In any video that’s produced, the pre-production phase is critically important. So, what is it? Pre-production begins at the onset of a video project, after contracts are signed and budgets are agreed to. It’s where the concept for a project is fully fleshed out and the implementation of it is coordinated. Essentially, it’s setting a plan in motion and preparing for production. Today we’re looking at some of the elements of creative development and pre-production at RPR Studios.
For every video we do at RPR, we always first start with an outline of a video which breaks down the structure of the final piece we’re envisioning for our client. The structure is highly dependent on the messaging that the client wants featured. Do they want to talk about their history, current service offerings, have customer testimonials, etc.? In the outline phase we figure out in what order each of the messaging points should be presented and how much time should be designated to each. For videos that are narrated by interviews, we also usually write out questions that we could ask to carry the messaging along seamlessly. Since this is the skeleton of the whole project, approval from the client on the outline is needed before we proceed with anything else.
Once the outline is approved, we start working on a script. We write scripts for clients who need very succinct messaging or would like actors to narrate and/or perform a certain way. For clients who would like a video about something very technical or specific to their business, it’s important for them to take an active role in the scripting as well. The phrase, “No one knows your business better than you!” is absolutely true here. Not all videos need a script (for example, video narratives built off of interviews), however, we usually recommend them for videos that need to pack a lot of information into a short time span. Much like the outline, a script must be approved by the client before we begin filming.
With a solid outline and/or script in hand, we next need to figure out the visuals. Location scouting is where we go to our client’s location to take pictures, get a feel for the look of their business or space, and figure out which rooms would be good for capturing broll footage and/or conducting interviews. Sometimes location scouting requires us to find a third-party location to film at. Scouting helps us to figure out lightning needs, power accessibility, space capacity, troubleshoot noise levels, and more.
Storyboarding is a process where we have an artist draw out a sequence of shots alongside the script to figure out camera framing, movement, actor/character blocking, etc. Typically, this service is only provided for animations or scripted skits with actors since these kinds of videos are very controlled. For scripted scripts, in particular, it’s a useful blueprint for the director to plan camera shots and rehearse everything with the cast and crew. For projects where a storyboard is needed, we make sure the client is happy with the storyboard since it reflects how the final video is going to be edited.
In the outlining and scripting phase we discuss actors, voice actors, and demographics with our clients to figure out what kind of talent the video should have. If it’s just a voice over narrator we need, then what kind of voice is desired by the client and what vocal quality would sound best for the video? For example, an insurance company might want a “guy-next-door” type of voice to represent them or a lumber association might like a gruff, warm, older man’s voice to speak to their members. With on-screen actors we considered acting capability and appearance on screen. We collect headshots and demos or resumes of actors interested in (and meeting the requirements) of a specific role. We then share all of this with the client so they can make preferred calls on casting. Sometimes we even conduct casting sessions where we meet with the actors and film them acting out a scene from the script to share with our clients.
Crew & Equipment
While RPR has in-house capabilities to facilitate most productions, sometimes the scope of a project requires contractors to join us and additional equipment to be rented. This is usually discussed during the budgeting phase (before pre-production), but once that’s approved, we move to find the right team members and the right tools to carry out a project as it has been envisioned. Larger projects require a larger team, so the more time delegated to pre-production, the better the coordination and execution of a video!
So, there you have it! These are the main parts of the pre-production process you’d experience with RPR Studios. Depending on the scope of a project, planning the video can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to organize—but it’s time well spent! Pre-production is an important foundation for the entire production process to be successful, and we’d be happy to help develop your next video idea. Contact us at RPR Studios today to get started!