The Corporate Video Production Process ExplainedWritten by Tim Lewis on 05.06.15
Every company has processes that drive everything they do. Video production is no different. The phases of the production process are similar, but the approach of each production company is where they usually differ. At MCG, our approach is to keep the process as simple as possible for our clients. That being said, there are five definitive phases to the process we can identify as follows:
PHASE 1 – Develop the Plan
In the first part of the process, we’re setting expectations and discovering everything we can about our client’s objectives, audience, and expected budget. We’re finding out how the video will be used and what existing videos the client likes. In this phase, we need to define and align expectations, production elements, and treatment with the budget. We need to develop a bulletproof plan.
During our discovery process, we’ll make suggestions and gain consensus to further define the scope of the project. We’ll develop a detailed plan and budget that clearly defines the production elements (EG: one day shoot with a three man crew), creative treatment, length of each video, outside expenses, and expected timeline. We present this plan to the client and make adjustments as necessary. Once approved, this plan becomes the guide for the rest of the process.
PHASE 2 – Pre-Production
In the pre-production phase, we schedule shoot dates and begin the scripting process. For some videos, the script is a live document that changes and evolves as we conduct interviews. For other videos, we can write the entire script in the pre-production phase. In this phase, we may also develop a storyboard. Storyboards are especially useful for graphics only projects to make sure we are the same page, but they’re not necessary for all videos. Scripts are not necessary for every video either, but a plan and outline are critical for any video.
In many cases, our client can provide us with either a rough script or the material from which we can write the script, like a manual or IFU (Instructions for Use). Along with the script, we may also need to develop a shot list and audition talent for voiceover narration, on camera talent, or possibly background actors. The goal of this phase is to prepare and plan for the next phase – production.
PHASE 3 – Production
In the production phase, we acquire the footage and other elements we will need in post-production. This could involve production elements like interviews, b-roll, or cover footage that documents an event or possibly a studio shoot with talent on camera. The production elements and budget will have all been planned in the earlier phases, so at this point we can focus on executing the plan and interjecting as much creativity as possible within the planned budget and requirements of the plan. Once we know we have what we need on a typical shoot, we may have time left over for extra “nice to have, but not critical” shots that would make the video even better. The production phase may also include voiceover narration.
PHASE 4 – Post-Production
The post-production phase is where everything comes together. All of the footage has been gathered and the voiceover session has been recorded. We’re ready to edit, animate, and put it all together. Editing a video can be like building a brick wall: you start at the bottom, brick-by-brick, then add new layers on top. We will start with a rough edit, where we assemble the bites and narration in an edit timeline.
At MCG, the producers often do this rough assembly edit, then send it back to the editing and graphics specialists. The editor will select suggested music tracks and drop them in. We’ll polish a few of the graphic sequences to give the client a really good idea of the creative direction of the piece. Then we’re ready to send a rough preview to the client. This preview is intended to get the client involved in the process and make sure the creative direction is meeting their expectations. This version may include all of the proposed content, narration, and sound bites, but is not finished at this point.
Once we get feedback from the client, we’re ready to keep polishing the piece while incorporating their feedback. The next preview version we send the client will include all b-roll and motion graphics. This is the version the client will show to the rest of their approval committee and legal team. At this point, we like the client to give us a list of suggested revisions that we can work on. Once we’ve completed this list, we send a final preview that includes a link to download the final, full-resolution file.
PHASE 5 – Finalize, Embed and Measure Success
In the final phase we are delivering the final files and assisting the client in rolling out the video. This might mean consulting on what file types for a tradeshow, what video streaming service to use, uploading the video to their YouTube channel, and so on. We can consult and assist clients in this phase as needed.
A couple of weeks after the video has been released and there has been time to get some reactions, we like to connect with the client and find out how the video was received. If we assisted with the video streaming, we can measure and monitor the number of hits, how long the viewer watched, where they clicked off, etc.
Video production is a process that is informed by experience because it’s a series of creative problems to solve. In all phases of the video production process, our clients are involved as much as they want to be, but we’re here to do all of the work, solve problems, and keep the process as simple as possible.
Tim has been in the media production industry since his days as a U.S. Navy shipboard news anchor in the 1980s. Tim has a BA in Visual Communication from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He has been President of Mastcom since 2002.