ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL – First things first: if you encounter a video production service that offers a “one-price-fits-all” estimate, RUN! DO NOT WALK. RUN AWAY. Building a video is like building a house; no two effective ones are ever the same. Cookie cutter one-size-fits-all pricing will get you a video that looks and feels like all the others that company cranks out. Your message will get lost as the production company slams together your video with nothing but their bottom line as a guide.
Choose a professional company that will listen to what you want, make suggestions and then work with you on a script and budget that works for you. Also understanding what the REAL costs are going in will save you from sticker shock later. Making quality videos takes many hours of many talented people’s time to be done right. It is not for the faint-of-heart. It’s like anything else in life; you really do get what you pay for.
HOW TO AVOID STICKER SHOCK – A professional production company will deliver an estimate that includes the number of locations, travel time and tickets, production days, special effects, graphics, editing requirements, as well as possible professional talent or narration. With all details in hand, producers can come very close to a final price. If the proposed project is very complex, requiring multiple locations, stand-by days and last minute travel, it may not be possible to submit a final budget until the actual script is complete. Some video production companies put a contingency fee in the final estimate. A contingency figure in the budget reflects the fact that even the most thoroughly pre-planned video production can fall prey to “Murphy’s Law,” with delays and problems that cannot be foreseen or controlled.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN – Before the pre-production even begins, the client must assign one person to “executive produce” the video. Without a defined approval manager, the production team will have too many bosses. This will lead to confusion, delays and more cost to the over-all production. This person is the video production company’s main contact; the “go to” leader who has the knowledge to ensure the production team gets everything right, eases the way into every location, and has the power to approve each production phase.
The Three Phases of Video Production
This is where you save money…lots of money. Mess this part up and your project will be come in over budget and most likely never deliver the results you wanted. This is where you plan…change your mind…plan some more…change your mind…plan some more…Get it? This is the point where changing your mind costs much less than at any point going forward. After pre-production, the cost of changing your mind costs 10X, so get this part right.
Scriptwriting – Like blueprints for a homebuilder, a detailed script helps insure a successful, on budget production. Video production is a highly skilled and detailed process. Without a carefully designed script, your project will cost a lot more than expected and still not tell the story you want told.
The script not only includes the talent’s lines, it also plots all visuals (such as camera angles), and contains creative elements (like special effects) that will hold the audience’s attention. The script is the master plan for the actual production work. Scriptwriting for video is different from other forms of writing. In video – less is more.
Remember, the video script message is carried through the visuals as well as the words. Research studies have shown that people learn faster –and remember more of what they learned — when they see rather than just hear the story.
Steps to developing a good script
Research – You can’t write about what you don’t know! A professional script-writer will collect all the pertinent information: interview your technical advisors, employees and customers. They will discover what’s essential to your video so you don’t waste time recording unnecessary details. Recording what you don’t need waste money and makes the post-production phase take even longer.
The Treatment – This is a condensed version of the script describing, in a general way, what will be seen and heard. It is written in paragraph rather then script format.
The Rough Draft Script – Just as the name implies, the first script is a draft that will explain, in detail, the look and feel of the finished project. There WILL BE more than one rough draft. This is where you work out the kinks and fine tune what is, and maybe just as important, what is not needed in the final video.
The Shooting Script – Once all of the additions and/or revisions from the rough script have been approved, the result is the shooting script – and the production can begin!
The Final Script – Often you will discover better sound or find material after the production shoot. The producer will re-work and re-write the script to accommodate the new/better material and conform it to the shooting script for the company’s approval.
Once you have your script, the next stage is the budget. Once these two items are finished and agreed to, you move on to choosing locations, graphics, music, animation and talent. Sometimes it makes sense to use company personnel as “talent” in the video, and sometimes it will take a trained actor to project the right image. It’s almost always better to used a trained actor for any voice over and narration. This decision has to be made in pre-production.
I cannot stress this enough; this is by far the most important phase. Make the hard choices here and you will save time and money.
This is actually shooting the video. This is the part of the process most people think of when they envision a video shoot. This is the LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION part. Most people think of it as the FUN part. But be prepared. It will take longer than you think and make a much bigger mess that you can imagine. Prepare yourself and your company for the disruption and distractions. The video crew and producer will travel to the selected locations and record the video footage. This will include interviews, cover footage, product shots, and procedures as needed to tell the story your video is intended to tell. Narration may be recorded at this time on location or later in an audio studio. Music and graphics may be produced during this period as well. All the elements that will be used in post-production are created during the production phase.
Once the final script is approved, your production company will help arrange the shooting schedule. Specific locations will need to be reserved, arrival times will be determined and needed people and resources will be arranged. You may be surprised to see how much time is required to set up and light a scene. A good production is the direct result of creativity and craftsmanship. Rushing the job will adversely affect the final results. Understanding this will help you bear with the video crew while they set up their equipment. They will also record a scene from several different angles.
3. POST PRODUCTION
This is the “longer-than-you-think-it-takes” time in the edit room phase. Now is when the production team edits the video, mixes the audio and inserts titles and special effects. It’s where all elements come together to create a production that grabs your audience and keeps them glued to the screen. This really is where the magic happens; where all the hard work in pre-production and production pay off.
Logging – During this first phase of post production, all the shots recorded during production will be logged. If a script supervisor was used during production this process is much easier. If not, each recording will need to be logged manually (viewed and shots written down) and sound bites will be reviewed. After the recordings are logged, the next step is to create the video equivalent of a rough draft.
The Rough Cut Edit – Once the shots are logged and organized, the producer and editor will be able to start on a first cut or rough-cut of the production. By transcribing the good video shots and listening to the sound bites, the editor can decide the video’s order and pacing in the rough-cut. Also during this first edit, the editor will start choosing any required music and graphics and make sure all copyrighted material is cleared or will inform the company what license fees might be required for music, stock video, etc. Once you have approved the rough-cut edit of your production, it could take several more rough edits that fine tune and polish the production. Then the post production team will move on to the final edit.
The Final Edit – The approved rough-cut edit will serve as a guide to create your finished project. This phase of editing includes final audio mixing, color correction of scenes, insertion of titles, graphics and animation, as well as special effects and transitions.
See, that was easy. OK, not so easy, but the finished product will be amazing. Get each section right and you will have an outstanding tool you can use for many years.