Here’s Exactly How to Master the Video Pre-Production Process

Modern marketers produce some truly jaw-dropping video content. Since these talented professionals understand the desire for video, they have fashioned themselves into video specialists, who can create engaging and polished content to communicate with their audiences.

However, this process is by no means easy. 

If you’re going to produce the best video possible, it’s critical for you to invest a serious amount of energy and time into mastering the pre-production process.

In this piece, we’re going to dig deeper into the pre-production process, in order to help turn you into a master. We’re going to cover:

  1. What we mean by pre-production and why the process is so important for content teams
  2. The step-by-step breakdown of the pre-production process
  3. A detailed pre-production checklist
  4. Seven pre-production hacks you can use today
  5. The best templates and documents you should use
  6. The ultimate pre-production tools you can’t work without

Let’s get started and master the pre-production process together!

What Is Pre-Production (And Why Is It So Important for Content Teams)?

To get started, let’s accurately define what we mean by pre-production. Why is it so critical for marketing teams?Video projects are often divided into three key phases:

  1. Pre-Production
  2. Production
  3. Postproduction

Pre-Production is the first phase. During this phase, you’ll take care of critical logistical and creative tasks. A little later, we’ll take a look at the full checklist, but here are some examples to give you an idea of what you can expect to do:

  • Finalize budgets.
  • Scout locations.
  • Cast your talent.
  • Produce a script.

Here’s a helpful little graphic from ResearchGate, which outlines some of the key tasks you’ll need to accomplish in each phase of the video production workflow:

video production workflow

Here’s a closer look at why it’s so critical to master the pre-production phase .

Perform critical tasks.

During the pre-production phase, there are lots of critical tasks you simply have to complete if you’re going to produce a video that matches your goals. For instance, you’ll need to produce a storyboard, or you’ll struggle during the production phase!

Provide guidance to your team members.

In all likelihood, lots of people will be working on your project throughout the course of the production and postproduction process. By working hard during the pre-production phase, you can organize all of your team members, so they’ll work as effectively as possible.

Prepare for every production eventuality.

During the production phase, there are countless, unpredictable factors that can impact your video. For instance, a couple of key factors are scheduling conflicts and technical glitches. By engaging in rigorous pre-production planning, you can make your project more resilient and resistant to unexpected developments.

What Does the Pre-Production Process Look Like? (Step by Step)

Now that we’ve outlined what we mean by pre-production, let’s zoom in to get a better look at the step-by-step process you should follow for each project .

1. Assess your marketing documents.

When you officially move into the pre-production phase, it’s critical for you to maintain a sense of continuity. So you should begin by assessing the materials your marketing colleagues have given you. These materials could include creative briefs, storyboards, and scripts.

You’ll need to carefully study these documents. Then you can make sure your pre-production phase is a natural extension of your planning because you’ll carry all of that background with you into the coming steps.

Gather your team and study these documents together. If you refer back to them throughout the entire pre-production process, you’ll be sure to produce an on-brief video project that delights your client.

2. Outline your shot list.

Now that you have a good idea of what’s expected of the video project and exactly what you need to accomplish, you’ll want to start creating an extensive shot list.

This process will help you truly understand the work you need to perform and the resources you’re going to need with you over the course of the production phase. If you outline each individual shot, you’ll naturally build an understanding of important requirements, such as:

  • Locations
  • Actors
  • Props
  • Cameras
  • Timing
  • Angles

After you’ve outlined each shot, you’ll have a clear understanding of the distinct needs you have. This information will be critical moving forward.

3. Assemble your crew.

After you’re equipped with a better idea of the shots you need to build for your video, you’ll be able to more accurately outline the crew you’re going to need during the production phase.

Below is an overview of the general profiles you’ll need over the course of a corporate video shoot. (You might need a larger number of each profile, depending on the complexity and duration of your shoot.)

  • Production Manager
  • Camera Operator
  • Audio Engineer
  • Production Assistants
  • Makeup Assistants
  • Actors

Each of these profiles has a distinct role to play. Equipped with your shot list, you’ll be able to assemble these professionals and form your team.

4. Cover the logistics.

Now that you have a handle on your team members, it’s time to think about the logistics and cover all your bases.

Shooting a video is no easy task. Countless things can go wrong. It’s important for you to cover as many bases as possible, in order to avoid overlooking any potential bumps that might derail your project.

Here are just some of the important factors you’ll want to think about:

  • Lighting
  • Power sources
  • Locations
  • Props
  • Wardrobe
  • Makeup
  • Cast
  • Transportation
  • Catering
  • Scheduling

Make sure you take diligent notes, and widely share them with your team members, in order to keep everybody on the same page.

5. Coordinate the legal work.

After you’ve taken care of the logistics, it’s important to cover all your bases, in terms of legal issues. Given that the production phase of your video project is often going to involve transportation and off-site work, you’ll need to work as diligently as possible.

Here are just some of the key things you’ll need to think about:

  • Insurance (equipment and personnel)
  • Permits (shooting and release forms)
  • Waivers (for talent and extras)
  • Contracts (for equipment, locations, etc.)

You should be sure to collect all these documents, make copies, and store them together in a safe place. Even though the legal-document phase isn’t the most creative part of the process, you’ll be very happy to have those forms with you!

6. Secure your equipment.

You’ve taken care of all your forms, and you’re ready to go. So it’s time for you to start securing all of the equipment you’re going to need over the course of the production phase.

While the exact process will vary (depending on your particular circumstances), here’s a short checklist you’ll need to go through:

  • At the end of each day, create a list of equipment you need to use the next day. 
  • Charge all your batteries.
  • Confirm you have the correct cables.

It often makes the most sense to assign a particular person to be responsible for taking care of your equipment. This person is usually your production assistant or a member of your film crew.

7. Create and share your itinerary.

Now that you’ve taken care of all the logistics and put your equipment together, it’s time to create and share your itinerary with the rest of your team.

You should use this simple running order to get everybody on the same page and make sure your day runs according to plan. It’s important for you to complement that inventory with this type of practical information:

  • The location of your shoot
  • Contact information
  • A list of the cast and crew

Our Pre-Production Checklist

As you can see, the pre-production phase is quite complex, and there’s a lot to keep track of! So we put together a handy pre-production checklist to help you along the way:

  • Collect and consult your briefing documents.
  • Pitch any questions or concerns you have.
  • Develop your shot list.
  • Exhaustively outline all your needs, based on your shot list.
  • Put together a team.
  • Take care of logistics.
    • Location
    • Equipment
    • Talent
    • Team members
  • Collect all the necessary paperwork.
  • Source your equipment.
  • Use a suite of pre-production templates, in order to cover all your bases.
  • Create and share your itinerary with your team.

7 Pre-Production Hacks: These Best Practices Will Help Your Marketing Team Produce Better Videos

Now we’ve covered what the pre-production process looks like, as well as our checklist you can use each time. So let’s look at seven best practices you can use to create better videos .

1. Interpret your creative brief.

It’s important that your creative brief provides the foundation for your pre-production phase. Every choice you make should be based on the information contained in this critical document provided by marketing.

Ideally, your creative brief will be accompanied by storyboards and other planning documents. Whenever you make a decision during the course of the pre-production phase, be sure to refer back to your creative brief.

If you’re not sure about the practical viability of a particular shot, don’t be afraid to reach out to your marketing team and let them know about the issues you’ve run into. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

2. Make your budget as realistic as possible.

While planning, you’ll undoubtedly start seeing that your costs are quickly stacking up and spiraling out of control. It’s absolutely critical for you to keep your budget as realistic as possible throughout the pre-production phase. 

If you control your costs, you’ll find it much easier to secure approval and move into the production phase without any issues. If you manage your costs and get the best prices possible, you’ll also find it’s much easier to remain flexible and incorporate unexpected costs into your project without feeling stressed.

Here are just some of the unexpected expenses you might encounter during the production phase of your project:

  • Extension cords
  • Food for the team
  • Small pieces of equipment
  • Taxi fares
  • Water and other beverages

3. Review your script over and over again.

When you go into the production phase, it’s absolutely critical for your script to be as polished as possible. Countless video projects have been thrown into disarray during the production phase because a poor script slipped under the radar.

It’s often impossible to adequately adjust a script on the fly. Furthermore, this lack of foresight can cause unexpected results that are difficult to resolve during the postproduction phase.

If you take the appropriate steps as early as possible, you’ll be able to avoid disaster and make sure your project moves along flawlessly. To further ensure these results, widely share your script with your team members and schedule review rounds, in order to collect their feedback and address any concerns.

4. Take care of your team.

As the focal point for your project, it’s important for you to be a bedrock for the rest of your team. To make sure every member of your team is satisfied and energized, you should leverage your privileged position. 

You can gain this leverage by promptly answering questions and making sure everybody is given the right information at the right time. If you take care of those factors, your team will be as productive as possible, and you’ll create a fantastic energy that will shine over the course of your project and glean great results.

5. Create a detailed production schedule.

Throughout the pre-production phase, it’s critical for you to keep an eye on the subsequent production and postproduction phases. This futurist viewpoint can help you guarantee a level of consistency and make your life easier as the project progresses.

One of the biggest steps you can take is creating a detailed production schedule. Make sure that you outline exactly what needs to happen, when, and who is responsible for it. This document will become your guiding light during the hectic production phase.

6. Give yourself more time than you need.

Over the course of your video project, some unexpected events will inevitably pop up, and you’ll find yourself scrambling to find solutions. That’s -part of the fun! 

It’s critical for you to give yourself more time than you need during each phase of the process. To keep stress at bay, try planning your activities, then giving yourself and your team members a bit of wriggle room. This course of action can help you remain flexible, alleviate some of the stress for you and your team members, keep the mood light, and make sure that your video is as great as possible.

7. Double- and triple-check your equipment needs.

Perhaps there’s nothing more disappointing than transporting your equipment and greeting your team members, only to discover you’re missing a battery or cable. This oversight can have a knock-on effect: Your talent is left waiting around while you burn through their time and miss out on the opportunity to make a great video.

For this reason, it’s imperative that you give yourself every opportunity to succeed during the pre-production phase. To avoid this frustrating situation befalling you during the production phase, create detailed lists and clearly assign tasks..

Pre-Production Documents and Templates You’ll Need

Now that we have a good idea of both the overall pre-production process and the tips you can use to guarantee your success, let’s work our way through some excellent templates you can use to get the best results.

Location scouting templates

Here are some great location scouting templates you can use .

1. Location Scouting Document – Airtable

airtable script location template

This awesome location scouting template from Airtable gives you an interactive template you can access from the cloud.

2. Location Scouting Sheet – Bethany Bouchareb

slideshare location scouting sheet

This excellent location scouting sheet template is a great example of the information you’ll need to collect and the way you should complete the form.

3. Location Scouting Sheet – Filmsourcing

filmsourcing location scouting sheet

You can use this clean, clear location scouting sheet template to fill out all of the key information you need.

Screenwriting templates

Here are some of the best screenwriting templates you can use to breathe life into your concept .

1. Basic Screenplay Template – Office365

microsoft screenplay templates

This simple, elegant screenplay template from Office 365 can help you format your screenplay like a pro.

2. Movie Script Writing Template – Template.net

movie script writing template

This clean, simple movie script template can make it easy for you to organize your thoughts and bring your production to life.

3. Script Style Sheet – Template Lab

If you want to quickly and effortlessly create a great screenplay, this simple screenplay template can give you the helping hand you need.

Storyboard templates

Here are some great storyboard templates you can use to structure your video .

1. Printable Storyboard Templates – Booords

printable pdf storyboard templates

This slick storyboard creation tool helps you create your own storyboards, according to your own specifications and requirements.

2. Diverse PDF Storyboard Templates

printable pdf storyboard templates

Head over to Studiobinder. There, you can find a suite of printable PDF storyboard templates, and choose the one that’s best for you.

3. Storyboard Templates – Printable Paper

printable storyboard templates

If you haven’t found the exact storyboard size you’re looking for, you’ll find lots of storyboard templates at Printable Paper.

Shot list templates

Here are the shot list templates you’ll need to master your video project.

1. Google Sheets Shot List Template – Booords

google sheets shot list template

This helpful Google Sheets shot list template is accompanied by lots of helpful explanations and insights.

2. Shot List Template – StudioBinder

studiobinder free shot list templates

If you’re looking for something a bit simpler and more traditional, this shot list template from StudioBinder is a great resource.

3. Simple Shot List Template – DOC Formats

shot list template

Looking for a simple document that you can widely share with your team members? Here’s a simple shot list template from DOC Formats.

Video budget templates

Here are some of the best video budget templates you can use to keep your expenses in order.

1. Production Budget Template – Template.net

Here’s a great production budget template you can access in a range of formats. It will provide you with the most convenience possible.

2. Film Budget Template – StudioBinder

studio binder film production management software

This fantastic film budget template for video production has all of the fields you could need and covers all the necessary criteria.

3. Film Budget Template – TemplateLab

video production film budget template

If you’re looking for a more traditional Excel file to track the production budget of your video, here’s a great excel film budget template.

Best Pre-Production Software for Streamlining Your Pre-Production Process

Now that we have everything in place, let’s take a look at the best video production management software to use during the pre-production process .

Filestage – Flawless review and approval

filestage team collaboration content review software

Filestage is a content review and approval platform that empowers project managers to share their various pre-production planning documents far and wide. We all know how difficult it can be to secure approval, but Filestage makes it a breeze.

Project managers can use this platform to seamlessly review documents with their colleagues and secure time-stamped approvals on their critical documents.

Final Draft – Put together amazing screenplays

final draft screen writing software

Final Draft is a piece of professional screenwriting software that’s used by studios and production companies around the world. This tool offers streamlined writing and editing, as well as collaboration features.

As one of the top screenwriting tools on the market, it’s certainly worth the investment if you regularly produce complex videos.

Asana – Accomodate for every task

asana work management platform

Asana is an elegant project management tool that gives project managers the ability to flawlessly execute the most complex projects. Project managers can use this work management to create an outline of their project and assign tasks.

Task dependencies are another particularly useful feature here. With this tool, you can see how delays and changes will make impacts further down the line.

FrameForge – Seamless storyboarding

frameforge storyboard software

FrameForge is a storyboard program that’s used by some of the world’s leading directors and cinematographers. Undoubtedly, it’s an enterprise-level tool that’s used by businesses with significant budgets.

If you need to produce an amazing storyboard and leverage cutting-edge features, you’ll want to invest in this piece of software. However, this tool is somewhat complex to use, and it has quite a steep learning curve.

Yamdu – Video-focused Project Management

yamdu video project management

Yamdu is a piece of project management software that’s specifically aimed at video projects. Billing itself as a creative management system, this tool offers a suite of features that help during every stage of production.

If you’re looking for a specialist tool that has everything you need to master a video project, you should be sure to further investigate this tool and schedule your video projects with confidence.

Celtx – Complete Control Over Video Projects

celtx video production studio game production studio

Celtx is end-to-end project management software that’s specifically aimed at video projects. This tool boasts a suite of features that empower project managers to get amazing results—all the way from concept to completion.

In addition to an excellent desktop and mobile offering, this project management tool is easy to learn and use, so you can utilize it to achieve the best possible results.

Studiobinder

studio binder film production management software

Studiobinder is web-based video, TV, and film production management software that gives video project managers all the tools they need to succeed. With this tool, your team can take care of everything from scripting to screenwriting and storyboards.

This tool also offers a range of additional features that make it a great choice for project managers who need to deliver great results.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this exploration of the pre-production process has been useful to you! As you can see, you must manage lots of small details to get the best results possible and set yourself up for success.

If you’re going to make great pre-production documents, you’ll need to secure speedy review and approval from the rest of your team, which is why you’ll want to use Filestage.

To see how our platform can transform your pre-production process, start your free Filestage trial or request a personalized demo today.