VIDEO TRICKS OF THE TRADE

If you’ve been given the job of making a video for your company, you need to know a few things before you begin.  Even if you’re experienced and feel like you could produce it alone, start by getting advice from a video production company.  They are professionals.  They do this every day, and they usually answer many questions free of charge.  Though you may not intend to hire them, they can provide another perspective on the project and may offer money-saving suggestions. You may still decide to do the project yourself, or you may decide to employ them for some, perhaps all, of your production work.

Who do I choose?

Video producers are a lot like psychiatrists; you must find one that suits you.  Ask your friends if they know a good production company.  View the company’s demo reels online and make note of what impresses you.

Production companies come in different sizes and specialties, so give them a call and find out what they do best. Some companies only do video editing.  Others specialize in audio production or 3D graphics. Some are full-service companies that can handle any part of the process you want. You can hire video services a la carte (for example: shooting only), or you can commission a whole video, which may result in considerable cost savings.

If you’re interested in a full-service production company, start by talking with said company’s account executive.  They can get the conversation started, listen to your ideas, and walk you through their pricing structure. They can also help tease out what you really want to say with the video, educate you about production options like high-definition, and get your creative juices flowing with sample programs.  It’s time well-spent.

A few companies in every market are capable of full  script-to-screen film and video production.   They have in-house producers who can help you develop concepts for the video or help you think of some new ones.  They can coordinate scriptwriting, shooting, editing, graphic design, music, and audio sweetening for you.  Together, you and your producer can steer the process, ensure your message is getting through, and get the necessary approvals inside your company as needed.  You can even watch casting calls or rough-cuts on line.

This process can be costly, but it pays off.  You get Hollywood production values for a fraction of what it would cost in Hollywood.  You receive help focusing your message for a fraction of an ad agency fee. You complete a quality project with less disruption of your existing schedule.

Garbage in, garbage out.

This is not to say that finding a good video production partner guarantees success.  Video producers are just regular people with a knack for filmmaking.  They’re skilled in taking your ideas and translating them into the language of movies with drama, suspense, musical scores and special effects. However, the movie they make is only as good as the ideas that you give them.

Your guidance is critical to the film’s success, so the earlier you have input the greater its effect.  Making a video with a producer is a little like building a house with an architect.  First, you tell her what you want.  She makes some sketches.  Pick and choose what you life.  She makes more detailed sketches.  You continue to offer feedback, and together you grow closer and closer to your vision.  As you commit to an approach a little at a time, each of your decisions becomes part of the final design.

A good producer might begin with an outline, then a draft script, then a more refined script.  When you arrive at an approach that feels like it will really work, the producer will oversee the construction of your video.

Rules of Thumb

  • Make a project timeline with your producer.  It’ll be easier to abide by if you do it together.
  • Offer creative notions for your video in the first meeting so the producer can help you decide what works and what doesn’t.  Hearing your thoughts will help him or her develop ideas for you.
  • When the project gets underway, check-in with your producer on a regular basis.  You will know what’s going on and you can answer any questions he or she might have.
  • Be prompt with your feedback.  Have your process in place so you can read outlines or scripts, look at graphics or rough cuts and get back to the producer as soon as possible with your corrections and comments.  This prevents “data leak,” which happens when the client takes his or her eyes off the project for too long and loses track of the next steps.
  • Manage expectations!  Early on, decide who within your company needs to see this video and approve it.  Enlist their support and involve them in the scripting phase so the program has their input right from the start.  If they’ve approved it along the way, they’re more likely to approve it at the end.  Give them regular updates along the way.  Help them stay excited about the project, but not to expect Saving Private Ryan for the price of a GI Joe.  They will appreciate having a realistic sense of how the project’s going and develop a sense of ownership, which will be helpful at the end of the process.

Best of luck with your production.  Whether you go it alone or hire someone to do the whole thing, collaborating with a good production company can make the most of your production budget.