Three Steps to a Professional Video Production

Stage 1: Pre-Production

Pre-production covers all activities required in preparing for the shoot. 


Set communication goals by listing the occasion the video is being created for; what message you wish to convey; your intended audience and what they already know about your company. Make sure to also take the audience’s level of expertise into account.

Drawing up an outline (skeleton)

Decide what topics needs to be covered in the video and list ideas and main points that you wish to get across in the introduction, body, and conclusion. 

The video production company will use this list to vizualise and plan for all possible items that will need to be filmed. 

  Three Steps to a Professional Video Production 

Keep in mind that including music tracks on your video may have copyright implications. As such, it is important to liaise with your video production company on your choice of background music and to obtain copyright permission before filming starts.

The video production company will plan behind the scenes arrangements regarding crew, actors, travelling, accommodation, food and refreshments, location, and permission arrangements. 

As the client, make sure to approve talent before the shoot is booked. When selecting talent (models, actors, voice-over artists, etc.) make sure that they fit the desired overall look and feel for your video. Always arrange with the video production company to meet and approve talent before they are hired. 

Writing the script

The script writing process is probably the most important phase in the video production process. In order to produce a professionally written script addressing the needs of your target market, it is vital that the video production company has a clear understanding of your company’s core business, competitors, as well as knowing the needs of your target market.

The script should be written in a conversational manner and needs to come across as if the information is being told, not read.

It is highly recommended to invest in a professional writer. Ask the video production company whether they include script writing as part of their service, and if so, make sure to ask for samples of scripts written by them.

Preparing shot lists and visual preparation

Once the script has been finalised, the video production company will plan a detailed shot list. Traditionally a shot list is formatted in a two-column structure with the narration on the left and the detailed shot description next to the corresponding information on the right. 

The planned shot list should include as much detail as possible and be ‘timed’ so that the director has some idea of how much time he has on individual shots.

The shot list is then re-formatted into a filming order, where individual shots are now grouped into categories of like shots. 
Elements such as time of day during which shots need to take place, lighting, sound equipment, crew and camera handling equipment such as cranes and tracks, are taken into consideration.

The next step is to source stock photography, music, and obtain copyright clearance, if applicable. The video production company will confirm models, actors, on-camera presenters and make sure of their contractual requirements. 

In addition to this, they will confirm all equipment, filming locations, travelling arrangements, accommodation, food and refreshments. The production company will brief all parties involved and send out time schedules.

Finally, a remote survey is performed and all remaining details are finalised. The proactive video production company will make allowance for a "Plan B", as plans may need to change on account of weather or any other major determining and unforeseeable factors.

Planning the shooting diary

During this phase, a detailed shooting diary is drafted and final elements are scheduled.
A precise timeline is drawn up, allocating time per shot.

When planning shooting days and time, travelling between locations needs to be calculated, as well as the time it takes to put up and break down equipment, sets and props. 

It is essential that every minute is planned for and that the crew never needs to wait for anything, in order to get the job done.
These are all the factors that the video production company will take into consideration during the pre-production phase of development. 

Stage 2: Production & Development

As the client you need to be as prepared for your role in the video-production process as the crew and the director. It is necessary for the client to be aware of every facet of the filming day, and to be ready to walk through every step with the crew.

After all, you need to ensure that every detail that is captured on film will portray the company in the best possible light. 

There are many intricate details involved in the production of a video – many that you, as the client, may never need to be aware of or concerned with. The crew and producer will take care of these without needing to discuss these first.
However, there are certain precautions and steps that you, as the client, can take to help deliver the optimum result. 

Dress each scene correctly 

Ensure that each person is wearing the correct gear and that the necessary safety measures and precautions are followed throughout the filming. The immediate environment should also be tidy and aesthetically pleasing.

Lastly, make sure that all people and objects that you would like to feature on camera are placed in the scene.

Stick to the plan

The clock doesn't start when filming begins, but rather when the crew arrives. The standard call time (arrival to wrap up) is ten hours. Most video producers plan every hour very carefully so that overtime is not required.

Spur-of-the-moment ideas may lead to spontaneous developments in the program, but deviating from the pre-prepared plan may run the production into overtime. Every additional hour of filming has implications including extra costs that you may be held accountable for.

Crew’s Safety

It may seem like an excellent shot will be achieved from scaffolding that reaches three floors up, but unless your company has efficient safety gear and precautions, this kind of scenario should be entirely avoided. Also, take the immediate environment and location of the shot into account (e.g. a video crew filming in downtown Johannesburg may be robbed).

Invest in rain insurance

In the event of bad weather at an outdoor venue, an entire day of shooting may be wasted, that you may be charged for. Most video producers charge a small fee to cover the insurance of a wasted day on site.

Power Supply

Make sure that there are sufficient power supplies available for all equipment.

Ambient Noise

Keep in mind that the camera records ambient sound. The camera man would need to record only the location's natural ambient noise and not the voices of the audience who have gathered to watch the filming. In other words, do not allow hangers-on to gather around the set.

Role Players during the production stage

Although one person can fulfil a number of roles during the production stage (e.g. that of director and producer), a production team typically consists of the following role players:


This person will be responsible for staging the production. He or she will coordinate the production team and is also responsible for the selecting talent. The director guides and cues the performance and supervises post-production editing.

Camera operators

Camera operators are responsible for all filming operations.

Lighting Director

The lighting director arranges and supervises all lighting and lighting equipment.

Audio Engineer

The audio engineer is responsible for sound balance and supervises personnel operating microphones and sound equipment.

Make-Up Artist

The make-up artist applies make-up to all actors throughout the video shoot.

Floor crew

The crew is responsible for moving equipment and assisting with the setting up of locations or dressing of settings.

Stage 3: Post-Production

During the editing phase, the client’s role is to ensure that the ‘story’ be told correctly, and not too carry the burden of making creative decisions.

By the time the video reaches post-production, it is too late to change ideas about how you want certain elements within the video portrayed. Changes to the script or existing footage may lead to extra filming or recording requirements, all of which delay production and inflate the video production cost.

Further to this, it is important that the client have rough edits signed off at each step within the post-production phase.

For the recording of the voice over, the client should be present to check all technicalities in the script. Leaving these kinds of elements up to the director or engineer's discretion may lead to mistakes and inflated costs.

The editor will make a rough-cut of visuals and voice-overs in sync, but will be devoid of all effects and techniques, colour matching and graphics. The music that a director intends on using may also be included.

The choice of music is based on certain criteria: relevant to the type of production, providing value to the video and not overshadowing the voice artist.

A good editor draws the viewer into the story of the video while the viewer is oblivious to the editing component. It is this kind of skill in the craft that takes editing to the level of an unobtrusive art form.

Sound Idea Digital is a full service Video Production Company that  specialise in health & safety videos, training videos, marketing videos, corporate videos, web videos, animation and motion graphics. We also produce industrial, mining, induction, and company launch videos. |


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