When talking to folks about video production for their organization, I am often asked something along the lines of: “Why can’t I just put a camera on a tripod, press record, maybe do a quick edit, and post it online?” They usually follow up with: “I mean, what more is there to it?” Fair question. Of course you can probably guess that my answer is: “A lot more”.
The old adage is still true, Content is King...But as many of us know, especially those in sales and marketing, what you say is often less important than how you say it.
Presentation is critical to producing high quality, effective, and emotionally engaging videos that give you the results you’re looking for. And the granular steps required to create a video that reaches all those goals may take more time and effort than one might think.
Given the energy needed to create a video that produces a worthwhile return on investment, I suggest working with video production professionals rather than going the DIY route in most occasions. (On the Fly, lo-fi video, and video podcasting for inbound marketing is a post for another day).
With all that in mind, see below this video for 10 criteria and some questions that I suggest you consider when hiring a video production professional:
1.) Logistics, Coordination, and Pre-Planning
The pre-planning, logistical, and project management aspect of a video production is often overlooked, which is a shame because this phase (called pre-production) sets the tone for the shoot and plays a strong hand in determining how the final product will turn out.
The first question is to ask yourself: Do I really have the time to complete all the work needed to bring together this video? If not, the question becomes: Will the production professional handle logistics/planning for me? Examples of pre-production needs include:
- Coordinating and scheduling interviewees/actors, production crew, and other stakeholders.
- Scouting locations for the best possible place to shoot, and working with stakeholders such as building managers, event staff, and local municipalities in advance of your production.
- Obtaining the required permits or insurances needed for the shoot.
- Details such as providing food for cast and crew, making sure likeness releases are signed, that everyone knows where to park, where to go, and when to be on set.
- Making sure there is enough “b-roll” or general footage for the piece to tell the story.
- Creating and following a production/shooting schedule and project timeline.
- Making sure that all stakeholders are on the same page throughout the entire process.
This is just the start of the list, but I feel the point is illustrated that videos may take more time, energy, and detailed planning than one might think. Ultimately, those are the same elements that separate an OK video from a great one, a video that you like from a video that you love, one that you are fine with and one that you are proud of.
2.) Understanding Your Brand and Your Industry
Does the video production professional you’re considering understand the nuances of your branding position, overall business ecosystem, or community? Can they verbalize and illustrate what differentiates your organization from your competitors or others in your industry? Can they present a case to you for how the video will reach your goals for the video in a language you understand? Put simply, do they “get” your organization?
3.) Creative Considerations
Whether it's documentary-style, narrative piece, or otherwise, videos should take you on a journey, tell a story, and engage you emotionally. This is the art of it. So ask yourself: Does the look, feel, and content of the production professional's past work draw you in, inspire you, or otherwise hit you on an emotional level? Do their creative choices align with your vision for the piece and do you feel they can bring your vision to life? Or, do you resonate with their creative pitch to you and do you trust their vision?
4.) Multi-Camera Capabilities
Whether recording interviews, events, or narrative pieces, using multiple cameras at the same time not only adds production value to the video, but it saves time during the production day and provides more options during the editing and post-production phase.
To use another adage, “time is money,” and having two cameras usually saves both. Plus, when it comes time to edit, the more options and quality footage you have the better. It can be incredibly frustrating to get to editing and realize you need certain shots for the piece that could’ve been obtained with an extra camera.
5.) Color Correction
Color correction is the process of digitally adjusting the look of the various video footage in the piece so that everything matches and/or creates the desired creative effect. Video footage shot on different days, by different people, under different lighting conditions, and perhaps on different cameras, usually won’t match.
Color correction happens in the post-production phase when “picture lock” has been achieved. The questions to ask is if this phase is part of the package your video professional is offering and how much it costs.
6.) Sound Design
Sound design is similar to color correction but instead of video, this phase smooths out all the audio in the piece. Again, once picture lock has been achieved, the various narration, music, sound effects, and so on are finessed and adjusted to the proper levels.
Finding good license-free or inexpensive licensed music is not that difficult but it is a key part of making the video a success. It is a step that takes consideration and a good amount of time. Using free music that isn’t high quality or using an artist's songs without permission is not the way to go. Aside from not wanting to infringe on an artists hard work as a matter of principle, taking those routes can cause you hassles or even legal entanglements. Be sure to ask if the production professional has a plan and has budgeted for music.
8.) Graphics/Motion Graphics
Can they provide you the titles (sometimes called opening credits), “lower thirds” (names of people interviewed placed in lower portion of the screen), and the motion graphics you need for the piece? These days, basic motion graphics are easily created with most high-end editing software, while more complicated motion graphics may require extra time and budget for a motion graphics designer to handle. Be sure to bring this up with your production professional in advance.
9.) Opportunity to Give Editing Notes
Once the footage has been recorded, the next step is to edit the piece from “assembly edit” (basic storyline laid out), through a couple rounds of rough cuts, picture lock, and final cut. Along the way, your production professional should let you know how s/he foresee the piece being edited, how things are progressing, and allow for a couple rounds of adjustments based on your notes.
10.) Professionalism/On Set Demeanor
Doing something for a living doesn’t always mean that person is a professional. Well, literally it does, but being a professional to me is more about how you conduct yourself at work than if you get a paycheck for work. Do they communicate easily with you and are they prompt and cordial with their communications? Are they detailed-oriented, easy to solve conflicts with, and impeccable with their word? Are they a good teammate for you on this video journey you're embarking on?
One extra note, ask your video professional what kind of video, audio, and lighting equipment they're using. Using relatively current camera equipment, film lighting, and high quality audio equipment is imperative, so don't be afraid to ask about this.
These are just some of the areas I suggest looking at when it comes to producing a video. Others I'm sure have different opinions. If you have anything you would add or remove from your list, please feel free to let me know. If you are in need of video production services, or have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out on LinkedIn or at Voltavisual.com
About the Author
Jeremy Jed Hammel got his start working in TV production in the production offices for NBC Late Night, eventually doing some producing work for "Later" and talent research for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno". He also worked in the production offices of the drama "ER." In the independent realm, he has produced or directed 15+ films that screened at over 140 film festivals including one that won Best Film at Comic-Con San Diego and has over 1 million views on Youtube. On the commercial/corporate side of video production, Jeremy has produced, directed, or edited projects for clients such as Techstars, Startup Institute, the Cambridge Innovation Center, UMASS-Lowell, and Alienware/Dell computer, among others.