Some of our new clients have had little or no experience in working with a corporate video production company, and so the process involved in creating a video remains a mystery. As a result, we’re often asked to explain the steps it takes to bring video content to fruition.
In this piece, we take a closer look at what makes up the workflow of the corporate video production process.
At the simplest level, video production can be broken down into three broad phases: pre-production, production, and post-production.
During each of these phases specific tasks need to be completed along the road to the completion of a successful corporate video. Of course, the specifics differ from project to project, but each video production also has much in common.
The first step is to create a clear brief. This brief can be formulated by the client alone, or in collaboration with an experienced corporate video production company or video marketing agency.
The brief is an opportunity to explore the following key points:
- Do you have a preference for the video format (e.g. animation, interview, voiceover)?
- Is there anyone in particular you want to appear on camera (e.g. the CEO)?
- Who is your audience?
- What key messaging do you want the audience to take away from the video?
- Is there any specific visual material you want the audience to see (e.g. your new office, an app being used, the customer service centre, examples of teamwork)?
- What is the tone of the video (e.g. authoritative, friendly, low-key)?
- Where do you want to reach your audience (e.g. LinkedIn, company website, a pre-roll YouTube ad)?
- Do you require Social Media edits?
- Do you need subtitles (SRT file or ‘burned in’)?
- What results are you hoping for (e.g. views, likes, subscribes, ROI)?
If you have any video benchmarks you like and a sense of your budget, that is also very helpful.
For a downloadable brief template visit this page.
With your objectives defined, you’re in a good position to approach your preferred corporate video production company or to put out a tender to, say, three of the best video marketing agencies. If you have not defined your brief and you ask different companies for a quote, you’ll find it difficult to weigh up their budgets and proposals side by side in a meaningful way: most likely, you’ll be comparing apples with pears. Often in this situation it’s the cheapest quote that secures the tender, but what you will then frequently find is that the cost for various budget lines – specialist kit, Social Media edits, subtitles, and so forth – have not been included. With a good brief, you should get back comparable proposals with costs that give you a clear picture of each video content agency’s suggested budget and their creative ideas.
It’s not only essential to define your objectives in a brief to get back meaningful proposals, but to provide a set of guiding principles for the video content, and to frame the criteria against which to measure the outcomes.
The script is the backbone of any video project.
The specific nature of each project will dictate the content and complexity of the script. If, for example, the video involves drama with spoken lines, the script will require detail on characters, ages, costumes, and locations, as well as the dialogue.
Some corporate video content is very structured. See, for example, this About Us video for an international law firm produced by NextShoot, or this creative approach we took to a video for Bloomberg. These corporate videos both required careful scripting to define exactly who said what, in which location, and a sense of the camera movement for each shot.
The script gives the client and the video marketing agency a sense of the content, and the balance and rhythm of the piece ahead of any filming. It’s also the document from which the video production company draws out the information they need to plan the filming effectively (cast, locations, shot lists, camera movement etc).
If the final video content is interview-based, a case study video for example, the script might just be a simple structure that notes in a bullet-point form what each speaker might say, illustrating the editorial flow of the story, and noting what imagery might be used to support the interview content (eg b-roll, stock footage, supplied assets).
If the filming involves locations outside of a client’s own premises, the creative content agency will source these locations either directly with the owners or via a specialist location agency. Locations fees vary in cost, from £75 per hour for a council’s street or park filming permit to £1500 for a day’s filming in a hired office or home, to many thousands of pounds for shoots in rare or large locations.
For some shoots a studio is the perfect solution, though not all are suitable for filming that involves sound (i.e. they’re designed for photography and mute video shoots). NextShoot has its own 1000 square feet of studio in Central London (NW1 9TN) where we can conduct interviews against a backdrop, a dressed set or the white walls of the studio.
Interview filmed against a backdrop
The NextShoot studio dressed for interview filming for the National Gallery
Using the white, brick walls of the studio as a backdrop, with interesting lighting
We can also film green screen elements in our studio
If you’re filming an advertisement, your project may feature characters that need to be cast. While your video marketing agency can easily book extras (ie actors without lines), they will probably outsource the casting of leading roles to a specialist. Casting directors work to a specific brief, putting forward CVs, headshots and showreels for the producers to chose from. They then audition these actors, with a member of the production team present, or they are filmed and shared online. Of course, the client has the final decision on who represents their brand.
From the script the video’s producer or director will draw out the information required to make the filming day or days go smoothly. This will likely include a set of questions for each contributor with a sense of what they might include in their response, and a thoughtfully structured b-roll shot list.
Video is a dance between what is said and what supporting imagery is shown on screen. With interview material, or with video content that only has a voiceover, it’s likely that the film crew will shoot b-roll material. It’s important that the creative agency considers the b-roll carefully before a shoot – typically by undertaking a recce or looking at pictures provided by the client – so that they have a clear understanding of what is possible in the filming location, can clear permissions to use the preferred spaces and arrange for extras to be available, typically from the company’s staff.
Corporate video b-roll might include gimbal (i.e. travelling) shots of the key contributors moving through their office space or outside, sequences showing meetings, and users interacting with company products or services. For each of these sequences the shotlist might include a breakdown of the specific shots, shot size (e.g. Wide Shots [WS] or Close-ups [CU]) and noting the action and location. These sequences will each be allocated a time slot, which is added to schedule (see below).
Storyboarding is typically used on complex shoots involving actors or that require considered camera movement. With a storyboard the action in a sequence is broken down into a series of key frames, sketched as individual panels. The sketches include the shot size, the movement of the performers and a sense of camera movement.
As well as giving the client a good feel for what the finished product will look like, a storyboard also provides the director of the creative agency with a useful visual steer on how to frame shots and direct camera movement. With complicated shoots, where time is crucial, it’s a way of ensuring much of the thinking is been done in advance of filming and acts as an aide-memoire for the director and the DOP.
Here are some examples of storyboards for NextShoot video projects.
Where a video project involves graphics, it’s best to move forward step-by-step. Creating graphical content is expensive, and so it’s important to progress with client buy-in to ensure the video marketing agency doesn’t go too far down a path that is not aligned with the client’s vision. The most sensible route, therefore, is for the agency to offer up tests to show the direction they are proposing for the look & feel of the project before too much energy, time and cost goes down a particular creative route.
Examples of NextShoot early concept work
Once a look & feel, and possibly character development, has been agreed upon the creative content agency’s graphics team will block out the story in the agreed style. This could be an animatic, a low resolution video playout with suggested camera movement, or a storyboard with key frames.
If a video requires live action filming, a key task for the producer and director of the creative agency is to work out the crew required to capture the content. Of course, crews can range from a single filmmaker capturing footage and sound to a crew of over fifty shooting scenes with complex actions and trucks of equipment.
With some shoots, a minimal crew presence is an advantage, while on other projects ensuring that all the filming is captured in a single day by having multiple crews and sets of equipment might be the best option. A video promotion with a footballer, for example, might be set up a day in advance and rehearsed many times before a 15 minute filming slot. There’s no time to lose in moving equipment from one location to another, so all set-ups are prepped in advance and as much of the talent’s precious time is used to film well-rehearsed sequences.
You can dive into more detail about crew sizes and responsibilities in our post on the subject here: https://nextshoot.com/blog/what-crew-do-you-need-to-film-a-corporate-video/