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Before Production

Considerations Before Starting Your Production…

Before you start shopping for a production company…

It’s best to do as much groundwork as possible to determine your needs.  Try to define your goals in the project and select the proper vehicle to convey that message.

  • A company profile or product demonstration may best be presented in a message from 5-10 minutes in length.
  • Trade Show videos are best kept to 2-3 minutes as crowds moving past a display area are not likely to spend much more time than that while making their way across the floor.
  • Informational and instructional pieces may vary greatly in length.
  • Commercials are usually 60 seconds, 30 seconds or 10 seconds long.
  • Trade Show videos are best kept to 2-3 minutes as crowds moving past a display area are not likely to spend much more time than that while making their way across the floor.

Price is determined on a few basic criteria…

  • Time involved,
  • Number of locations,
  • Specific equipment needed along with talent and media stock.

The more information you can provide to your production company the easier it will be to determine an accurate estimate for production costs.


What will it cost…

Quite often we receive calls stating that “We’d like to make a 10 minute video. What will it cost?”

This question is tantamount to asking, “How much does a car cost?” Without knowing the features that you want included in the package it becomes very difficult to determine a budget or to shop for production.

For example, a 10-minute video could include a fully scripted company tour of several plants in different cities and their unique features or it could consist of the company president sitting behind his desk talking about the year’s performance. One could cost several thousands of dollars the other only a hundred. They are both 10-minute videos!

Be Prepared…Before you start shopping try to have an outline of the points you want to cover and how you would like to present your information.

If you have already got a handle on this one its even better to have the production in scripted form when making your request. The script should define both audio and visual aspects of the production and will provide all the information your production house will need to prepare a quote, you can find an example of this script format in the Download helpful PDF.

  • Include the text the announcer will read and indicate any live or on-camera segments that will be included in the production.
  • Include a line by line assignment of the accompanying visuals that will go with the text as well as any graphics that will be required.

This benefits both the producer and the production staff in organizing precisely the visual information to be presented and provides a checklist for field production to avoid missing shots. Failure to do so often results in making trips back to the site to shoot a five-second shot that was missed. This is costly in terms of time and money.


When getting a quote…

Be sure you understand how charges are being calculated and what is included:

  • Is the quotation fixed to the parameters of the script?

If there are additional charges, how are they determined. Some production companies will assess a flat hourly charge for production while others use a cafeteria approach for different services including the use of specific hardware and graphics elements.

  • What are the resources of the production house in terms of acquisition and post formats.

Make sure that you are comparing “apples to apples”. One company may quote based on MiniDV with a single chip camera and basic post capabilities while the other is quoting Varicam adjustable frame rate with 3-2/3 inch chips and nonlinear postproduction.

The first may sound like a better deal, but in terms of quality and the inability to make changes, may actually cost more in the long run.

  • What is the end-use of the production?

If it is for broadcast your quality needs are probably considerably higher than if it’s going to be copied to DVD.

In general terms the end product quality is tied to the weakest link in the video chain. The difference between production shot on Varicam HD and copied to a standard DVD is not all that much better than one shot on MiniDV or with a solid state SD camera.

Ask to see samples of work acquired on these different formats and make your own determination on which is best for you.

There are buzzwords in the industry that convey quality and prestige but usually convey additional expense. You may not need a Mercedes to haul firewood.

  • Take an active role in determining the requirements for location shoots.

If you have a company with four locations. Determine if there is a need of the production company to travel to all four.

Can the appropriate shots be obtained at one or two of these and if footage is required from all four is it more cost effective to subcontract with another Company in that city for the additional footage.

  • Require the Production Company to provide a regular accounting of time and material charges incurred during the production as well as determine a schedule of payment for charges.

A contract can benefit both parties in terms of ensuring performance and avoiding misunderstandings regarding to charges for service.

  • Provide the Production Company with any background information that may help them in better understanding the project and your needs.

All information that you can give to the production company before you start a project will help all those involved within your project.

Do not be afraid of giving more information that you think a production company may require before starting, a good production company will be able to get an excellent idea of what you want to do with your production and project.

once production begins

Here’s some valuable information to keep things on track and costs down once production begins. Read More