Yesterday was a video production day. We’ve been creating more and more video lately. Unlike some marketers, I don’t believe in using video for everything. If a written document or MP3 audio will work better for content, I go with that. That said, there are times when video is the best way to go.
I get a lot of questions from people about creating video. These range from things like, “What did you use to create the video?” to “What microphone do you use for narration?” A lot of people/organizations want to get into video creation but they aren’t sure where to start. These aren’t necessarily the right questions to get answered first.
The framework or the process for creating videos is actually the most important thing. Most people who attempt video creation focus too much on the technical aspects rather than on creating something that really meets their objectives. They’ll get so caught up in what something looks like that at the end of it all, the video falls flat and serves no real purpose.
In this post, I’ll be sharing with you the 10 steps we go through in creating videos for our own businesses and how you can apply them to your own marketing needs. I won’t be getting into technical aspects of video creation. Although I’m learning a lot more about the technical aspects, for the most part, I’d rather leave it in the hands of professionals. I think if you can afford to outsource most, if not all, of video production when you first get started, it will make the process much easier for you. That said, at the end, I’ll give some tips after on video production on a budget especially if you have a lot of videos to produce.
Our 10 Step Process for Creating Videos
1. Determine the Outcome of the Video
Every video – or piece of content created for the web – should have a desired outcome in mind before a minute of thought goes into creation. This outcome could be to generate sales directly from the video, get viewers to opt-in to your mailing list, increase brand awareness or any other number of actions.
2. Determine the Action Required by the Viewer
What do you want the viewer to do as a result of watching the video? This differs from the first point in that we’re considering what is the “next step” required versus the outcome. For example, if you want the video to increase brand awareness and go viral, you’ll want those watching the video to share it. What action needs to be taken for this to happen? You’ll want them to share to their social networks and perhaps be able to send a link through email. It’s best to focus on a single action. The more choices you give people online, the less likely you’ll get people to take any action.
3. Consider Where the Video Will Be Displayed
Obviously if you’ll just be distributing your video through YouTube and other video sites, you won’t have much control over the layout of the page or how the video is displayed. But if you are creating the video for marketing purposes, the odds are that you’ll want it displayed somewhere on your website. Considering where the video will be displayed and the layout is integral is ensuring that your desired action can take place. Let me share a couple of different examples…
A. Let’s say your idea is to create a video that will educate people about the service or product you offer and your desired outcome is to drive sales. You may want the desired action to be a purchase. But if the video is on sites such as YouTube viewers won’t be able to directly order from YouTube. This will send you back to step 2 to re-evaluate your desired action. In this case it is likely you’d want to first get them to your site.
B. Let’s take the same scenario now but the video will only be displayed on your website. Decisions as far as layout have to be made so that it makes it easy for viewers to actually make a purchase after viewing the video. The easiest way to do this is to incorporate a purchase button below the video. You may want to go with a widescreen version of your video to maximize use of screen real estate. This definitely impacts production of the video – especially if you’ll have a lot of text on screen.
If you are going to feature your video both on your site as well as on third-party sites, you may want to consider having two slightly different versions – where the intended action is different. The decision of where your video will be shown is crucial to take into account before you start to script/storyboard. It’s a lot less costly to create 2 videos – which are only slightly different – at the same time – then weeks or months down the road to have to recreate a modified version of the video because you want to upload it to YouTube.
4. Create Your Outline
Before you start to work on your script and storyboard, it’s important to create an outline.
Consider what major points you want to accomplish within the video and how these will be covered. Using mindmapping software can be a fantastic way of creating an outline and building it out.
As you create your outline, you’ll want to keep two things in mind – how long you want the video to be and what action you want viewers to take. These two items will influence the amount of content and the flow of your content.
5. Create a Storyboard
Whether you will be having a video professionally made or using Powerpoint slides or something similar, you’ll want to create a storyboard. There are plenty of free and for-fee software programs available for creating storyboards.
In-house, we like to keep things simple and simply use Word documents for creating storyboards. We create 3 column tables. The first column is used to number the set (which is used for reference purposes). The second column is used to include any text, information about elements and sometimes even images that will be shown on screen. The third column is used for the script. If any sound effects should be used within the video, they are included in the second column. We rarely need to do this but if a specific video required more sound effects, we’d likely use a fourth column.
Even if the video we’re working on is comprised entirely of a Powerpoint presentation, we still start off with the storyboard most of the time. The reason is simple: whatever we want to include an a video when creating the first draft of a storyboard, we end up cutting down dramatically. It is much easier to reorganize things from a storyboard than it is within Powerpoint.
6. Video Creation Decisions
Quite often before you have even created your storyboard draft, you’ll already know how you’ll be creating the video. Will you be using a slide show created using Powerpoint or something else? Will you be primarily be doing screen captures using software like Camtasia? Will the video consist of people on screen? Will you need to have motion graphics created? There are a lot of possibilities. But in some cases, you may not know until you’ve put together the storyboard what you’ll exactly want to do.
At this stage, you’ll also want to consider who will be taking care of each aspect of the actual production which includes:
- Music/sound effects
- Narration/on screen talent
- Graphics/motion graphics used
- Sound editing
- Title screens/motion graphics
7. Final Storyboard Edits
Once the above decisions are made, you’ll want to do your final storyboard edits. Editing for time may be a crucial consideration, especially if you are outsourcing individual parts of the production or the entire thing.
There are 3 stages involved with production:
The first stage is taking care of the audio & video recording. In our case, we are not using people ‘on screen’ for any of our videos. Before we have the actual video made, we’ll have the audio recorded and then edited. If you are doing it yourself, even low-end mics can be suitable for recording. There are many low-cost software programs available for recording and editing sound.
The second stage is the visual recording. At this stage, you’ll want to have prepared whatever has to go on screen and have it edited. The title and closing (including credits) would be also done at this stage.
The final stage is applying any sound effects and music needed as a separate track.
9. Edits/Review and Rendering
Once you have the video completed, you’ll want to have at least a few people review it. At this stage, it should be less about the structure of the video than it should be about small things like typos, background music volume versus voice volume, that everything syncs well, etc.
Once you feel satisfied with the video, you’ll want to have the video rendered into the appropriate formats and screen sizes to be used. If you’ll be displaying the video at your website and at sites such as YouTube, you’ll likely want to have the video rendered into different formats to optimize the viewing experience. Also take into account what video player you’ll be using at the site.
10. Final Preparation
Here’s a list of the things we do after we have the final versions of videos ready:
- Create landing page with appropriate calls to action incorporated
- Test video/video player in different browsers and from various mobile devices
- Make sure stats programs are logging actions for the page
- Create list of keywords and keyword-rich descriptions to use
- Upload to any video sites that are appropriate
- Promote in conjunction with normal promotional schedule
Your own checklist will likely differ depending on your objectives.
Video Creation on a Budget
Making professional-looking videos can be quite expensive. If you have a lot of videos in your plans, the expenses can add up rather quickly if you are outsourcing most or all of it.
I’d highly recommend that any videos that are crucial to your business and will be used over an extended period will be outsourced to professionals. But campaign-based ones can be done quite well on a budget.
For a few of our businesses, we are generating a lot of video right now. We’d be spending several thousand dollars a week to outsource everything. Quite frankly for much of it, it would be overkill. Here’s what we’re doing:
- Outsourcing the creation of motion graphics title and closing sequences
- Outsourcing creation of matching Powerpoint templates to create professional slides
- Recording the video using Camtasia
- Record and edit the audio using GoldWave
- Adding on a soundtrack for music and effects in Camtasia
- Producing/rendering in Camtasia
If you are looking at creating a single short video, trying to learn how to use all of this probably doesn’t make much sense. It would be more cost and time-effective for most people to outsource to professionals. But if you want to create multiple videos, the savings can be well worth it. You can also outsource some of the above on freelance sites.
I hope that this post helped provide some insight on video production!
Let me know your thoughts below!