When setting out to produce a video for your agency or a client, there are many factors to consider. It could be as simple as grabbing a camera and just shooting, or it could be as complex as producing a full feature film. The complexity of your production will be determined by the purpose of the video, budget, timeline, and the tools and resources that you have access to.
UNDERSTANDING THE VIDEO PRODUCTION PROCESS
The video production process always starts with three main phases: pre-production, production, and post-production.
What is video production?
Video production usually refers to the process of producing video content in a digital format. We define this because it can be a very different process to film production, which usually involves much larger crews, larger budgets, and different equipment. All video production starts with a story that needs to be told. The video should portray this story in an easy to understand and visually appealing way for your intended audience.
To help you along this process, below are the three-phase of video production as a quick checklist to help you determine what your needs may be for your next video.
What is Pre-Production?
This is when all of the planning and coordination happens. All phases of video production are important, but the pre-production phase may be the most important and most tedious, depending on the complexity of your production. This is where all the preparation takes place that sets the groundwork for your video. By doing your homework and mapping out all the details in this stage, your production and post-production phases will be much smoother and less stressful.
The pre-production phase includes:
- Develop the Creative Treatment – This is an important first step to any production. The creative treatment should describe the concept of the video, the look and feel, and what you want your audience to feel and do when they see your video.
- Write the Script – The script is obviously another key element to your production. It is going to determine what shots you need to capture when you are in your field production shoot. It needs to tell a story that will captivate your intended audience and quickly and easily tell the audience what you want them to know. It will also help you determine what elements you may need for your field production shoot. For instance, if you write a point-of-view shot of a bird flying into the script, you know that you will need a drone to capture that type of shot.
- Book the On-Screen Talent – Will you be the on-screen talent? Will you be using people within your organization? Will you need professional actors?
- Scout and Secure the Locations – Before you go shoot, go out and scout the locations you have in mind, just to make sure they will work on camera as you expect. Also, keep in mind that videotaping in certain locations may require approval, which can be a lengthy process, so make sure you plan for that.
- Make a Shot List – This list should include each location you need to shoot at with the shots you need included at each location.
- Define the Budget – Your budget is one of the most important factors for your production. If you are doing a quick Facebook video in a vlog style, you likely won’t need to spend any money. If you are doing a corporate video or commercial, your budget could require a large sum of money.
- Book the Voiceover Narration Talent – Do you need a voice narrating throughout the video? Will you use a narrator and on-camera soundbites? If you do need voiceover narration, you may want to consider using a professional talent for that polished look, if the budget allows.
- Choose the Music Carefully – The right music can make your video really shine. Spend some time just imaging what the look of the video should be in your mind and select music that you think will accompany the shots you want to get. The music may change once you get to the post-production phase, so don’t purchase it until you know it is the right fit.
- Choose the Distribution Channels – Before you shoot, you should define what platforms the video will be used for. Will it be used on broadcast television or online? Be conscious about your platform so that you know what format to shoot the video in.
- Don’t Forget Weather Considerations – This one seems obvious, but you should check the weather and be prepared for inclement weather. If your scene calls for a bright sunny day and it is raining, well, you are going to have to reschedule. Keep this in mind and check the weather before you go out and shoot so that you don’t have to unbook your whole crew.
- Make a Production Schedule – Once you have all of your ducks in a row, you should create a production schedule that contains all of the important information about your field production shoot day. This should include the names and contact information for all crew members, the equipment that is needed, the name, address and contact person at each shoot location, and a timeline with start and end times for each location and what will be shot there.
What is Field Production?
As you probably guessed, the production phase is where all your pre-production work comes to life. This is the phase where you get out to your locations with your crew, gear and talent and turn your creative treatment and script into real life.
The field production phase includes:
- Production Equipment (camera(s), lighting gear, audio gear, memory cards, extra batteries, stands, tripods, lenses, etc.) – To state the obvious, if you are going to be producing a video, you will need gear…sometimes a lot of it. Be sure you have the correct gear for the job. And always make sure you have plenty of memory cards and extra batteries. Audio in video is as important, if not more important than the video. Capturing good audio in interviews and natural sound in b-roll is key to a great video. Make sure you have a quality microphone.
- Release Forms – If you are not using professional on-screen talent, be sure to bring copies of personal footage release forms, particularly if you are shooting people off the street and directing them in any way. You want to make sure you have their written consent to be on camera to avoid any legal trouble with a subject who complains about being in your video without their consent.
- Personnel needs (director, producer, talent, grips) – How large a crew will you need to make your production happen and look good? Some complicated scenes may require extra hands. Of course, if your budget allows for a full professional crew, your finished product will likely be better. If this is not feasible, there are ways a small crew can still accomplish the same quality but be realistic about your limitations.
What is Post-Production?
The post-production phase is where you will set the tone for your video. While right or wrong music and voice over narration selections can make or break your video, the video edit will shape the video and give it a certain pace and feel. Make sure you edit with your story and purpose in mind, and not just throw shots together randomly.
The post-production phase includes:
- Video editing software – Once you have shot all of your video, the next step is to edit it. There are many options these days when it comes to editing software but some of the most popular include Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premier, and Sony Vegas. If you are not comfortable with editing the video yourself, consider hiring a professional editor, who can really make your video shine. Editing is one most important steps in the video production process.
- Audio editing software – Just like editing your video, audio editing is a very important step of your production. Using dedicated audio editing software, you can take out some of the background noise, hiss, and breath sounds that may be distracting within your video. Some popular audio editing programs are Adobe Audition, Avid Pro Tools, and Audacity.
Of course, entire books are written about video production and how to prepare for a successful video shoot, but if you aren’t in the production industry and don’t have time to read a whole book, keeping these tips in mind should help you be prepared for your next video, whether big or small.