Updated: 4 days ago
One of the most exciting parts of living in the modern world is the prevalence of video. An art form that was once limited to large theaters and immobile television sets is now available to us everywhere we go. Thanks to the various platforms available to us today, we can watch videos made by creators of all kinds from virtually anywhere.
The true beauty of video production is that it incorporates every other kind of art in one way or another. It involves visuals, audio, writing, color, and many other disciplines to make a truly professional final video. With the tools available to people today, almost anyone can make a video—but to create a video that looks and feels professional, they need a little know-how.
Becoming a master at every facet of video production is virtually impossible. However, if you have a good idea of the general tools and techniques in the video production process, you can make exciting, high-quality videos.
Here is everything you need to know about video production so you can jump into the video content industry and start turning your video dreams into reality.
What Is Video Production?
Video production is the process of taking a concept or idea for a video and transforming it into a finished product that people can watch and interact with. Some video production processes on social media platforms take mere minutes, while other videos, like feature films, take years to complete. Whether people realize it or not, almost every video follows the same general timeline.
Video creation generally follows this process—pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution. Nearly every video follows these steps on its way to being something other people can watch and enjoy, whether it's on Facebook, YouTube, a theater, or anywhere in between.
When done at a large scale, a video company or video team usually handles video production. That's because a large number of disciplines and skill sets are required to produce any film of a professional standard. Working with professionals ensures you will get the highest quality workmanship on every part of your video. That's why at the end of a movie, the list of credits is often long—truly professional videos often have multiple specialized professionals working on every aspect.
Of course, it's possible to complete a whole project independently. In the era of smartphone cameras and video editing apps, almost anyone can be a video producer, and your entire video production team can just be you. As long as enough careful detail goes into every part of the process, it's possible to create professional-quality videos on your own—it just requires lots of dedication, creativity, and hard work.
The Video Production Phases
Whether you're creating videos on your own or with a massive team, it's essential to know the video production phases. Regardless of the scope of your project, you need to ensure you understand these phases so you can schedule what needs to happen at the right times and stay organized.
Make sure that you put lots of intentionality and effort into each step. While most people gravitate towards or specialize in one specific stage, it's critical to understand the importance of each. Every step builds upon the last, and if one step is done poorly, it can spell disaster for the rest of the project.
Here are the four production phases for videos and what they entail. Follow these steps, and you'll be sure to create professional videos with as much movie magic as possible.
This is perhaps the most important stage of video production. Everything you do after this stage should follow exactly what you plan here if you do it right. This is where you set the direction for the final product and determine what actions you will take to make sure that your video project is a success.
It may seem instinctual to cruise your way through this step and wing it as you move through the process but be warned—poor planning is sure to result in poor execution. Plan your project well, and you'll be rewarded with a much easier process and much higher quality overall.
This beginning step is where the initial producers, writers, and directors get together to develop the idea and set the groundwork for a video. Whether it's writing a sci-fi epic, creating television commercials, or even just planning out a vlog, this is always the first step.
In this stage, you should determine what you are creating, as well as the target audience and key messaging for the video. If you have a video production company or team, it's important to ensure everyone is on the same page about what they are making from the beginning. This will lead to minimal confusion later on and a higher level of unity with the production process.
You can use the scripting process in virtually every kind of video. The master script for a video is a written document that details exactly what is happening, what the actors are saying, and the plot of the video. No matter what kind of video you’re making, it's vital that the script is good.
In this stage, the actual content of the video is decided upon and detailed in a written document. Every stage following this will refer to the script.
Storyboarding incorporates a visual storytelling element to the script. A storyboard roughly details what shots you need for every moment in the script, so the directors and producers have a good idea of what will happen. This part of the filmmaking process is often overlooked in smaller productions, but it is still vitally important.
When you have a visual reference for how your video will look, it helps when making vital revisions down the line.
Establish Production Details
Once all the conceptualization is done, it is critical to set up the rest of the production details. This includes casting actors, scouting locations for filming, acquiring video equipment, creating a crew, and creating a video strategy and filming schedule. These steps tend to fall to the producers of video teams and can take anywhere from a few minutes to several months to complete.
Remember—don't cut corners in any of these steps, or you'll have to make up that work later. Anyone in the video industry will tell you that it's better to get it right the first time than have to go and fix problems later.
Most people are already familiar with this stage—when the actors are there, the cameras are rolling, and technicians are everywhere. This is some of the most expensive and high-stakes time in video production, so getting the best people in your crew is critical.
Set Up the Shoot
The production phase starts with making sure the set is prepared and ready to shoot. This means that camera operators are prepped and ready, any set pieces are in place, and the talent knows the script as well as possible.
As with every other stage in video production—the better you prepare, the more successful you will be.
Direct the Shoot
In this part of video production, your actors are on the set, and the cameras are rolling. This is where your cinematographers and audio engineers come into play and capture the footage, and a high-quality storyboard is helpful.
Ideally, if the pre-production phase was done well, all the video production team needs to do is follow the decisions made in the planning process, and everything should go smoothly and professionally.
Capture B-Roll Footage
In most videos, especially those designed for the internet and social media, capturing extra footage of the environment or set is essential. This footage fills blank spaces in the video and creates transition elements. A healthy stock of b-roll can help create the security of knowing that there will always be a good shot to cut to in editing.
Once the footage is captured, the video moves into the post-production phase. This is where all of the captured elements are organized to communicate the video’s intention in the most compelling way.
Video editing is where all of the footage is lined up properly and set into the order that it will be in the final product. In most cases, the order of the shots and footage will already be determined in the storyboard. Most of the work in the editing room is selecting the best takes and angles and choosing how long each shot will be.
A good editor will know how to organize and line up the shots, so they maintain a good pace and remain interesting all the way through.
When the video editing is complete, audio production begins. In this process, the sound mixer will incorporate high-quality audio recordings and clean up audio mistakes or errors in the video at large. They will also add any sound effects and voiceovers the video needs and ensure that the soundstage feels natural and compelling.
This part is essential because low-quality audio is has a much worse impact than low-quality video. Viewers’ ears are offended much more quickly than their eyes. Make sure to capture high-quality audio at the video shoot and have skilled professionals doing the audio production in the post-production stage.
Polish the Video
Towards the end of the project, there are usually many small edits to be made. Coloring experts will provide color correction and color grading. The directors and producers will work to make as many revisions as it takes to make the final film as perfect as possible.
When you decide there are no more changes to be made, the video moves into the distribution phase of the video production process.
Distribution is one of the most overlooked parts of the process of creating a video. No matter how much effort you put into the first three stages of a video's creation, nothing will come from the video if you don’t distribute it effectively. The point is to get the video in front of the viewers who need or want to see it, and distribution makes that possible.
Render Different Versions of the Video
Depending on the kind of video you are creating, there will be a variety of different specifications and formats your video will need to conform to.
For example, most videos on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat prefer or require videos that are oriented vertically. Other video websites enable the possibility for feature film aspect ratios or alternative frame rates.
If you're sharing your video online, it's also important to make sure that the viewer can choose from a variety of different resolutions. Most online streaming websites will automatically transpose the resolution down from the largest resolution, but if you give the platform your own lower resolution renders, they will usually be much higher quality.
Setting up analytics will allow you to see how much video engagement your video gets when you distribute it. Many platforms have integrated these features, which can make it much easier for smaller creators.
Analytics tell you how many times your video has been watched, what demographics are watching it, how long they are watching, and countless other details. These are valuable and can inform you of how successful your video is and what parts you can fix. It also tells you how well you are reaching your target audience and key stakeholders and can help to inform future decisions as a company and team.
Market and Promote the Video
Promotion is one of the most underrated parts of video creation and one of the most impactful on the overall success of the video. People will likely only watch a video if they know it exists, so video production teams need to make sure that as many people know about the video as possible.
The biggest benefit to knowing your target audience is that you can appeal to them directly, thereby making your return on investment much higher.
Even if it's just a short, routine video, a video company or business should at least promote it by posting it on their social media. Promotion makes all the work leading up to the release worth it.