Last week we showed you some of our recent video production projects, and how we’ve helped our clients tell their stories. Today, we’ll tell you a bit more about the three main stages of video production process and what you can expect when you work with our team.
This is the critical planning stage, where we consider strategy, budget, scheduling, and create a plan to maximize your investment. Depending on the project, it might also entail anything from a simple treatment and shotlist to a detailed script and full storyboard.
We will need to work with you to figure out key details by asking questions such as:
- What are the subject matter, purpose and objective(s) for the video?
- Who is the intended audience of the video, and how will we ensure we reach them?
- What is the core message of the video, and what are the expected results or “call-to-action”? What do you want viewers to do or know after they watch your video? Let’s consider your unique selling point, and what helps your brand stand apart from the competition.
- How long will the video be? There are suggestions for specific platforms, so we will need to think about where and how the video will be distributed.
- What will a strategic launch look like? Is there a budget for advertising? Even the most compelling videos sometimes need an extra boost to gain traction.
- What resources will we need (presenters, actors, locations, props, etc.) to ensure the video is able to fulfill its purpose? What are you able to provide, and what will we need to source independently?
- Are there any brand guidelines we should follow to make sure this video looks and feels like it has been created uniquely for and by your company? This can include set design that embraces brand colours, and elements we add in post-production.
The Project Plan and Brief:
Once we have some preliminary questions answered about the scope of the project, we begin to build a plan. This plan usually includes a simple budget and a timeline for each step, as well as a description of the intended final product. This framework is critical; however, it is likely that the strategy will evolve as the project progresses, and we always expect to make some adjustments as we go.
Your video may or may not require a script, and you might want us to write it for you! It can be very valuable to have an outsider’s view. We usually start with a competitive analysis, to make sure the dialogue and visuals in your video will help you stand out from the crowd. You will have several opportunities to look this over and ensure it reflects your brand.
Even if there are no speaking roles or voice over, we will usually need to write a basic treatment that maps out key participants and messages, locations, actions, and other elements, to make sure that everyone is on the same page on set. This ensures that our shooting schedule is as efficient as possible.
Some projects rely on storyboards to ensure a smooth production process. This usually includes more ambitious, larger-scale projects, or concepts that rely on unique visual transitions or special effects. Storyboards are simple sketches of each intended shot in sequence; like a comic book without speech bubbles. The more details we can plan in advance the better, so that we are not concerned with questions like where actors should be positioned or how to light a set for the intended effect. This also paints a clear picture for post-production, and eliminates any potential confusion between production crew members and editors.
Amazing, we made it to the production day; this is the point in the process that everyone envisions when they think about creating videos. Obviously, we live for this! All the careful planning, writing, drawing, scouting, casting, and scheduling tasks of pre-production culminate into making this day go perfectly, so that we can capture the best footage possible.
Here’s a look at a production day for us at Empress Avenue Media.
- Basic Setup: Loading in gear, setting up staging areas for cast, hair and makeup stations, charging areas for electronics, computers for DIT (to back up and review footage), etc.
- Blocking: This a physical rehearsal that focuses on the positioning of the cast, and not the lines or context of the script. It’s helpful for envisioning where cameras will go, what set dec(oration) will be seen, and how lighting might be set up.
- Preparing set decoration and props: Now that we know where the actors will be, we can start to anticipate what will be captured on camera and build an aesthetically appropriate environment and prepare the elements that the cast might need to interact with.
- Lighting: The lighting team works under the direction of the Director of Photography to paint the set in light that reflects the appropriate tone and context for the scene.
- Technical Rehearsal: The cast may have been rehearsing during the rest of the setup process, but now the director has a chance to work with the talent or interview subjects on set, and see how everything looks on camera.
- Last Looks: Each department reviews the monitors to make sure every detail is just perfect.
- Shoot! The Assistant Director makes sure everyone on set is ready to go, sound is speeding and cameras are rolling, before the talent brings the scene to life.
- Rinse and Repeat: These steps are repeated for every new scene and location.
Once the cast or interviewees are released, we usually want to focus on capturing B-roll (for factual shoots) and inserts (for narrative projects). B-roll is basically silent footage to be intercut with interviews or narration to help visualise the concepts that are introduced through dialogue; it often includes candid shots of the interview subjects working or interacting, shots of other people or locations that they’ve talked about, or abstract shots that reflect the emotions they’ve shared.
Inserts are simple shots that can be captured without a full cast crew and usually without audio, but are critical to the storytelling process. For example, in a wide shot we might see our actor pick up a book and read a passage. Once the actor is on break, we can capture a close-up of the text in the book as an insert.
We usually want to take the time to capture various general shots that could be used to help smooth out the editing process, even if we don’t know exactly how they might fit into the final product. The same goes for behind-the-scenes footage that might be useful in future promotion, like posts on social media.
So it turned out to be a beautiful day and we’ve captured all this wonderful footage. What now? We’re proud of our unique ability to take projects through the entire post-production pipeline to final delivery for on-demand web content, broadcast and theatrical releases. This includes editing, conforming, motion graphics, colour correction, ADR, foley, audio mixing, closed captioning, and visual effects.
This part of the process requires careful review of the best takes and shots, cutting and stitching everything together into a smooth and coherent story. Finally, we will add sound effects, music, and any visual effects or motion graphics we require.
Usually, when the clips are ingested, they don’t follow the story’s natural order, because it may be more efficient to film things out of sequence. Before they begin, the video editor has to label and organise all the footage. Then, they synchronise the different cameras and audio sources, and sort the different takes for each scene. After this, they can begin going into each individual scene and selecting the best shots, labelling anything that is unusable, and generally becoming familiar with the recorded content. Finally, they will begin their first edit of each scene, the rough assemblies.
Once the picture is locked using rough sound, the audio mixing can start, along with special effects and motion graphics.
The sound connected to the video footage is often not the sound used in the edit or the final film. The clean audio is recorded externally by the sound mixer on set, using a combination of shotgun (‘boom’) and lavalier (‘lav’) microphones to minimise background noise. These are later synchronised with the footage in post-production. Depending on the project, we might also need to record a voice over, or have actors re-record their lines (ADR). Sound effects are often recorded during the post production process by a dedicated foley artist; these folks are masters at creating common sounds and unusual, exaggerated effects alike, using a wide variety of everyday objects. If the project has a dedicated music composer, they will also start working as soon as the picture is locked.
Good music that matches the vibe of your story, company, and/or product, is more important than you might think! Music completely changes the tone of the scene, and is crucial for setting the right mood and keeping your viewers engaged. And it can give the viewer information about the emotions the actor(s) may be experiencing.
In the final steps, an audio engineer will combine all the new sound elements, while a colour artist will grade the footage to make sure the colour and lighting looks as consistent as possible between all the shots in each scene, and to enhance the overall look and feel of the finished product.
after all’s said and done
After all the work that was done to create this masterpiece, here are some ways to ensure that the video reaches success out in the real world: Measuring watch times and click through rates, and budgeting for some ads can help ensure the video gets the audience it deserves.
We can render the video in appropriate formats for distribution on as many platforms as desired – the bigger the audience, the better the potential return on investment! It definitely pays to utilise all the social platforms you can: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and wherever else you have an audience for your brand (don’t forget about your email subscribers!). Also consider reaching out to online news platforms to embed the video in new articles, or ask followers, bloggers and influencers to share about it. All of these strategies will go a long way in optimising the success of your video.
tell your story
We hope you’ve found this series of posts helpful in terms of what you can expect when working with us, and what goes on behind the scenes when we produce a video. Have a video project in mind? Get in touch, we can help you tell your story.