Our Process for Creating Live Action Videos

Every video project is a little different, but over the years we have developed a tried and true process for creating live action videos.

Every project begins with the client need, ideation and an estimate. This could include:

  • Discovery meeting or conference call
  • Development of a creative brief
  • Concept development
  • Production estimate

When this part of the process is done right, everything else falls into place.  The discovery process begins by working with the client on a creative brief that details the project goals, priorities, audience, how it will be used, etc. It often helps if the client can provide the link to an inspiration video, or another video similar to what they would like produced.

With creative brief in hand, we can further develop the concept, style or treatment for the overall look and feel of the video. This also allows us determine resources needed and develop an estimate including pricing options and production schedule.  Once the estimate, treatment and plan are approved, we can kick off the project. 

On signing the production agreement, we request one third of the total cost as down payment to begin pre-production. The pre-production process can include:

  • Script refinement
  • Talent auditions and selection
  • Location scouting
  • Crew and support equipment selection
  • Scheduling
  • Location scout

This part of the process takes a week or two depending on the size and scale of the project. 

In the production phase, we capture all of the footage necessary for the project.  This could include multiple interviews, b-roll locations and possibly short pick up shoots.

We assist our clients in preparing for the shoot, with resources like our blog on "Tips for being Interviewed on Camera" along with call sheets listing items like dates, shooting schedules, crew information and location addresses.

On the day of the shoot, we have the right resources in place to capture all footage needed to tell your story - from the "must have" shots to the "nice to have" shots.  Once all principal videography is completed, we'll typically invoice for the second third of the total cost.

Once all footage is captured, we can move on the post production phase.  In this phase, we begin assembling all elements in the final video, which can include:

  • Editing and assembly
  • Video graphics or animation
  • Sourcing music
  • Sourcing voice over talent

We will typically send our clients a content cut first for their review.  This is the content we are proposing for the final video and may include any preferred interview soundbites and scratch track narration.  At this stage, we might have a suggested music track and determined a graphics approach, but we’re mainly looking for feedback on the overall narrative.

We like to use Vimeo review pages for our review process.  This system allows clients to comment at a certain timecode and even specific parts of the frame to make notes on elements they’d like to see revised.  For example, they might make a note to “cut this soundbite here instead.” 

The reason for the content cut is to be more efficient: we don’t want to spend time editing b-roll imagery to content that might end up being cut or moved around.  The scratch track is usually one of our voices reading the script so clients can see narration placement and timing.  The suggested music track will also likely have a “watermark” -- a mysterious sounding voice repeating the name of the library – that will not be in the final version if approved.

Up until this point, the clients have only seen the video on paper, in scripts and email communications.  It’s quite different seeing it come together in the context of a rough draft.  It’s easier for everyone to respond to, it gives them a feel for the final product, content being conveyed, and importantly - how long it’s running.

When feedback from all stakeholders has been gathered, the overall direction and content are approved and locked down, we can start finalizing the video.  The professional voice over is recorded and we can work in the b-roll and final timing.  If the graphics look and music are also approved, we can finalize the sound mix and graphics as well.

The next version of the video the clients see will be the first fine cut, a version close to final. We want the client to love their video at this point. This version should be routed to any and all stakeholders, including legal.  Typically there are only minor revisions to this version of the video.

After addressing any final revisions, we’ll finalize the video and send it as a web-ready MP4 file via Vimeo.  Total time to project completion from kick off date is usually about five or six weeks but this can be accelerated and depends on the speed of client feedback.

Now you’re ready to use your video to tell the world your story. We’re happy to consult on video hosting options, best practices for embedding and promoting the video on social media so your video gains the best possible return on investment.

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.