Think you know what it takes to produce a video? Well, think again. Most people think they know how to create a high quality video to use for their business. They are typically aware of the three big phases in the video production process: pre-production, production and post-production but they don’t necessarily know about all of the work that goes into each. As video production professionals, we’re here to share with you the step-by-step process of everything that goes into creating a high quality video that will leave everyone impressed.
We recently had the opportunity to work with one of our favorite clients again, Sizmek. The multi-screen ad serving platform company came to us with a vision and a goal. Sizmek was looking to create a video aimed at showcasing their platform in a different way for its investors. Having worked with us in the past, Sizmek knew about various steps involved in getting the video production process moving along so they came prepared with a budget in mind and a rough draft of a script.
Typically before you even get into the nitty-gritty work, budgeting, formulating an idea to work with and identifying your target audience are the very first steps to take. Although choosing a budget seems relatively straight forward, there are many factors that play into it. Furthermore, when determining your budget, you have to understand that it directly correlates with the quality of your video on the production scale. If you’re looking to create a superb quality video and you have an unrealistic budget in mind, chances are you won’t be very impressed with your end result, no matter who you hire. Fortunately for us, Sizmek had an appropriate budget planned for their project so we didn’t have to manage expectations.
We got to work right away by nose-diving right into the pre-production process. We worked with Sizmek to learn about their platform and talked with them about the key points they wanted to get across. After doing so, we had several steps that we had to work on in order to move forward including the following: scriptwriting/editing, storyboarding, running a casting call, holding auditions, putting together the perfect crew for the project, and last but not least organizing and planning the video shoot.
Since Sizmek came to us with a rough draft of a script, the groundwork was laid out. We provided our feedback on the script, providing insight on changes we’d recommend to improve its video iteration. With some going back and forth, we managed to finalize the script in a matter of days. As a result, our first pre-production step was knocked off our to-do list. If Sizmek didn’t have a script ready, we would have held a creative brief with the client to get an overview of what the client was looking to accomplish with their video. Once establishing the goal, we would have worked on a script based off our discussion for the client to review. With feedback and some editing, we would finalize a script. Typically having the script makes things easier because the script helps flesh out all of the other steps involved in the video production process.
With the script being approved it was time to move on to the storyboard. You might not know it but storyboarding is actually quite vital as it helps bring the original vision to life by conveying the visuals based on the script, scene by scene. Based on our previous brainstorming session with the client and the script, which is what the vision is based off of, our Creative Director and storyboard artist helped set the tone for each scene. After drafting the storyboard we shared and discussed it with the client. At this point, storyboarding went through a similar process to the script editing; we went back and forth with the client and finalized a storyboard that fit the company’s vision. As a result, we knew how we wanted each scene to be shot and had a general idea of the flow of the video.
Storyboarding is quite an important step in the pre-production process since it serves multiple purposes. It not only gives you an idea of what the piece will look like, it also serves as the shot list; capturing the style, tone and describing each scene of the video.
Casting Call / Auditions
Our casting director didn’t hesitate and decided on the type of talent that was needed for the video based on our joint brainstorming session with the client. Once confirmed, the casting director reached out to various agents and past talent that we’ve built relationships with in addition to running a casting call in order to look for the necessary actors/actresses needed. We auditioned over 40 people for the main male role and over 20 people for the main female role for the Sizmek project.
We organized two audition days and scheduled all of the interested talent to come in to read lines. Furthermore, we recorded all of the auditions and sent them to the client with our top five suggestions. Fortunately, the client had the same vision we did as we ended up having similar taste and quickly agreeing upon the same people.
Wardrobe / Props
Once the talent was chosen and the storyboard was finalized, we had a wardrobe artist brainstorm various outfits for the different scenes in the video. The wardrobe stylist then went out and had to find the outfits, take pictures and send them to the client for approval. As usual, the outfits were selected with an overall wardrobe budget in mind. Once approved, the items were purchased and prepared for the day of the shoot.
Given the script, the storyboard and the scope of the project a prop master was needed to ensure each scene was complete. For the Sizmek project, we needed both small and large props alike such as an easel for the painting scene, a box of chocolates for the cupid scene and even an old cash register. Our prop master even had to get a little creative and buy boxes, paint them various colors and write the word “data” on them for one of the scenes. The wardrobe and props for each scene were accounted for ahead of time to avoid any last minute issues.
Being organized and planning everything out goes a long way when it comes to the video shoot as you don’t want anything to slip by and raise your costs.
The schedule for the scenes was organized based on the wardrobe and props. This allowed us to make sure we allocated enough time for each scene. When organizing the shot list, we made sure to tackle the more difficult and time consuming scenes first and work our way down.
In order to shoot the video we needed to rent a large green screen studio that could accommodate the actors, props and various scenes that we needed to capture. After browsing around for studio sizes, accommodations, and prices we chose a studio in Chelsea, Manhattan that we’ve worked with in the past.
We settled on a date that worked for everyone and started the day bright and early. The client was on hand and we even set up client monitors so they could see the footage that was being shot from the camera’s point of view. The client monitor allows the client to sign off on the various scenes so they have an exact idea of what to expect for their final piece.
For the shoot we used the Canon C500 in order to capture the footage in 4K quality, which gave us more options to play around with in post-production. Along with the C500 we used a set of Cooke prime lenses in order to get the best picture possible.
Setting Up for the Day
As soon as we arrived at the studio, we had different teams start their work. The director of photography, camera assistants, gaffer and production assistants began to set up the equipment and position themselves to make sure everything was functional for the shoot. With the cameras assembled and memory cards put in, the director of photography and the camera assistants were set up. The gaffer with the help of a few production assistants made sure all of the lighting was set up. The creative director, director of photography, production manager and the gaffer then reviewed the storyboard one last time to make sure everything was positioned correctly in terms of lighting and the camera.
The wardrobe artist, the prop master, the makeup artist and the actors all began to prep for the first scene. The wardrobe prepared the outfits based on the storyboard and shot list, the makeup artist set up her station and began to put makeup on the actor for the first scene, all while the prop master helped prepare the set with the necessary items needed.
Shooting the Scenes and Lunch
Once set up, the filming began scene after scene. Before each scene the makeup artist and the wardrobe artist helped the actor’s suit up. The props master also made the necessary set changes to get the stage set for the upcoming scene as well. With our organized shot list, the majority of the day was just a matter of execution.
We shot the video on May 5th and as a result made sure to reward the crew by catering lunch from Tres Carnes in an effort to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We were on schedule and made sure to take care of the difficult scenes before lunch time. The food was delivered right on schedule too. A huge line formed around the room the food was set up in and everyone was talking about the various footage that was captured and what was left for the day. After a lunch break, we quickly resumed where we left off. It was a long day but our rockstar crew members made sure to get all of the production done on time.
After capturing all the footage we needed and making sure to back all of the raw footage periodically on backup hard drives, we were set to enter post-production. Various project crew members began to clean up and take care of their respective responsibilities. The cameras were disassembled, lighting was disassembled, makeup station packed up, props put away, etc.
With everything organized and ready to be edited, our post production crew went to work. Given the size of the project, we were aware that a lot of hours were needed for post-production. Furthermore, we were up against a tight deadline and had a large to-do list to get through including but not limited to keying the green screen in with the appropriate backgrounds for the necessary scenes, gathering stock photos and images that were needed for the video, editing the various clips and footage to piece everything together and of course, last but not least, designing and creating motion graphics and animations as additional touches for the finished product. We also had to take care of the sound design as well, adding sound effects and mixing music to match the on-camera talent as part of the post production process.
>Keying in the Green Screen
All of the footage was shot with a green screen and when you do that, one of the obvious things on the to-do list in post production includes keying it in. Fortunately, at the start of the day, our production manager took a test shot and made sure there was no green spill in the captured footage. As a result, our editors started to key in the green on the captured footage. This was the first step to be able to proceed and move closer to the final product.
>Gathering Stock Photos and Video
In order to get all of pieces of the puzzle before we put everything together, we identified certain photos and video clips we needed to obtain from stock sites. The cost of doing this for the scenes we needed the stock images and footage for was far more budget-oriented and time-saving than it would have been for us to separately shoot the scenes. After having identified what we needed, part of our post-production crew sought out after the ideal photos and video clips to blend in with the rest of the video.
>Piecing Together the Footage
After keying in the green screens for the various different scenes and gathering the stock footage that was needed, we needed to piece together the footage we had based on the storyboard. Since we organized and planned in the pre-production stage and executed accordingly on set, we were able to save a lot of time piecing everything together. The primary focus here was creating smooth transitions and making sure there was a good flow. Once we finished piecing everything together it was a matter of adding the visual effects to really impress the viewers.
>Creating Motion Graphics and Visual Effects
To really tie things together and give the video its finishing touches, we used motion graphics and visual effects. Each were used to add details to the different scenes that were in the video and helped to clarify and visualize aspects of Sizmek’s offerings that the client was looking to incorporate. From popups that labeled items to explanatory transitions that clarified features, the motion graphics and visual effects completed the video.
With all the hard work, the countless hours of effort, planning, production, and editing, our rockstar team managed to pull through despite the tight deadline. We delivered a video that we were proud to say we created and more importantly, the client was excited about the end result. We even had a chance to put together a quick sizzle reel of the behind-the-scenes footage of the video shoot. Check it out below and let us know what you think:
You can also watch the finished video below:
Now that you know more details about what goes behind making a video, you’ll realize it isn’t as simple as it may seem. Next time you are looking to create a video get in touch with us to see how we can help bring your vision to life.
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