The Video Production Process: Pre-Production
In the third part of this blog series about the video production process, our Brighton based production team look at everything that happens before the director shouts “Action” and the cameras start to roll… all the preparation, location finding, casting, scripting, storyboarding, crewing up etc known collectively as “Pre-Production”.
The production process is slightly different from project to project and depends on whether our team are creating a TV Advert, Online Video, Corporate Film or Training Video. However, the key stages remain the same and the steps below apply to all of them. For animated films and explainer films there is a slightly different process which we will look at in a later blog.
So, here goes…
For different clients, there can be different starting points in the pre-production process. Some of our clients haven’t created any video content before, and know nothing about the process, whilst others have a clear idea of what they want their video to achieve and are able to give us a detailed brief.
Picture Book Films is a creative agency as well as a production company- this means that we can sit down with a new client and develop a video concept from scratch- guiding them through what the video should say and how.
Other times we work with Brighton and London based marketing agencies or clients who know exactly what they want, and want us to make that idea into a reality. This is the more traditional role of a pure “Video Production Company”.
For those clients who are new to the production process, it’s important to ensure that the video content will sit within the rest of their marketing material and reflect and enhance their messaging and branding. Increasingly video is used as one individual cog in a wider campaign, and it must fulfill a defined role with clear aims and objectives.
Once one of our video producers has established the role and target audience of the video, this helps to inform and shape the scripting process…
Scripting is where the core messages are fleshed out and turned into a story. Whether this is identifying the right questions to ask an interviewee and therefore give us the narrative arc we want, or writing the lines the voiceover actor will say to introduce a new product, it’s important our video producers find the right tone and pace to the script.
Once we have pinned the first draught of the script down, we will then use this to create a storyboard. A storyboard is a series of drawings created by specialist artists and laid out in a comic book style, which illustrate what will happen in the video scene to scene. Each frame shows the camera’s viewpoint and includes information such as any camera moves, shot reframing or movement of actors or subjects in the shot. This is a great way to bring the video concept to life and allow the client to see what the video will look like. It also allows the video director to creatively work from shot to shot and make sure the video flows and hits its key messages at the right time and in the right way.
For some videos we need actors to play different roles or to voice the video (voiceover). Once the client has seen the visual style of the film on the storyboard, our video production team can begin the casting process. There’s a real art to finding the right actors, and once again it all comes back to meeting (and enhancing!) the client’s brand guidelines and desired image.
Another key process is finding the right location in which to film. This can be a really time consuming and expensive process, but is also really satisfying when you find that perfect spot. Some of our favourite locations have included Brighton beach and Madeira Drive, a disused Sussex fire station, the quirky Brighton Lanes, London’s Parliament Square, and the iconic Millbank Tower.
Crew and Kit:
There’s a whole range of lovely video cameras to shoot videos on nowadays with a myriad of options: 2K, 4K or even 8K, 24P or 25P or 50P, how many frames per second do you need? Crop or full frame? Prime or zoom lenses? The same is also true of lighting and audio equipment…
To ensure you’re using the right kit and getting the most out of your location, actors and contributors you need the right team! This includes Video Producers and Directors, DOPs, Sound Operators, Gaffers, Assistants and Runners…
Insurance and Safety (Yawn):
This is a key pre-production step which you leave off the pre-production list at your peril. A key part of any producer’s job is making sure the video production company have the correct insurance, that they’ve completed all relevant risk assessments, and that they have signed permissions from the people they’re going to film and the locations they’re going to use.
Finally, the most important thing to remember about pre-production is keeping the client informed and happy. Every stage has to be a collaborative process where the client’s input is listened to and valued. Keeping the process clear and transparent is one of our core principles, and helps ensure happy clients each and every time!