Most of us only ever regard the final video when we think about it. We never get to see the actual video production process in it’s entirety, so it’s easy to make assumptions about how it’s done. In this article, I will provide a brief overview of how a video is made from idea through creation. This will be an overview of the video production process at it’s simplest. For a list of terminology that may be found in this article, please view my post on Video Vocabulary.
The Video Production Process: A Brief Overview
Making a video is much like inventing a new meal. Initially you decide what to serve, what ingredients it might contain, even going as far as creating a recipe and identifying the right cook to prepare it. That’s pre production. Continuing with this analogy, let’s say the cook is out buying the ingredients and bringing them to his or her kitchen. They prepare the ingredients for cooking, getting out the necessary pans and other cooking implements but they haven’t started cooking. That’s production. Post production is taking all those fine ingredients, mixing everything up, tasting and adding/reducing as needed and finally serving up one awesome meal!
Pre production is the stage in the video production process where a project lead (usually the producer) begins to develop ideas, a script and sometimes a storyboard for a video. This may be done solo, with the client or other team members. In an ideal world, a creative brief is used to guide the team in developing a script. Once that has been approved, a storyboard (either outlined or highly detailed representations of each “scene”) is created. This can sometimes take weeks in a corporate environment or months (even years) in a filmmaking environment. These elements are needed to visualize and guide a team towards an “end goal”; they serve as a blueprint for the final video. Working without both creates situations that waste time.
Other activities that take place during the pre production stage involve developing a shot list; or an ordered list of “shots” needed to collect the video or film required to create the final project. This shot list isn’t necessarily planned in the same sequence as the storyboard. Usually it’s planned in a way that’s efficient, reducing time and cost on both client and production team’s side.
Other things prepared at this stage of the video production process might include a production and post production schedule, crew members are retained, and equipment is rented. Basically pre production is the planning and logistics stage of the whole process.
Precision, timing, accuracy are words that sum up what’s needed for a successful production. Because high quality video requires attention to light, sound, camera placement and a subject’s activity, preparing in advance is key to ensuring success.
Production is the “lights, camera, action” phase and often in corporate productions, there isn’t time to rehearse; that planning, coupled with a professional video team results in organized chaos. Mistakes that aren’t caught and corrected at this point in the video production process could add significant cost to producer or client (or both). So measure three times and cut once, as my version of the carpenter’s maxim goes.
By the end of this stage, all the raw materials (video clips, a-roll, b-roll, voiceover recording) used to create a final video are generated.
The tail end of the video production process is the post production stage, sometimes it even exists concurrent with the production stage. Once all the media has been captured, an assistant editor ingests all the media, archiving it for protection. An assistant editor may even make notes about significant portions of the media or even create rough “string ups” for the editor to use in a final project. Client and producer may view content to identify soundbites and other media that could be used; even transcripts might be created to make the selections easier. Depending on the agreement with the producer, a client might expect to review and make revisions once, twice or more times.