How to commission a great video – Part 1

No matter where you look these days, the Internet is awash with articles discussing the ascendancy of video as brand content. By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.

Various studies show that most companies are already making use of the video –a figure predicted to rise as more and more realise the potential. Nielsen suggests that 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their campaign strategies in the coming years.Speaking as a co-founder of Miappi, a social media aggregation platform, I’d say that we’re pretty agnostic about the format we display. If people post it and our clients find that content valuable, then our platform will let them display it how and where it matters to them. But speaking personally, video is a subject close to my heart.

Back in the mid-1990s I got my first break after university at an Independent production company producing wildlife documentaries. I spent months wandering around the Scottish Highlands wading through bogs, hiding in bushes and diving into lochs – that’s a lake (usually a cold one) to us English speakers.You won’t be surprised to learn that video technology has come a long way since then. Back in 1996, our camera operators were shooting our wildlife documentaries on Super 16 film before transferring the rushes to video for editing. 720p HD wasn’t on the scene yet, let alone full HD 1080. 4K would have melted our minds.

For our purposes film was definitely the way to go back then, but even in the 90’s you didn’t need to shoot on film (for starters it was very expensive), you could shoot on one of the various video formats available but they were all very poor quality compared to what we currently have available.Long story short, the technology was pretty different to what we see in 2016.These days it’s possible to shoot a feature film on an iPhone alone (and Sean Baker, amongst others has done just that). Phones today offer HD resolution, time-lapse, super slow motion – all of the toys that were only possible with specialist cameras until just a few years ago. It’s really quite amazing.

What hasn’t changed though is the creativity that goes into making a great video. That’s pretty timeless. To produce a successful video, you need good planning (Pre Production), great execution (Production) and excellent Post Production.What hasn’t changed though is the creativity that goes into making a great video. That’s pretty timeless. To produce a successful video, you need good planning (Pre Production), great execution (Production) and excellent Post Production.

If you don’t want to become a video producer yourself (and most people won’t have the time even if they feel the creative urge) then hire a good production company.

We’ll cover how to shoot your own video in another post but this time let’s look at how you can find someone to help you produce your masterpiece!

Finding a production company

A production company will oversee the project from beginning to end and take a lot of the stress out of things. To start with, they will take a brief from you, or help you write that brief if you are unclear on exactly what you need. They then help you write the treatment and script before directing/shooting the footage as well as overseeing the all-important post production.

You can Google local production companies to get you started but you can also advertise on sites like Upwork or the specialist video sites like Bark or ProductionHub and have the contractors bid for the work you’re advertising. As with anything in life, you shouldn’t necessarily go for the cheapest quote.

Assessing the candidates

To have confidence in the production company or individual operators you should ask to see their showreel. Be sure to ask to see some individual, complete productions as well, that way you get the full picture…it’s all too easy for a good editor to make a great showreel from poor footage.

It’s also important to ask what part of the process the production company/individual was involved in – Did they shoot the footage, did they do the editing, did they produce the motion graphics and animation? Again, a showreel can look impressive but unless you know which parts your potential hire produced it’s hard to know what you are buying.

The brief

So, you’ve contracted a production company, that’s a smart move. Before production begins make sure you have a clear vision of what you want and communicate that to the production company. Changing video/animation half way through production is usually pretty expensive, so try to be clear about what you want right from the start. If you need to reshoot footage or you start to ask for re-edits after the final piece has been carefully edited to a piece of music, then expect the costs to rise significantly.

Top Tip

If you do decide to hire a production company, then let them do their job. Give them a clear brief, including examples of the style you’re after and then let them go to work. These are highly creative people and they take pride in their work. Have faith in their abilities. Make suggestions by all means but don’t art direct…even if you are a frustrated creative! Before you start there is some terminology that’s good to know, so stay tuned for Part 2! Coming soon..