THE VIDEO PRODUCTION PROCESS
As an established industry, the stages of producing a video and the various roles and tasks which must be performed are well defined. The process is divided into pre-production, production and post-production phases.
This is essentially the planning stage, and is where the concept for the video is developed and preparations for the production are made.
Information gathering and the concept
It may be that you have a clear idea of what your video will contain, or you may simply have an aim for the production, for example an advertisement. A video production company can help you develop your concept. For major advertising videos or campaigns, you should employ an advertising agency. You may find that the agency and video production company are one and the same, for example a viral advertising agency. With a concept or aim, the next task is to gather all necessary and relevant information about the business, product or service that is the subject of the video.
A video production is a major undertaking, and as such needs to be thoroughly planned. This includes scripting of any dialogue in the video, and/or story-boarding the different shots. A storyboard is a bit like a comic strip (of sketches, drawings or photos) that shows what will happen in the video. The writing stage will naturally lead into a more detailed plan and schedule of how the video is to be produced.
If any people are to be included in the video, they must be selected and booked for the shoot. It may be that this is defined from the outset (for example, a message from your CEO, or a tutor hosting a training video), or you may wish to employ actors or “spokesmodels”. Bear in mind any costs that this entails, but also that the people on screen are the face of your video and hence your organization.
Your video could be shot solely in a studio or at your business premises. Otherwise, selecting the right location is important, as this provides the setting and backdrop for the video and so is as important as choosing the right people.
Shooting is the recording of the video. Since this is the source of all original footage, it is vital that it is planned and executed with almost military precision, particularly as organizing carrying out a video shoot is expensive. Video production companies will of course be well practiced in shooting video, so take care to accommodate them and bear in mind that they have experience and knowledge about such things as when in the day to shoot to get the best light. For example, don‟t assume that, because the sun hasn’t set yet, you still have time to shoot. Listen to the professionals, and remember that even a short video can take many hours or days of shooting.
Voice-over is recorded speech which is to be added to video, i.e. the speaker is not on screen. Often, voice-overs are recorded in professional studios, but if you video makes use of a voice-over artist, they may be able to record their work themselves and send it on to the production company.
Anything on screen in a video that isn’t recorded video is graphics. This includes captions and titles as well as logos and still photos. Graphics also includes animation, though if you want a video that is solely or mostly animated, this must be considered earlier in the process. Make sure you supply the video production company with any words or pictures to be included and ensure that your logo is a high-resolution file. A small image used on your website will not suffice. Graphics are also a large part of post-production.
Music and sound effects
Sound and music are a key part of the overall video production and can have a huge effect on how it “feels”. Imagine Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” without the music and ask yourself how much suspense there would be. Depending on your project, you may have music in mind, or be happy for the production company to source and choose it for you. Music must be licensed for use in a video, and there are libraries of music for use in video available for use at reasonable prices. Well-known recordings, especially current pop songs, will cost a lot to license. Sometimes sound is recorded together with video, but often it is created afterwards, particularly for special effects.
While the production phase is concerned with the sourcing and recording of the raw material for a video, post-production is where it is all put together to form the finished production.
Sound and video must be transferred to computers in order to be compiled and edited, and this is known as digitizing, or sometimes capturing. Digitizing is simply transferring recorded media from one form of storage to another, and so is not a very creative or interesting process.
Editing is the stage where all the elements of the video are combined. The best footage is chosen and combined with transitions between shots, titles and graphics are added and sound is mixed. This determines the ultimate look and feel of the video, so you may wish to be involved in editing. It is also an opportunity to work around any problems in the recorded material. Since editing is a very creative process, disagreements are possible, and it can take a very long time to get right. While your opinion as a paying customer is important, it is also worth remembering that a professional editor will have a lot of experience in what is ultimately a combination of creativity and technical skill.
With editing completed, your finished video can be delivered to you in one or several formats. If you video is for use on television, the production company will be able to liaise and advise on a suitable medium. You may wish to have a DVD version as well. If your video is to be used on the internet, it must be compressed into a suitable format.