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Behind The Scenes: A Simple Explanation Of The Video Production Process

Production with high end equipment at Suitsupply Soho

Clients often ask us for a description of the video production process so we wrote this overview.

It contains the main stages involved in making high-quality commercials, corporate videos, and brand videos

These main stages include:

  • Pre-production 
    • Develop the video concept 
    • Write the script or treatment
    • Finalize the budget 
    • Hire the cast and crew 
    • Plan the shoot day logistics 
  • Production 
    • Creative team arrives on set 
    • 3… 2…1 Action! 
    • Film until project wrap 
  • Post-production
    • Refine story in the edit 
    • Add music and sound effects  
    • Create motion graphics  
    • Color grade the footage  
    • Get final approval
    • Distribute the video!

In this blog, we’ll delve deep into each of the above stages. Please keep in mind every project is different, so not every step outlined is always required. And many projects have unique steps that are not listed here.

Of course, client input and approval is built into every relevant step. You can check our ultimate guide to video marketing process here.

What Happens During Pre-Production?

Pre-production digital sketches on table with laptop and paper print outs

Pre-production encompasses everything from the germination of an idea to the coordination of shoot day logistics. It typically lasts between a couple of weeks on a simple corporate project to a couple of months on a more complex project. Since filmmaking is complex and detail-oriented, the pre-production phase is vital for ensuring everything goes smoothly, saving you time and money.

How do you develop a video idea?

Before you can start planning a video, you need an idea. To get started, discuss your goals with your team. What message are you trying to communicate? What audience are you trying to reach? What will the style, content, and length of your video be? And how will you distribute your video? 

If you don’t know where to begin, reach out to a professional video production company for a consultation. A creative company can point you in the right direction and supply plenty of great ideas. They can also give you a better understanding of what is possible within your budget.

How do you choose a production company?

A professional production company, Indigo Productions, displays relevant projects on their website

When you’ve located a few good candidates, ask these questions:  Do they have a portfolio of relevant videos? Do they have great reviews? Have they worked with reputable brands? Are they a full-service production company or do they only handle one part of the process? And were they insightful and knowledgeable during meetings? 

Once you’ve decided on the key details of your video project, ask them for a quote. We recommend giving them a sense of your ballpark budget, because if you’re dealing with a reputable company, they’re going to want to put the dollars on the screen to make the video as great as it can be. Any project can be scaled up or scaled down depending on the client’s financial resources – and really great videos require bigger budgets.

To get an accurate estimate, make sure to communicate key details such as deadlines, any motion graphics or animation requirements, and the number of deliverables. It’s also helpful to send over example videos that match the style and production quality you are aiming for. Be skeptical of companies offering a one size fits all solution or quotes that seem too good to be true. Chances are the final results won’t meet expectations. 

After you choose a production company, it’s time to sign the contract and start work.

What are professional pre-production services?

Color palette is decided during pre-production

When you work with a professional production company, you get expert opinions on the parts of filmmaking you know about, and all the nuanced steps you never considered. At Indigo, we take pride in rolling down our sleeves and planning every little detail during pre-production. Here is just some of the prep work we do:

Once we are hired to create a video, we carefully select the right director, writer, and creative team for the project. 

Our team researches the client’s brand and product, and assesses competitor content. We then develop and propose ideas for the video based on the client’s brief and our findings. 

After the client approves the concept, we create a treatment, script, or storyboard. We also develop a visual language and color palette for the shoot, based on brand guidelines. If the project is interview based, we’ll write questions inspired by pre-interview discussions or conversations with subject matter experts. 

If the filming location has not been selected, or if multiple locations are needed, we begin the location scouting process. This requires us to visit the locations in person to ensure they have the right look and will not create problems for production. We send photos of the locations to the client along with our recommendations. We also provide a certificate of insurance, which is almost always required. 

When professional actors are needed, either for the shoot or to provide voice-over, we hold auditions and reach out to the many agencies with which we have great relationships. We also negotiate talent contracts, releases, and usage rights on our client’s behalf. If necessary, we schedule rehearsals. 

We finalize the technical specifications of the deliverables including resolution, frame rate, and aspect ratio. We usually have all the crew and equipment we need in-house but depending on the scale of the shoot we may need to rent out specialized equipment such as specific lenses, lights, and drones, or hire additional crew members such as wardrobe, makeup, production designers, grip and electric, and production assistants. On projects with large crews, we hire trusted vendors to supply food and transportation. When relevant, we ensure we are meeting union guidelines. 

As part of our final preparations, we procure hard drives to store and backup media. We also brief our post-production team on the shoot details and coordinate the delivery of the footage. 

We schedule final meetings with the crew, client, and talent to make sure everyone is aligned, and send out call sheets for shoot day. In addition, we create a schedule and shot list carefully designed for the most efficient day. 

These are a few of the steps that go into pre-production. Depending on the requirements of the shoot there can be countless more, large and small. While pre-production may seem daunting to the uninitiated, we do this every day and handle all the details to ensure a smooth and stress-free shoot.

What Is Production?

Production is the filming process. Actors and talent arrive on set, the crew handles setup and lighting, the camera rolls, and the director yells, “Action!” One exception is animation, where production usually occurs in computers.

What is the client’s role during production?

Production itself should be fun and educational for clients. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the magic of filmmaking. You’ll be given a monitor to view the shots and headphones to listen to the audio. Our crew will check in with you to approve important decisions, but if you see something that feels off, bring it to the producer’s attention right away.

These days, clients don’t even need to be on set. If you prefer, we can send you a live feed of the shoot so you can see and hear everything remotely.

What does the crew do during the shoot?

We film chess legend Gary Kasparov in this BTS pic

On the day of production, the crew arrives on location two hours or more before the first shot is scheduled. Once they get access to the location, they unload their equipment, unpack, and set up. There can be a significant amount of equipment so this can take time, and a separate are may be needed for storage. 

The crew gets the first shot ready. This includes moving furniture, positioning props, setting up lights, cameras, and mics, loading the teleprompter with the script, and fine-tuning the framing with a stand-in. Meanwhile, the on-camera talent goes to makeup and wardrobe to get ready. 

The director and crew talk through the scene with the talent and film multiple takes, taking notes on each. The crew works hard to create a comfortable and enjoyable environment for the on-screen talent. And no talking when the camera rolls! 

When a new angle needs to be shot or a new location needs to be filmed, there’s another period of setup. This downtime is a great opportunity for the lead creatives to discuss the shoot and any adjustments they’d like to make. There will also be a meal break or two scheduled, depending on the length of the shoot and time of day. 

As the shoot progresses, the media on the cards fill up. A crew member, usually the digital imaging technician (DIT), continuously backs up and organizes the footage for the editor. The DIT can also play back key takes for the director and the client. 

Once all the shots for the day are completed, the crew packs up their equipment and leaves the location in the same condition – or better – than they found it.

What Happens During Post-Production?

Post-production is where all the raw footage is transformed into a finished product. On simple projects – especially for social media – editing might be completed the same day. But on larger projects post-production can take weeks or even months to complete. 

As the client you’ll review cuts, giving general and specific notes. You may be asked to make creative decisions such as selecting between different options for music, stock footage, and graphics. For interview-based projects, you might be given a transcript so you can select the most important soundbites. 

After the key decisions are made and you are happy with the edit, sign off on the final cut, and download and upload the video to your chosen platforms and distribution services. Many production companies handle distribution, so if this is a service you need please ask.

What are the stages of post-production?

Editor works on post-production for corporate commercial

We make the post-production process simple for the client, but the edits the client reviews are the result of many days of hard work by talented technicians and artists. 

First, the footage is transferred and ingested into the editing software. This can include transcoding the footage into more manageable formats and transforming the image from the RAW camera data into images that look more natural. 

The editors review and organize the footage for efficient editing. If transcripts are needed they are sent to the client. 

The initial stage of the edit is the assembly or rough cut. This cut contains placeholder graphics and sound, and the flow of the video might be choppy. But this stage is essential for shaping the story and figuring out what works. 

Once the client approves the rough cut, it’s time for the editors to make the story sing. They do this through the use of transitions, timing, visual effects, and sound. After each pass, they’ll send the cut to the client to review and approve. 

At this point, editors also work to finalize the music. We have the rights to numerous music databases, or we can provide a composer for an original music score. If stock footage is needed, we provide a wide selection to choose from. Meanwhile, motion graphics artists work on custom graphics and audition the initial versions in the latest cuts. 

After a few more rounds of editing, a polished, near-final edit known as a ‘fine cut’ is submitted. Then, at last, we have ‘picture lock.’ This usually means that no more edits are made to the content of the video. 

Sound engineer works on sound design for the 'picture locked' cut

But that doesn’t mean the work is done! With the timing set in place, sound mixers and designers start their work, adding new sonic dimensions to the video. Final voiceover is recorded and integrated. And graphics get one last pass. A colorist will also fine-tune the shots to make them look their best. 

The final cut is reviewed, approved, and exported in the specified specs. And at last, whether on television or social media, the video makes its way to its audience!

Questions?

If you have questions about anything related to video production, please contact us anytime. We’ve produced thousands of successful programs over the past couple of decades and we love sharing our knowledge!  

To find out more about the video production services offered by Indigo Productions, please visit our website. You can also get in touch with us through our contact page or call us with any questions at (212) 765-5224

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Tel: 212-765-5224

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