Having a workflow for your video production will make your life easier.
It’s a document that will guide all the tasks that need to be completed when creating video content for any channel your business uses.
Whether you’re a video production agency working with freelancers and filmmakers, running in-house content creation, or are a production manager, you need a production workflow to keep your project on track.
Having a clear workflow isn’t just paying lip service to a process; it plays an important role in the success of your video project.
The document will keep all the elements of your video production on track. You will be able to better control your:
Plus, it helps you manage your stakeholders and their expectations.
Controlling your production process from planning to filming, video editing, and marketing the end result, will ensure your success and allow you to repeat it in the long term.
Your work may be on a small or larger scale or take on different forms like animation or clip reels, but with some adaptations, everything we cover here can apply to your processes.
With that, let’s take a detailed look at the four stages of a high quality video workflow and all the steps within it.
The first stage in your video production process is to get planning.
There are lots of things you need to get ready in advance of your video shoot, so planning them well is absolutely vital.
From shooting a feature length movie to a five-minute explainer video for YouTube, your production workflow will always start with pre-production planning.
Start as you mean to go on; using pre-prepared templates to organise your video project and avoid any miscommunication further down the track.
You’ve got three key areas that you need to work on during pre-production, namely:
Let’s move to the main feature, and look at these in more detail.
The concept for the video is the first thing you need to consider.
Inspiration can come from anywhere and may come from other departments within your company, from marketing to client services.
If the basis of the video content is up to you, consider what you want to achieve with your content.
You may want to carry out keyword research to identify what search queries are common in your industry or niche so you can make content to meet user needs.
Equally, why not speak to your sales or customer support team and find out what your clients are asking about every day?
Once you’ve settled on your concept , it’s time to write a creative brief, otherwise known as a treatment.
The treatment or creative brief, will be made up of the key objectives and specifications for the video.
Key pieces of information to include in this document are:
Outline complete; you need to share the document with team members like your video and sound engineers to ensure your proposal is reasonable.
They will be able to provide guidance on the project, like if you’re being too ambitious with timelines or if you’ve grossly underestimated the cost of equipment.
When you’re pitching to an ad agency or a video production house, a treatment is a key document you need to produce.
A sharing tool that allows for commenting and a final approval will make your pitch more streamline – making amendments to the brief will be easier with pinpointed feedback.
Approval of your concept gained; you need to start to gather your team and get to work.
The first step?
You’ll need a copywriter to write the script.
This vital team member will need to access the treatment so they can see what’s been agreed with the person who’s commissioned the video.
The script can potentially go through several iterations and it’s likely that there’ll be sign-off required before moving to the next step.
That next step is to start storyboarding.
This is the process where you design the shots you want to use in your content; it’s going to bring the idea to life.
Every scene gets mapped out with a sketch of the action, plus a written description of shots, costumes, and other details next to it.
Here’s what a blank one looks like:
Next, there’s the shot list to create.
Using the storyboard, you need to determine exactly what shots will be needed and where they’ll be shot.
Turn this into a checklist to be used throughout the actual shoot; you’ll know everything’s covered before you wrap your production.
All of this work is going to need to be approved by the right people – you’ll already have defined who these people are when you were writing your creative brief.
Your schedule is more than just what happens and when.
The schedule will have details of all the people you need to bring in and when they’re needed on-site so the production can be delivered on time.
Included in the schedule will be team members such as:
It’ll also detail the different locations you might use.
This could be as simple as your office reception and CEO’s office, to spectacular shots of the London skyline or Asian rice paddies.
As well as the where, you need to plan the when for each location.
Take into account any licenses for road closures or public filming you might need to obtain or regulations for shooting drone footage, for example.
There’s no point having a production team on site without any kit.
Gather a list of all the things you’re going to need for your video shoot.
Technical kit will include cameras, microphones, digital storage, laptops, and lighting rigs.
You might also want to bring in branded items like a funky director’s chair or matching t-shirts for your crew.
Plan your post-production tools at this point as well.
Do you need to add a booking for an editing suite into your schedule?
Invest in software subscriptions?
Share your kit list with your engineers and technical crew – they’ll point out anything that’s missing.
The last thing that you need to create in your schedule is a call sheet.
No one can be expected to know all the details of the production, so be sure that the right people give their opinion on the call sheet.
This is your master schedule for the video production, listing what shots will be filmed, the equipment needed, and when the kit and people need to be ready for.
Always build in contingencies.
There will be delays, no matter how highly skilled a project manager you have on board, so make allowances for when the schedule slips.
It’s at this stage that project management skills really come into their own.
With the linear nature of video production, the waterfall style of project management lends itself well.
Whichever style you choose to run your project with, harness the power of an online project management tool to automate some of your processes and keep everyone in the loop.
Build approval requirements into your workflow at this stage.
As you create boards and projects in your feedback and approval tool, you need to know who to share each document with.
Pre-production is intense and requires a lot of planning and input from lots of experts.
It’s worth taking the time to really get into the details at this point so that your production can go without a hitch when the cameras start to roll.
Now you know how to put together a pre-production workflow, let’s move on to see how production will progress.
The next step of your video production workflow is where the project starts to come to life.
It’s time to film your raw footage!
The plans you’ve made up to this point should see your video project go smoothly; your production team should know exactly what to do, where to be, and when.
When it comes to how long production should take, it’ll all depend on the type of shoot you’re doing.
An unboxing of your latest product will be much faster than a fashion brand commercial, for example.
However long it takes, you’ll avoid having to do pick-up shoots when you have a solid plan that all your team members can access and understand.
Your actual video shoot is where a big part of your budget goes and the most people will be involved.
Consider bringing in your client virtually to check your rushes using your feedback tool, or do a live stream to increase engagement in your product.
With so much riding on your filming session, it’s important to get it right.
Let’s check out the three main steps to the production stage of your film project.
Is your filming taking place across different locations?
Whether you’re a couple of people filming a vlog or large TV commercial production, you still need to run through a good set up.
This is your chance to check that everything works, like your cameras, mics, and lighting.
Do a test run on your internet connection, too.
You’ll need to have a good online connection to ensure:
Checking all of your hardware and software early will keep your production schedule on point further down the line.
Larger productions will potentially have wardrobe and make-up to contend with. Check that these departments will be ready to go for when the on-screen talent arrives.
Now it’s time to get the cameras rolling.
During the shoot, your director – or you, depending on the scale of the project – will do their creative thing.
Always having the storyboard, shot list, and call sheet accessible in hard copy and online will be a great help during this part of the workflow.
Paper can get lost, ripped, or have coffee spilt on it; an online backup that can be accessed on a phone or laptop could be a lifesaver!
Each shot should be stored digitally once completed, and have a backup.
Do this by adding each shot to a file sharing site as well as to an SD card; ensuring all the data is safe.
Keep the file names easy to follow.
Link them to the shot list and your editing will be much easier later on.
Ensure the person who’s responsible for storage and uploading keeps the naming convention logical so that each shot is easy for your video editor to locate and put into sequence.
This isn’t about the people you fill your background with – it’s the things that go on around the edges of your main shoot.
First, it’s likely you’ll need to collect b-roll footage as well the primary content.
B-roll is the secondary shots that you take.
Examples would be scenery around your location or a panning shot across the room you’re filming in. Stock footage is also considered b-roll.
Other extra content might include the need to record a voiceover or conduct a recorded interview.
When piecing together your production workflow, consider whether you’ve got the people, time, and money to work on the extras concurrently or if you’ll need your main production team to work on this after the main shoot.
As we mentioned a little earlier, it’s also possible to do some live streaming or to release a separate video of your recording session.
Whether this is appropriate for you will all depend on your audience and the type of content you’re making.
A highly engaged audience may want to see what goes into your magnificent productions, or other people in your industry might wish to follow your creative lead.
For example, musician Cardi B recently shot a two-part behind-the-scenes video of her music video production which currently has more than 3 million views on YouTube.
Having a photographer on set can also help you put together teasers for your social media accounts and create engaging content.
This behind the scenes shoot from a Hollywood lighting company is another good example:
That’s a wrap!
Your shoot is done, you’ve got your shots stored on a hard drive, backed up to your cloud storage, and uploaded to your file sharing software.
Now, it’s time to move on to your video post-production workflow.
Post-production is where the editing process starts in earnest.
It’s where you bring together all of the efforts of you – the video producer – and your team, to create a coherent final product.
As with the previous two steps, you need a great workflow to create quality content that keeps your stakeholders and team happy.
During pre-production, you already planned which tools your video engineer will use.
Some of the most common software used in the editing process are:
When choosing the software your team will use, consider the file types that you need to produce.
Your deliverables might require an MP4, MKV, or HTML5 so be sure you can produce what your client or marketing team has specified.
It’s not all about the editing software.
For a smooth editing process, you need powerful hardware to get the job done within your production timeline.
Computers with RAM over 16GB, a multicore processor, and a graphics card compatible with your software will smooth the process of editing the video file you’re creating.
Author’s Tip: If you want to test your ideas before investing in one of the software we mentioned a little further up, you could start by using a free video editing tool.
Here’s a more comprehensive look at what you need:
Once your video editor has all the kit they need to make a great promo video, it’s time to get into the editing workflow.
The first thing you need to do is give your video engineer access to everything that’s been created so far.
This means they must have the creative brief, script, storyboard, and all the raw footage, b-roll, and voiceovers that have been shot.
Armed with everything they need, this is where the real magic happens.
Using the editing software provided, the video editor will:
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After the first round of editing work is complete, a rough cut is produced.
This is like the first draft – it has the broad strokes of what the end product will look like, with lots of room for amendment.
Everyone who needs to give feedback should have a link sent out to the files that are stored within your feedback and annotation tool.
You need to have a good approval tool so you can keep all of the feedback and change requests in one place.
Not only will you save your editor the frustration over navigating around email, messaging apps, and annotations, but the person in charge will also be notified when each piece of feedback has been given.
You’ll know who you’re waiting on so you can prompt them to respond if necessary.
Invite feedback on all elements of the rough cut.
The first round of feedback will ensure that the project meets the creative brief and hits everyone’s expectations.
Pinpointing the timecode in the draft that the feedback refers to will make everyone’s life easier.
Rather than taking notes of timecodes and writing emails with long lists of amendments, users can use a video annotation tool to click on the exact second where the change needs to be made, like so:
When using traditional communications like email or instant messaging, conflicting feedback can be given when everyone is wading in with their thoughts.
By having a tool that gathers all feedback in one place – and lets everyone access it – disputes about details should be reduced and the process should be more collaborative.
Moreover, it’s useful to have a time limit on your initial feedback session to keep your editing workflow on track.
Feedback gathered, it’s time to organize the next round of edits with the video engineer.
They may need to work through the feedback and clarify issues.
Not everyone can give concise feedback; a quick chat can clear things up, like so:
As the feedback is implemented, other tweaks and details will also be made to the video.
Extra effects, tighter transitions, color correction, and color grading will all be completed along with implementing the first round of feedback.
First round of feedback added to the cut, it’s time to put the work back out for more feedback.
This process of feedback and implementations can continue for a few rounds to really polish the video.
When your feedback loop has completed a few rounds, version control and clear naming conventions are going to become important again.
You need to be sure that everyone is working on the most recent iteration of the video.
You don’t want a colleague to spend hours marking-up their feedback on last week’s defunct version!
Arrange a real-time collaboration session where everyone who needs to give feedback is online with the editor at the same time.
This can cut down on the amount of feedback loops you go through because there is less waiting time for everyone to contribute.
Right at the start of pre-production, you should have identified who the final decision makers are in your video production process.
Once the feedback loop has run through to its logical conclusion, it’s time to request a final approval from said people.
Hopefully, the final decision lies with people who have already been involved in the editing process so there aren’t any big surprises.
Getting the final project file approved tends to be the biggest bottleneck in the editing and production process.
Send a request for the final version to be signed off through your approval tool and follow up where necessary.
Sign-off on the final video means that it’s ready to be delivered to the client or marketing team.
There should be clear guidance on how to do this from the client.
They may want you to upload it to the cloud, send it through a file sharing system, or host it on a local server.
You may have produced the video in different formats, such as a quick Instagram clip and a more in-depth YouTube video.
Be sure to deliver each one in the way the primary stakeholder requires and confirm small details like:
You also need to know who owns the raw footage and how it needs to be stored in the long term.
Some contracts may require it to be handed over with the final video whilst you may be asked to delete it altogether.
Video made; it’s time to get your work published in the next stage of your video production workflow.
Getting your video made is a huge achievement.
The penultimate step in your video production workflow is to get it out into the world by publishing it.
As we just covered, you may have been given different requirements to meet the different formats and versions needed for different social media.
What works on YouTube doesn’t always get great engagement on Facebook, so working your content to hit the right notes everywhere you share it will earn it engagement from as many people as possible.
Below is an example from the toy company, Lego.
Their six-minute YouTube video give lots of details of the features of their new NASA Discovery Space Shuttle set:
While the same footage having been repurposed for a quick Facebook explainer, like so:
From one shoot, at least two different pieces of content have been delivered, with similar purposes but different audiences.
Before you upload, know exactly what success is going to look like: refer back to the treatment you created all the way back in step one of our workflow.
You’ll go through three stages of publishing your content, which are coming right up.
Different social media and other platforms will have different requirements.
These will be on the technical side, such as the file format, plus the size of the thumbnail, whether you need to add a transcript or subtitles, etc.
Be sure to add the right metadata such as tags and descriptions.
This will improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of the video and could earn you real estate on Google’s video carousel and YouTube’s top search results.
Consider using a tool such as TubeBuddy, which has a checklist for actions you need to take for a YouTube upload.
It can also show you the tags your competitors are using, this will help you understand what works for other videos that are high in the search results on YouTube.
There’s no point creating a great video and not letting people know what you’ve done, right?
It may be your marketing team who needs to do their thing and promote your video, or it could fall to you depending on the scale of your production.
You may choose to do paid promotions across social media, create a landing page to register the leads you generate, or embark on a link building campaign to ask other companies to feature your content on their social feeds or website.
Promoting your video will make all the effort it took to create worthwhile.
Seeing the likes, comments, and shares your video gets – and potentially the new business it could generate – should be a rewarding experience, so you need to know where to find this information.
Know whether your video has been successful by tracking the success metrics that you defined back in pre-production.
It’ll greatly depend on what success you’re looking for as to where you pull the data for tracking and analysis.
For example, if the aim was to increase brand awareness, then engagements such as likes, shares, and new subscribers and followers would be useful to look at.
This is the information you can gather about a paid promotion for a video on Facebook, with the engagements on the blue bar and comments and reactions in pink:
Whilst the video analytics on YouTube has more detail about viewing numbers and total view time, among many other data points.
The analytics pages for YouTube look like this:
On the other hand, if you made a video that was targeted at driving sales, such as a “how to” or an unboxing, you’ll want to track the click through ratio (CTR) to your sales or landing page.
Tracking your metrics and analysing the outcomes of your video will give you valuable feedback about what does and doesn’t work.
This can feed into your debrief in the next step and will help you improve the creative brief you make for future projects.
At the very end of your video production workflow there needs to be a thorough debrief.
This gives you and your team a chance to assess its successes and wins and understand any problems or failures.
Every production comes with risk and will experience problems.
Although they may have caused you stress at the time, use the negatives to your advantage and improve your workflow in the future.
Hold a meeting with the people involved in your production and ask questions like:
An in-person meeting isn’t necessary, and may not be practical if you’ve worked with freelancers or independent filmmakers.
Instead, consider creating a document with the questions you want answered and send it out for feedback from your team, clients, and other stakeholders.
Use this feedback to amend and update your workflow.
You can add elements, change the order you complete tasks, or bring people into the process earlier, for example.
Understanding challenges is useful; celebrating a job well done is vital.
Give your team feedback on completing the task at hand and make sure they feel valued.
This is going to ensure they do another great job on the next production.
Now you’ve got a solid workflow to see you through your whole video production project, it’s useful to understand how to make it work for you.
Your debriefing exercises will allow you to fine tune your processes and get them to flow exactly as needed.
Put simply, you need to personalize your video production workflow to the type of projects you work on.
There’s no right or wrong, per se, when you create a video.
Every production is different; with approval processes and deliverables that’ll be unique to your situation.
An animator, music video producer, or a team creating product promos will all have different needs to plug into their creative workflow.
That being said, here are our four top tips to get your production workflow honed to a fine art.
The first tip we have for you is to have a dedicated production manager.
As you can tell by now, running a video production can be a huge challenge.
With so many elements that go into creating high-quality video content, you need to ensure you have a person dedicated to seeing the process through from inception to debrief.
Larger productions even have a manager for every stage of production!
Some of the qualities that you need to have as a production manager are:
One person with complete and dedicated control will improve the chances of hitting budget and delivery date.
Once you know what works, stick at it!
Amplify your positives and build on them, whilst working to mitigate the problems and risks you’ve encountered in the past.
Tighten your processes so that everyone sticks within the same ranges and tasks; this will avoid miscommunications.
There are lots of ways that you can automate processes, particularly around sharing, collaboration, proofing files, and duplicating tasks for the next project.
Using a range of templates will ensure you work within the same framework every single time.
There are many moving parts in a video production; it can be a busy process where you’re always on the go and juggling thousands of tasks plus a phone alive with notifications.
An essential part of managing your work is knowing when to start the next process.
It can feel overwhelming giving the go-ahead to start a process while the previous task isn’t complete. With experience, this becomes easier.
Every step of your workflow should lead to another step kicking into action; knowing what your event triggers are will keep your production running on time.
Having powerful approval tools can be a great help here.
A central place where everyone goes to give the green-light will make your life easier – no more trawling through an inbox bursting at the seams to find an email that says “go ahead”.
Keeping everything in one place has a whole range of benefits.
Not only will you be able to repeat your processes and see exactly what your workflow triggers are, but you’ll also ensure production continuity.
If your production manager becomes sick or your video editor has a family emergency, having everything in one central place allows someone to come in and pick up exactly where they left off.
Collaboration becomes effortless when everything is collected together.
You’ll find success with a smooth workflow that’s easy for everyone to follow and know when to start working on their tasks.
Going through a video production workflow from end-to-end takes time and effort; there’s no denying it.
Getting through the steps with everyone up to speed requires a lot of skill and organisation.
You need to plan and prepare everything during pre-production, get the right footage when producing the video, and make sure that everyone’s onboard with the results of post-production.
It doesn’t stop there – the video needs to get out in front of the public and shine, and then you need to know what did and didn’t work before you start all over again.
Where are your pain points during video production?
Let us know in the comments below and we’ll address them in future posts.