Hint: these tips will save you time, money and headaches!
1) The Creative Brief is King
It all begins with a conversation. It’s this conversation that sparks the creative process that leads to compelling content and a successful project. Talk to your production company as partners in this effort. Together you will be creating the video and it’s your job to clarify your goals and the specific metrics for success of the project. Here’s a good place to start: ask yourselves, what do you want your audience to feel, do, think, say or buy? Thinking about this should guide you as you pre-plan the video.
A carefully planned creative brief will drive and inform every decision made during production and editing. This is something that can’t be rushed. Over three decades of working with clients to create films and videos, we’ve seen one major pitfall sabotage these projects time and time again: rushing past the planning and brief creation step. Clients—often driven by scheduled events, releases, or other deadlines—want to forge ahead and skip steps in strategic planning of the video. Avoiding this will protect your interests and prevent costly mistakes down the line.
As you create and refine your brief, be ready to share insights on your audience (who they are, their pre-conceptions, etc.). You might also consider reviewing your findings with a colleague to make sure you’re covering all of your bases. Share examples of videos you like and don’t like with explanations on why to help visualize what you want to produce. This lets your partners organize everything and develop a clear plan.
A good creative brief is what ensures a solid final product that serves your exact needs and avoids nasty surprises. Trusting an experienced video production company to guide you through the pre-production process, including working together to create a solid brief, is the first step to creating convincing and persuasive content.
2) Get Early Buy-In
With your creative brief in hand, you’re ready to move forward to production. This is when your production company—armed with a clear understanding of your vision, needs, and goals—will start digging deeper about tone, brand and message.
You can be as involved or as distant as you like while your production team builds alternative treatments for your review. When you get those documents, you’ll start to imagine what the film will look, sound and feel like.
At this stage, it’s critical for you to have stakeholder buy-in. Be as transparent as possible regarding who you will need to be involved in decision-making and approvals. Is it just you and your core team? Will you loop in Legal, PR, Corporate Communications, an internal client, or others? If so, make sure you discuss the creative brief with them so they are judging the final product by the same criteria. Task someone specific with gathering all your feedback internally so that when you share feedback with your production team you speak in one voice. This greatly increases the likelihood that no one’s opinion gets lost in the shuffle.
Once these decisions are made, your production partners will know who to target when the time comes to circulate drafts, solicit feedback, and revise thinking if necessary. The goal is to keep lines of communication open so all expectations are met.
3) Coordinate, Coordinate, Coordinate!
Production is the largest and most expensive part of the process—so you want to do it right. Make sure your production partner works with you to establish benchmarks and touch-points so they can check in as often as you’d like. They should make sure you’re aware of their plan, and that they have access to the people and places needed to shoot. You shouldn’t be required to be on set, but you should also be welcome to participate. Assign a point of contact that will work with the production team well in advance of the shoot date(s) to ensure everything runs smoothly. There are many moving parts and coordination is critical.
For all interviews, you should ask for a “what to expect” one-sheet. (For instance, ours would include: don’t over prepare, don’t memorize and don’t rehearse). The interviewee is the subject matter expert and they should appear as relaxed as possible.
During production, your partners should use the creative brief to onboard the crew so that everyone has the key message(s) in mind. This way you can be sure your key points won’t get missed during the interviews and your message will be reinforced in the supplemental video footage captured.
4) Evaluate Intelligently
Once sound and video are captured, you will move on to the editing process. Again, you should feel welcome to be present—but trust us…observing an editor in his natural environment is not a thrilling experience. All you’ll see is an editor hunched over an editing bay, twisting knobs, clicking tabs, pushing buttons and possibly stopping to order lunch or dinner.
The more important task for you is to learn how to evaluate well. If you’ve been close to a project for months, or even years, it can be hard to look at the piece objectively and see the video as your intended audience will.
Your editor and director will talk about what they captured in the production process. Then, they should go back to your creative brief to understand the why behind the what as they put together a “rough cut”. It will have some music and B-roll, but it won’t be totally polished yet. This is only part of what the final version will look like. Your comments, feedback, changes and ideas will shape the final product. So look at it as a baby that’s still developing. Help it grow!
Think about how this first cut aligns with your creative brief. See how it flows and feels. Listen and watch to make sure the message is right and that the music sets the tone you want. Sit down, remove all distractions and watch it together with your team. Watch it a few times and make very specific notes about the parts that need adjustments.
Your production team will then take your notes and implement them to deliver a second draft. At that point, you need everyone involved—all stakeholders—to watch it. You will need to check absolutely everything because this is your chance to suggest all final edits. Remember the question asked in the creative brief: what do you want your audience to feel, do, think, say or buy? Does this draft answer that question? Make sure it does!
5) Keep the Destination in Mind
How will you use your film or video to maximize your investment of time and money? Are there ways you can tweak or repurpose some of the content to get even more mileage out of it? Will the video play on a smartphone or will it be projected in a large concert hall? Will it play on a busy and noisy trade-show floor? It’s important to know this even before you start pre-production. If everyone involved knows how you plan to show the content, then specific technical decisions can be made about what kind of camera to use and how to record audio—and those decisions will drive the best results.
Your production partners should also be able to help you examine and discover secondary uses so you get a better return on your investment. Charge them with the task of creating a video that has multiple uses, even if it takes a bit of additional editing. Perhaps they can turn an internal message external or vice versa. Doing this can move product, raise awareness, or increase revenue. Don’t miss this opportunity. Consider it right after you think, “Oh, we need a video!” and before you do the creative brief—not after.
At Tribe, needless to say, we view ourselves as a creative partner with our clients. Our mission is to make the films that help humanize the most successful companies, institutions and leaders in the world. We are thrilled to share any and all knowledge we glean along the way to help clients (ours and others!) create beautiful and effective videos that successfully connect with their tribes!
If we can help you as you plan your next video, please connect with us: firstname.lastname@example.org