Video Pre-Production | Planning for Success

Let’s talk pre-production. When we first meet with clients to talk through the video production process, they’re often surprised by how much time we budget for pre-production. But the reality is that without proper planning, you risk investing a lot of time and money on a project only to end up with ho-hum results. Pre-production sets the stage for everything that follows and without it, things can quickly go awry.

So, let’s walk through why video pre-production planning is essential and how it ensures your project runs smoothly and you get the results you’re hoping for.

What is Pre-Production?

Pre-production is the planning phase where all the groundwork for your video is laid out before the cameras start rolling. It’s all about organizing, strategizing, and preparing to ensure that the actual production process goes off without a hitch. This phase includes everything from scriptwriting and storyboarding to location scouting, casting, and budgeting. It’s where you iron out all the details and anticipate any potential roadblocks.

Why is Video Pre-Production Important?

Clarifying Your Vision

Our goal is to bring your vision to life, and the first step is to make sure everyone involved understands that vision. Pre-production planning helps crystallize your ideas, defines the goals for the project, and ensures the entire team is aligned. By mapping out each aspect of the project, we create a clear and shared understanding of what the final video should look and feel like. It’s like having a well-drawn map before heading out on a road trip—you know exactly where you’re headed and how to get there.

Saving Time and Money

We value your time and treat your budget like it’s our own. Thorough pre-production planning helps us identify potential challenges early on, allowing us to address them before they become costly problems. This proactive approach helps us avoid unexpected expenses and keeps the project within budget. For instance, if we know you need a specific prop or location, we can arrange it ahead of time rather than scrambling at the last minute. It also means we can work more efficiently, saving you time and money in the long run.

Smooth Production Process

Imagine trying to bake a cake without a recipe. You might end up with something edible, but it’s more likely you’ll make a mess. The same goes for video production. A well-thought-out plan ensures a smooth and efficient production day. With a clear shooting schedule, well-defined roles, and organized logistics, we can focus on capturing the best footage without unnecessary stress or confusion.

Improved Collaboration

Video production is a collaborative effort that involves many hands and minds working together. Pre-production planning fosters effective communication and collaboration among everyone involved. Regular meetings and updates during this phase ensure that any concerns are addressed early, and everyone’s input is considered. This collaborative environment leads to a more cohesive and polished final product.

Key Steps in Pre-Production

To give you a better idea of what happens during this phase, here are some key steps we’ll undertake:

1. Concept Development and Scriptwriting

We start by taking the time to understand your goals and how the project fits into your overall strategy, as well as the key messages you’re hoping to convey. From there, we work to develop a concept that aligns with your vision. What’s the tone? Who will tell the story? What’s the setting?

Once we’ve fleshed out the story and the concept, we begin to build a script that serves as the blueprint for your video. For scripted pieces, this will be a detailed script, outlining both what the talent will say and what text will appear on-screen. For interview-based videos, we’ll build a list of interview questions designed to elicit key story beats.

2. Shots Lists and Storyboarding

Depending on the size and scope of the project, the next step is to develop shot lists or storyboards. This step helps us visualize the flow of the video and plan the shots needed to tell your story effectively. This crucial step ensures that you get exactly the shots you need AND that the production runs as smoothly as possible.

3. Location Scouting

Finding the perfect location is crucial. If you already have a location in mind, our team will conduct a site visit before filming. If not, we scout potential sites to assess their suitability and address any logistical challenges. This includes considering lighting, sound, and accessibility to ensure a seamless shoot.

4. Assembling the Team

We bring together a skilled team tailored to your project’s needs. From directors and camera operators to talent and editors, each person is chosen with quality and efficiency in mind. We also ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

5. Budget Planning

We outline a detailed budget that covers everything from equipment rentals and location fees to talent payments and catering. This ensures we stay on track financially and avoid any unexpected expenses.

6. Scheduling and Logistics

Creating a detailed shooting schedule is essential for keeping the project on track. We plan shoot days meticulously and consider the availability of locations, cast, and crew, to maximize productivity and minimize downtime. Call sheets ensure everyone knows where they’re supposed to be and when.

7. Prepping Equipment

Ensuring we have all the necessary equipment in good working order is key. This includes cameras, lighting, sound gear, and any special equipment required for specific shots.

Planning for Success

And then – finally! – we’re ready to shoot. But you can rest assured that our crew is ready to capture every shot needed to tell your story. While pre-production might not be the most glamorous part of video production, it’s undoubtedly one of the most important. Investing time and effort into this phase sets you up for success, making the entire production process smoother, more efficient, and ultimately more enjoyable. So, next time you embark on a video project, remember that a little planning goes a long way.

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Interested in learning more about how we work with clients to create strategic, impactful content? Let’s chat. We’d love to hear from you.

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About the Author

Lori Dowd

Lori Dowd is an award-winning filmmaker and founder of StoryTrack Studio. For over 20 years, she has directed and produced programming for a range of corporate, non-profit, online and broadcast partner/client.