Pre-production is the most important part of the entire video production process. It encompasses all the planning that’s needed to make sure your video project runs smoothly. From setting goals and identifying messaging, to scripting and scheduling the filming and editing stages – Pre-production is essential!
It doesn’t matter the size or type of video project either. Everything from a simple promotional video, a complex explainer animation or a straightforward event highlights video needs effective pre-production.
But it’s sometimes neglected by those who would rather rush to the ‘creation’ part of the video production process. Those people who aren’t excited by making schedules and writing scripts, they’d rather rush into the more fun, creative things like such as filming and animation. These people tend to have a “I’m sure it’ll be fine on the day” attitude which, spoiler alert, never ends well!
If you want to increase the chances of your video project being a success, it all comes down to the detail set out in pre-production. You don’t have to go dedicate hours and hours to it either.
So what sort of things need to be looked at during video pre-production?
Identifying The Goals of the Video
The first part of pre-production on any video should be to establish exactly why you’re making a video in the first place. Everyone involved in the project should be on the same page with this too.
- What is your number one goal for the video?
- What is the single message you want people to take away after watching it?
- How exactly do you want people to respond once they have seen the video?
- What is the call to action?
Failure to establish a clear goal at the very start can easily cause confusion between stakeholders and the production team. One group of people may have their own ideas on the type of film you want to make, whilst another group could be heading in a completely different direction!
If you don’t identify the goals of your video from the start, it can also cause project creep, also known as scope creep or mission creep. This is where the requirements of a project gradually increase or change over time, often due to a lack of guidance or discipline. So, if you don’t have a goal set out from the start, as you get moving through the scriptwriting process, more and more goals and ideas are brought to the table. If this happens, you’re likely to end up with a bloated video without a clear purpose.
So take the time to make sure everyone is clear on what the point of this video is first before you do anything else. We wrote about how to create focused video marketing goals here, so be sure to check that out.
Identifying Your Target Audience
This might be quite a simple step in your pre-production process. Especially if you’ve already produced marketing material that has a similar purpose to that of the video in question.
For example, if you’re creating a video to work alongside a brochure you’ve created or making a video to go on a sales webpage, the audience for the video will be the same as those for that existing brochure or website.
However, this might not always be the case. If this is your first ever piece of marketing, maybe you’ve not even thought about your target audience before. If so, it’s vital you take the time and consider who your audience is.
Your audience determines a lot of the creative aspects of the video. They determine things like:
- How the video will be designed
- The visuals you’ll use
- It’s tone of voice
- The editing style
- Where it will be shown
- The length
- The type of music
That’s a lot! So you want to take time to consider this and avoid aiming for too broad an audience. If you try and create a video for everyone, it will appeal to no one. Digital Marketer have an easy to use Customer Avatar Worksheet that we’ve used in the past to identify our own target audience. If you’re unsure where to start, download that.
Hone your messaging
Once we’re clear on the goals and the audience for your video, the next step is to figure out what the messaging is.
You want to be unique and personable in your messaging. Don’t lean on phrases like ‘we always put our customers first’ or ‘our team give 110%’ – these are cliche, generic and (let’s be honest) completely dull phrases! Any sensible audience would start yawning/clicking away on hearing them. Be authentic and let the personality of your business shine through in your words.
Take some time to write down all the key points you want to get across in your video. Make sure each message is directed towards the overall goal of the video. Be specific with your messaging and go into detail. However, you may need to ‘kill your darlings’ if your script is running long, so don’t get too attached to it!
A video should always leave the audience wanting more. It should be persuasive and tease them with just enough information that they’re interested in finding out more, so use a single, clear call to action (CTA). If you put in too many messages or have several different CTA’s, your video will get confusing, bloated and boring. Keep it concise. 150 words ish per minute is a good guide.
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Find the best talent
The most effective video marketing involves a human element to help tell the story. This could be either through interviews, a voiceover artist or a presenter, and the approach you use will depend on the type of video you’re going for.
For example, a voiceover artist can deliver a tightly scripted message in a shorter amount of time and with more enthusiasm than someone with no experience in front of the camera. Likewise, a testimonial is going to sound much more genuine coming from a real customer interview, than a voiceover or hired presenter
Some people might be nervous at the idea of being in front of the camera, such as employees or customers, but we always work with a really friendly team of directors and producers to make the process as enjoyable as possible. We’re used to working with people who are new to being in front of the camera. There’s never any rush to get things done, no pressure to get things right the first time and we only ever use the best bits!
If you need a bit of help, here’s an article we wrote about how to build confidence on camera.
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Location, location, location!
It’s important to carefully consider the filming location during video pre-production. There are a lot of factors that go into finding the ideal filming location and even the most minor complication can cause a whole host of problems!
There are the obvious things to consider, such as what the location looks like, the size and its availability. These can often be assessed remotely and a few photos emailed through to the production team can usually flag up most issues.
But it’s important to look a bit closer into the detail to make sure the location is fit for purpose:
- Is there access for crew?
- For example, can the camera crew easily access the building or do they need to be escorted everywhere?
- Can vehicles easily load/unload?
- For example, is there a visitors parking outside or is it a 15-minute trek from a nearby multi-storey car park?
- Are there likely to be any uncontrollable issues with the sound?
- For example, a train line right outside the window!
Carrying out a location recce in advance is the best way to iron out any potential problems and make the necessary changes or contingencies. After all, not every problem with a location can be solved, but the more we know in advance, the better we can prepare and plan sufficient time in the schedule to get everything we need. Check out our video blog on how to choose the right filming location if you want to know a bit more.
Tell us what you think! Are you an enthusiastic planner who likes to know the details before starting a project? Or are you the gutsy type who likes to get stuck in and see what happens? Let us know on socials! You can find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!