Video production: step-by-step guide, tools and examples

Videos have become one of the most popular type of online content in recent years. The development of mobile technology accelerated the growth of video content distribution. Every day users watch and generate tons of videos, and this number is increasing every year. It is predicted that by 2022 the overall amount of digital video viewers in the U.S. will reach 248.9 million. According to the data from Youtube’s official blog, there are more than 2 billion monthly active users of the platform. Every minute Youtube users upload more than 500 hours of content which adds to the credibility of video as a source of content.

The most common reasons why the videos became prevalent in the digital marketing space are educational, informative, and entertainment purposes. The video content, therefore, should not be overlooked as a powerful marketing tool for your business. Video is a powerful means for distributing your message. It is persuasive, engaging, and can be shared across various platforms, including social media. The videos can enhance potential customers’ understanding of the product and provide helpful information about its features and applications. Thus, you can leverage the power of video content for your business to gain a competitive advantage.

What is video production?

Video production is the process of creating video content by capturing moving images and combining the parts of the video in editing. The video can be filmed with a camera crew or created by motion graphic designers and artists. The process usually consists of four main stages: pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution. Each stage, accordingly, implies different steps, which include developing the concept, scriptwriting, shooting, sound editing, video editing, and effects. The overall video production process is basically the same for full-length movies, short videos, commercials, marketing videos, and other types and might vary a little depending on the specifics.

Video production process

The first phase of video production that is called pre-production involves planning and conceptualizing the video. The actual production is a second stage that focuses on the recording process or animation and motion design. The post-production phase is editing and adding sound and special effects to the video. In the final stage of distribution, the video is shared via various channels and delivered to the target audience. Let’s view each step of the video production process in detail.

Pre-production

Pre-production is the stage where you plan the elements needed to produce the video, define the target audience, the essential resources, and the timeframe of the production process.

Define the objectives. Before creating the video, you need to understand the final goal to measure the success at the end of the video production process. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Understand who is your target audience. The most important characteristics you need to define concerning your target audience are general age, location, and gender. The video should correspond to the viewers’ interests, meet their needs, and help solve their problems. You can collect information about the viewers’ requirements by conducting interviews, monitoring social media platforms, and asking for feedback on your brand’s pages.

Figure out your core message. Once you have completed the first and second steps, it is time to think about your core message. It would depend on your expectations about the customer behavior after watching the video. Whether you want the potential customers to subscribe to your channel or purchase the product, you need to consider this when defining the core message.

Write a brief and come up with the concept. A video production brief would be your guide to the further production process. The brief should include the target audience, the core message, budget, and deadline. Then comes the creative concept, which is the basis for your video script. You can draw insights from your competitors’ videos and similar videos covering your topic on the web.

Create a script and storyboards. A video script allows for keeping your production team on the same page. It contains directives for the actors and filming instructions, including the visual and sound effects and graphics. The storyboards present the main visuals, which will be shown during each of the script scenes. Effectively, they help you visualize and agree on the key pieces of visual information before you proceed to filming or designing the video itself. They may also include references, such as images and parts from the other relevant videos.

In an animated film, you also need to define the characters’ style to match your brand’s identity. The style covers the characters’ movements, colors of the video, typography, and composition.

Make an animatic. The animatic is the series of images used to preview the video and get a sense of the finished piece of animated film. You can involve the design agency or create an animatic by yourself with the help of Photoshop, After Effects, or specialized software like Boords.

Scout locations, choose the equipment, and cast actors. When you have finished with the planning and building the strategy, you can move into action. Search for the locations and consider the equipment taking into account your storyboards and script. You can hire professional actors or host auditions to find people who will fill the roles.

Design the characters and location. If you are creating the animated film, you need to decide on the characters’ appearance, location complexity, background, and other essential aspects of design. Concept artists will create the pre-visualization of how the most important elements, such as environments, characters, and scenes will look like.

Activities: setting the goal, defining the target audience and core message of the future video, preparing a brief, calculating a budget, creating the concept, script, and storyboards, scouting locations, casting talent, and selecting the equipment.
Tools: scriptwriting software (StudioBinder, FinalDraft 10, Movie Magic Screenwriter, etc.), storyboarding software (Storyboarder, Frameforge), Photoshop, After Effects, Boords.

Production

The production stage implies the actual filming of the video. The stage requires the person who would take up the director’s post. You can either hire a professional or conduct this task by yourself. The director’s responsibilities are to ensure that everything is on schedule and the team follows the storyboards and the script.

Set up the lights and camera. You need to estimate the setup time in advance and include it in your video production schedule. This will depend on different factors: the number of locations, type of shots, and the shooting complexity.

Direct the talent. This is one of the most crucial steps of the entire shooting process. The director’s work would influence the result of the video. Even when you are working with professional actors, you need to instruct them, bearing in mind the target audience, the final objectives, and the desired level of performance.

Make the alternative footage. B-roll or extra footage is the additional footage that you can later use for creating dramatic tension, illustrating a point, or in a number of other ways. B-roll footage can include shots of locations from different angles, undirected shooting of people, archival imagery, or stock footage.

Modeling, surfacing, and rigging. At the production stage of the animated film, the artists transform the 2D concepts into 3D models. Surfacing artists create textures and colors for the characters and sets. Then riggers attach the 3D skeletons to the characters.

Character animation and character effects. Character animators are the actors who will tell a story through movements and expressions. Once the animation is ready, the artists are working on the character’s interactions with the environment. They are also responsible for animating the moving objects and details, such as clothes or hair.

Matte painting. Matte painting department creates the look of the world inside the animated film, such as mountains, oceans, and sky.

Activities: setting the lights and camera, directing, shooting.camera, highly portable camera, tripod, external microphone, lighting, gimbal, editing software, high-quality memory cards, capture cards, dummy battery.

Post-production

Post-production is the third stage of the video production process. This phase implies adding music and visual effects, dubbing, cutting raw footage, and editing.

Edit your video. The first step of the post-production process is to choose the best shots and import them into the video editing software. Then you need to select the most suitable parts from each clip, organize the B-roll footage, and put the shots in order according to your script and storyboard. Add the voiceover if needed.

Add special effects and coloring. Animation, graphics, and other visual effects will help you take your video to the next level and illustrate the central points. The coloring can be done by hiring a professional or with the help of the auto-coloring feature in Adobe Premiere Pro. It is important to note that the coloring in the video should correspond to the visual style in other videos of your brand.

The last stage of animated film production includes color grading. The color grader’s responsibility is to make sure everything forms a coherent picture.

Add music and sounds, and render the video. Music is a final element of your video that should match the mood of the footage, reinforce your core message and satisfy the taste of your target audience. Once the editing stage is over, you can render the video in the appropriate format.

Activities: editing, adding visual effects, and soundtrack.
Tools: video editing software, Adobe Premiere Pro.

Distribution

The final stage of the video production process is distribution and promotion. Now you can estimate the results and draw conclusions for the future.

Distribute and promote your video. The video distribution involves posting it on different websites, embedding it into the articles, sharing it via email, involving the influencers, and promoting the content via paid advertising. The main objective of this stage is to generate a positive return on investment and reach the target audience.

Measure the success of the video. There are various useful tools that can help you to measure the performance of your video. Youtube Analytics already has built-in capabilities, such as watch time, click-through rates, average view duration, and demographics. If you share the video across other platforms, you can utilize the paid tools like Wistia.

Activities: tracking the results, distributing and promoting the video.
Tools: Google Analytics, Youtube Analytics, Wistia.

Types of marketing videos you can create

To make the most of your marketing strategy, you need to ensure that you create videos that satisfy your viewers’ requirements. Here are the most popular types of marketing videos that will help your audience understand why they need your product or service.

Explainer videos. This is one of the most common types of marketing videos. Explainer videos usually highlight the company’s product or service or explain your brand’s story timeline. You can add the explainer video on your landing page, your website’s homepage, or social media platforms. The explainer videos are short, focused on solving the problem, and contain a solid call to action. The explainer videos often fall into three categories:

  • animated explainer videos that include infographics, motion graphics, and other types of visuals;
  • live-action explainer videos with a spokesperson who explains a product or service;
  • crowdfunding explainer videos to raise funds on specialized platforms.

Slack’s animated commercial is an excellent example of the explainer video. The duration of the video is less than a minute; however, the bright visuals provide the potential customers with a better understanding of the product features. Although the video does not contain any spoken words, the core message is clear and concise.

Product demos play a critical role in the marketing of digital products. SaaS businesses use product demos in the sales process to demonstrate the product value to potential customers. This type of video content usually demonstrates the core features and capabilities of the product. The principal objective of the product demos is to close the deal.

Headspace created the brilliant animated product demo video that shows how the application works for users with various goals and resources. Moreover, the video is not just educational but also inclusive as it addresses the needs of different customer groups.

Video blogs are an extremely popular form of delivering content. The high-quality videos increase awareness of your brand and drive visitors to your website. In addition, a video blog is a great tool to build customer loyalty and provide clients with valuable information about your product and demonstrate your expertise.

Promotional and advertising videos. The main objective of this type of videos is the attempt to sell the brand to the target audience. Promotional videos aim to educate customers about a particular product or service and encourage them to make a purchase. In the promotional video, you can highlight the release of the new product or describe the range of the existing products.

The increasingly popular advertising video by Youtube presented its new service — Youtube Music. The video gained over 44 million views due to vivid shots and the emotions it evokes in viewers.

Event videos. If you organize the events for your business, you can record the promotional videos and publish them online. You can make various kinds of event videos, including teaser videos, invitation videos, interviews with speakers, guests, or performers, behind-the-scene videos, and post-event videos.

Video interviews and vox-pop. ‘Vox pop’ is a term from Latin that translates as ‘the voice of people.’ Vox pop is usually a short video consisting of quick interviews with different people to gather their opinion on a given subject. These videos are often used for market research as they investigate public opinion about some brand or product.

Video testimonials. In testimonial videos, the customers are sharing their experience with your company. This type of videos is very effective for your digital marketing strategy as they encourage the customers to take action. An essential feature of testimonials is authenticity. If you want to emphasize the story’s credibility, the best way to do it is to allow the customer to share it in his own words.

Salesforce created a fascinating example of a customer testimonial video. The video tells a story about the personal biography and the difficulties the main character tackled on the way to success. The story is emotionally engaging, so it resonates with the viewers.

Social media videos. Before creating videos for social media, you need to study the information about the algorithm and functionalities of each platform where you are going to publish the video. Then you should optimize the length of the video for the chosen platforms. For instance, the length for Facebook feed videos is 15 to 90 seconds, for Instagram feed — 30 seconds, and for TikTok it is 15 to 60 seconds.

The most important part of the video is the first 5 seconds. So, during this amount of time, you need to grab the potential customer’s attention and mention a leading idea, brand elements, or other essential information at the beginning of the video.

Corporate training videos. These videos are often used to communicate about the new product, provide instruction to employees, inform them about career and skills development, new policies, etc. Companies can also utilize corporate training videos for new employee onboarding. Such videos are beneficial for your business as they are time and cost-effective, and suitable for remote work.

Conclusion

Video content is one of the best ways to interact with your brand’s audience, demonstrate the features of your products, communicate your values and mission. Using videos in the digital marketing strategy brings many advantages to the growing businesses, such as higher conversion rates, improved connection with the customers, and better search engine rankings.

Nowadays, video production does not require significant investments as you can record videos using only a smartphone with a good camera. No matter what video you are going to film, the process will include the same stages. You can write a script, record, and edit the video by yourself with the help of special software and resources or employ professionals. The key to success in video production is to keep your eye on the goal. It is high time to turn the camera on and start filming.

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