Video Production Checklist: 10 Steps For A First-Class Video25 min read

by May 14, 2024Video

Behind the camera on a DVS video production, the actors and crew are focused on a pet.

Video is the lifeblood of the internet, making up 82% of all internet traffic in 2022. Creating video for your business or website offers incredible ROI by educating and building trust with your clients, increasing engagement and conversions, and improving search engine optimization (SEO). Over the years we’ve learned a few things about how to create compelling content for our clients. Whether you’re tackling a video project on your own or using the services of a trusted partner like DVS, following this video production checklist will help you get your project done on time, on budget, and with a clear and effective voice designed to resonate with your audience.

Step 1: Establish Your Goals

What do you want your video to achieve? Who is your audience and how will this project reach them? Is the video meant to promote, encourage, discourage, or simply entertain? The first step in your video production checklist is to establish goals.

Having distinct goals results in a more focused video while reducing the likelihood of scope creep and going over budget. Instead of making one video that covers all things, narrow the scope to one or two objectives that can be addressed in the time allotted.

Step 2: Define Your Message

The next step is developing and refining the message you want to communicate with your audience. Determine the demographics you wish to target and consider the best way to reach that type of person. CRM applications such as HubSpot offer tools to build “personas” – fictitious representations of prospective customers – that may help you in this task. This is also a great time to discuss the tone of your message. Is it funny, serious, informative, heartfelt, or action-packed? Deciding on the tone of your message now can be helpful in determining the budget you will need to pull it off.

Step 3: Consider Your Method of Distribution

Distribution is generally thought of as the last step in video production, but some methods of distribution require budgeting for specific tools. If you are planning on internet distribution, such as YouTube, Facebook, or your website, most modern video cameras (up to and including cell phone cameras) are capable of the task. Some niche distribution methods (OTA or cable channels, some streaming content providers) may require specific cameras or have minimum resolution requirements. In addition, some social media outlets prefer vertically oriented video, so it may be beneficial to plan ahead for this possibility. It is always a good idea to consider which method is the best way to reach your target audience, and then tailor your budget and equipment list accordingly.

Step 4: Establish Your Budget

Now’s the time to estimate the cost of your video project, which can vary wildly depending on what is required for equipment, talent, and crew. For instance, a makeup application demonstration video may only require an iPhone, a $40 ring light, little to no post-production, and a single person to perform the demonstration (maybe yourself). A more ambitious project may require a dedicated director, camera and lighting departments, an art director, several actors, catering, and maybe even the makeup artist from the low-budget video above. These larger productions may also require many hours of pre-production planning and post-production like editing, computer animation, and preparing and delivering finished assets. All of this must be accounted for in the budget, and it is usually a good idea to add a liberal contingency fund in case things don’t go as planned.

corey filming outside in field

Step 5: Write Your Script

The scripting process covers more than a single written document. Treatments are basically a condensed account of the basic beats of the story. Storyboards are used to convey a visual style, ideas for scene composition, and the project’s general tone. The script is then written to flesh out the dialogue, actions, scenes, and details. From there, the director or script supervisor may create a shooting script, rearranging scenes to fit the location schedule and adding notes about required actors, props, and equipment. To learn more about the scripting process, read our recent blog!

Step 6: Location, Location, Location

The next step in your video production checklist is to start booking the places where you will shoot your project. This could be a studio, apartment, house, place of business, city street, or the middle of the woods. If you are shooting in a public place, be sure to check with your local government to see if a permit is required. Shooting in a remote location may require more logistics to get the cast, crew, and equipment into place. While you are at it, start reserving the equipment you will need on location. On larger productions, you may be able to lean on each department to reserve the equipment they need to do the job.

Step 7: Casting

Now we’re getting to the fun part. Casting is where we choose the talent to represent our brand and move our story forward. The type of talent you will need depends greatly on the type of story you are telling. Generally, on-screen talent should represent the demographic you are targeting, or what that demographic perceives or desires themselves to be. You will also want to consider the type of content you are creating and whether the talent is capable of pulling it off. Casting can be made easier through the use of a talent or modeling agency, who can help you find someone with the look, attitude, and professionalism you require.

Step 8: Scheduling Your Shoot

This is where all the disparate parts begin to gel. Taking the time to carefully schedule your shoot ensures that everyone is on the same page and your production runs smoothly. It’s best to schedule everything – arrival times for each production member, setup time, shooting time, location moves, lunch or dinner times, and expected times of departure – so everyone knows what is expected of them and when. It also serves as a way to keep the production running on time, since overtime and adding days to productions rapidly increases costs. Carefully scheduling your shoot avoids unnecessary headaches and expense and should be done for every production, no matter how small.

Step 9: The Shoot

As Quiet Riot sang, “Well, now you’re here, there’s no way back!” If you (and your crew) put in the effort detailed above, the shoot should go pretty smoothly. Using an experienced crew and talent can help to overcome most unexpected hitches that occur on the day(s) of production. If something does go wrong, remain calm and work with your crew to find a solution. Though it happens, it is rare for a problem to torpedo a whole day of production. Employing a script supervisor is good insurance toward keeping the production running on time and making sure every shot needed is captured, and for heaven’s sake, make sure your crew is well fed.

Phil sitting a desk with multiple monitors, editing a video

Step 10: The Edit

The build up to the day of the shoot can make the edit seem anti-climactic, but the edit is truly where the magic happens. This is where the best shots are assembled and finessed like a sort of moving jigsaw puzzle. Good editors and their teams understand the timing, sounds, music, and graphics necessary to bring your vision to life. You will want to work with your editor to discover your preferences for collaborating. Some will want to work closely with you as a supervisor, while others prefer to make their own decisions first and send ever more polished “proofs” as the edit proceeds. Most are flexible and just want to deliver the best result possible.

DVS Is Here To Help With Your Next Video Production

And that’s it! Easy, huh? Well, maybe not, and that’s why DVS is here to help check things off your list. We have decades of experience in video production and work with companies large and small to create captivating content for your website, and more!