Video Production 101: Planning Successful Video Projects Pt.2

-By Sue O’Hora

Part one of this series is posted here. It introduces the three stages of a video production project (pre-production, production and post-production) and provides tips for defining a creative approach and formulating the basics for your project: the deadline, length of the piece, and the budget. This post offers tips for planning the actual production and managing the post production and approval processes.

Part 2: LOGISTICS – THE HEART OF PRODUCTION

Now that you’ve thought through your content and have the basics of your schedule and budget in mind, think about the logistics that will actually make your project happen as you’ve envisioned it so far. Your answers to these logistical questions can inform your creative approach and vice versa. For instance, the feasibility of certain ideas may change once you’ve thought through the logistics involved in making that idea happen.

The list below is by no means exhaustive. It’s simply meant as a starting place to help you begin thinking of the things you’ll need to plan for as you move into production. If you are planning to hire a professional crew (either on your own or through a production company) to capture your footage, they will likely have a number of other production-related questions to be answered before you actually roll camera. Even if you’re planning to use co-workers as your cast and crew, you’ll need to think through the logistics of your production to make sure you have the right people available at the right times. Will you need to move people from location to location or keep them out of the elements? Thinking about these logistical questions while still in the preliminary planning stages of your project can help identify what resources will be crucial to telling your story.

Logistics Questions

  • Will you be shooting original footage for this project? If so, when will the cast, crew and locations you require be available?
  • Will the shoot(s) take place locally, or will your cast and crew need to travel?
  • Will multiple locations be required?
  • Will you need permits for any of your locations?
  • Will your locations be quiet enough to gather high-quality audio?
  • Will on-camera talent be needed (a host, interview subjects, etc.)? If so, will the production company need to provide this talent, or will you?
  • Will your talent be professional actors/hosts/interviewees or are they new to being on camera?
  • Will a teleprompter be required?
  • If there are interviews in the piece, will the interviewer be on camera or off camera? Do you have a preferred setting for the interviews (a certain location, a backdrop, a computer generated background or a logo in the background, etc.)?
  • Will there be a need for makeup/wardrobe?
  • Will you be providing the script/interview questions, or will you need the production company to provide them?
  • In what format(s) will the final project be delivered (files for the web, on a hard drive, on tape or DVD)?
  • If you’re hiring a production company or a Producer, can you provide examples of other videos you like (or don’t like) for direction and guidance?
  • What kind of camera(s) and audio gear will you use to shoot your video? Will you need hard drives to store the footage? Will you require a laptop to transfer footage while on set?
If your project relies heavily on interviews and you aren’t sure how comfortable your interview subjects are on camera, schedule interviews far enough apart that you’ll have time to work with each subject to make them more comfortable.

Similarly, it can be significantly cheaper to hire non-professional talent for on-camera roles. Unfortunately, it can also take far longer to get the performance you want from someone who isn’t used to being on camera. Balance the cost of the talent you will be hiring with the time it might take to work with them on camera.

POST PRODUCTION AND THE APPROVAL PROCESS

You’ve worked hard on your concept and you’ve spent time thinking about production. The next thing to consider is post production. Post production encompasses all the milestones and processes you’ll need to go through to turn your raw footage into a finished video that is ready for distribution.

Take the time to run your creative approach by the people who will be editing your final video. Discuss it with as many members of your post production team as you can. If you’re working with a Producer or a Production Company, they’ll likely do this work for you when formulating a budget for your project. Post production specialists like editors, graphic designers, and sound engineers can give you valuable feedback that you can use to further refine your creative approach and ultimately plan your production. Their feedback will be crucial to building a realistic schedule for your project as well.

One often-overlooked part of post production is the approval process. How many people have a say in the approval of your project will greatly affect the amount of time needed for post production. Think about the roles various stakeholders will have in the ultimate approval of the project and how long it will take them to provide feedback.

Post Production Questions

  • How long will my video take to edit? How many review milestones will I require (rough cut, fine cut, picture lock)?
  • Will I need to incorporate graphics in my final project?
  • Will I need to record narration?
  • Will my video require sound design and mix?
  • Will my video require color correction?
  • Who will be reviewing and approving each milestone? How many individuals/departments from the company have approval power? How long will each approver need to provide feedback?
  • Will there be a need for captioning for the hearing impaired? Will I need different versions of this video or translations of it in different languages?
When several approvers need to provide feedback at each post production milestone, deadlines can easily be missed. Be sure to build enough time into your schedule for everyone to have his or her say. Keep in mind that multiple approvers with different viewpoints can also cause a production to go over budget by triggering more revisions than planned. Have a plan in mind for incorporating feedback into the final project.

CONCLUSION

The goal of preproduction is to lay the groundwork for a successful video project. On one level, success can be measured by how well the finished video meets your goals. Does it speak to your audience? Does it motivate the viewer to take the desired action? Aside from creative success, thorough pre-production helps to ensure that the production and post production phases of your project move forward with as few surprises as possible. Another measure of success is being able to stick to your schedule and your budget. Engaging in a through pre-production process that includes detailed thinking about the production and post production phases to follow helps minimize risks and increases the probability that your project will succeed.

Sue O’Hora is a Producer for Henninger Media Services. When not busy working on production projects, she can be found reading about television, writing about it or discussing it with friends. You can learn more about Sue at www.videobysue.com or follow her on Twitter @SueOHora.