Before hiring a video production company it can pay to do a little homework first. Not unlike choosing an architect, doctor or lawyer you want to know some background about their experience before you in engage in their service. Video production is a professional service associated with a very important purpose, your image and your message.
We will outline 7 suggestions that will help you to make a good choice in your collaboration with a video production company. First keep in mind we are not talking about heart surgery or national defense. Working with a video production company should be a fun, pleasant and engaging experience not a stress cooker. Unfortunately some people in the business carry rather large egos and can make the process less than pleasurable!
- PORTFOLIO, DEMO REEL, HISTORY OF WORK
The most effective way to quickly judge the caliber of a production company is to look at their portfolio of work and demo reels. If the company cannot provide a good variety of examples that may be a sign that their experience base is not too deep. However, also keep in mind that your company or product is unique and you should not expect to see a video that is “exactly” like what you want. If you are in need of a training video, or a corporate communications video, or a marketing video and so forth just make sure you see samples in the same genre.
- CLARITY OF EXPECTATIONS, BUDGET, CREATIVE AND DEADLINE
It is wise to go into a video production project with clearly defined expectations in writing. In fact nearly any video production project should begin with a clearly defined proposal outlining services included, costs, timeline and more. In this day and age nearly all video production is HD production even video recorded from a phone. But within the world of HD production there are many flavors “codecs” of HD video. Get a clear idea what caliber of production equipment will be used. There are HD video cameras on the market that cost $300 and there are cameras that cost over $100,000. Make sure you have confirmation of the technical caliber of the equipment being used for your project.
- RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, CHANGES, OVERAGES
Not unlike a relationship with a building contractor or other professional make sure you know how change orders and overages in services are handled. There are literally dozens of issues that can impact the efficiency of a video production, some caused by the production company and some caused by the client. In our experience over the years the single greatest cause of delays or extended production is a lack of preparation and a lack of a clear project outline or script. You don’t want to be in the middle of production with a crew, talent and equipment and make lots of changes to the idea. Of course minor shifts in direction occur all the time but ideally through solid pre-production creative planning the concept is well thought our and followed in production. If delays are happening with your project because the production company did not properly prepare or you feel they are learning on the job then you want to address that head on. Again, due diligence about the video production company’s experience and track record is invaluable.
- PRODUCTION PROCESS, PLANNING AND ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS
There are many moving parts to a production including the scripting and outlining, creative direction, talent, locations, props, the look and tone, and so much more. It is a good idea to have a sense of the process that the production company follows to produce your video. If there is not clarity at the proposal stage or pre-production stage then don’t expect the production to be much better. Fortunately most seasoned producers are very good at juggling a lot of details and that is why you hire a professional video production company to create your video. Also keep in mind that a solid producer is similar to air traffic control they keep track of all aspects or your project including working with the right director, crew, talent and so forth.
- CREATIVE VISION
Video production is a very subjective service. There is not one right way or one wrong way to communicate something. Make sure your team shares your vision for your product and for your market. We don’t all like chocolate chip ice cream. Style, flavor and creative approach play a huge role in the messaging of your video. Back to the demo reel, choose a company in which your creative tastes match with theirs. There are far too many creative variables so make sure you are on the same page with your producer and director. We always say don’t let creativity over ride clarity of message. You can have the most cool, creative video on the web, but if the viewer doesn’t understand it then the effectiveness may be lost.
- DEPTH OF EXPERIENCE
There is no doubt that working with a seasoned team with deep experience can help alleviate many potential challenges and keep the video production running smoothly. It is a very unregulated industry and there are companies with many levels of expertise or lack there of! Once again, do your homework. Ask for references. Ask around about the caliber of their work. We have worked most of our professional careers based out of the Kansas City market. In a market the size of Kansas City there are literally dozens of production companies to choose from. Make sure you are working with a company that brings the most value to the table for your budget. Also, it is important that your expectations are realistic. You can’t buy a Mercedes on a Ford Escort budget. It is the same with video production. Expectations need to be in line with your budget.
- TECHNICAL ABILITIES AND THE RIGHT FIT
Your production needs may require multi-camera event production, commercial production, corporate communications, a training video, a music video, a web marketing video or other need. Choose a company with the experience that matches your needs. If a company is expert in sports production that probably is not the right fit for music video production. If you need a corporate training video and all the company does is commercials then you should keep searching. In medium markets such as Kansas City it is not unusual to find video companies that have a varied portfolio and a wide range of experience. Get to know them. Do your homework. Request a proposal and pay attention to the details. After all, they are working on something very important, your image, your product, your company, your success!
We like to say at OUTPOST WORLDWIDE in Kansas City, “Image Counts”.
Written by Michael Wunsch, Executive Producer and Partner, OUTPOST WORLDWIDE