Production Value: Delivering Great Videos

by David Moffitt on

There’s a buzz of excitement, an almost electric atmosphere, when you’re on a video shoot. It can feel magical when you get a great take, for the people in front of as well as behind the lens. It’s even more thrilling to see that work on television, or to see the view counts rise for people watching it online. But there’s a lot of work that goes into preparing for, shooting and producing a commercial or web video than just “lights, camera, action.”

For weeks (or sometimes even months) before a single frame or pixel is shot, we’re flexing our creative muscles in another way – brainstorming the message we want to convey, writing the script, and drawing up storyboards to visualize our idea. Next, is tackling the logistics – determining where we will film, planning travel, lining up equipment needs, filing for permits, planning access to the location, arranging for power to be available on-site, etc. On a recent shoot in a National Park, we had to submit a lengthy permit request that covered our shoot in detail, including what the extent of our pyrotechnics would be (none), and what our mitigation strategy was for the environmental impact of landing a helicopter on-site (we weren’t). Clearly they thought our shoot was going to be much cooler than it was!

Even if you aren’t filming an explosion-filled cinematic masterpiece, spending the appropriate time on the up front planning and logistics pays off in the form of a better organized shoot. Streamlining your shoot can mean more time available for filming different angles or grabbing more B-roll – all things that can add extra depth to your video.

But the creative process certainly doesn’t stop once you hear “cut!” Footage is first logged, which means someone re-watches all of the footage that was shot and takes notes about the content of each take. The editors then work with the best pieces of footage to construct the appropriate scenes and stories. In some cases, voiceover is recorded and music is mixed. Some projects need to add titles, animations, or composite elements like motion graphics onto a phone or computer screen (screen glare or difference in contrast sometimes makes it difficult to capture the actual screen image), or perform color grading (enhancing the color, also called “color timing”) to enhance the mood and support the story.

The last step is prepping and exporting the video for broadcast or upload. Every television station, cinema, website (Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube, etc), and social network has different file requirements, such as file format, pixel size or audio bitrate. Preparing the files correctly for each intended use makes a difference in the perceived quality by the viewers.

Not every video we plan, shoot and produce is intended to be a television commercial. As online content has shifted and evolved, video shot specifically for viewing via the web or on smartphones has rapidly grown to represent a significant portion of our production work. Online video content can range from your standard advertisements, such as those shown before a YouTube clip or during your Hulu video, to full length web-based shows. Video content has been shown to be more likely to drive engagement on a website versus text alone. According to Forrester Research it is 50x easier to achieve a page 1 ranking on Google with a video. In another study by Forbes, more than three quarters of senior executives said they watch work-related videos at least once per week, and 59% said they would rather watch a video than read text. Videos often translate into viewers taking action, whether that’s visiting a website, contacting a company, or making a purchase. If, as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” it may be more beneficial to present your information by video rather than by text.

When we approach a project, we keep in mind the myriad of different ways video content can be consumed in today’s marketplace. By doing so, we are able to plan for, film, and edit together various versions of a single spot that are the appropriate length for different media outlets. This could mean producing a 1-2 minute long video for a company website, a 30-second commercial version for television, and a 10-second version for a YouTube pre-roll video. The small amount of additional work needed to plan for these variations in advance is far less than trying to do several pieces stand-alone, and ultimately gives our clients more content for their money – and much further market reach.

You would be surprised at how affordable it is to produce excellent quality, engaging video content, especially with the web as a distribution platform. With the right amount of planning, we can help you produce videos that keep your product or company’s message fresh and relevant.