There’s no doubt the video works in marketing. However a complex video production process and associated technology can be intimidating even to professionals, let alone businesses thinking to do it in-house with available resources. You want to present your brand in best possible way and don’t want something that is amateurish.
Making a professional video requires a crew of skilled and experienced artists and technicians, who can take away a lot of stress and intimidation in otherwise challenging process. In this article, I plan to outline the basic stages of creating a video, things to watch for and what to expect during this time.
Phase 1: Scripting and storyboarding
Assuming that you made a decision to create an online video, and determined the key messages you want to get through, the first step toward the production is creating video script. Writing for video is a challenging endeavour and a complex task. It can be a bumpy ride if you approach a video script in the same way you would approach a creation of a brochure or maybe newsletter writing. It’s not just words with pictures. Video is a dynamic medium and needless to say, movement, music and even silence are factors that affect the script. A good scriptwriter will be able to visualise the story as it is being written. You need to see the video in your mind and you need to know how it will sound. If not, there’s a chance that people will have troubles delivering you the product you desire.
Depending on the complexity of your video, you can consider developing a storyboard. If your plan is to stand in front of the camera and talk for 2 minutes, then you don’t need a storyboard. If however, you think it would be good to shoot from different angles, in many takes and plan to use animation or any kind of special effects, voice overs, music and props, then it would be good to create at least a basic storyboard. While it is relatively easy to point and shoot, adding the animation to the video requires some skill and experience, especially if the animation is followed by a voice over. Story board enables you to think through the video in a logical way and share your ideas with others.
Tip: be prepared to last minute changes in the script. Sometimes your final version will only exist in the teleprompter! Leave enough time before the actual shooting begins so you can test the script and make edits if required.
Phase 2: Pre-production and shooting
The shooting day is especially logistically challenging. So many things could go wrong, and usually something always does – from equipment breaking down to presenters being stressed out. Video shoots require very careful planning. A five minute video might take the whole day to film, depending on how well you planned all activities.
Location scouting: Where you film your video will have a significant impact on the quality and the end result. Make sure that the studio you select is sound proof, has proper lighting equipment, teleprompter, microphones and props like office desks, whiteboards, computers, as well as dressing and makeup facilities.
Lighting setup: Probably the most important aspect of the whole process is setting up the lights properly. Fill light, hair light, tungsten, barn doors, umbrellas, dimmers, and soft boxes, fluorescent or led lights…if you’ve never heard these terms before, better leave it to the professionals to worry about setting up. Don’t fail to explain your video in detail to the lighting technicians. For example, if you’re shooting against the green screen, you may want to let technicians know what background will be used in post-production, so they can compensate or adjust the light to fit your future requirements. The light is the key to the good video. Not the camera or special effects. You wouldn’t believe how much light is required in order for a scene to just look “normal”.
Makeup: If the shooting location doesn’t offer make up services make sure to book one in advance. Makeup can do wonders if applied correctly, but can also make things a lot worse.
Dressing up: The outfit you choose to wear can greatly affect the image quality. For example stripes don’t work well on screen, and some colours tend to be better than the others. Avoid green and red.
Practise before you go live: Make time to practise your script on stage before the shooting. If you’re using a teleprompter, adjust the speed to match you rhythm and have someone monitor the time. Set up the camera and view yourself on the set before the shooting. Make few test shots to see what you look like and how you move on stage.
When on stage, people’s body movement increases. That presents a challenge for cameraman and may result in your hands or head being cut off from the video in case of gesturing, or in blurred or out of focus shots. Next thing is to check the sound quality.
Shooting: This can be as quick as the length of your video or it can turn into never-ending series of repeats. Even if the scene went well, you still might need to repeat it, because in post-production you may notice things you haven’t seen during shooting, such as the sound not being turned on in the first second, or the presenter looking down at the end of the scene. It is crucial to have at least two good versions of the same scene. Add to that shooting the same scene with different camera positions, and you get the sense of how long the shooting might take and sheer amount of redundant video material recorded.
Tip: You can’t fix poor lightning or shaky camera in post-production.
Phase 3: Post production
Speaking in general, post production involves anything after the video and audio recordings have been made. It’s the process of bringing it all together by editing the recorded material, creating the animations and voice over synchronisation, adding the music component and so on.
A few minute video can take up to 30GB or more of raw video footage. You need to go through it all, label, memorise, scrutinise, then shortlist and choose the best takes to include in the final edit. This is not only time consuming but also might require specific equipment and skillset.
Graphic design and motion graphic: This aspect is usually underestimated in terms of importance and the time it takes. Almost every production needs graphic design to make use of various graphic elements, like a company logo, or other artistic elements. Adding graphic to the video can have a big impact on reception and emotional response to the video. In contrast to static graphics are the motion graphics. Many videos you see on websites of various companies have no video resources at all and are completely compiled out of photos and graphic elements in an animated fashion.
Music: There is no need to talk much about the importance of music in video production. In fact, most editing decisions are based solely on audio elements. Music provides an emotional impact to the video. Most people ignore the music simply because of the sheer cost of composing the original melody. In some cases, especially smaller productions, it exceeds the total budget. Fortunately there are library music tracks that are rights cleared and can be obtained fairly cheaply.
Editing: Video enters the editing phase once all the elements have been acquired. It requires artistic and technical skills to bring various elements together in a way that not only works logically and emotionally but also delivers your message efficiently and on time. This is the heart of video production process and it requires more than just puzzling together bits of video and audio.
Master: Final step of the process is to make the final master of the video onto any or a variety of formats and resolutions, depending on intended usage and destination.
Tip: Talk to your video production company about requirements for SEO optimisation of a video.
This seems like quite an extensive list of items, but being aware of all the steps will help you, so the next time you’re in a position to hire a video professional, you’ll know what to ask and what to watch for. I’m curious to hear about your experiences.♦ End