Our Storytelling Approach to Professional Video Production
How Pre Production, Production, and Post Production work at Advent Media, Inc.
This article is to help you understand the steps we take to assure your video production project will meet your expectations and connect with your audience. In order to do that we have to first learn what you want to accomplish, who will view the final product and how they will be watching it. All are factors that impact the Viewer Experience.
Here is the process we've perfected at Advent Media, Inc.:
We meet to discuss your expectation of the project:
We need to know from you the details of what you need to communicate:
- A reasonably detailed outline of the points to be made
- Brochures or other printed material
- Previous media pieces (print, online or video) that we will either replace or complement
- Corporate branding guidelines (if any)
Next it’s our turn to respond to your requests:
- The Treatment is a proposal on how the content will sequence and how things will appear in broad generalities
- The Scope of Work can be defined from the Treatment, which may be detailed or more general. It will define what needs to be done to bring the Treatment to life.
- The Budget is based on the Scope of work. It is negotiable, but changes to budget will necessarily change the Scope of Work and/or Treatment.
- When we agree on the Treatment and Scope of Work, we sign a contract and request payment, typically 50% of the budget.
Now the fun begins. Pre-production is the most important part:
- Fully researching the content and audience to be sure we understand how to communicate from the viewer’s perspective
- Write the script, which may be a re-write or touch up of what you already provided, or an original work. Writing for media is different than writing for regular prose. It has to sound “right” when read aloud, which doesn’t always look proper on paper. If open-ended interviews are involved, script writing at this stage is conceptual. The final script is delayed until the interviews are conducted and transcribed.
- Visualizing the script. This goes along with writing, because pictures and animations can replace words. The less verbosity the better.
- Approvals. Several drafts of the script are presented to you for approval. A “scratch” audio track may be mocked up to help you envision the concept. When we reach final approval, we can begin production.
Finally we get out the cool gear and work with it. Depending on the medium in which we’re producing we will be doing:
- Principal Videography. If we do interviews or show the “talking head” of a host, those scenes are usually filmed first. With interviews we must transcribe what is said so we can see it in print. If we’re doing scripted drama, this involves sets, actors, makeup, sound, multiple cameras, etc.
- “B-roll” Videography or Still Photography. Video or stills that illustrate what is being said is known as “B-roll” footage (because the principal videography is called the “A-roll.”) The B-roll may include product photography, exteriors, illustrations, or any variety of images. Purchased stock still images or video footage may also be used.
- Voiceover. If the piece does not call for on-camera talent, we record the voiceover in the sound booth.
- Graphics creation. The overall graphical theme of the piece is determined and submitted for approval. This may include logo development, or incorporation of existing branding. Approvals are requested for color, font, and other graphical theme issues.
This is the exciting part where it all comes together
- Visual Asset Assembly. This is the step where we sort through all the various takes and images to determine which ones are best to use.
- Soundtrack Assembly. If doing a show with voiceover, this comes first. It determines the timing of the program. Music selections are made. An approval of the soundtrack is requested.
- Video Editing. This brings together the rest of the images. There are several stages
- Paper cut (interviews only), where the transcripts are edited and sequenced on paper, which you would approve
- Rough cut, where the project is roughed in for timing and to see how the sequencing flows. This approval stage is critical.
- Final cut, where all the transitions and rough areas are worked out and the show takes on its final form, which again is approved by you.
- Polish cut, where even more tweaks are made to iron out any issues.
Payment of 2nd half of production budget is usually requested at this time.
Authoring and Fulfillment
This stage has had the most change lately, as newer modes of delivery are being introduced almost daily
- DVDs and BluRay disks require a step called “authoring” where the menu is created and disk function tested. Following that disk copies are made and delivered.
- Web delivery involves exporting to a Web-friendly file format that is then uploaded to YouTube or another streaming video service
- File delivery allows users to play video on computers or other devices, from iPods to digital signage players. This can be complicated because certain file types are no longer supported by some devices. After we learn what devices will play the files, we'll create and distribute the proper files on Flash drive, disk or Internet download.
So that is how video content is created at Advent Media, Inc. The process can take from 4 weeks to a year, depending on the complexity of the subject matter and timeliness of approvals.
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