How to Produce a Professional Video

Posted: 3 years ago
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DJG’s director of digital media shares how to navigate the ever-changing process of professional video production.

Video production has changed dramatically since I first started shooting and editing video in college. That was, ahem, a while ago. Back then, the equipment was bigger, heavier, and more expensive than it is today. Now, you can buy video gear online and edit on your laptop. The process may be easier, but it still takes some planning and skill to produce a professional video.

Step 1: Develop a Creative Brief

How to Produce a Professional Video -First, develop a video creative brief. It’s important to answer some questions before you get started. Video production requires manual labor, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort if you make a plan ahead of time. Create a document that outlines your project and communicates it to others. Ask yourself, or your client, these basic questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this video?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. How long will it be?
  4. What is the tone or theme?
  5. What are the three key messages?
  6. How will this video be used?
  7. Where will it live?
  8. What is the budget?
  9. What is your deadline?

Step 2: Create a Production Schedule, Shot Sheet, and Script

Next, make a production schedule. You’ll need to know the answers to the five W’s of journalism: What, When, Where, Why and Who. You’ll also need to know ‘how.’ The production schedule should list the dates, times, locations and people involved in the shoot. It should have names, phone numbers and email addresses. When you make the schedule, consider travel time, set up, how long shooting interviews and b-roll will take, the ambience, the background of your shots and what equipment you will need.

Video is about showing and telling, so capture shots that show your viewer the story you want to tell. A shot sheet with a list of all of the shots you want to get may help organize the shoot not only for you but also for others involved. You’ll be recording interviews, natural sound and b-roll shots to cover parts of your interviews.

You may want to write a script that includes lines you want your subjects to read or a voiceover artist to record. The average reading rate is three words per second, so one minute of scripted audio is about 180 words. A script will also help you decide what graphics you will need such as a logo, artwork, graph or bullet points.

Step 3: Shoot a Professional Video

How to Produce a Professional Video -Now it’s time to shoot your video. You will need a set of video gear that includes a video camera, tripod, lights, lavalier microphone, charged batteries, memory cards and earbuds or headphones. You may also need a green screen or teleprompter. For a wide range of prices depending on quality, you can buy all of this online. You may even want to buy a green screen, a stand to hold it up, and even a teleprompter that operates with your iPad.

Consider these shooting tips:

  • Record interviews in a quiet, well-lit location
  • White balance the camera
  • Monitor sound with your earbuds or headphones
  • Decide if your subject will be sitting or standing
  • Place the video camera at your subject’s eye level
  • Tell the subject whether to look at the interviewer or into the camera
  • Have subjects say their name and title, repeat your questions in their answers and smile
  • Subjects should wear appropriate clothes with a lapel, v-neck or button placket (to wear a lavalier microphone) and no small prints

Step 4: Edit a Professional Video

How to Produce a Professional Video -Computers come with video editing software, and many video sites such as YouTube offer basic editing functionality. I prefer using Adobe Premier Pro and Adobe Media Encoder, which are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. I use a MacBook Pro with USB, Thunderbolt, HDMI and FireWire ports. I also store large video files on portable and external hard drives. To edit well, you’ll need a large monitor, and those earbuds or headphones may come in handy if other people are around when you edit sound.

Watch your interviews and review your b-roll shots. You may want to transcribe your soundbites to organize your video. Having a transcript is helpful to get feedback from others and post online for SEO (search engine optimization). Professional transcriptionists are accessible online at a reasonable price.

Your video should have a beginning, middle and end. Soundbites should be short, about 15 seconds or less. Videos have tracks of audio, so consider using natural sound and music as well as soundbites. You can get free music with no lyrics online or buy stock music. Use graphics for details such as numbers and website addresses. Most video editing software allows you to create graphics as well as edit video.

Use a service such as Dropbox or Hightail to send large video files through links in email. This is helpful if you want feedback from others before you post your video.

Step 5: Share Your Video

Finally, you are ready to share your video with the world. You have more options for sharing video content than ever before: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn to name a few. To get more viewers, it may be best to upload the video file directly to the site instead of sharing a link. Size matters on these social media sites, so make sure you export a file that meets their requirements. Facebook’s maximum currently is 4 GB and up to 120 minutes. Twitter’s is 512 MB and 2 minutes 20 seconds. LinkedIn only allows links from approved providers such as YouTube. Now you’re a video pro.

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