Video production is something that all marketers or content creators need to understand nowadays.
Let me just start with that statement.
Video content helps create lasting memories about a product, brand, company, etc. in the customer’s mind – hence it isn’t to be taken lightly.
Video has emerged as the favorite channel to consume information.
It’s the most engaging type of content and most rewarding to the businesses as well.
The guide before you is the culmination of years of experience, months of research, days of deliberation, and several hours of revision.
The few minutes you spend here is all you need to know the A-Z of video production.
Practicality is our chief care, so we have divided the video-making process into 3 main phases:
Pre-Production Phase: The longest stage which demands the lion’s share of your time and effort.
The choices you make here will impact the decisions, workload, and outcome of the other two phases.
In this stage, among other things, you’ll work on the strategy, budget, and script for the video.
Production Phase: If the pre-production stage went well, then this will be the shortest phase in the video production process.
In the production phase, you shoot the video. It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.
Anyhow, we’ll take an in-depth look at the production process later in the guide.
Post-Production Phase: The more time you spend on the post-production phase, the better the outcome will be in terms of quality and impact.
In this stage, you’ll edit the video, add audio and special effects, and prep it for the release.
We have also decided to flavor the guide with useful tips, examples, videos, and expert advice.
It’s going to be an exciting journey into the video production process.
Who Is This Video Production Guide For?
This guide is targeted at everyone who wants to effectively and efficiently communicate with their audience.
Whether you’re a freelance marketer with no experience or managing a video marketing team with a limited budget.
An entrepreneur with a start-up to promote, or a business with a product or service to sell, if you have a message to convey, then this guide is for you.
The 5 Types of Videos You Can Use to Promote Your Brand
There are countless types of videos you can produce to fit into your sales funnel.
Here we give you a glimpse of the top 5 video types that you commonly see on the internet daily.
A commercial is the most common video type that you see on TV, social media, streaming platforms, etc.
Commercials are everywhere.
They dazzle you with beautiful imagery, dynamic scenes, and exciting features – all aimed at creating awareness for their product or service.
Their primary goal is to create a memorable and favorable impression of the brand in the minds of the viewers.
The Bubly Ad
Social Media Videos
They are short clips principally created for social media users in platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Social media videos can be fun, thought-provoking, humanizing, emotional, playful, engaging, etc.
They are designed to generate maximum views, shares, likes, and comments.
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These are promo videos that focus your brand, product, service, or company.
The product or service is explained in a simplified manner – how it solves a particular pain point or problem.
They can be fully animated or a mix of live-action and graphics.
Explainer videos usually end with a clear call to action.
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As the name suggests, how-to videos help businesses educate the viewers on the ways to use their product or service.
It enables brands to establish their authority in their field.
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A customer testimonial is certainly among the top 3 video types for businesses to promote their products.
It’s also one of the best ways to create a favorable impression of their offering in the minds of the viewers.
Customers make the best brand ambassadors.
Testimonial videos show satisfied customers talk about their positive experience with the brand, product, or service.
Codecademy: Life Stories
Pre-production is essentially the planning phase where you create the whole framework for the video.
All decisions and actions stopping short of the actual filming of the video form the pre-production phase.
There are several types of videos, including product tour videos, demo videos, company update videos, employee videos, interviews, etc.
The list is endless.
Hence, your priority is to decide what type of video to produce.
Simultaneously, you have to deal with the question of the target audience.
Then the issue of equipment and human talent, the budget, and finally the time required to wrap up everything, from the idea stage to video release.
The pre-production stage might not be the most exciting phase, but the more time you spend on it, fewer will be your mistakes.
What’s the Purpose or Goal of the Video?
We have all heard, from parents or teachers, an often repeated advice:
‘If you don’t have a purpose in life, you won’t succeed.’
The saying also applies to video production.
Why are you making the video?
What do you hope to achieve?
Setting a goal or listing the objectives of the video will help create a broader framework for video production.
Consider the goal as the North Star that guides the project towards its destination.
The goal or objective of the video can be anything.
But, to ensure the success of the video, create goals that are specific, relevant, time-bound, achievable, and measurable.
Since video content fits into any stage of the marketing funnel, you’ll need a video for every stage.
That said; we don’t want to get too far from the topic at hand.
So, let’s stick to the three most important stages to target using video content:
Awareness: Videos produced for this stage help attract users. They do so by defining a problem that the audience can relate to and offering a solution.
During the process, the video introduces your product or service to a new audience.
Consideration: Your target audience is still pondering about the problem, searching to find the best solution to solve the problem.
They are still in the research stage, where they are moving from one brand to another, watching demo videos, product reviews, product comparison videos, etc.
They are looking for the right brand that offers the best value for their money.
Decision: At this stage, the target audience is ready to buy.
They have arrived at a solution, but are finding it difficult to choose from a handful of brands.
Your goal is to stay on top of their mind.
Videos created for this stage must show customer satisfaction and gives reasons why the viewer should pick you over your competition.
Who Is the Target Audience?
If your video is for everyone, then it’ll engage no one.
You must have a clear understanding of the target audience:
Who are they?
What are they like?
How do they think?
Now is the time to define your target audience and do it in writing.
The demographic profile of the target audience must be comprehensive.
Apart from the general details such as location, age, sex, income, etc. the profile must include their likes, dislikes, problems, general queries, and their influencers.
To fill up these fields, devote some time to audience research.
Visit the hang-outs of your audience, the feedback pages where they are active, the forum where they hold conversations, and social media platforms, where they connect with friends and the wider world.
Knowing where your target audience spends their time also assists your marketing efforts.
Find out their popular hangs outs and distribute the video content on those platforms.
What Core Message Should Your Video Communicate?
The core message is different from the voice-over, setting, story, or language used in the video.
The latter is just the way/means you convey the core message; a purely creative process.
Developing the core message comes third in line because you need both goal and target audience to derive at the message.
Based on the goals, decide what you want the viewers to feel, think, and do.
With the end action in mind, derive the core message.
For example, suppose the goal of the video is to encourage the viewers to download your how-to guide.
The viewers will take that action when they feel you’re an expert in that field and that your ideas and tips would benefit them.
Some try to communicate multiple messages through their content.
They believe that at least one would convince the viewer to take action.
Cramming the video with messages will dilute the content and confuse the viewers. Each video should contain only one clear message.
You can strengthen the core message to make it more convincing and effective by including sub-messages.
With the core message in hand, now is a good time to craft a story you want to tell through the video.
Weaving the core message and the story is fun, at the same time, quite challenging.
The following four points will help with the framework of the story:
- The protagonist must closely align with the demographic profile of your target audience.
- The pain points or problems of your target audience must be part of the story.
- Find fun and creative way to introduce your brand (product or service) into the story.
- Include how the brand solves the problem.
What’s Your Video Production Strategy?
Now is a good time to develop a video strategy with a long term view.
Bear in mind that some of the points might change over time and the entire video strategy will evolve.
So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time.
Human creativity has no bounds.
While making a video, things could get out of hands very fast.
Hence, having a strategy will help you create video content in a sustainable way.
Video strategy isn’t about the product or message per se.
It primarily deals with how you go about making the video.
This includes the production timeline, budget, and more.
The steps you’ve planned to keep the video production within the budget should find a place in the strategy.
Your video strategy will also borrow a few points from the marketing strategy.
- How are you planning to distribute the video?
- How to use the video and how to repurpose the content to maximize the ROI?
Your video strategy must answer these questions.
Timeline: As you plan the video – from deciding on the goal to video distribution – come up with a timeline you can stick to.
It would be easier to make multiple timelines for various segments of video production – pre-production, production, post-production, distribution, marketing, and more.
In most cases, video production involves the input and participation of several people and departments.
Approvals from departments, inviting feedback, and implementing feedback would take time.
So, consider these issues while you decide the timeline.
Budget: Let’s not fool ourselves.
The budget is the one element that influences every segment and stage of video production.
Decide what you want to produce in-house, tasks that can be outsourced, and segments that require a hired freelancer.
Ask around; find out how much specialist service providers charge.
Also, weigh the cost benefits of hiring freelancers instead of full-time employees.
The type of video content you plan to produce will also influence the budget.
So, research the cost angle thoroughly before you proceed with the production.
How to Develop a Creative Brief?
The creative brief is where the video starts to take shape.
You pool all the material you have gathered so far – the goal, target audience, tone, core message, expert feedback, etc.
It should also include the video strategy, execution strategy, and distribution strategy.
Now is also the time to put into writing your plans to make the video a success.
Make a list of the points the video should include, how to present these points, mistakes to avoid, things that must be highlighted, etc.
Search the web for similar videos and analyze their content.
If needed, watch the videos several times, with different perspectives.
Find out what your competitors are doing and analyze their approach to video making.
From others, you can learn what to do, how to do it better, and what not to do.
Weave everything you have on the paper into a plan.
Your creative brief for the video is ready.
Work on the Script
It’s time for the script.
What you include in the script will be heard by the viewers, the words will evoke emotions, and the sentences will induce an action.
It’s essential to use the creative brief as the foundation to build the script.
Unless your target audience is expecting jargon and technical language, keep the script simple, casual, and engaging.
Use language that’s easy to understand and words and phrases spoken in everyday conversations.
Be concise; if it’s possible to effectively convey your message in a short video, there is no point in making the content unnecessarily long.
Ascertain the kind of tone and style the viewers like and match the script to increase the impact of the delivery.
And, if you have already finalized the actors for the video, maybe you can invite them for a reading.
And the most important of them all, always end the script with a Call to Action (CTA).
Most viewers won’t take action if you don’t request them to.
The CTA must be clear and explicit; don’t be vague, tell the viewers what you want them to do.
Create a Storyboard
Although the script is ready, there are many details yet to be filled. Plus, video production isn’t a one-man job.
So, before filming the video, you need to give others in the team a glimpse of how the video would look and play out.
Here is where a storyboard comes handy.
You might have visualized the whole video while creating the script.
Storyboard enables you to give shape to your ideas.
The storyboard also allows you to put the script in chronological order.
Draw each scene on a canvas, be as clear as possible, and pay attention to the minute details.
What would the actor(s) wear?
How will the background look?
Where to place the lighting and camera?
How about the actor’s expression and hand gestures?
Creating your storyboard sketch is ideal. But, to save time, effort, and resources, you can borrow visuals and scenes from other images, videos, and also movies.
Plenty of things can go wrong while translating the script into actual footage.
Even experts can’t predict what works and what doesn’t on the day of filming.
Developing a storyboard allows you to minimize surprises when you shoot the video.
Scout Locations and Prepare the Equipment and Talent Roster
Unless it’s a motion graphic or animation video, you need a location to shoot the video.
Luckily, you have the storyboard slides that give a fair idea of how the background and surroundings need to look.
For simple product demo, testimonial, and talent hunt videos, a quiet room or office space should suffice.
If you have to shoot outdoors, there are several factors to consider, including permission, crowd, natural light, etc.
A good camera, microphone, and lighting equipment are indispensable.
Depending on the nature of the video, you’ll require additional stuff such as props, generator, extra lighting, computer, etc.
Check the script and storyboard to decide the equipment you’ll need during the shoot.
You have everything worked out, the script, voiceover, music, sound effects, graphics, location, and equipment.
We’re sure you have already visualized the look, behavior, and style of the actors or the tone used by the voiceover talent.
It’s now time to find the appropriate acting or voice talent that matches your expectation.
If you could find the right talent in-house; it’s well and good.
If not, approach a talent agency or place ads and conduct auditions.
Planning a Shooting Schedule
Even if you’re not working on a multi-million dollar video, you need to have a schedule for a smooth, positive, and productive filming experience.
Organize the shoot around the availability of the talent, location, and permission (if necessary).
Equipment, wardrobe, props, makeup, etc. – everything must be ready well in advance.
Depending on the nature and complexity of the video, you might consider hiring a director for the shoot.
To sum up, be prepared for the shooting day.
We couldn’t find a better parable to describe the Production Stage of the video-making process.
You must have heard the story of the Bamboo Tree.
The plant stays dormant with no visible sign of growth for the first four years.
In the fifth year, it grows an astounding 80 feet in a matter of weeks.
What explains such miraculous growth?
The answer is obvious; the bamboo plant was laying a strong foundation – growing underground – to support outward growth.
Similarly, if you have worked on a solid pre-production foundation, the production stage will be fast, fruitful, and flawless.
Here is what the Production Stage entails:
The Role of a Director
The schedule is ready; all that’s left is the execution of the plan.
You already have an estimation of how long the filming would take – it’s all in the shooting schedule.
If you’re the director, try to follow the schedule as close as possible.
Depending on the complexity and production size of the video, consider hiring a professional director.
Even experienced actors sometimes become nervous during a shoot.
It’s the director’s job to manage the actors and ensure everything pan out as planned.
A day or two before the shoot, review the script and storyboard.
While filming the video, make sure you have all the scenes represented in the storyboard slides.
Set Up the Lights and Camera
Setting up lights and camera takes time, allot adequate time for the preparation before the actual filming commences.
If yours is an elaborate production, more than one camera and crane might be necessary.
Nowadays, a tripod is all that’s required for a business video.
Set it up and check the angles, frame size, lighting, white balance, exposure, color temperature, etc.
Ensure you have enough time plus a little extra for the shoot.
Audio quality is as important as video quality in production.
Test the audio equipment days before the shooting. On the location, ask the actors to rehearse the lines to test the microphone.
It’s hard to remove ambient noise.
Sometimes the chatter or air condition at the location can ruin the video.
Check the noise level and audio performance at the shooting site before filming.
The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a well-known guideline in photography and cinematography for the framing of shots.
In this technique, we divide the frame into nine grids using two horizontal and vertical lines.
While filming, the important elements of the scene are placed at the intersection points.
The resulting imagery is much more natural and pleasing to the eye.
The off-center placement encourages interaction between the subject and background and greater engagement between the viewer and the scene.
Shoot Supplemental Footage
There is always scope for creativity when filming a video.
You should stick to the storyboard, no doubt.
But, you can try different angles, lighting, style, tone, gestures, and props during shooting.
Anything that could add value to the video is permissible.
This could form the B-roll footage that you can include or remove when you edit the video.
There is more footage than what’s required.
It’s better to have extra footage than falling short and having to film again.
In the post-production stage, the best scenes are stitched together to the video length you desire, also ensuring the natural flow of the scenes.
Then you add the voiceover, music, special effects, and prep the video for release.
Here is a brief take on each step involved in the post-production phase:
Cut, Trim, and Splice the Video
Since this isn’t going to be your only video, get organized.
Weeks from now, you might want to make a few edits in the video.
A request from the marketing department after viewer comments might necessitate a few edits.
You could easily recognize the project if the folders are named instead of assigning them numbers.
If you have hired an expert to edit the video, be clear and forthright with the editor about your requirements and expectations.
You’re neither making a Hollywood movie or a documentary, so the video need not be perfect.
Use reliable editing software to make simple cuts and place the scenes on the timeline.
Again, edit out anything the viewers don’t need to see.
If you have the B-roll footage, now is the time to use it.
You may find certain angles or elements not in the storyboard increasing the impact of the video.
Decide the footage you need and remove the rest.
Have the script and storyboard ready to place the scenes in the correct order.
Test the flow of the video again and make additional cuts if required.
Add Voiceover and Music
Adding voiceover and music is the next crucial part of video production.
You can do the voiceover, ask the actors to do it, or hire a voiceover talent for the part.
The voiceover should be appealing, persuasive, and engaging.
The voiceover talent might need some direction on the delivery style and tone to effectively convey the core message to the target audience.
Synch the audio with the appropriate scenes.
Background music might not be necessary for all the videos.
But when used at the right time and place it helps relax and engage the viewers.
Adding the right kind of music is important.
The music must match the mood, tone, and theme of the video.
It should enhance the interaction and help convey the core message to the audience.
Add Special Effects and Animated Text
Most videos need some form of special effects, it could be simple image transitions, graphics, or animated text.
Special effects can also help emphasize important points and visualize ideas that are otherwise difficult to explain.
Special effects have become quintessential; they increase the impact of the content and take the video to a whole new level of engagement.
Optimize and Distribute the Video
Choosing the Video Format: The video is ready in every respect but one.
Convert the video into an appropriate format depending upon the platform where it’s to be used.
At present, MPEG-4 or MP4 is the most common and popular format used in all major social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Whether it should be square or vertical and the ideal aspect ratio must depend on where the video will be published.
Add Analytics: You need analytics to track and monitor the performance of your video.
Almost all social media platforms have built-in analytics system to help content creators set goals and measure progress.
You can also track videos separately using tools such as Google Analytics.
Distribute and Promote: Refer to your video marketing strategy to know where and how to distribute the video.
If you don’t have a video marketing strategy, it’s time to create one.
Publish the video on your website, add to your text content, distribute through social media platforms, and attach to your email newsletter.
You must have already mapped out a promotional and marketing strategy to get the video in front of your target audience.
Follow it and reap the benefits.
Don’t let the guide or the process itself overwhelm you.
We agree that creating a video from scratch is a laborious task.
But, the investment – time, money, and effort – is worth it.
The guide is structured into stages and sections for easy assimilation.
Plus, this will help you organize yourself well, work on each point individually, and then put everything together.
The steps and intricacies involved in video production can be too much to handle even for a team.
You can save time and reduce workload by delegating some of the tasks to others.
The guide contains everything you need to create a stellar video that’ll engage the viewers and compel them to perform an action that you want.
We cannot bring ourselves to say ‘This Is the End’ because it isn’t.
This is the start of a thousand videos, each unique, engaging, informing, and entertaining.
On the whole, videos must leave a lasting impression on the audience, and you can achieve this by being extremely prepared.
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.