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Video production happens in three main stages:  Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production.  Each stage is broken into smaller stages, each of which gets you closer to your finished video.

Pre-Production

The pre-production stage is where all the planning happens – and there’s a lot of planning to do.  This is where the whole feel of the video is conceived, including writing of the script (if there is one), decisions about music and voiceover, and any storyboarding that might take place.

It is helpful in any video production to plan out as much as you can.  Get writing right away.  Start browsing for music.  Listen to scads of voiceover auditions.  In other words, dive right in right away.  The more you get involved in the process, the more the ideas will flow.  And this is the point where your creativity really counts, and diving into the work will get your creative juices flowing.

This is also the stage where you plan out your shot schedule.  You’ll need to figure out where, when and why you’ll be shooting in any particular place – and get any permissions you need to shoot there.  Shopping malls are notoriously difficult to get access to.  No, they are not public places.  They are private corporations that really don’t want to show themselves on camera…

You’ll also need to decide who you are going to shoot for your video.  In some cases, it might be obvious who you are going to shoot, but other times you might need to really think about who will add to your concept and what they might have to say about your subject.  Think large here.  You might be surprised who is willing to speak to you.  Sometimes a phone call to some expert in a field will yield some happy results; you never know.

Initial concepts in text design happen during the pre-production stage, also.  If you are going to use text – written words perhaps floating in the screen, or zooming in from the side, or some such thing – then this is the time to begin mapping out how that text will look.  What text needs to be displayed?  Is it essential to your project, or can you get away without it?  What about your font choices?  What do you want your text to look like?  How do you want it to appear and disappear in your video?  What kind of camera movements do you want on it?  Lots to think about with text, and this is the time to start thinking about it.

Production

The production process is where you feet hit the road and you do all your shooting.

During this stage, all your planning from the pre-production phase will come together and either help or hinder your project.  This is where you realize all the things you forgot to think about during the previous phase!

The production process is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work.  Equipment needs to be checked for usability and then hauled to each location you will be working in.  On location, you gear will go through a lot, and it is vital that you check it beforehand to make sure that everything is in working order.  You don’t want to arrive on location and find out that you key light has a burned out lightbulb when you forgot to bring spares.

On location, a lot can go wrong.  But a lot can go right, too.  This is where your lighting skills come into play, and your framing skills and all the other skills that you’ve developed over the years.  It is really helpful to have at least two people working, one who can take over setting up the equipment while the other works with the talent.  Even the most rudimentary on-location news-style interviewing usually has two people working.  Too many people on location isn’t a good thing either because extra people always get in the way.

Make sure you white balance.  Enough said.  Just make sure you do it.  And if you don’t know how to white balance, then you need to find out.  It helps to have expensive lights here, but you don’t need them.  You just need to make sure your camera settings are matched with the lighting that you do have.

After all the hauling, all the shooting, all the moments of crisis – then comes the really fun part:

Post-Production

Post-production is where the metal hits the grindstone and all the editing takes place.  This is where you take all your raw footage, import it into an editing program, and get to work.  This is where you really get to see your vision come to life.  It’s actually a very exciting, but strangely calming, process.  It is exciting because it is all coming together.  It is calming because you get great satisfaction in those little moments where everything seems to work splendidly.  It’s the moments where the visuals, the music, the voiceover, the text – where all the elements syncopate in harmony and create story.  It is wonderful.

But there’s work to do.  Editing is a painstaking process and it isn’t fast by any means.  There’s a lot to think about while editing, and keeping your original vision in mind isn’t always easy.  But that’s part of the creativity of editing.  You get new ideas, new images, new inspirations to work with.  Still, you have to work it all together.  Timing is essential, as is dedication.  It would be very easy sometimes to throw your hands up in frustration and give in to the fear.  Working through that fear of it not being good enough, though, is just part of the process.

There is so much more to the process, and nowhere near enough space to blog about it all.  Suffice it to say that going through all the stages of video production are essential to crafting a great video.  But that process can be fun and engaging.  It depends what you want to make of it.

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