Every successful video starts with a good chat and a mug of coffee

The key to success with any video production is to start by developing a plan. In order to make sure that the right creative elements are contained in each video production, we start with a production meeting. This can be a long face to face meeting with the client that enables us to gather as much information as possible about what is needed from the video and how to achieve it. This is the place to bounce ideas around, draw up  a basic storyboard and outline a draft script. It’s a good way to for everyone to really understand what is needed from the video and what it needs to achieve.

It also enables you to become an expert about the clients company and or department and truly understand the product or service that the video is designed to sell or inform.

1. Understand your message and audience

Before the creative juices start flowing it’s a good idea to have a quick overview of the project by running though the clients brief or chatting with them. Look at the key messages and identify the intended audience.  How does your client want their video to affect that viewer, does it need to educate, motivate or wow. It could be any combination of feelings and motivations, but you need to work out what they are.

You then need to discover and discuss ideas of how to convert those key messages into a video that will work with the identified audience.  At this stage it’s important to consider all the potential production elements and ensure that those are achievable within the budget and timescales.

2. Storyboarding

Next it’s time to turn those ideas into a tangible and liner story. If the video is going to be a simple interview or piece to camera, a storyboard is not a necessity but questions and a good script will be invaluable. It’s worth spending a bit of time on the storyboard, getting it correct now and working out shot details will save a lot of time in the production stage. The storyboard, doesn’t have to be detailed pictures, it could just be a rough sketch or even a simple description. Equally, if the budget and time allows, you could go into great detail with the pictures and that will again increase productivity in production. Honestly it’s what helps you plan the shots, story and have a clear and detailed understanding for everyone at the production stage that’s important. The budget will have a huge impact on what is actually achievable within the video production. Your client may want a full CGI sequence, with motion tracking, explosions and car chases (that would be a cool corporate video!) but the budget might only allow for a days filming in an office and a couple of days editing. so it’s important to remember this when creating the storyboard. For larger shoots or shoots with a lot of locations, it’s a good idea to scouts these out before storyboarding, you’ll be able to see good angles and shot locations. take a stills camera and you can use the pictures you take in the storyboard.

Once you have completed the storyboard, it’s good to send it to your client for approval and sign off. This keeps everyone in the loop and reduces the risk of surprises.

3. Lets shoot something – the production stage

So with your signed off and agreed storyboard, you’re ready to start production. A few days before put together a call sheet that details the location, call times, required equipment and contact details of all the key people. Circulate this to everyone involved. A good tip is not to put a wrap time as you never know how long a shoot will be. Even with your meticulous planning, you can never guarantee a finish time. You don’t want the cameraman packing up at 17:00, because it said so on the call sheet.

Once everyone is on location get the Director and cameraman to start to work out the shot list and order of filming for the day. If there are actors or presenters, they could be in makeup during this time. The sound operator and camera assistance can be getting the equipment ready. Once the day is planed you can start filming, I like to bring a large filed monitor with me, so the my client can see what the camera is seeing. It keeps them involved should they wish but also allows you to all huddle round  and can become a central hub. Follow the storyboard, you may need to tweak things here and there but try to stick to it as best you can.

Bring snack and drinks for the crew and talent, filming is hard work and can be physically tiring, so it’s important to stay hydrated and fuelled. There is a lot of waiting around during production while the next shot is set up. In my experience actors and presenters are well seasoned to this and will keep themselves occupied. It’s good to have a production assistant keep tabs on them and know where everyone is ; so they can be ready for action as soon as required.

You should get into a rhythm during the filming ticking off shots against the storyboard, the assistant producer will be a should be a good time keeper and ensure everything is running to time. It can be easy for the cameraman and director to get engrossed in a certain tricky shot, so it’s important to build time extra time into the schedule in case things overrun.

After each days filming the most important thing is to back up the camera rushes. Copy the rushes to 2 seperate hard drives and make sure those 2 drives go separate ways, that way should the worse happen, you should have at least 1 other copy.

4. Post production

This is where the magic happens cutting together the rushes, motion graphics and audio to create the story. You should maintain an organised file structure so that it’s clear where everything is, not just to you but anyone else that could open up the video project. You should rough out the edit, putting editing together the main rushes in line with the storyboard. Then start to “paint” adding cut aways, then titles, motion graphics and grading. there are lot’s of step and unlimited options when editing and no 2 editors will create the same video even when using the same assets. Once the first draft is complete send a version to the client with a timecode overlaid. This is so they can tweak and make amendments and it’s easy to reference the exact time.

5. Sign off and delivery

Once the video is finished and gone through a couple of rounds of amends, it’s time to send off the final version to your client and archive the project. These days most videos are sent digitally, either by a some sort of FTP or uploaded to a website such as youtube or vimeo. You could also send a memory stick in the post with the videos on in a multitude of formats and resolutions. We always archive our projects onto are server for a year and then onto an external hard dive. You should ensure you archive every assist used in the video project. It might be clear as to where everything is and how you put the video together now, but in a years time, when your missing 1 file it will be a nightmare. I’ve gone back to video projects, I produced over 5 years ago, to make amends or change a logo and once I’ve unarchive the project, it was like I was never away.

The Essence
Pre-planning your video project and creating a project essence that acts as your reference, along with a realistic time-line and budget, will help you select the right format, style and elements for your production. Once you start shooting with expanded creative visions, your palette will keep growing and growing. As a Creative Director, one of my favorite exercises is trying to match the format and elements to the project. I think you’ll find as much fun in this as I have, and your videos will look better and be more effective in influencing your audience.