How to Establish a Smooth Video Production Workflow in 2020

Video marketing is more powerful than ever before, but video production is still a difficult task. Some project managers still lack the experience to coordinate these complex projects and take control of the workflow. In this piece, we’ll help you create an effective video production workflow that will get you excellent results.

What Is a Video Production Workflow (and Why Will It Make or Break Your Video Project)?

Benjamin Franklin said it best: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Video projects are often very complicated. They have lots of moving parts, and they can quickly spiral out of control. As the project owner, you need to develop a solid strategy (i.e., your video production workflow) that will help you and your team move forward successfully.

In the big picture, a detailed video production workflow can keep both you and your team sane. There are more reasons to create a video production workflow, too.

Keep your teams focused.

There’s a good chance that your video project is going to involve a number of team members. Your workflow needs to explain what those team members need to do, and when they need to do it. This strategy can keep everyone aligned and productive.

Manage your resources.

Time is money. If your video project spirals out of control, you could damage your ROI and harm your other projects. A workflow can help you effectively manage your resources and protect your business.

Prevent delays.

A video project can grind to a halt for several reasons. For instance, a dependency might leave you stuck, or the review and approval process could prove to be too complex. But a robust workflow can prevent those delays.

Eliminate miscommunication.

Every great video is a product of seamless collaborations with various professionals. If you’re going to get the results you want within a reasonable timeframe, you have to create a video production workflow that leaves no room for miscommunication.

How to Design the Ideal Video Production Workflow

Now that we have a better idea of exactly what we mean by a video production workflow, let’s dive right into the step-by-step process you can follow to create your own workflow.

Video Pre-Production Workflow

Video projects begin with the preproduction phase. In this phase, you’ll need to get your groundwork in place. Then the later stages of your project can move ahead without any hiccups.

Throughout this phase, you’ll need to create a range of paperwork. But don’t fear. To help you, we’ve put together 163 free preproduction workflow templates. Feel free to refer to those documents throughout this phase.

Here’s what the six-step preproduction workflow looks like.

1. Creative Brief

To start, you’ll need to develop a clear creative brief. It should be short, accurate, and easy to read.

Creative brief

This brief should do two main things.

Describe the objectives and narrative.

The creative brief should clearly outline the big-picture goals for the project. You should describe what success looks like. How is the video going to achieve these goals? it.

Outline a rough budget and timeline.

The creative brief should offer a high-level look at the budget and timeline. This information should be clearly shared with your key stakeholders, in order to give them the information they need to make an informed decision.

If you need more detail about the creative brief, be sure to read the 10 points every creative brief should contain.

2. Video Script

Now that you’ve established what you need your video to achieve, it’s time to work on your script. Video is a visual format, but an engaging script can help set it apart from the crowd and bring your message together.

To put together an initial draft, you’ll want to secure the services of your copywriter. This initial draft of the script will often have to be approved by your key decision-makers. Depending on your internal structure, it might even make sense to get compliance involved at this stage.

For the sake of convenience, it’s important for your collaborators to enjoy uninterrupted access to the latest draft of your script. Here are 20+ document collaboration tools that can make it easier for everyone to have their say about your script.

3. Storyboard & Shot List (incl. A-Roll and B-Roll Checklists)

Your script will act as the skeleton for this step. To start planning the visuals, you can elaborate on the script. Then you can paint a clearer picture of what your video will look like.

You’ll probably need to work with your copywriter again, and get approval from your key stakeholders for your big decisions. To get their feedback, you’ll need to create a few key documents.

Storyboard

You’ll need to produce a rough storyboard that outlines how the flow of the story, including the shots that make it up. This storyboard can give your stakeholders a better idea of the way the finished product might look.

Photoshop Storyboard Template

Shot List

At this stage, you’ll also need to produce your shot list. This list should be divided into two sections: A-Roll and B-Roll. As the name implies, your A-Roll is the primary footage, while the B-Roll is supplementary footage you can cut away to.

4. Refined Timeline, Call Sheet, and Budget

Now you have a better idea of the shots you need and what your video might look like. So you’ll be able to more easily create some critical documents. Here’s a look at each of those.

Timeline

Your video project timeline will describe what will happen and when it will happen. It will serve as a roadmap that you and your team can use to deliver a polished video in a timely manner.

Video Project Timeline

Call Sheet

Your daily call sheet is a schedule based on your desired shot list. You should share it with everyone on set, in order to make sure everybody knows where they should be and when they should be there.

Budget

There are lots of costs associated with filming a video. A budget will help you identify and add those costs, in order to keep your video within budget.

5. Identify Equipment and Cast

With your important planning document in hand, you’ll be able to create an exhaustive list of the equipment and cast members you’ll need.

You should maintain detailed, comprehensive lists. You’ll need to include everything you need on the day of the shoot. For instance, you should include: 

  • Cameras
  • Lenses
  • Tripods
  • Headphones
  • Lighting
  • Batteries
  • Props
  • Microphones
  • Cables
  • Light reflectors
  • Memory cards
  • Hard drives

Since this list is by no means exhaustive, you should work alongside your video engineers to develop it. Alternatively, you could call on an agency to provide you with all the equipment and expertise you need on the day of the shoot.

6. Optional: Location Scouting, Costumes, and Catering

In some cases, you’ll need to think about some important details. Here’s a more in-depth look at each of these possible details. 

Location Scouting

If you’re going to shoot outside a studio (i.e., on location), you’ll need to find the right locations and make the necessary arrangements. In other words, you’ll need to secure permits, check the weather, and take any other necessary precautions.

Costumes

If you have actors, you’ll need to carefully consider their costumes. You’ll need to make sure they’re clean (or dirty, depending on the character) and fit the actors you’ve cast. Those little details can elevate the quality of your video.

costume

Catering

Shooting a video is hard work, and your team will undoubtedly need to eat. With so many people involved, you’ll want to think about appropriate catering options that are fast, cost-effective, and nutritious.

Pre-Production Best Practices

Here are three useful tips to bear in mind throughout the preproduction workflow phase.

1. Don’t rush

It’s very important that you take your time with each step. If you miss an important detail during the postproduction phase, it could cause chaos later during the production or postproduction phases.

2. Share your plans to get feedback.

During the preproduction phase, collaboration is key. You’ll have to call upon your team members and get their insight and opinions time and again. Their feedback can keep your project moving forward in the right direction.

3. Communicate effectively

During the planning phase, communication is key. You should make sure you share all of your planning documents with the appropriate stakeholders in a timely way. This planning will help everybody fulfill their duties.

Video Production Workflow

Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to execute your plan. You’ll create the actual raw video during this phase.

Again, you’ll need to complete a range of paperwork throughout this phase. So feel free to refer to our exhaustive list of 90 free video production workflow templates. You’ll find lots of helpful documents that can make the production phase easier to manage.

Let’s dive into what the video production workflow looks like.

1. Location Preparation

You should arrive on set before anybody else, and be prepared. It’s time to execute your plan and lead everybody to success. Here’s a quick location preparation checklist that you should work through, in order to make sure everything will be a success:

  • Introduce yourself to your location contact for the day
  • Confirm that weather and traffic are not going to be issues.
  • Identify important areas, such as bathrooms and exits.
  • Confirm that your props and costumes are ready.
  • With your Director of Photographs, go through the shot list and prepare to set up cameras.

2. Lighting and Sound Checks

Now that you have your cameras and lights in place, you’ll want to perform lighting and sound checks. It will help to have an extra set of hands during this phase, in order to move lights and stands as a model for the Director of Photography.

You’ll also want to take some test shots and record some sample audio during this stage. Ideally, you should have everything ready before your actors get there. Then they can come in, work their magic, and leave.

3. Plan and Coordinate Filming

Now that everything is in place, it’s time for your actors to arrive. Since the actual filming is about to take place, here’s a quick checklist you’ll want to work through, in order to make sure this stage goes off without any issues:

  • Welcome your actors, and make them feel comfortable.
  • Allow an appropriate amount of time for wardrobe and makeup. 
  • Make sure to minimize downtime. For instance, go through the script with your actors while they’re in makeup. 
  • Record everything, and do multiple takes.
  • Immediately back up your files in at least two different locations.
  • Perform a quick review of your footage, in order to identify any potential issues while the actors are still there.

4. Plan and Coordinate Audio

While filming, it’s critical for you assign someone to monitor the audio. This person should be equipped with a pair of headphones, in order to make sure that the quality is totally consistent and that unwanted sounds aren’t recorded.

You’ll need to work with a quality sound engineer, who can recommend the right equipment to use. He or she should be able to give advice about microphone placement and ways to monitor the quality of the audio.

Production Best Practices 

You can use lots of tips and tricks to boost productivity during the production phase. Here’s a look at some best-practice tips.

1. Bring your A-game.

The day of the shoot might be stressful, and you’ll inevitably find yourself rushing to fix some small details. So you should try to make sure that you’re at your best. Go to bed early, and prepare as effectively as possible.

2. Keep an eye on the clock.

If you book a studio space for a full day, it might feel like plenty of time. But you’ll inevitably find that this feeling is false, so you’ll end up feeling rushed. Always keep an eye on the clock, and move things forward.

Video Post-Production Workflow

Now it’s time to sort through all of the raw video and audio content you created during the production phase. During this stage, you’ll see your project come to life. So it’s imperative for you to keep things organized. To make sure you stay ahead of the game, be sure to rely on our 46 free post-production workflow templates.

Next, let’s dive into the post-production workflow.

1. Sort Equipment and Material

To put together your finished video, your video and audio engineers are going to need the right equipment, software, and raw materials. The more powerful and capable the equipment, the faster your finished product will be ready.

video production equipment

Here’s a look at some of the key postproduction equipment you might need:

  • Powerful computers
  • Video and audio editing software
  • Editing keyboards
  • High-quality monitors

You should provide all of the equipment that your postproduction team needs to remain effective and efficient.

2. Decide on Objectives

Now that you have all of the equipment and raw material in place, it’s time to develop a video editing plan and timeline. Here’s a look at why these two documents are so important.

Video Editing Plan

Your video editing plan will outline the exact way that the video editing workflow is going to take shape. It will describe the flow of the process—from sorting your footage to cutting and polishing it.

Timeline

The video editing timeline outlines the way the process is going to fit together, in terms of timing. To make sure your video is created on time, you’ll need to identify a realistic, rigid video-editing timeline. 

3. Editing

Now that your planning documents are ready, it’s time for your team to get to work. You’ll want them to execute the following key steps.

Organize Files and Create Backups

First, your video engineers will need to take the time to organize and backup the raw footage you collected during the production phase. In this step, they need to perform three key tasks:

  • Organize and name files.
  • Create backups.
  • Import the footage to their chosen video-editing software.

These small steps can help your team be more efficient and predictable.

Perform the Main Editing

With all of the footage properly organized and backed up, the video engineers can now start the actual editing process. During this step, they’ll need to perform a number of key tasks, in order to create a rough cut:

  • Identify A-roll and B-roll footage.
  • Order, prioritize, and deprioritize clips.
  • Trim footage to create a rough cut.
  • Install transitions that create a sense of narrative.

At the end of this step, your video engineers should have a rough cut that’s ready for review. You can use this rough cut to give feedback and make suggestions.

Polishing the Footage

Now that the rough cut has been approved, it’s time to really polish the video. Your video engineers will use lots of tricks and techniques to create an attractive video. They include:

  • Lining up special effects for audio and timing 
  • Performing color-grading to create a consistent look
  • Adding special effects and visual edits

At the end of this step, you’ll have a video that’s ready for the review and feedback phase.

4. Review and Feedback

Now that you have a final cut, it’s time to work your way through the complex review and approval process. During this phase, you’ll want to perform the following steps:

  1. Share your final cut with the appropriate team members.
  2. Collect and collate their feedback.
  3. Accurately implement their requests. 
  4. To collect additional feedback, share the updated version again.

You’ll need to repeat these steps until everybody is happy with the final version. During the review and feedback stage, it’s important for you to make sure you do the following:

  • Avoid and resolve conflicting feedback.
  • Make your feedback as transparent and public as possible.
  • Create clear tasks for your video engineers.
  • Make sure every stakeholder has his or her say.
  • Reduce complexity. 
  • Boost efficiency.

You can achieve all of these tasks by using the appropriate review and approval tool. For instance, you might want to look at the ways Filestage can help you during the review and approval stage.

5. Signoff and Approval

After the review and approval process is finalized, you’ll need to collect signoff and approval from all of your key decision-makers. This step is critical because it can protect your team and encourage everyone involved to approve the final version. 

If this step is going to be a success, you have to:

  • Make sure you can track who has and hasn’t approved the video.
  • Quickly check the progress of this stage.
  • Boost transparency, in order to drive accountability.

Remember, the right tool can help you achieve all of these goals. Filestage makes it easy for you to track the status of your files, in order to see who has and hasn’t approved the final version.

review management in Filestage

And when you receive each approval, it’s timestamped and documented for ultimate transparency.

6. Delivery

Now that your final cut has been approved, it’s time to deliver the video itself to the appropriate stakeholders. Here’s a look at the key channels you can use to effectively deliver it.. 

Cloud storage platforms

You could use a number of cloud storage platforms to deliver your finished video. They include iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

File-sharing services

You might want to deliver your video using a file-sharing platform like WeTransfer, OneDrive, or Box.

Local storage

If your project was internal, you might want to host the final version of your video on a local server.

Hard copies

After you’ve completed your video, you might want to burn a copy to a DVD and share it that way.

Email

Depending on the size of your video, you might want to send your finished file via email.

7. Archiving and Storage

Now that you’ve delivered your video, you’ll want to make sure all of the project files you created are appropriately stored. After they’re safely stowed away, you can access these project files at a moment’s notice.

You never know if your footage could prove useful to a future video, and your client might want to have access to the raw footage in the future. 

When it comes to storing files, you’ll want to find a safe, secure method. For instance, you should make sure you back them up on your internal servers, on a hard drive, and in the cloud.

Post-Production Best Practices

Here are three tips you can use to make sure the postproduction workflow goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Use the right tools.

It’s important for you to use the appropriate tools throughout the postproduction phase. For instance, the right tools can help your engineers efficiently expedite the review and approval phase.

2. Empower your engineers.

During the post-production phase, your engineers are the stars of the show. Try to implement their feedback and preferences as much as possible, in order to keep them satisfied and happy throughout this often- stressful process.

3. Congratulate the team.

By the end of the postproduction phase, you and your team will have achieved something really remarkable: Creating a stunning video! This accomplishment is impressive, and you should be sure to take some time to celebrate.

Conclusion

We hope you found this closer look the video production workflow to be helpful, and that you feel inspired and ready to tackle your next video project. If you closely follow these steps, you’ll be sure to create a wonderful video and have fun along the way.

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