the script itself. This needs to be kept to a manageable size. People tend to forget video is a visual medium so you have to allow time for the images, music and graphics. As a rough guide a single A4 page of dialogue, double line spaced will be around two minutes of finished video.

The visual requirements will be addressed through the storyboard. It is at this stage that many of the challenges will be uncovered for the first time and you will start to think more about locations vs studio, numbers of presenters, stock footage, sound etc., and you may need to revisit the script as a result.

The quality of a presenter and/or actors can make or break a production. You may prefer to do the presentation yourself or work with a colleague, but be warned even the most accomplished salesman can look amateur in front of a camera. I always recommend a screen test, that way you can be sure the presenter is acceptable to everyone and avoid costly reshoots.

Projects may require a wide array of people and equipment, which all needs to be scheduled and the sooner you start this process the better. A studio shoot is generally easier to organise because you have more control over the working environment. If you are filming something like a production process you will have to consider the potential disruption to manufacturing, health and safety (of the crew & presenters), noise levels etc. It may take several meetings to address all of these issues.

You should now be ready to move to the next stage – Production.

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