Has your current video content production cycle ever gone something like this: 

You have an amazing video content idea, so, you push the button and the red light shines bright as you stare at the camera and blink. 

What were you going to say? And where is that prop you had in mind? Should you have a whiteboard or easel? How much should you talk or say versus do and show? How long should this video be?

This is the stuff of nightmares!

Nothing is worse than thinking you’re ready then discovering you’re not. Thus beginning the terrible “start and stop” cycle on repeat.

This is what happens when you don’t have a solid video pre-production plan.

What is Pre-Production?

Pre-production is the planning and organizational process that sets up the structure of your video and prepares you for a smooth execution. Some dread this phase as it’s generally considered non-creative and boring. 

But it’s imperative to understand that without a solid video pre-production plan, your creative elements will fail. Adding this level of structure to your video production actually allows for an amplified creative process– you know everything you need before you start. The more you can prepare creatively, the more you can be certain your vision is accomplished. 

Video pre-production planning can also help you prevent mistakes before they happen. It is far more costly to fix a mistake than to talk yourself out of making it in the first place. This takes away so much of the stress typically involved in video production! You’re far more likely to produce more video content (and enjoy doing it!) if you can eliminate the headache before it starts. 

Your Message – Beginning To End

Whether or not you’re planning to use a script that will be read verbatim, you must know your overall message or story. Become laser focused on one idea and know the end of the story before you begin.

If you don’t plan out your messaging, you may end up with a hodgepodge of great ideas but ones that don’t tell a clear story. Or worse, the outcome you want your viewers to reach may never be fully realized. 

I’m sure you’re full of great ideas– don’t get stuck in the trap of trying to stuff them all into one video. For the greatest level of impact, spread your big ideas out over multiple videos or consider producing a series.

Here are a few thought provoking questions to work through that will help you flesh out the plan for your video:

What is the outcome you want for your viewers?

Not all video production can simply be for entertainment value. Most producers need to give value and take their clients on a journey. 

  • Where is your viewer headed? 
  • What are their values?
  • Are you moving them from a place of unaware to aware? 
  • Or from awareness to action? 

How will you start them on this path? 

The beginning sets the stage for the outcome. If the beginning is dry and boring, the viewer may never get to the desired outcome. Instead, start strong.

What techniques or mechanisms suit your style that you want to employ in your storytelling? 

Style is everything and you and your brand probably have a certain reputation to uphold. Or perhaps you’re still developing that reputation and every impression counts. Whatever the case may be, consider what unique methods or mechanisms you can employ that will give the viewer an idea of who you are and what you’re about.

How will they be consuming this video? 

Will it be posted on public or private channels? Are you uploading to learning management software? The forum for your content will influence the format for your video. Plan accordingly. 

The Script

Answering these questions and solidifying the message for your video in pre-production, before you ever press record, will help you develop a clear script. 

Even if you’re simply using organized topical cues, a script will help you begin to orchestrate who will take on what role and what technical equipment, props and setting elements will be required. 

Equipment: Gear, Props and Digital Assets

Now that you’ve settled on WHAT you’re shooting, it’s time to figure out what’s needed to actually make it happen. 

Ensure your pre-production plan includes a detailed list of tools and equipment to avoid frustrating operational and scheduling delays.

You can’t “cue smoke machines” if it wasn’t part of your pre-production plan to rent one. Which probably means it also didn’t make it into the budget. Now you have a time delay AND a money problem. Or you’ll have to compromise on your vision. 

Compile a comprehensive list of all the technical equipment and props you and your team will need before you start shooting.  Don’t forget to include digital assets like graphics, thumbnails, text overlays, etc. These are all vital elements to ensure you can achieve the desired final product. 

You can outwork potential failure by developing and implementing your comprehensive video pre-production plan! 

Plan to Succeed 

It’s clear video content will help elevate your brand presence and reach more of your target demographic. So be sure you create the highest video quality content by planning for success. 

America’s well loved inventor from days past said it best: 

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Benjamin Franklin

Torrey Tayenaka is the co-founder and CEO at Sparkhouse, an Orange County based video production agency. He is often asked to contribute expertise in publications like Entrepreneur, Single Grain and Forbes. Sparkhouse is known for transforming video marketing and advertising into real conversations.Rather than hitting the consumer over the head with blatant ads, Sparkhouse creates interesting, entertaining and useful videos that enrich the lives of his clients’ customers. In addition to Sparkhouse, Torrey has also founded the companies Eva Smart Shower, Litehouse & Forge54.

Video production stock image by gnepphoto/Shutterstock