Working with a Video Production Company

How to work with a video production company

Our step-by-step guide

Step 1: Preparing a Good Brief

A good brief not only outlines what you want to communicate, but also explains your desired outcomes. So, the more information you can give about your expectations, the better. However, the production company will also be happy to advise you on the best way of getting your message over while also maximizing your budget, so you may not want to be too prescriptive at this stage. Tell the video production company:

  • Why you are commissioning this project
  • Who the audience is
  • What you want your audience to get from watching the film, or how you want them to feel when they watch it
  • How you think your audience will watch the film? Online, probably, but how? Your Producer can advise you on various options.
  • Specify the budget you have available and list all the elements that you think need to be included
  • Time-scale
  • Any particular requirements, which may include:
  • Talent: Presenters or voice-overs
  • Style of the video production (you may have thoughts on this, but your video producer will be expecting to advise on this)
  • Participants, locations etc. What needs to go into you film?
  • Whether this is part of a broader project and should sit within a body of other work; or have a particular design or look and feel.

Your team should include:

  • Director or Deputy Director of Projects
  • Project Manager appointed to manage the film project
  • Design team
  • Web team
  • PR and communications team

The production company will then be able to develop a production schedule which, not only outlines their time-scales and intended outcomes, but additionally highlights when your team members should get involved.

Step 2: Pre-Production- Planning the Video

  • The Project Manager and Video Producer meet again to work on the specifics of the pre-production of the video.
  • The production schedule is further developed to form a shooting schedule.
  • Further work is done on research and scripting needs; detailing the ‘look’ for the video, the selection of people and locations, identifying or developing special graphical elements, determining the need for narration or presenters and music, and the logistics of filming.

The Video Producer’s role is to liaise with the Project Manager and keep them informed of progress at all times; to organise the logistics of the filming; to supervise the post-production and delivery of the project.

Step 3: Production- Filming

Your video production company should be filming in broadcast standard High Definition and Ultra High Definition (4K). These high quality cameras mean that we can often work without too many lights, which is ideal when the filming schedule is tight. We usually work with a crew of two or three people, so as not to be too intrusive.

The Project Manager may want to be there for the filming, and depending on what is being filmed, this can sometimes be an essential.

Sometimes a Presenter may be involved in the filming. Very often we would have an additional crew member to specialise in sound or autocue for this shoot.

Step 4: Post-Production- Editing, Graphics, Visual Effects, Music

In post-production, all the filmed footage is ingested into video editing workstations and shaped into a film, or series of short films. The first edit you will see is the ‘rough cut’. This brings all the content together and may be rough around the edges in terms of sound levels and colour grading, with no music or graphics. The rough cut allows you to approve the content before time (and budget) is spent on the fine tuning and polishing. A guide voice-over may be used to allow the script to continue to develop alongside the pictures.

At this stage, the Project Manager may be happy to approve the content alone, or may wish to elicit the opinions of colleagues. The Project Manager should collage all the comments and decide which of these to follow through on. Committee decisions usually result in the ‘watering’ down of the project and you have to accept that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

When the Project Manager is happy that the script is finalised and the content is right, then the project moves on to the next stage of the edit. Music is selected, usually from library tracks, and the final voice-over is recorded.

The design of graphic elements will have been approved during the rough cut stage, but will now become part of the film. The style of the graphics, and whether the film sits within a family of other work, will have been discussed at an early stage.

Opening titles, credit, animated sequences will all be completed. The soundtrack will be mixed, audio levels and colour grading completed.

The Project Manager will be shown the final video for approval. Colleagues may be asked to view at this point. However, any issues should already have been ironed out and dealt with so, in theory, this should be a straightforward process.

You may want to consider showing the video at its rough cut stage to an external audience, in order to get some feedback before the film is completed. This will take time and may result in a drastic rethink. This may require some additional budget, or use your contingency budget, in order to make unplanned adaptations.

Time-Scale Guide

  • From the first production meeting, allow 2 – 3 weeks for the Producer to develop a production schedule and first script or storyboard.
  • When this has been approved, allow 2 – 3 weeks to set up filming, which may be in consultation with the professional consultant.
  • Filming usually takes place over a 2 – 3 week period, but this depends on availability of presenters, interviewees, families and locations.
  • Post-production. This should be a two stage process. 2 weeks to get to a rough cut, where your Project Manager (and advisers) comments on content. When this has been approved, a further week or so should complete the edit. The approval procedure within your organisation may require additional time to be added.
  • Design of menus, on body and packaging takes place during this post-production period. Whilst your Project Manager is working on the content, your Design Team gets involved and works with the video production company too.
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