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  • Writer's pictureLee Harris

10 Tips for Creating a Successful Video

With 12 years of experience running a Video Production Agency in Toronto there are a lot of things that we’ve experienced in the process of creating and producing content.

Each project tends to be totally different, but there are several steps that should stay the same regardless to whether it’s a corporate video, social media spot, commercial or anything in between.

By following these 10 steps you can keep everything on track, on budget, keep your crew and client happy and ultimately ensure success.

1. When your client tells you what they’re hoping to accomplish be sure to listen and don’t interrupt them by talking. There will be lots of time to ask questions at the end, but this is your time to take copious notes and digest everything they’re saying.

2. Now that you’ve heard what they’re looking to do ask any questions you might have. Some questions might be

A. What’s the general mood and tone they’re going for?

B. Would they like the messaging to come from interviews, VO, text on screen?

C. What’s their ballpark budget?

D. What’s their timeline?

E. How many rounds of revisions are they expecting?

F. Any cut downs or additional asks?

G. What are the tech specs for the final video?

H. Are there any media assets that the client has that you’ll need to get your hands on?

3. Ask that the client to send you a fully fleshed out brief. This will be your guide in developing the concept so it’s good to have something that’s straight from the horse’s mouth. This can also protect you down the road as you can relate back to something in writing.

4. Gather your entire production team to go over the brief as well as your notes to come up with a creative direction. This can start with your creatives but needs periodic weigh in from the folks that crunch the numbers and think logistically. We’ve seen team members push the most far-fetched expensive ideas you could imagine. And sure, it may have been cool, but making the project profitable must be the priority.

5. Your team has now put together a creative brief that everyone’s behind and you’re feeling good about it. Now you need your producers and production managers to figure out the Who, What, Where, Why, How and When to make sure the idea is both doable from a logistics standpoint as well as financially in line with what you have to work with.

Let’s break down the 4 W’s and 1 H

A. WHO is everyone in involved in the video. Talent, crew, post-production staff, freelancers, script writers, storyboard artists, composers, etc.

B. WHAT refers to what needs to be accomplished to bring the idea to life on time and on budget.

C. WHERE refers to locations in which you need to film. Could be a studio, the brands facilities, where you’ll do your edit and sound, etc.

D. WHY in the video space often refers to the purpose of the video. Is it a call to action, is it a product launch, educational, explainer, etc. Knowing why people will be watching it and why will help your whole team in thinking about it the right way.

E. HOW is how you will put it all together. What resources are needed. Gear, lighting, vehicles & transportation, power, media storage and backups, accommodation, food, etc.

F. WHEN refers to the shoot days, days to deliver a rough cut, fine cut, final, etc.

6. Now that your team has gone over every aspect of the project it’s time to produce an actual budget and make any necessary adjustments to the creative if needed. If there’s an element that is pushing the budget too high go back to the creative team and have them tweak it to fall in line.

7. Present your creative brief to the client along with the full budget. It’s important that if you’re pitching the creative you have someone doing that who’s good at that role. If a client doesn’t get pumped about your idea, then it’s back to the drawing board and nobody will be happy about that. Your pitch guy or girl must be great with people! They have to know how to verbally deliver and get people stoked. They also need to be nimble and be able to react on the fly if the situation warrants it. Finally, they should also have a deep understanding of production, costs and things to look out for. Sometimes it’s best to have a creative in the room as well as the EP. And remember if you need time to think about things then ask for it. Don’t feel the need to agree to something on the spot as that’s a recipe for disaster.

8. You’ve now got the green light to move ahead with the project and it’s an exciting time. Now you need to make sure that everyone involved is doing what they’re supposed to. Set up daily production meetings to ensure this. Your EP should be managing everyone.

9. It’s your first day of principle photography. Your team has made sure everyone knows what they need to do. You’ve got all the gear, staff and resourced needed to execute on your plan. Production days can be long and strenuous. Emotions can run high as the pressure is on. It’s super important that everyone is well fed, hydrated and as happy as could be. The happy thing can sometimes be tough but that’s where your senior production staff should come in. It’s super important for all senior staff to not bitch and complain around the rest of the crew. If that happens then everyone starts bitching and the drive to go above and beyond diminishes. If everyone stays positive, it’ll show in the final product and the crew you brought on will want to work with you again on your next project.

10. You’ve now got everything in the can. Make sure to double or triple back up your footage to be extra safe. When dumping footage from cards be sure to dump it directly from the card to the hardrive as opposed to drive to drive for the backups. If your first drive gets corrupted, then all you’re doing is transferring corrupted data and your whole shoot is toast. At this point you’re off to the races on post. Be sure your editors, motion graphic designers, composers, sound engineers all know what they’re being asked to do. If they’re not properly briefed, then you could end up with something very different to what your team had originally envisioned so your post brief should be highly detailed. Music often plays an extremely important role so make sure you have sign off from the team before your editor starts cutting to a track. If you’re lucky enough to have a post-production supervisor then have them monitor all progress in post, identify potential problems early and have them keep everything on track.

Deliver your rough cut as a rough cut. You don’t need to do colouring, or a perfect sound mix as you should wait until your picture, and sound locked first. Keep track of time spent and only deliver the number of revisions agreed to at the start. If additional revisions are needed, then be sure to bill by the hour on them otherwise you can find yourself out of pocket quick.

That’s it. Hope you enjoyed our blog post and be sure to check out Story Commandos at for more information. We are a full service production company based in Toronto, Canada and that specialize in highly emotive story driven content for brands and tv networks around the world.
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