Stage Three: Edit, Don't Sweat It!

This is part three of our blog series explaining the main stages of how to design, develop, and deliver successful videos. Over the past couple weeks, we have delved into the primary components that make up video production. So far, we’ve covered pre-production and production.

Today’s installment centers on post-production.

Post-production is the final step in creating a video masterpiece, which ties pre-pro and production together into a coherent story. Following suggestions in the previous two blogs sets you up for this stage to go smoothly.

A solid producer is perhaps most valuable during post (ask any editor). They need to determine how they want to form and frame the story, so that it clearly conveys the client’s message. Weaving together sound bites taken from interviews that flow and move the story along, while also evoking some kind of emotion, and telling the client’s story, is the goal.

The edit is where a project finally comes to fruition. The editor is the last in the line of creatives who is responsible for crafting the piece. Here, details of a story can be crafted and honed into the client’s vision. It’s often said, that the story is found in the edit. This isn’t to say, that decisions made during pre-pro and production don’t lead to the final story, but rather, it illustrates how a story can be molded into its final form through the editing process.

As always, organization is key to accomplishing a high quality final product. Good labeling and well-crafted workflows allow editors to quickly drop in alternative shots, re-organize soundbites, as well as keep track of revisions.

Typically, while the edit is progressing, on-screen graphics and motion graphics are added in parallel. During the script writing and storyboard phases, the ideas about how to use graphics as a communication tool and enhancement are discussed. They are then executed here. Well thought out graphics are always the hallmark of good pre-pro, and a talented post-production team.

Just like with graphics, the decisions made during pre-pro about music, the tone and feeling that needs to be conveyed, are executed in post. Music can sometimes be as simple as dropping in a stock track, or as complex as embedding a custom written score. Audio in music is often referred as 50% of a video, so it shouldn’t be considered an afterthought.

The post-production stage of video production is where everything you and your client have been working towards, comes to a head, and the overall vision is achieved. Whether you’re creating a corporate video, commercial, film, or otherwise, solid pre-production, production, and post-production are the foundation for effective, authentic storytelling. 

Stage Two: 3, 2, 1 ... Action!

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Last week, we introduced you to our 3-part blog series on the main stages of production, discussing the high-level phases that encompass video production.

This week, we will concentrate on production, including the primary crew roles and responsibilities. Generally speaking, if you dedicate the necessary time and effort to pre-production, you — and, more importantly — your client, will have an exciting, rewarding, and relatively smooth day in the field.

Key personnel on set typically will be a producer, who will sometimes act simultaneously as a director, a camera operator, an audio technician, and a production assistant. Depending on the scope of the project, you might additional crew members.

A producer/ director is the voice that brings the set to life. They call “action” to get the camera rolling, audio “speeding,” actors acting, etc. They’re considered the conductor, making sure everyone is on task, coaching interviewees, explaining the shots they want the camera operator to capture, and being the main client relationship manager.

A great “eye” separates special camera operators from mediocre ones. The job of the cam op is to capture the vision of the producer/ director. Basically, there are two parts to any story: a-roll (interviews) and b-roll (support video). Cam ops are always looking for opportunities to add visual interest, when shooting b-roll, with an assortment of shots using equipment like tripods, monopods, dollies, and Steadicam-like rigs. A good rule of thumb is the more coverage you have, the better. When you think you’ve shot enough, shoot more! Your editor will love you.

Golden ears are the sign of a solid audio technician. The audio tech is tasked with recording live audio of interviews and natural sound of your shooting environment. On smaller budget projects, the audio tech could be replaced by simply putting up a boom mic on C-stand or placing a lav mic on an interviewee. Capturing audio is no easy task though, and while staged equipment may be cheaper, having an audio tech on set is incredibly valuable. They're able to work through the myriad challenges that can arise, from background noise to rustling clothing. It should be said that audiences are rarely forgiving of bad audio, and always notice it. Besides, 50% of video is audio.

A stellar production assistant seems to have more than two hands. Among a PA's most important tasks are taking thorough timecode notes. An alert PA will mark the best takes and which shot types (wide, medium, tight) are filmed. Those details will be extremely beneficial when the editor begins cutting. Detailed timecode notes can greatly expedite the post-production process! PAs will also need to jump in and be a grip. They’ll carry equipment, set up and break down cameras, lights, etc. PAs occasionally need to play the role of makeup artist and be sure interviewees look good on-camera (no bunched-up shirts, fly-away hairs, or shiny skin).

Every crew member plays a vital role in making sure shoots run as smoothly as possible.

Determining whether a shoot was successful should revolve around the following questions:

  1. Did you execute the client’s vision?
  2. Did you meet the expectations outlined in the scope of the project?
  3. Did you capture all the shots?

If you answered yes to all three, then you are prepared to produce the final piece!

Next time, we will cover the post-production stage. Until then...

Stage One: Inception Perception

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Whether you’re creating an internal video for a client, or making a film for an audience, you’ll need to consider the three main stages of production: pre-production, production, and post production.

This week’s blog post will focus on pre-production, including its various aspects, and its importance in setting you up for a successful shoot and ease in the edit room. Proper planning and consistent communication between clients and production companies is vital to making sure you achieve your initial expectations.

The inception of a project typically involves a kick-off conference call or meeting between client and vendor, in which you determine the overall scope, which includes specific goals, deliverables, and most importantly, budget.

Once those elements are discussed and agreed upon, the creative and project management aspects of pre-pro take effect. Those involve script writing, storyboarding/ shot breakdown, location scouting, crew sourcing, and production schedule. Many projects, but not all, will also include professional narration or voice-over (VO).

Now the fun begins!

You’ll need a deep brief from your client to fully understand the project and their expectations. That’s the only way to provide a great script and/ or storyboard. That will drive your graphics design, shoot, music — basically, the look-and-feel of the piece, and eventually your post production.

Establishing clear communication from the beginning, staying organized, focusing on project scope, and setting/ resetting expectations are the bedrock to successful creative and budget outcomes.