The Production Cycle
There are many facets to the production cycle and many jobs. Producing video can range from one person doing it all to a cast of hundreds with a budget of half a million dollars or more. Here are some, but not all, of the job titles in a typical production project:
- Production Manager
- Camera Operator/Videographer
- Sound Technician
- Non-Linear DV Editor
From the above list you can begin to see how the work might flow through the project. Basically you start with an idea, develop it into a script, or treatment, then into a storyboard, coordinate the talent and locations, shoot the video, put it together in post-production then release it.
The Work Flow
The following is a simple step by step procedure for producing video. It is by no means an exhaustive description of the process as there are tonnes of details contained within each step. The process described here will give you the general idea of the work flow. It is vitally important to finish each step before proceeding to the next. Video is expensive to produce and mistakes anywhere in the process can cost time and money. If possible, sign off on each step with your client before proceeding to the next.
1. Develop the idea. This may involve talking with subject matter experts, or SME's, researching the topic on the net or the library or a companies archives. Make an outline of all the relevant information and remove any information that doesn't need to be there. Because video is expensive to produce, there should be no fat. Ask yourself: Is this a "need to have" or "nice to have" piece of information.
2. Write a script. Take the outline produced in the above step and create a story that has a beginning, middle and end. Remember to keep it lean an mean but maintain a flow. The script must present ideas in a logical sequence with each idea building on the last.
3. Develop the treatment. A treatment is a two column document with the video narration (your script) in one column and the description of the imagery, transitions, sounds, titles and graphics in the other column. I can't say this enough: video is expensive. Building it on paper first (the treatment) and getting it right before proceeding to the next step is the most cost effective way to produce video. Click here for a blank Treatment template.
4. Shoot the video. Arrange the talent if you need them, secure the locations and make sure your legally covered. Get lots of cut-away shots and ambient sound clips. Use two or three cameras if possible. Make sure you have lots of footage to use in post-production. It is easier to leave things out than to try and fill holes after the talent and camera crews have left.
5. Post-Production. Using the treatment, assemble the video on a non-linear video editing suite. Adobe's video tools, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Encore, are my very favorite. Make sure you get copyright clearance for any music used. Remember, you are painting a picture over time with visuals and sound so make sure there is flow and continuity and your narration and imagery are being delivered at a good pace.
6. Release It! That would be nice but very often you build video for someone else. People often have a hard time visualizing the final product just by reading a treatment but they have no problem knowing what they don't like once they see it on the screen. Deliver a Release Candidate, one you think is complete and ready for release but let your client look it over and provide some feedback. Making a tweek here and there can buy some great good-will and produce a video that makes your client very happy.