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What Businesses Need to Know: How Long Video Production Takes

As part of our new VidOps blog series, What Businesses Need to Know, we’re drawing back the curtain for a transparent look at how video production works for commercial businesses. We wanted to delve into the reality of a production time frame, to give you a working insight into what you can expect when planning your schedule.

There are usually two defining questions in planning for video production. The first: how much is this going to cost? The second: how long is it going to take?

We’ve all been there. The budget is in. The marketing strategy is in place. You have some amazing ideas for your video content for next quarter. You’re just not sure when you’ll need to start production.

The timescale of video production provides a big challenge for many businesses. In fact, a staggering 66% of marketers avoid producing video content because they believe it’s too time-consuming.

As a video production company, these numbers are concerning. Particularly when you weigh up the impressive benefits of strong video content to a business and the effect on your customer base.

Here are just a few of the benefits (and the stats to back them up!):

  • Higher rates of engagement (consumers share content 1200% more often than text or visuals)
  • Easily explain your services or products (68% of consumers would prefer to watch a video to find a solution)
  • Boost your SEO organically (videos boost dwell time on page, and dwell time is one of the key performance indicators for search engines - enough said)
  • Capture your audience’s attention (viewers retain 95% of information from a video as opposed to only 10% of static text)

But does video production have to be time-consuming? We wanted to delve into the reality of a production time frame, to give you a working insight into what you can expect when planning your schedule.

Understanding the Production Journey

First up, before you make any calls, you really need to be aware of the touchpoints for the production of any video. 

This will directly affect the time you can expect to set aside for video production, and show you the areas you may be able to reduce the time required - so you can always be prepared for what’s to come.

Usually, you can split production into 3 main phases

  • Pre-production
  • Production
  • Post-Production

Simple enough, right?

But these phases will be split into distinct sections, to boost efficiency and the quality of the final outcome. These may happen simultaneously, which will streamline your schedule, but you’ll need to consider each stage separately.

Let’s separate the stages and take a look at what really takes place in each phase, and just how long you can expect things to take.

Strategy & Prep Work

This is a critical part of your work leading up to production. If you haven’t considered why you’re producing this video and what your aims are, you’re not setting yourself up for success.

This takes place before any of the fun creative parts of video production but is the only way to ensure you’re on the right track and ensure everybody is working to the same structure. 

Most production companies, like VidOps, begin with a consultation call, where they try to gauge exactly what you intend for your video to communicate, and what you want to achieve.

It’s important to be aware of your goals, your intended measurable metrics, and the distribution channels for the video/s. This way your expectations are clear from the get-go, which makes pricing, scheduling, and concept far easier.

Once these discussions are complete, the company will generate a creative brief. This will detail the specifics of the video; testimonial or promotional? Shot in the office or on location? Animation or in-person interviews? 

The creative brief will show exactly what the expectations are for the shoot, and will streamline the actual production, as well as give an overall view of the project.

Once approved, there will be a detailed scope for the project (agreed timescale, budget, etc.) and the creative work can truly start.

This phase of video production is crucial to any business planning for video content. It’s where you align stakeholders and the production company (or in-house team) and ensure your video fits your budget and timeline.

What this does mean is that the back and forth can take a little time. It’s important to nail down specifics and have clear, concise milestones to help you stick to your strategy, your budget, and your deadlines. 

We’ve found that some companies know exactly what they want, and when, which significantly shortens this phase, whilst some need a little more guidance. 

To get the most out of the Strategy and Prep Work stage, we suggest allowing up to 1 week.

Development

This is the fun bit!

Creative development is where you and the production team will flesh out the basic ideas for the video, and establish the tone, style, and visuals.

Some videos won’t need a very detailed creative development process. If you know you want a direct-to-camera interview with your CEO, in their office, with one set of lights - you won’t need too long to plan.

However, if you want more input, or have a broader ambition for the structure and look, you will definitely need to allow more time.

We love creative development, as it’s where we get to bounce ideas off the client and generate great concepts. To really explore your options, 1 week is optimal for the Development stage - but can be squeezed into much less time if necessary.

Pre Production

Pre Production is when all the admin is put in place to get the shoot ready. This can include:

  • Scripts
  • Storyboards
  • Shot lists & shoot plan
  • Hiring (crew, talent & equipment)
  • Locations
  • Legal Permissions

Scripts & Storyboards

If your video has any kind of narrative at all, you will need a script. Simple as. This can come from you (the business) or an external scriptwriter. It’s a crucial step to ensuring the tone and message of your video are clear.

Storyboards are often required if the shoot has different locations, connecting narratives, or animation involved. It’s a great way to visualise the overall look and feel of the video, and helps the production team draft and generate shot lists.

Shot Lists & Shoot Plans

This is integral to the production stage as it makes organisation and hiring a breeze. When you know exactly what needs to be done on the day of production, you reduce the time you need to allow for shooting.

A production crew will expect these in their briefing for the production. Shot lists and shoot plans help the whole team to understand the logistics of who will be on set and why, as well as the time it will take.

Hiring

Hiring a crew, talent and the equipment needed for your production is another thing you will need to consider. 

Many crew members come with their own equipment, but you will definitely need to know ahead of time and can expect to factor this into your costs

If you are using professional actors, set aside time for auditions/interviews and rehearsals ahead of the production shoot.

Locations

Not filming at the office? You’ll need to do some legwork to find the perfect spot - or several spots.

You’ll need to consider the possibility of specialist lighting and even hiring facilities for storing equipment, which may add to the task list for pre production.

Legal Permissions

Whilst you won’t always need to apply for permissions, you definitely need to check that you don’t need to apply. 

Getting caught out by basing an entire production around a piece of music that you can’t get the rights to, or hoping to use a famous cartoon character in your project can all create headaches and add a lot of time onto your schedule (and big budget changes!) 

Locations may need extra permissions, and crew and equipment insurance might factor in as well.

As you can see, pre production can be incredibly detailed, in turn, this means you have to allow enough time. 

If you are planning for a high-concept video with a large budget, you should set aside at least 2 weeks - though you can significantly reduce this with a streamlined concept and prior planning.

Production

Doesn’t it feel like you started this project ages ago?

 We know that sometimes getting to the actual production can feel overwhelming, but we promise it's all worth it for the excitement of shoot day.

If you’ve made good use of your development and preparation stages, you should have determined a very clear schedule for your production shoot. 

Some projects will only need a day, some will need re-shoots, some ambitious projects need around a week. For the sake of safety, try and set aside 5 days for the shoot in your planning.

Post Production

You’ve finally made it. All the work’s done and you can relax...right?

Not quite.

Post production is where your vision is finally put together, and polished to perfection.

There are several technical steps involved in post production which may or may not apply to your video.

These can include:

  • Colour grading - adjusting the visuals of the video file
  • Graphics or special effects - adding logos, motion graphics or interesting visuals into the mix
  • Voice over - an additional recording to be played over the action of the video
  • Sound design - music, narration, sound effects, creating the right audio mix for the piece

You might not need all of these in your post production stage, but you will certainly need to allow time for your footage to process and any editorial work to be completed.

The time needed for the post production phase varies wildly in our experience. It can take just 48 hours or up to 3 weeks. Try and plan for 1 week, and be sure to discuss with your production team ahead of time so you’re not caught out in the final stages.

So What About VidOps?

Whilst these dates are estimates based on the average times for completed projects - at VidOps we’re striving to buck the trend.

As a commercial video production company, we work to ensure that our work is consistently high-quality and available to suit your schedule. 

We are incredibly responsive due to the 24/7 support we offer. In fact, our quickest turnaround (from booking to arrival on location) for our photography services was 27 minutes!

By working with a global team of freelancers through our remote platform, we’re able to process creative development, pre production work, the production shoot of post production seamlessly. 

We wanted to overhaul video production to streamline the production process for businesses - freeing up time and generating achievable schedules no matter the project or budget.

With our quickest turnaround for videos starting at 48 hours, you can generate the highest-quality visual content, in a fraction of the time.

Phew. It’s a lot of information to take on, but we believe knowledge is power.

We hope this article has equipped you with a detailed understanding of the ins and outs of a production schedule, to ensure you set yourself up for success when planning your video content.

Whilst many of these timeframes can fluctuate, the more prepared you are in your planning, the more you’ll achieve in the final product.

If you still feel overwhelmed - don’t worry! You can always ask VidOps.

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