Video content. There’s definitely no shortage of wildly entertaining or viral videos circulating social media right now. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes of all your favourite YouTube videos? How they’re made so well or how you can achieve something similar?
It all comes down to video production. Producing videos. There’s a lot more that goes into video production than may first meet the eye.
Most people think that video production is just filming and editing, which of course is a huge part of it, but there’s so much more.
Video production can be broken down into 3 distinct stages:
Each stage has its own critical function in the giant machine that is video production, and it’s important that you go through all the steps to ensure that you can produce the best quality work that you can. No regrets!
So read on and learn more about the fundamentals of video production!
What Is Pre-Production?
Before you jump straight into shooting a video, you need to plan it out first. This is done in what’s called ‘pre-production’ – the first stage of video production.
Pre-production is absolutely crucial in ensuring the smooth and effective running of a video shoot – free of disasters including, but not limited to, running behind schedule, forgotten equipment, and just an overall poor-quality, hot mess of a video.
Here are some of the key elements you may want to be thinking about.
Video Content Ideas and Target Audience
The video production process begins with deciding what kind of video you want to make and envisioning what the end product looks like.
Having an ultimate goal for your video also means being mentally prepared to do everything you can to make it a success. Whether that means dedicating more time towards the project or being more organised, a successful video starts with how much you’re prepared to put into it.
If you’re struggling to think of an idea for your video, start with your interests and what you know you’re talented at. Show off your unique talents and personality.
But if after this you’re still drawing a blank, next is to do some research! Look at what other content creators are doing and get on board with the trends.
But remember to stand out and make it your own. Don’t just copy other people. Take their videos as inspiration and strive to make yours better.
You need to also think about who your target audience is. Consider their likes and dislikes. Gain some insight into current events or social media trends that are resonating with them. All of these can have an effect on the subject matter of your video and the language you use.
Having a rough idea about who your audience is will make it easier to tailor your video to be more appealing and engaging to them. It’s the first step towards making a successful video.
Video Equipment Needed, Production Crew and Location Scouting
It’s obvious, you can’t film a video without the necessary equipment. The absolute basics are cameras and microphones, lights, and makeup/ wardrobe.
But depending on what kind of video you’re making, also think about things like props for a skit, art supplies for a DIY, food for a mukbang, musical instruments for a song cover, and so on.
Whatever you need to make your video into a reality, source it before your shoot. You don’t want to be running around frantically searching on the day of the shoot and waste valuable time.
This goes for a video production crew as well. Maybe you need an extra set of hands to work a secondary camera for you, help you record the audio, or even just someone to collab with. Ask them well in advance, book them in and double-check they’re ready to go before the day of the shoot.
Finally, unless you’re filming in your own house, scouting for a location should happen in the pre-production stage too. It may take some time to look for places and settle on somewhere that is suitable for your video.
This may be a restaurant, a park, a gym, or even just another friend or family member’s house. Ask for permission and fill out a release form if needed. Organise this early on and make sure wherever you pick is filming friendly, whether that be private, well-lit, relatively quiet, or spacious.
Make a Shooting Schedule
It’s so important that you outline a schedule for how the day of the shoot is going to run, especially if you’re planning multiple videos for the day. Use the schedule as a guideline and checklist to ensure that no scene or shot is forgotten and that all tasks get completed on time.
This includes leaving time for breaks and meals as well. Plan everything down to the minute! I’m not saying to make a schedule that says you can only go to the bathroom from 11:06-11:07 am, but you get what I mean.
Compiling a shooting schedule is a good practice for organisation and coordination. Make sure your shoot is easy-going and comfortable for yourself but also for your crew (if you have one).
Try to overestimate how much time you need for tasks. You never know when something will go wrong or stop working at the last minute.
It’s great to be running ahead of schedule. You can take the extra time to perfect your shots or your set-up, touch-up your appearance, and even do second takes as back-up footage.
But running behind schedule comes with all kinds of stress, anxiety, and carelessness that is sure to be reflected in your video.
Prevent this by allocating more time towards things, and take advantage of all the planning done in the pre-production stage.
What Is Production?
Next up in the stages of video production, is the ‘production’ stage. This is where you put all your diligent planning into practice. This is where you start actually shooting your video!
On the day of the shoot, there are a couple of things you need to be mindful of to make sure you capture high-quality video and audio. This will also make your time in post-production easier (more on this later).
Video Camera Set Up
Imagine that it’s been a whole day of shooting and you’re exhausted but confident that you’ve done some of your best work and achieved your video goals.
Imagine the overwhelming disappointment that you would feel if you rewatched the footage you’ve shot and it’s so shaky, you actually start to feel nauseous. Maybe it’s so blurry you start second-guessing your 20/20 vision. Or maybe it’s so over-exposed it feels like you’re looking directly at the sun.
Don’t let this be you! Take some precautionary measures before filming and pre-empt these issues.
Stabilise your camera by using a tripod, a gimbal, or even just an old-fashioned table. Make sure your camera settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focus are all in order. Do some test shots and confirm that you’re achieving the aesthetic you want.
Some cameras will have an automatic function that works perfectly well but you shouldn’t always rely solely on this capability. Technology can’t always be depended on.
Be extra careful and pedantic about this, unless you want to begrudgingly have to schedule a re-shoot day.
Consider also using multiple cameras to shoot from different angles (if you are able to financially, or if you have close friends who will let you borrow their camera).
Think about a video that is shot from one camera angle the entire time. Think about how stagnant and mundane it looks. But you’re better than stagnant. You’re better than mundane.
Changing up the angles you use can offer your viewers different perspectives of the same activity. It can capture close-ups of funny reactions or the delicacy of intricate tasks.
Give yourself options for when you edit the clips together later. Make the video vastly more interesting and dynamic for viewers to watch.
Achieve High-Quality Audio
Audio is just as equally important, if not more, than the visual elements. Sloppy audio can ruin even the best of camerawork – no matter how HD or cinematic the images are.
Loud background noises, muffled speech, static and audio peaks are all examples of subpar audio work that can really destroy the quality of your video.
There are a lot of great microphone options on the market that will minimise these issues but they can also simply be avoided by doing a soundcheck before you start filming.
Ensure volume and peak levels are set properly. Record a sample of the ambiance and listen back to make sure there’s nothing that will distract your audience from the content.
Don’t neglect this key step! Get your audio game on the same level as your visual game.
Get Good Lighting for Video
Bring yourself out from behind the shadows. Illuminate yourself and your space.
Good lighting doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive which can be a common misconception.
If you’re really invested in video production and have the funds, then yes, buying high-tech ring lights and studio lights might be worthwhile for you. It really does give you crisp, clean results.
But using room lights or lamps are adequate too. Even shooting during the day when the sun is out will work just as well – let its golden rays flood the room through an open window (this is one instance where scheduling your shoot day is helpful, make use of the sun while it’s there).
No matter which avenue you take, always avoid harsh blinding lights that will give you unnaturally pale skin and white pupils. Tone it down and brighten up your space evenly and organically.
What Is Post-Production?
At last, we’re up to the final stage of video production. ‘Post-production’ takes place after filming and is when you start putting all your raw footage and audio together. It’s where your video starts to really take shape and probably the most exciting part of the whole process in my opinion.
And you might be surprised that it doesn’t only involve cutting and pasting clips together.
Editing the Video Together
Assembling together video and audio is an artistic skill. There are many existing desktop programs and phone apps you can use to put this creativity into practice.
Editing, is indeed at the most fundamental level, piecing shots together to create a series of events. But this in itself is not as simple as it may seem.
There is an element of storytelling involved in editing, where the varying strategic ways you piece clips together can change the video’s whole meaning. Check out these movie trailers which have been recut into an entirely different genre.
Emotional value can also be added in post-production by designing a soundtrack to go along with the content of your video.
If your content is tense and action-packed, use a fast-paced song with short, punchy notes. If your content is sad, use a somber, slow ballad featuring a string quartet. Try turning to the plethora of royalty-free music websites out there for this.
Editing can further transform or enhance the ordinary shots you filmed and make them extraordinary.
In editing, you can add cuts and transitions, effects and filters that may aesthetically elevate your video to another level that couldn’t have been achieved in real-time filming.
But editing can also do the exact opposite. It can fix issues in your shots and disguise them so they don’t distract the viewer.
These problems may include a dirty sock in the corner that you want to crop out of the shot. It may be the air conditioning hum that you want to make quieter. Maybe it’s the under-exposed shot that you want to make a bit brighter. Or maybe it’s the inconsistent volume that you want to balance out.
Editing can do its best to hide these things, but in saying that, it’s not always possible. So only use these tactics as the utmost last resort.
Remember that the best solution to ensure you’re fully happy with the outcome is to do your visual, audio, and lighting checks before filming as explained before.
Now there’s nothing left to do but to save, export, and upload!
Video production may seem like a long and grueling process but when you have a deep love and burning passion for it, the process just becomes pleasurable and exciting.
Each stage – pre, production, and post – plays an integral role in the process of video production in their own right. One can’t function properly without the other.
So now you’ve learned about the fundamentals of video production, go out and start creating your next award-winning film or viral YouTube video!
And if you are interested in learning more about YouTube and video production, head to the Online Creator Insitute!