Best Practices for Producing Great Corporate Videos

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You have been assigned to oversee production of a video, so you want to prepare and have your project be successful. What is the best way to plan and organize the video project? How much time should you allow when producing a video?  How do you produce a great corporate video? When a video requires a degree of complexity or sophistication beyond what you can do in-house, you will need to hire a video producer to assist you with your project.

One of the first things you will need to assess is how much time you have available to complete your video production. Many people are not aware that there are three phases of a video project: pre-production, production and post-production. It’s not uncommon to assume that video production is the primary phase of a video project and that as long as you have a day scheduled for the shoot and a day or two to edit, you are in good shape. But the truth of the matter is, production is typically the shortest phase of a video project. Pre-production time is worth its weight in gold, so don’t short-change the time needed for this phase. If you are hiring a video production company, you want to get your money’s worth, right? All the other aspects of creating a video depend on how thoroughly organized and planned your project is. Don’t assume that talent, crew, equipment and locations will be available at the drop of a hat - the people you need to work with and the items you need for your shoot may already be booked up a week or two in advance. Locations may require permits, insurance and location scouting. Don’t get caught in the vise-grip effect - you may feel there is all the time in the world when you are a few weeks out, but as your deadline is fast approaching, you want to make sure the multitude of tasks at hand are properly addressed.

So you’ve booked your video agency, equipment and talent and you have a synopsis or treatment of the video--now you’re ready for production right? Not quite. Picture this: you are on the set and the camera crew asks how many shots there will be, or where they should set up first. You’ll want your video producer to help you prepare a break-out sheet that schedules all the shots you need. Out of an 8 to 10 hour day, allow a couple of hours for load in, staging of all the gear and set up for the first shot and then at least 15 minutes for each shot thereafter. Add another 20 to 40 minutes for each different scene to move the equipment, relight and set up the shot. If you need what is called a company move, which requires loading up all the gear and driving to a completely different location, each move may take an additional hour or two. Finally, striking the set and packing the gear up into the vehicle(s) can take 45 minutes to over an hour. Once you add in lunch, it’s no wonder that most video production companies prefer to work with a 10 hour day if there are a lot of shots.

Let’s do a little simple math: if loading equipment, striking the set, and lunch combined take at least 2.5 hrs, that leaves 7.5 hrs for setting up and getting all the shots you need. If every shot is in one location and each shot takes an average of 20 minutes including lighting tweaks, 2nd takes and playback, that is approximately 21 to 23 shots. Let’s say you have 3 different shooting areas within 1 location which require moving and a new lighting setup; that will take at least an extra 30 minutes for each new setup, which now leaves you with under 20 shots. If the shoot requires a company move that takes an extra hour or more, subtract another 3 to 4 shots.

When there are different scenes with different setups and different locations, it is important to get all the shots you need when you are there. You don’t want to have to go back. The same can be said for camera angles or focal length. Why go back and forth between close-ups and medium shots just because that is the way it is in the script?

Shoot all shots that share the same location and the same angle in one go - this will save lighting, setup and composing time.

To help you with scheduling your time and organizing your shots, a shot break-out sheet can really help. A shot break-out sheet is simply a document organized into rows and columns which lays out your shots and tracks your shooting schedule.

Once you have completed production, you move into video post-production which includes editing, titling, motion graphics, music and other audio mixing. You’ll want to allow time to acquire the media, make an initial preview, edit it and submit at least one round for review. For every day of shooting you may want to allow 2 to 4 days of editing to achieve the first-round edit. You can learn about other ways to estimate editing time in the blog How To Determine Professional Video Editing Costs.

Some companies prefer three or more rounds of review with contingency time built in.

For example, after the first edit, the project manager overseeing the video project may want anywhere from 2 days up to a full week before releasing comments. Review cycles can be a bit of a ping pong match where the responsibilities are in the producer’s court for one week and in the project manager’s court the next week. Video post-production may take several weeks to complete.

The short version of a long story is: besides doing a great job on the video production phase, allowing enough time in pre-production and post-production is essential to achieve the high-quality video that you want.

Editor’s Note: This encore blog was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated.

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