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Pre-Production and Post-Production: A Checklist for Your Next Project

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It’s one thing to record video clips for your company’s social media page. It’s another to plan a video production project that will get your business noticed.

A botched pre-production stage can drag out production and cost you money; a sloppy post-production stage can leave you with a low-quality video.

So, what do you need to know about the pre and post-production process before you hire talent? What’s involved in a pre-production process anyway? What’s so special about pre-production vs post-production? Plenty. We’ll break it down so you can go into your next project with confidence.

Defining Expectations in Pre-Production

The steps on our pre-production checklist aren’t that different than those in other guides you can find online, except for one thing: our first step doesn’t have anything to do with budgeting or creating storyboards; it’s about setting expectations for the project. Pre-production, which involves any work done on a video project before filming, can be a hazy area. Concept meetings can multiply and there can be a lot of confusion about which artistic direction to take. That’s why, at this stage, we stress taking the time to listen and understand the “why” of a project.

Your team should define the video project’s purposecentral message, audience and goal before you think about camera angles. Putting a solid plan together up front saves time, money and disappointment later on.

Here’s what else to get a handle on before you write that script.

A Glossary of Film Production Terms to Know

Want to speak film production like a pro? Understanding the lingo is a good place to start.

The pre-production process usually involves writing a script and selecting a crew, which includes roles like these:

  • Grip – assists in maintaining camera equipment
  • Gaffer – manages electrical works, cables and lighting
  • Sound crew – focuses on audio for the production, including sound effects
  • Casting director – hires talent for the video project
  • Video producer – manages a video project, keeping crew members on track

If you’re on a shoestring budget, you may not fill all of these roles, but you’ll still need someone behind the camera and someone to do the editing and sound production.

Other important elements in the video production process include:

  • Creative brief – This short project summary serves as a guide to keeping a video project on track. Typically, the creative brief will define the purpose and tone of the video project, as well as the project’s goals.
  • Script – Video scripts can vary from detailed voiceovers to general bullet points, depending on the scope of your project. Developing a script is often a collaborative process between your team and a production partner.
  • Storyboard – Think of the storyboard as a graphic representation or template for the video you’re trying to produce. It includes all the shots you’ll need to film during production.
  • Shot list – Breaking your storyboard down helps you establish a shooting schedule. This is important for covering all locations and getting all the camera angles you want, scene by scene, for a great final product.
  • Raw footage – Once you begin filming, you collect separate clips, which will need to be edited to give you a smooth final product. The more you film, the more chances you have to capture the perfect shot.

Steps for a Successful Pre-Production Process

The pre-production phase will probably take longer than you think it will. That’s a good thing, because the more solid this process is, the smoother your shoot will go.

Step 1: Plan for success

As we mentioned above, this is an important stage. It’s where you define your purpose and set goals for your project.

Identify your audience and which stage of the funnel your video will target. Where will your video live: your website or a social channel? What’s your budget? Do you have time constraints? All of these considerations can impact the type of video you produce.

Remember, setting expectations before production begins will save you headaches later on.

Step 2: Develop a script and storyboard

Now that you have a plan and, ideally, a solid creative brief, it’s time to create a script. Write out everything that will happen in your video shoot, including any dialogue or voice-over content. Then, draw out your script frame by frame.

The storyboard will help with video production and editing. It removes the guesswork in the production phase, so you understand exactly what the video you want to create should look like. The goal is to understand how many scenes you need to shoot before actual filming begins.

Step 3: Hire the right people

At this stage of pre-production, you’ll want to hire talent or consider any visual effects, like animation, to include in the filmmaking process. You’ll also want to have a production team ready for filming. A production designer can help you choose the best locations for your video and bring visual storytelling to your project.

Step 4: Get the right equipment

Do you have the equipment you need to create high-quality video? As you look into camera specifications and gear, consider:

  • frame rate and resolution
  • color grading
  • editing platform and storage
  • quality audio recording equipment
  • lighting

Reserve studio space and hire the right production partner for a successful video project.

Step 5: Get ready to shoot

As you can see, getting all the elements of a successful project, including crew, equipment, talent and a great storyboard and script, isn’t easy. That’s why pre-production is often the longest phase.

Production begins when you start shooting the script. Remember that quality matters at this stage, because the footage you get in production can not be recaptured in post-production. So go for high-quality footage from several different angles. Any additional elements, like graphics, animation or voice-overs, will be developed in the production phase as well.

Be sure to schedule your shooting days well in advance and have backup gear available, just in case.

What NOT to Do During the Pre-Production Phase

Don’t change your script at the last minute. That’s a red flag that your central message isn’t as solid as it needs to be.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of a video project. It’s a collaborative process, so meet regularly and remember to listen to your team members. Keeping the goal of your project in mind will also help you make the best creative decisions for your business.

Don’t plan beyond your budget. While it’s important to be flexible, it’s equally important to avoid overpromising when the money’s just not there. There’s plenty you can do, even with a limited budget. 

And don’t shoot and post a video without going through the post-production process. 

Post-Production Tips and Tricks

The post-production phase includes everything that happens once all the footage is collected. It involves: 

  • Organizing shots 
  • Cutting footage 
  • Fine-tuning coloring 
  • Editing visual effects 
  • Blending in music and sound effects 
  • Finalizing voice over 
  • Adding final touches 

Post-production can be the fun part – a chance to put all the video clips together into a cohesive, visually appealing story. And if you’ve done your homework and knocked pre-production and production out of the park, the post-production phase is easy. 

Do You Need a Post-production Partner to Bring Your Next Project to Life? 

With a team that can handle projects of different shapes and sizes (and budgets), Spot Content Studio can bring creativity and quality control to your next commercial production. With video and audio capabilities, we’re a one-stop-shop. Let us know what we can do for your business.