Video production can seem complicated, especially if it’s your first time going through the process. In this article, I’ll walk you through the main steps that go into making a video. Keep in mind that every video is different, so some of these steps may not apply to your project. Please note that there will be a quiz afterwards.


Pre Production

Research

We do our homework to learn about your organization, your constituents and your competitive situation. This can take the form of in-person meetings, internet research, collateral review and telepathic mind reading.

Creative

This step involves developing a cohesive approach to the project — basically defining the messaging, look and feel of the video. It is expressed in a creative brief or treatment.

Scriptwriting

Pretty much self explanatory. Not every video is scripted, so in lieu of a script we will develop a storyline or outline.

Storyboard

We create storyboards for videos that have specific visual elements. If the project doesn’t require a storyboard, we will typically create a shot list instead. (Those are the drinks we will serve when the shoot is finished.)

Casting

If the video requires “talent,” we’ll work with a casting agency to find the right actors. I am not being facetious by putting the word “talent” in quotes, so to my sensitive talent friends, please don’t get upset.

Location scout

If the video is being shot “on location,” the producer and/or cinematographer will visit the site in advance to check on lighting, sound and logistical requirements.

Shoot prep

These are the steps to prepare for the actual shoot and include crewing, scheduling, booking equipment, obtaining permits, locating the nearest sushi joint and so forth.


Production

Setup

This is literally setting up the cameras, sound and lighting gear in preparation for the shoot. Depending on the complexity of the shoot, this part of the video production process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. So it’s a good time for you to check your emails.

Principal photography

This is the main filming sequence, and the time when the bulk of the video is shot. If we are at a school, it’s also the time when we film the principal.

B-roll

These are the secondary shots that provide supporting visuals for the video. Simply put, b-roll shows what you’re talking about. It’s also a good way to avoid THS (Talking Head Syndrome.)

Breakdown

After the shoot “wraps,” the crew breaks down the equipment setup. This usually takes a fraction of the time the original setup did. That’s because the crew is anxious to get a beer.

Pickup shots

After principal photography is finished, our editor may say “Gee, I wish we had a shot of so-and-so to insert here.” So we go back and get that shot of so-and-so, and we call it a pickup shot.

Narration

This is where a voice artist records a (pick one) authoritative/energetic/sincere/warm/exuberant/youthful “read” of the script. Invariably he/she will pronounce something wrong and will then have to record a “fix.”


Post Production

Editing

This is the mysterious process where the editor, sitting in a dark room, takes all the raw elements that go into a video, and somehow makes sense of it.

Motion graphics

This is a Latin term meaning “graphics in motion.” Motion graphics magically make boring things look cool.

Animation

There are two kinds of animation: 2D and 3D. Please note that 3D animation is more expensive because it has an extra “D.”

Color grading

This is where the editor messes with various attributes of the image such as contrast, color, saturation, detail, black level, and white point to make it look (pick one) serious/humorous/reflective/bold/moody/exciting.

Sound design

This is the art of building a soundtrack by mixing and manipulating various audio elements such as dialogue, sound effects and music. Good sound design takes a video to the next level. Kind of like hot sauce.

Encoding

This is where we prepare the final deliverables of your video in various formats for playback on the web, on TV, digital signage, kiosks, movie screens and whatever other crazy places you plan to show it.


Project Management

Your Allied Pixel producer has overall responsibility to keep you happy by seeing to it that the video is completed on schedule and on budget. He or she is available at any time by phone, email, in person or via telepathy to discuss your project.

We use Basecamp, an online project management tool, to facilitate communication. Some people love it, some people not so much. I hope you at least kinda like it.

You can expect a lot of communication back and forth throughout the process. It’s obviously critical that we all remain on the same page. Once we move on from one step to the next, it can be difficult (and costly) to go back and make changes.

Each step in the video production process is iterative. We send you a “first draft” and you respond. This goes back and forth until we’re ready to move on to the next step, or until you’re just sick of talking about it. Obviously it’s imperative that you provide feedback in a timely and definitive manner so we can stay on schedule.

The acclaimed director Sidney Lumet once said that no film is ever truly finished, you eventually just stop working on it. And that is true for our work too, but rest assured that we won’t stop working until you are completely happy with it.

Let’s get going!

Bill Haley

P.S. Have a topic you’d like to see discussed? Let me know and I’ll try to get to it in a future post.

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