The video production process

Making a video isn't something that “just happens,” it requires quite a few processes to do the job well.  Explained, in the most simplest of terms, it's; planning, making the parts, and putting them together.  Trying to avoid one or more of the stages nearly always results in a bad production.  It's very hard to do a good job without knowing a great deal about what the end result is going to be, making it up as you go along rarely works out, the planning for all of the production stages is done beforehand.  It's next to impossible to film something the right way, without knowing how the finished product should look.  “Pre-production planning” is the most important stage of the process.


Before starting a production, we need to work out certain information, so that we can produce what's desired.  We start off with finding out what the client wants filming, what the desired audience is, then work out how to do it an workable, and applicable, manner.  Rarely is a job ever done by just filming something, then playing it back.

Usually the client doesn't know anything about the production processes involved, just that they have a message that they want to send.  Our job isn't just to produce that message, but to tailor it to suit the target audience.  Quite often, the message will be new and unfamiliar information to the target audience, and the video production has to explain it in a manner that will be understood.  And, it has to promote the message, as well as promote it above your competition.

So we ask you questions about what you want to promote (your product), and how (on tape, on disc; to audiences unfamiliar with your product, or audiences that understand all the concepts involved; whether the production stands alone, or is part of a presentation that you're presenting, and you're using it as a visual aid; and so on, and so forth).  We have to understand it, completely.  If we can't do that, it's a fair chance that your audience won't, either.

Then, we can work out how to go about filming it.  What equipment and crew we'll need, and the methodology and techniques.  We have to have a very good idea about what the end-result will look like, before we film it.


This is the filming part of the process.  It involves all the equipment setting up, and packing up, afterwards.  It's not just filming something in front of cameras, it's everything that's required to make a recording.  It usually involves sound and vision, and at least two crew (even single-camera work involves lugging heavy gear around).  Depending on the production, it can involve much more than that (lighting, multiple cameras, sound mixing, etc.).

Filming may take place on some on-site location, or be studio based.  It may be filming something as it happens, which usually presents some problems for video production—you only get one chance at recording it being the first and foremost issue, and you often find that you can't film it in the best possible manner.  Or you can stage things for the camera, which allows you control everything about what you're filming, and to repeat them until you get them just right.

Filming needs to be done right, you can't fix up mistakes later on.  You need to plan what needs filming ahead of time, and film it according to your plan.  If something goes wrong, you need to fix it straight away, by filming it again.  This is why recording something live isn't the best way to produce a video, there's no second chances with live work.


This is the editing part of the process.  Few productions can be made without some post-production work.  Live recordings usually entail recording long before the production actually begins, so you don't miss the start.  There's often a few unsightly things that get recorded, that need editing out.  There's any number of things that were difficult to monitor on the location, that need some adjusting because they'll be terribly obvious when watched somewhere else (e.g. sound levels).  And clients frequently want to make some changes, even if it's just adding titles and credits.

Editing entails taking the various shots, and putting them together in the desired sequence (which isn't always the same sequence that they were shot in).  Picking the best out of multiple versions of the same shot, and adjusting the timing between shots to be right.  Editing isn't about fixing up mistakes, that's rarely possible, it's about putting the shots together in the right manner.

Sound and vision are often edited separately.  Which one's done first depends on the type of production.  For some, the vision is the main thing, and sound is added to the finished vision edit, as it fits best.  For others, you edit the sound, then place the vision into the appropriate places.  So, at the very least, you can see that editing will take twice as long as the finished result.  And much longer, when you consider that there's a lot of decision making to be done during the editing process, trying out alternatives and variations.


Rarely does the production master get played directly.  It's generally too precious to risk.  One accident, and all of the previous work is lost, and would need to be repeated to reproduce it.  You'll probably not be able to completely replicate the original, and in many cases it will be impossible.  So one or more copies are made, and those copies are what will be played.  Generally we hang on to the masters, ourselves.  That saves the clients from losing masters, and from having to find someone capable of using them (there's a variety of different mastering formats, most production houses don't support all of them, and equipment compability issues can mean that edit masters may play the best on the same equipment that made them).

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