Pre-production is the first and one of the most important stages of the video production process. If you’re thinking of hiring a video production agency (like Lemonlight!), then you probably won’t need to worry too much about the production stages — your agency should have a process they adhere to and should communicate all questions and deadlines openly with you.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what goes on at every stage! The more you know about the video production process, the more helpful you can be as a client and the more efficient the whole process becomes.
So let’s take a look at a few of the most crucial pre-production steps and what you can do to make sure everything goes according to plan.
4 Steps of Video Pre-Production
1. Creative Brainstorm
Pre-production with Lemonlight begins with a creative call with our team, so we can get a feel for your product, how it works, and who it appeals to. If you’re doing this on your own, you might make a list of product features and what type of person they would benefit. Of course, you’ve already thought plenty about this when you started your company, so it’s just a matter of creatively distilling your business plan and putting your imagination to paper.
Any major video marketing or production decision-makers should be included in your creative brainstorm. This is also where all creative ideas are put on the table — nothing is too crazy! Talk about your video’s characters, story, plot, messaging, and style. Talk about length. Talk about how you’ll want your video to differ based on where you distribute it. Conceptualize your video and add any specific creative notes you might have, like where you want your product to appear, or if you imagine a particular character dressed a certain way.
Once all ideas are out there, start narrowing down your ideas. If you’re working with an agency, they’ll be able to help you with this, using their expertise to really guide you and your company based on what works and what doesn’t. Then, you can begin moving on to the next step.
Next, script out your video by writing down the visuals and any product features/dialogue that go alongside it. This helps the video team map out what they will be shooting, what actors or extras they might need, and any locations that need to be set up and booked in advance.
Your first inclination might be to tell your story precisely as it is — straightforward, from start to finish. But that doesn’t always make for the most engaging video. Instead, think about some of the videos you most love. Memorable videos pair the right dialogue with the right visuals, using things like music and audio cues (and even silence!) to move the story along, not necessarily direct narration. Keep this in mind as you script your video.
Once you’ve written your script’s first draft, make sure it goes through proper editing. Share it with whoever may need to see it and approve it, as well as the actual members of your video team. They’ll have good insight, ensuring the script makes sense and continuity flows well.
At Lemonlight, we work with you to craft the perfect script. A good agency knows you don’t necessarily have the time or resources to dedicate to script writing, and, depending on the style of video you choose, we’ll write your script and make sure you and your entire team loves it.
Remember: telling is easy. Showing is hard. But the right visuals are what truly separate good videos from bad. Crafting beautiful, engaging, and enthralling visuals should be your primary goal.
That’s why storyboarding is so important! Alongside the written visuals, it’s always good to plan your shots in advance, especially because you’re going for a certain look. You’ll want to plan each shot to enhance your branding and target your specific demographic. If your target audience is Apple users, for instance, you’ll want your shots to feel clean and vibrant, your set design to feel minimalist and tasteful, and your actors to look tech-forward and smartly dressed.
Storyboards are basically just panel-by-panel drawings of what you’d like your final video to look like. Not everyone is artistically inclined, so these don’t necessarily have to look like artist renderings. But they should give anyone who sees them a good idea of your final product (especially your video team, who will ultimately be shooting your video.) They should be accurate representations of your branding and messaging.
Besides the look and feel of your video, storyboards serve to distinguish shots, cuts, and camera angles. Do you want a wide shot that cuts to a close-up? Do you want one continuous, 30-second shot with no cuts? Storyboards map this all out, including shot duration and location.
Lemonlight also helps storyboard your entire production. After our creative call, we begin to put together storyboards based on your company, your product, and your desired direction. If you have a clear idea of what kind of video you want to make, storyboarding becomes easier — just let us know what kind of video style you’re thinking about and we’ll take it from there (mini-doc, lifestyle, narrative, or animation).
Now come all the official (and less creative) steps: booking, scheduling, hiring, and purchasing. You’ll need to round up any actors, extras, voice actors, hosts, and locations needed to film. You’ll need to buy or gather the necessary props and wardrobe. If you’re filming in a public place, you may need certain filming licenses or permissions. You’ll need to hire production assistants, camera men, and sound engineers to make sure your shoot goes well. You’ll have to rent the proper equipment and send out all relevant documents, like scripts and shooting notes.
It can be a lot to handle; You’ll need a point of contact for all these things, since there will definitely be questions, cancellations, changes, and/or other unforeseen circumstances with the potential to throw your entire shoot off schedule.
This is where hiring an agency comes in handy the most. Even if you handle all the creative on your side, it can be a mess dealing with the technical aspects of putting together a shoot. Our team knows this and has put together over 5,000 video shoots in just four years, so we’re pretty good at it. It’s a skill that comes only with experience and with having a wide network of video experts all across the country.
Get started! If you can handle the entire pre-production process in-house, you’re well ahead of the game. If not, let us show you how easy it is! Schedule your first creative call with one of our Executive Producers and we’ll make the entire process a breeze.
And stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll outline everything you need to know about production day!