Whether you decide to hire a production company or produce your own content, there are three distinct stages of video production you should be aware of. Each phase will have its own challenges and will vary depending on the size of your project. Large scale productions in the television and film space will have dedicated teams working on each phase. Whether you are creating a short online video or larger sized project, the getting familiar with the three main stages below will enhance any video production.
Video Production Stages
Pre-Production – Scripting & Storyboard
The pre-production phase of a project is where all the planning takes place before the camera rolls. Whether its measured in minutes, hours or days, this planning phase sets the overall vision of the project. Pre-production also includes working out the shoot location and casting. You’re in pre-production mode the moment you start writing down a few points to cover in a video even if it is a short piece made for a blog. As your projects become more ambitious you can start to storyboard the project. Storyboards can really smooth out the post-production process when it’s time for editing. This will really be useful if there are multiple people working on the project.
Production begins once the footage is recorded. This process will capture all the scenes and information captured in the pre-production process. During the production process you apply various the lighting requirements, framing and work on composition. Some projects will also shoot B-Roll during the production process. B-Roll is supplementary footage that can be included in the finished product.
The post production process begins after all the footage has been captured. This is actually one of my favourite parts of the video making process. Graphics can be added along with images, music, colour correction and special effects. If you are producing your own video content there will be a bit of a learning curve at first, but it will be really rewarding.Post-production is like putting the last coat of paint on in a room and it will be well worth the time to learn the basics. This is where your video project will really come to life.
If you are in charge of project editing and not sure where to start I’d recommend that you check out YouTube’s video editor, Movie Maker for the PC or iMovie for the Mac. All editors share some basic principles. If you need more advanced features you can always look at some of the pro-consumer video editors like PowerDirector available on www.cyberlink.com or a pro editor such as Premier Pro or Final CutPro X.
This has to be one of the hottest topics out there when it comes to producing any type of video. I really think this has a lot to do with the type of online video you wish to produce. For example, people may be more ready to sit through an interview on an interesting topic. Likewise, people may watch a longer tutorial video explaining how to use a product or service. On the downside, all too often I have seen promotional videos created by businesses which are too long and do not have a tight script. Oftentimes a business that has hired and paid good money to a production company to produce a promotional video may think they are getting more value for money if the video is longer. Unfortunately, this will often have the opposite effect. A short and snappy promotional video pitching a story in 90 seconds will most often be more effective than a 5 minutes production.
Monitoring your own videos will ultimately give you all the evidence you need to see who, and for how long, your target audience is watching your videos. You will be able to work out if visitors are at least watching 75% of your video content. If it turns out that a visitors video attention span is a small percentage, it’s time to check your online video strategy. Below are some tips which will help make your videos more engaging.
Advice on improving video viewing rates
Mix up your videos ASL (Average Shot Length)
One thing to consider when creating any online video should be the average shot length (ASL). ASL is the time spent on a single shot appearing in a video and is effectively used in film and television to create pace. For example, your video may be 2 minutes in length, but made up of 8 different shots averaging 15 seconds each. I would recommend experimenting with different shot lengths to help keep your audience interested. If your online video’s focus only has one subject, remember that you can break up the video using visual aids such as charts, pictures and graphs so the camera isn’t always focused on the subject. Understanding how ASL effects video attention span is key to the success of any online content.
Video 1– Presenter discusses global warming. We only see different shots of the presenter with a mix of close up and wide shots.
Video 2 – Presenter discusses global warming. Actual shots of melting icebergs along with pictures are shown rather than the focus solely on the presenter.
Feedback is a must – Get familiar with your video’s analytics
Ultimately, you will need an accurate analytical tool to measure video attention span. It will provide the best feedback on how much of your online video is being watched. YouTube and Vimeo both have a set of very powerful analytics which should not be ignored. Pay particular attention to the ‘ Average View Duration ‘ of your video which is the estimated average of minutes watched per view for the selected content, date range and region.
YouTube provides loads of useful analytics to further understand the popularity of your video. If you go to your YouTube accounts dashboard you will find an option to view your videos analytics. Alternatively, you can click on this YouTube analytics link (you’ll see information on your account once logged in).
Recommended duration lengths for video lengths
Below are some guidelines to follow based on 5 common video types on the web. Ultimately keeping a close an analytics tool will give you the best guidance on what’s working for you.
If you were to meet a potential customer face to face, how would you convince them that your business is better than the competition? A pitch is first about your business and why people should buy into it. The video should explain what makes your business unique. Also, the pitch video should explain how your business intends on solving the key problems that exist in the marketplace.
Recommendation – Keep it around 90 seconds or less. If you think that’s short, check out the hugely successful ‘ Dollar Shave Club ‘ video on YouTube which is around 94 seconds. While this video came out many years ago, it went viral shortly after launch.
Video tutorials are a great way of explaining how a product or service is used. For example, many software companies use tutorials to explain complicated functionality. Just type in ‘ How to … ‘ followed by your subject of interest into YouTube and and you will find many videos.
Recommendation – Take as long as it takes to do the tutorial, but try not to repeat yourself. This is one video type which I feel can defy normal rules. If someone generally wants an answer to something they will be more inclined to watch the content until they find the answer. If you are worried that your video is long, consider breaking it up into video chapters.
Testimonial videos showing how others perceive your business can be very effective marketing tools adding substantial credibility. If a new customer is thinking of purchasing a product or service from your business, seeing a video testimonial on your website could be key to sales.
Recommendation – Similar to a testimonial video I would recommend keeping the video less than 45 seconds. This will force you to get straight to the point in explaining why the visitor will benefit from the free product or service.
Video interviews can be powerful tools if your business is trying to spread an idea or generate interest in a product. They can also be useful in explaining more complex topics. Interview videos are also great at generating credibility if a KPI (Key Person of Influence) is involved in the filming.
Recommendation – Similar to a tutorials, these videos can be longer in length. The subject material and types of questions will all be factors. If you’ve recorded a long interview and are worried about the length, remove the other content using an editing program to make it more snappy.
You may think that you have heard it all before, but it’s very easy to make online video mistakes that could sabotage your project. For example, even the best storyboard or planning can’t save your project if the sound hasn’t recorded correctly or your shots are out of focus. Also, an online video shot can be ruined if a background object such as clutter interferes with the online video’s primary source. I’ve made my share of online video making mistakes. It’s all part of the process of improving and avoiding my top tips will improve your video production. So start producing better quality online video right away by avoiding these 5 Common Video Mistakes.
Video Mistake 1 – Poor sound & lighting
Have you ever tried reading in the dark or listening to your favorite song which has been badly recorded? Poor sound and lighting may sound like an obvious problem to avoid, but there are many video mistakes where the subject is not visibly clear due to inadequate lighting. Before rolling the camera, test some of the sample footage for clarity based on the existing lighting. If shooting in a low lit indoor environment or in poor light outdoors, you may want to consider purchasing a camera lighting package.
Keep in mind that the sound quality on some camera models may be impaired by their standard built-in microphone. Therefore you may wish to double-check whether your camera can support an external microphone for improved sound quality.
Video Mistake 2 – Inappropriate Video Length
Unlike sitting in a boring meeting that you wish you could walk out of, walking away from a video is only one mouse click away. Vidyard, a service the helps share video content has indicated that the optimal video length should be under 2 minutes. This will also of course depend on the type of video your brand or business plans on producing. For example, a video that is looking to promote a product or service may benefit from being short and snappy. On the other hand, a tutorial video posted on YouTube may benefit from being much longer. Creating a shorter video is normally the best path taken and content will normally resonate better if its clear and concise.
So time spent creating content is not wasted, make sure to use any analytical tools available. YouTube and Vimeo both offer an analytical component where administrators can view important stats such as online video viewing average durations. By paying close attention to these statistics, your brand can identify the types of video which are working best for your business and what the idea video durations are.
Video Mistake 3 – Filming fore the wrong target market
A challenge faced by any video maker is acquainting yourself with the target audience’s needs and desires and how to best reach them with your company’s message. A little research can go a long way in producing well-received content and failure to do so will result in a wasted effort. Before filming, keep in mind the following items:
Who is your ideal target audience? – Looking from their perspective, ask yourself what exactly is it that they require, along with any problems that they face.
Age – Which age bracket are you aiming for? This needs to be in line with the business services that you are offering.
Location – Where is your target audience located? If your business is offering one-to-one sessions in your home city, you may want to mention that your services are only available in that city. Gender – Which sex is your video targeting? If you are targeting both sexes, your video may risk alienating one or the other if the content of your video does not speak to them. Both the subject and the content they are speaking about should be chosen carefully
Gender – Which sex is your video targeting? If you are targeting both sexes, your video may risk alienating one or the other if the content of your video does not speak to them. Both the subject and the content they are speaking about should be chosen carefully.
Video Mistake 4 – Props left in the camera’s view
Remove any unnecessary props from the camera shot which may ruin the shot. For example, a stand left undetected in the scene and only discovered when the footage is reviewed in the editing room, can ruin the shot. Your subject should always be the video’s focal point so be careful what’s in the framing of each shot before any filming takes place.
Video Mistake 5 – Lack of pre-planning before a video shoot
All too often videos are shot based around an idea, but little time is spent on a script or thought given to the different camera shots necessary. It’s not until an attempt is made to edit video footage that these problems become clear, hindering the video.
A storyboard or time spent planning out the video will go a long way to improving its overall quality. Time spent putting together a storyboard will give video direction and will also act as a great editing guide once all your footage has been filmed. Keep in mind that storyboards don’t have to be complicated and can save a lot of time in the long run. More complex story boards could include the length of the shot, a list of transitions to be used, and descriptions of the shot.
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