Ultimate Guide to Successful Video Pre-Production

Ultimate Guide to Successful Video Pre-Production

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This article has been contributed by Torrey Tayenaka.

Before the age of high-speed internet and mobile access to wireless connections, video content was a costly marketing accessory, available only to a small percentage of online users. Now, production technology has advanced and consumers are armed with computers and mobile devices that can view videos anywhere at any time. Accordingly, videos have become a primary medium for business communication and marketing strategies.

Benefits of Producing Videos In-House v. Outsourcing

As the demand for marketing video content increases and videos become more of an integral part of businesses’ overall marketing strategies, you’ll need to plan your brand’s approach to producing video content if you haven’t already.

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One of the first things to decide is whether you’ll produce videos in-house, or outsource your video production. There are a number of benefits of building an internal production team to create marketing and internal videos.

Inside Perspective and Insight

Nobody knows your products, services and brand better than the employees who work for your company. They can best project your mission statement, branding elements and business culture to consumers, existing customers and your team.

Producing marketing videos using an in-house production team adds an insider perspective of your business model and products and services.

Convenience

DIY video convenience


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Having an in-house video production team at your disposal allows for a higher volume of content and the ability to put together content at a moment’s notice. Using an outside vendor to produce marketing video content involves scheduling against their other clients and taking the time to travel and set up. With an internal production team, they are ready at all times with the equipment and gear at hand.

Long-Term Cost Savings

Building up an in-house video production team will require initial investment in equipment, supplies and personnel. However, without having to hire a crew for each element of all video productions, the long-term savings will catch up and allow you to see a significant return on the investment and initial expenses.

Step-By-Step Guide to Video Pre-Production Planning

Shooting a video can be an exciting, energizing and even fun activity. However, the work goes into the pre-production phase of the process that will determine the success of the shoot and the final product. Taking the time to plan out each stage and phase of the production process will keep all team members focused and on the same page. Communication is key, and it’s essential to collaborate with the crew each step of the way.

The following are basic guidelines to use during the pre-production planning stage of creating marketing videos.

1. Set Goals and Define Objectives

Setting specific goals and defining objectives for your video provides the project with direction going forward. All other decisions in the pre-production planning process are made with the purpose of the project in mind.

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Marketing goals for video content can include conversion points like generating web traffic, amassing newsletter sign-ups or increased sales.

2. Define Target Audience

It’s difficult to create video content without knowing who you’re talking to. Defining your audience helps to establish a voice for your message and focuses your content on providing solutions for those viewers’ common issues or needs.

With digital marketing opportunities that can reach your target audience by chosen demographic markers like age and location, it’s more important than ever to have your intended viewers specifically defined.

3. Define Scope and Length of Project

There is a big difference in preparing for a 90-second talking head customer testimonial and a four-minute company profile with sit-down interviews, b-roll and music. Depending on the type of video you’re producing, the scope and length of the project will vary significantly. Will you use actors? Renting out a shooting location? Use animation effects? These are all aspects that determine your project’s scope and will dictate items like budget and production needs.

4. Create a Project Budget

It’s even more important for internal production teams to know what and how much they can spend on the various aspects of your video creations. Budgets for marketing videos can vary widely depending on video length, production personnel, post-production needs and location rental.

Filming equipment and set

An itemized project budget needs to accurately depict all production expenses to prevent overspending, which can result in production delays or worse.

5. Write, Edit and Revise the Script

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Your video script serves as the foundation of the project and guides all other aspects of pre-production planning. Get a draft out to your project manager and other production heads so they can provide input on edits and revisions. The finalized script will be used as a focal reference point throughout the process, so it needs to be as detailed and concise as possible.

6. Create Storyboard

A storyboard visually depicts images of all scenes in the video. It allows the production team to address technical aspects such as location, blocking, lighting and audio concerns. Seeing the video’s content displayed in drawings brings out the production needs for shooting day and post-production efforts. These are simply rough illustrations of each scene and angle to enable the crew to determine production and personnel needs.

7. Shot List

Creating a list of all shots needed on the day or days of shooting advances the schedule in a smoother and collaborative way. Information on a shot-by-shot basis includes a detailed description of the shot, camera placement and dialogue, as well as lighting, sound, props and crew member needs for each scene. Your shot list serves as a valuable reference guide that dictates your shooting schedule and keeps the process moving.

8. Determine Production Personnel Needs

From the shot list, you can determine your production personnel needs on shooting day, from on-camera talent to crews for equipment set up and tear down. Certain shots may require a boom mic operator or lighting assist to help with light bounce and other adjustments.

Consider the need for set transitions and the movement of equipment between shots. In-house video production projects afford the luxury of using existing employees for convenience and budget advantages.

9. Determine Equipment Needs

A second list compiles all of the equipment needs through the shooting of your video. Cross-reference the finalized equipment list with your in-house inventory of production gear to see if any additional items will need to be purchased or rented. This equipment list should include everything from cameras, tripods, lights and microphones to clamps, bounce shades and spare batteries.

Tips for Pre-Production Planning

Filming on-set

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Advances in technology have made it easier to produce, shoot, edit, and distribute video marketing content. The trick is to avoid sacrificing quality for convenience and cost considerations. A poorly produced online video is less effective and can cause more harm to your brand than having no video at all.

The following tips deal with the most pressing issues in producing in-house video projects using an internal video production department or other employees.

1. Keep It Short

Regular users of social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have shorter attention spans than ever. They are constantly looking for the next post and won’t stick around for longer videos, regardless of the quality – especially for marketing videos.

The most successful videos on these platforms are short, to the point and deliver their message quickly with high entertainment value.

2. Decide Who is in Charge

Especially with in-house production teams made up of internal employees, who is in charge of the production can vary from project to project depending on the nature of the video and the topics being covered. The bottom line is that someone must take the lead and have the final say.

A project manager oversees the entire production and is responsible for assigning jobs and tasks. The management structure of the production process also varies with each video presenting different needs and challenges.

3. Grab Viewers’ Attention

Video viewer attention spans have never been shorter with the high volume of options for content online. It is critical to capture the audience’s attention within the first few seconds of your marketing videos. The key is to present engaging content that leaves the viewer wanting more and compels them to keep watching.


Focus on why they need the product, service, or message you are delivering. Let viewers know from the start that you are there to provide solutions to their problems or needs.

4. Incorporate Clear Branding Elements

Get creative and have fun with the ways your business and products are presented in your marketing videos while staying true to your brand. Logos, calls to action and other branding elements will keep your videos consistent with those elements that define who you are, what you do, and how you do it. These are the aspects of your business that viewers will connect to your business and remember when making purchasing decisions.

5. Tell a Story

At its most basic level, video production is about telling a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Whether your video is a short explainer video or a longer company overview, the content should tell your story with a through-line that relates to the broadest sections of consumers. A thought line that is followed throughout the video will keep viewers engaged and have them wanting to keep watching until the end.

6. Connect with Your Audience

The best way to get your viewing audience on your side is to be authentic and present your business as an industry leader and trustworthy resource to your customer base. Show your passion and knowledge in a personal way that draws the viewer in and makes them feel like you are speaking directly to them. Offer up solutions to their problems and needs to set you up as the go-to in your field and industry.

7. Distribution Outlets

There is a wide range of online distribution options for your marketing videos, including your own website, social media platforms and other digital assets on the internet. Posting a video on your homepage will automatically improve analytics like conversion and bounce rates. Social media networks offer a range of advertising opportunities and online paid ads can get exposure for your content on popular websites, blogs and apps.

8. Mobile Responsiveness

Wireless technology and the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices allow consumers to view video content anytime and anywhere there is a wireless internet connection. This makes it crucial to cater to marketing videos to mobile viewers. Larger images, captions and clear calls to actions take into consideration that much of your audience views online videos from small screens on their cell phones and tablets.

Planning for Success

Online videos are here to stay and will only increase in viewership and impact as the technology advances and user habits adapt. Video will remain the most effective way to reach target audiences to share your message and showcase the products and services you provide. An internal production team can make sure all the bases are covered and help to ensure you reach the goals and objectives of your digital marketing strategies.

The video marketing landscape is getting more crowded and complicated as more online users rely on the medium for communication and business applications. Creating and implementing a comprehensive pre-production plan well before you hit the record button helps the technical and creative elements run smoothly and efficiently, increasing the chances of producing content that will get viewers’ attention and drive them to your website.

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About the author: Torrey Tayenaka is the co-founder and CEO at Sparkhouse, an Orange County-based video production agency known for transforming video marketing and advertising into real conversations. Torrey is often asked to contribute expertise for publications like Entrepreneur, Single Grain and Forbes.

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