I’ve dealt with many different customers through my video post production agency and I can tell you one thing. The majority of our customers don’t have a proper video brief drafted when they reach out to us.
And I’m not talking about Youtube creators, start-ups or small size business.
No, I’ve worked with business listed on the NASDAQ that don’t supply these documents when we start working on a video project with them.
Now, depending on the size of the project you might or might not need a video brief. I am not going to argue with that. Maybe short video script or a storyboard (if your video is highly animated) is more than enough.
But there are situations in which both parties – the client and the video production team – will be better off if they draft and agree on a detailed list of requirements.
What is a video brief?
I’ve looked through the web and noticed that many times we throw this word around in videos, articles and in conversation, expecting that it should be obvious that the other party understands what a video brief is all about.
I’ve come across someone(s) including myself, who had absolutely no idea what a video brief was. Common sense would then take a seat and look at the 2 words and just a little bit, I’d think I knew what a video brief was. Haha.. sadly I misfired or misunderstood the term quite thoroughly.
An uneducated guess I had was that a video brief…. It’s a brief about a video? Does it like give a summary of what your video will contain – kind of like a movie plot?
A video brief goes beyond ‘a summary of what your video is all about.
It essentially is, a documented personalized plan, which will act as your cautious mini guide/blueprint from the moment you determine to shoot a video right to when you finally air said video.
It acts as a first real step of communication to your likely production team (because submitting a video brief to them doesn’t mean you both have decided to work together already) or the expert.
We have created a video brief template (you should check it out), that shows you how to actually write up your own video brief without getting crippled by the fear of ‘not knowing’ how something is done.
The brief shows them:
- Who you are
- Why you want to make and air this video
- What kind of audience you would like to reach
- What kind of message you want to share
- How you want the message portrayed
- Where you’d like to have the production done
- What your budget looks like
- What your timeline is, for the entire video production process
- What kind of media you will use to transmit the finished work
- Additional activities that could happen after video production
This saves you the headache of moving through the whole process in an uncoordinated fashion with little to no direction, which is bound to arrive with its own kind of complications.
Let me share with you why I encourage you to write up a video brief, if you have set out to make a video for some distinct reason:
- The brief clearly communicates with your would be production team about your vision, plans and the scope within which you’ll operate. This smoothes the entire process of video production.
- You get to double check your intentions for pursuing the project.
- It’ll be your road map from start to finish, no need to get lost in the thicket when you can have a clear highway. Call it your blueprint.
- It minimises on any conflicts that could have occurred as a result of vague/poor communication.
- The brief will save you time, because it commands that you know what you’re going to do even before you start. You’ve already got a mental picture of what you’re going to do and won’t get easily swayed if a few hiccups happen.
- It’s the ultimate checklist you can use to assess the success of your video towards your cause and targeted audience!
I believe that companies or people with briefs are often more successful in getting the best out of their video projects as compared to the ones who don’t take the time to make one.
Let’s get started with items you’ll find in a video brief and the simple ways through which you can actually write up your own!
What comes to mind first is:
1. Who are you?
Here, you’ll give a summary about yourself as a supplier be it an individual or company. Think of it as an intro section of your video.
Consider it as being the very short biography of who you are and what you’re all about, ie what you do, why you do what you do and what your values are.
2. Why do you want to make this video?
This will vary from whether it’s for personal enjoyment, to whether it’s more towards a targeted group of people for profit or non profit reasons. What’s the inspiration or motivation behind this decision?
You can define it as your goal or purpose for making the video.
Do you simply want to have more people look at and comment on your travel blog? Do you need to get more customers for your special coffee brand or are you that restaurant looking to market your new special fries’ recipe?
Or, do you simply want to create a nonprofit landslide scale of global awareness over the issue of self-esteem and its effects on community safety and growth? It all starts here.
This sets in an informed perspective for the team, of what you’re hoping to have the video achieve, in line with your business or organization’s overall objectives.
Decisions will keep bouncing back to this goal, trying to find the perfect fit that showcases your intentions in the best light possible.
You want your production team sold over to you and your cause so this is a good way of starting the journey.
3. What kind of audience are you trying to reach?
Defining your audience here could be the difference between a successfully sold out product/service and a miserably failing one. The difference between a vlog/blog site having many frequent subscribers and the lesser side.
In today’s marketing world, we know there are three general brackets of human beings: the young, the middle age and the old.
However in each of these brackets is another layer that needs to be peeled back so as to neatly, precisely define the kind of people you are looking for.
The majority of young people will enjoy a video that is funny, witty yet knowledgeable, practical, simple and helpful. Some would love videos that have some emotion in there or some may just want pure information.
The middle age are not above having humour expressed in a way that connects with their everyday challenges in their lives.
So a video can be made to solve a problem and yet keep a light humorous side of things so that no one feels like they’re about to die!
I think the old are about enjoying a certain quality of life – especially the dream of simply living comfortably with minimal irritations getting in the way.
I’m not very familiar with this bracket:) but in case there was a service I was offering that made their lives so much better, say a pair of comfy walking shoes which don’t give you joint pains, I’d want to understand the kind of audience I’m trying to sell them to.
Selecting the right target audience for your project therefore depends on the kind of plans you have for your product or service.
4. What kind of message do you want to share?
Now that we know the people we want watching our video, we can draw closely into the message and content you can offer in the video.
We know that already, you have a mental picture on some of the core things you want portrayed in your video. Let your team know.
If you’re trying to get more traffic to your travel blog, you know it’s important that the message you share in your video reflects that adventurous spirit in all ages, young and old.
You want people to think about and follow you through your travel and to engage with you wherever you are.
You’ll for example, mention how much better your life has become since starting this kind of lifestyle – it could be that now, you’re able to spend more quality time with your family unlike before, or you’ve been able to conquer your fear of forest camping and as a result you’re less afraid of some new changes in your life.
The more specific you are in sharing your message, the easier it is for your viewers to relate to what you’re sharing. Watch out not to crowd the video with too many messages and risk them losing sight.
5. How do you want the message portrayed?
Once you know what you’ll be sharing in the video, it’s time to think about the format in which the video will be shot.
Even as you contemplate this, place yourself in your audience’s shoes. What do you think will be well received and not forgotten?
Do you feel like animated characters will do your message justice? Or perhaps having dancing/moving/stationary letters across the screen with a voice over will cause the audience’s mind to register your message without actually intending to?
There is using the talking heads, producing the video in a more cinematic way, creating your video in a documentary style, and more ways in which you can deliver your message.
If you have an experienced video production team and if you’re interested enough to ask, they’ll share their suggestions with you on what format you can use in the video and why it stands out over the other formats.
6. What geographical locations and settings do you have in mind for the video?
You may not even know about the location problem but simply know what you want your video to be all about.
If that’s you, there’s no need to worry so much over it. Based on what you want to do, your video team will make suggestions as to where the video can be shot from and why that area or location is the better deal.
If, however you have some special ideas of where you’d love for your video to be shot, say a football pitch, include it in the brief. Talk it over with your video project team and get the best out of them.
Be open to new suggestions which honestly might turn out to be better than yours.
7. What does your budget look like?
It’s really important to be very clear about how much you’re willing to spend on your project. A big project calls for more funding than a small one does.
Assigning a particular amount to the project will save you plenty of conflict between you and your team.
The process involves more than one moving part and every part will have its requirements, which could exceed the budget if money boundaries are vague.
After you have started to engage with your chosen video production team, they should be more than able to advise you on what they can achieve with the budget you’ve put forward.
8. What is your timeline for the entire video production process?
Timeframes are a smart way of preventing yourself from getting too caught up in the process and failing to complete the production within a specific timeline.
In video production for instance, shooting the video will take a good portion of the time which has got to be planned for.
Interestingly, while shooting the video takes some time, post-production/ editing can take 5-10x more than the shooting.
So the entire process; pre-production which involves planning, production which involves shooting and post-production which includes editing and distribution must be factored into the timeline.
9. What media will you use to air the finished work?
There are a number of ways through which a video can be aired. It could be through TV, uploading to channels like youtube, showcasing the video at a trade show, or sharing the video at a conference.
It seems the options are quite many but at least you get to have your pick on what will work best for your project.
There doesn’t have to be one specific media used, you can have your video aired on tv, shared at conferences and uploaded to the youtube channel! And it will still work.
This all still depends on the audience you have determined to share your message with.
Keep in mind that whichever media you choose to use will also have it’s own impact on your budget and production process.
The extra… because it comes in way after your video has been produced – the litmus test
10. What’s the reaction I got from the mock audience and what changes need to be made?
I know that it’s not common practice for production agencies or even the expert individual to showcase videos to a small group of people, especially for low budget videos.
But what if you can actually pull this off? Wouldn’t you want to do it?
In case you’re struggling with a small budget and can’t afford to spend any more than you’ve already incurred, there are ways of getting this mock category of people.
It can be random selection through friends and family, but only the ones who don’t mind giving you an honest unfiltered opinion about how the video makes them feel! No need for an entire clan.
The mock trial gives you a chance to assess their reactions towards your video before you officially publicise it.
Does it spark off the kind of vibe or emotion you’re looking for?
Such emotion can include hunger, pity, joy, worry, caution, excitement, feelings of mellowness, fatigue, concern, bravery, confidence, insecurity, laughter, the list goes on.
The video does not need to predominantly express only one emotion, after all, you’re telling a story to an audience with the aim of getting just the right reaction from them! And I bet you’ll know when you have that video.
Creating a video brief doesn’t have to be a hectic, painstaking process. With the right kind of help and guidance, this is an easy process which anyone – absolutely anyone can do.
PS: If you should need any advice on how to get through this task, just reach out and our team will be delighted to engage you through the process!
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.