Tips and Steps for Video Pre-Production

If there’s one thing we know to be true, it’s that content marketing works. But we also know that it takes a lot of creativity, resources, and time. It may also require a certain skillset or group of individuals whose unique skills can meet any of your content marketing needs.

Video is one of the best pieces of content you can create. According to Biteable:

  • By 2020, online videos will make up more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic

  • Brands that use video marketing grow their year-over-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t

  • Blog posts that incorporate video attract three times as many inbound links as blog posts without video

Even as attractive as these statistics make video, many still avoid it. Why? Biteable says, “[Seventy-three percent] of marketers said they’d create more video content if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget.”

It can be difficult to create video, especially if you have never created video before. But the investment in learning how to do it is worth it—even if you’ve never used video editing software before. Because if we’ve learned one thing from the countless beauty bloggers, comedians, amateur scientists, and other Internet-personalities-turned-celebrities, it’s that it can be done—but it may take some time.

Before you can start creating your video, you’ll need to go through pre-production.

Pre-Production versus Post-Production

You’re probably familiar with post-production (if you watch The Academy Awards each year, “sound editing” and “film editing” are familiar terms) or have some idea of what it is. Post-production work can take months to complete, long after the director yells their final “cut!”.  This editing includes sound and soundtrack editing and mixing (think foley effects and music), adding in CGI or other effects, color correction, and other items that must be complete to promote the movie and see it to fruition (like creating a trailer).

Pre-production, then, is everything that must take place before anything can happen. And it’s more than just having a script written and actors to fill the part. Tasks for pre-production consider everything from the locations you need and getting all the permits and insurance associated with it down to choosing the camera type with which you’ll shoot your film.

While you won’t need to gather a whole production crew, there are some things you’ll need to take into consideration when taking your own videos.

Pre-Production Tips

When you’re working on your video, be sure to keep these items in mind.

Identify Your Goals

What is the purpose of your video? Establishing goals will help guide you in a direction creatively. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, you will never be able to figure out how to achieve it. Perhaps you want a visual for the release of your latest product. Or maybe you have some complex information that is better described by moving imagery than words.

Whatever your goals, they need to be “smart”—that is, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound:

  • Specific: Using action words, explain what you will do.

  • Measurable: Define how you will evaluate and with what metrics.

  • Achievable: Your goals are possible for you to accomplish.

  • Relevant: Does it make sense for your brand?

  • Time-bound: Set a deadline for yourself.

Having “smart” goals will help you create videos that are successful and work for you.

Stick to Your Brand

Don’t create something your audience won’t expect from you. You wouldn’t expect a car company to sell beauty products (a little extreme, but you get the idea). Your videos need to follow your brand voice, use your brand colors, and include imagery that is in line with your brand.

By sticking to your brand, you will create videos that attract your audience. You already have a consumer profile developed; now it’s time to apply it. What will capture their attention and make them watch for the entire duration of the video?

Develop a Creative Brief

A creative brief provides an overview of a project for all individuals involved. This brief will outline your project strategy, including information such as project description, define your objectives, define your target audience, and explain the primary message.

You should develop a creative brief for each video that you wish to make. It will be a necessary reference as you go through the steps of pre-production. During the creative process, ideas can generate at rapid-fire, and it is possible that these may skew away from the original purpose of the video—which can negatively affect your strategy and waste time and resources. But with a creative brief, you can always refer back to make sure you are working to meet your objectives.

Pre-Production Steps

Now is time to begin producing your video. Pre-production involves coming up with a creative angle, developing the video script, storyboarding all frames, and finalize details to begin filming.

Finding a Creative Angle

Your creative brief tells you what you want to achieve; your creative angle is how you will achieve it. Whether it’s a single person with a pen and paper or a team sitting around a conference room table bouncing ideas off one another, brainstorming is both exhilarating and stressful. Sometimes, ideas flow freely. And other times it is as if mental beavers are damming up your mind. If you’re stuck, try one of these tricks:

  • Watch competitor videos. You may find a way to dispute what they say or get inspiration. Knowing what your competitors have done will give you an edge in creating videos for your own company.

  • Take a walk. Sometimes all you need is fresh air. Even if that only means stepping away from your work for five minutes, giving your mind a moment to breathe can help.

  • Color or paint. It may seem counterintuitive to combat a creativity block with another creative activity, but coloring and painting can be relaxing activities. By just focusing on the shapes and colors, you’ll find that your mind will wander—and you’ll never know what it will come up with!

Developing the Video Script

You have decided on your creative angle. Your next step is to expand on this idea and create the script. The look of your script will vary depending on what type of video you’re creating. If you’re making a video of stats, you’ll likely just have the stat and duration. For a video with actors and dialogue, you’ll need to include cues such as actions (“[Shakes head]”) and emotions.

When creating your script, keep your creative brief in mind. Be sure that the content conveys your primary message. Although videos are relatively easy to understand, you don’t want it to be too difficult to understand; simplistic language will work best for any video (especially when captions come into play).

Storyboard the Frames

Once you have your script written, you’ll want to storyboard the frames. Storyboarding your script is necessary because it provides a visual of what each shot should look like; it also helps keep you on track when you are actually filming the scenes. Besides the visual elements that you’ll want to have, a storyboard will also tell you what lighting, color, and transitions should be used for each shot. And you can storyboard in what way works for you, whether that’s sketching it by hand, using stock photography, or some other method. If you’re not the one filming, a storyboard is necessary so you can ensure that your vision is properly brought to life.

You can also create a shot list. Similar to a storyboard, a shot list will detail what will be in a particular scene. The list should include information such as the shot description, the characters involved in the shot, what kind of shot it is, the camera angle used, and more.

Finalize the Details

Now that you have the core of your video, it’s time to figure out everything else. These details may include:

  • Securing actors, voice actors, or voice over actors

  • Secure all locations needed to get each shot

  • Coordinate the final filming schedule and ensure that everyone is on board with times to meet, as applicable

  • Finalize the deadlines for both production and post-production work

You’ll want everything to go smoothly during production and post-production. You should not anticipate making any major changes to the script or storyboard (though there are special cases that may warrant an extensive overhaul to some portions). And now that everything is prepared, you’re ready to begin producing your video!

Create Your First Video

If this seems overwhelming, that’s okay. It’s unfamiliar territory and  has to be learned. You won’t know right away what you need to do, in what order, and when right off the bat. But with each video you’ll create, you’ll have a better understanding of what to do. And soon you will no longer avoid making videos but instead be sure that they are included heavily as part of your content marketing strategy.

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