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How Video Production Works: Pre-production

What are the three stages of video production?

Most people would agree that there are 3 stages in video production. These stages are pre-production, production, post-production.

At Crewcible, we believe that one video usually solves only one goal. It is very difficult to convey two messages in 10-30 seconds. So, you have to make a choice, either you inform and entertain the audience, or you create a brand image. 

Based on the goal, audience and context, we start with the director forming the vision and concept. They work with the scriptwriter or write the script themself.  Then we move to receiving help from the producer, who is an integral part of the creative team. What does the producer do? They work to form the concept into reality, create the timeline or schedule, and work on staying within the budget of the project. This is a basic breakdown of the role of director and producer.

Read below where we break down the stages individually, starting with pre-production. 

What is pre-production?

Many people are too inexperienced or busy to write a script, find the right reference, curate photos for a moodboard, locate a suitable music track, and create backup options for the video production. We believe that It is important to recognise that the more information that is collected at the preproduction stage, the better the result in the final video product.

Below is a basic introductory summary of everything the video production team does during the pre-production stage. It does not include all stages, but for those looking for an understanding of what a video-production team attends to when creating a video project, it is a good place to start.

  • Scripting: Scripting is where it all starts. You don’t have a production without a script and the production is as only as good as the script is. The script explains what happens in the video. It doesn’t have to explain the technical details but it does have to allude to what the themes, genre, style, and tone of the video will be. The script can then be interpreted technically by the director, producer and cinematographer as to what needs to happen to make it come alive. 

  • Client Brief: A client brief is offered when the project is being created for a brand or business. It is generally a one or two page document that outlines what the need for the video is, who the target audience is, what the references and expectations from the client are, any references and details on timing and budget.

  • Treatment: When the script is ready, the director writes a treatment – his own vision of the script. This is a document with the prescribed mood of the video conveyed on paper. It includes information about the characters, the place where the plot develops, and the scenery. Most people can easily imagine what it looks like when “two people meet” in the script. In the treatment, the director will write his understanding of the script or brief: “Two friends from childhood meet. One is a manager with two children and a wife he loves. The second is a successful businessman with a big dog and company, but he is lonely. ” Such a presentation will convey the right mood to both the client and colleagues. This treatment also contains technical information about the lighting style, sound and music genre, and how the director plans to achieve the specific mood of the video.

  • Storyboard. If you don’t have the time and money for a professional, don’t be too lazy to make it yourself. It is more difficult to explain on fingers than it is on clumsy drawings. Already in these static and poorly drawn pictures you will see what is wrong with your sequencing and shot selection.

  • Moodboard: A moodboard is like a storyboard but a simpler version, usually created when a storyboard is not within budget for the video. It uses stock imagery or imagery pulled from the internet that isolates cinematic styles, and colour palettes intended to be emulated in the video project during the production stage. A moodboard can be useful for abstract videos, such as music videos and fashion videos where the budget for comprehensive pre-production is not available.

  • Shot-list: A shot-list is very important because it is the document that helps the director and cinematographer work together. A shot-list is usually a spreadsheet crafted in excel, and will include every shot to be taken on the production dates. It includes details such as set up number, shot number, shot size, which camera is used, focal length or lens choice, camera movement, equipment required, sound notes, technical notes, take number, what time the shot is held in the script, set up time, and how long the shot will require to achieve. 

  • Budget estimate. You can avoid misunderstandings with the client by adding the word “tentative” or “draft” to your budget quote. Either that or name the budget as a framework and add a disclaimer of what is not included, or any area where you may expect the budget to exceed the estimate. When you know the type of camera gear and lens choice you will be using from the operators, the estimate from the production designers and actors, and understand how many editing shifts to order – then the price will be close to accurate.

  • Voiceover. Voice over is the recorded verbal narration of the script which is then applied to the final video product. Often video producers start doing voice over after filming, this is a mistake. Voice over video is a very specific thing as it’s timing is very important, and the narration should sound in sync with the picture on screen. For a superior product,  the voice over script and text  should be written and recorded initially in the pre-production stage, and not sculpted according to the leftover principle in the post-production stage.

  • Graphics: An animator or motion graphics designer will create static or moving graphics for the video. Graphics can consist of anything from text animations to convey specific information to walking, talking, moving character animations and everything in between. Quality animators and motion graphic designers have a unique and sought after skill set across industry standard programs like Photoshop and After Effects. Graphics are often employed as a great way to enhance the video project and enliven the messaging to the audience.

  • Music. The pre-selection of a track for a video will make life easier for everyone. If you write music yourself, tell the client in what style the composer’s track is or choose a reference by style and mood. Then the shot-list can be tailored to the ebb and flow of the music in pre-production, creating a superior product.

  • Pre production meeting (PPM). This is a meeting with a client, where the preparation for the shooting day is discussed in as much detail as possible. Clothes, set dressing, props, and models are finally approved on it. The pre-production meeting with the client must go through multiple stages before filming – this is your insurance against misunderstandings.

Crewcible Studio believes investing time and energy into a dedicated pre-production process will ensure a quality video product, that will get you seen. We would love to help you explore your video content needs. Contact us for a chat about ideas that we think can lift your brands presence online and on social media.

In our next article we will talk about stage two of video creation, the production stage. This is where the cameras start rolling!

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