Production has the lights, cameras, and action; post-production has the joy of watching it all come together, but pre-production is arguably the least glamorous part of making filmed or animated content. It’s all about conversations; about ideas being conceived, developed, and shot down; in no small way, it’s also about writers (ugh).

Yet if pre-production is the least glamorous part of the production process, it’s probably the most important – and any experienced video agency will have it nailed down from the get-go. Not only will they have a clear methodology in place, but they’ll also be able to talk you through each stage of creating your film: from idea right through to master copy.

But first: what is pre-production, and why is it so important?

What is Pre-Production?

Well, it’s more or less what it sounds like: the bit before production. It’s where you make the decisions that dictate the final shape of your video – long or short, live-action or animated, black and white vs. colour – in advance of actually shooting or animating it.

The initial conversations you have should cover the following areas:

Objectives. What do you hope to achieve? This can be something like encouraging more site visits, winning more clients, or simply raising awareness – but be sure you’re not just making a video to make a video.

Timescale. When do you need it, and is it achievable given the budget and notice you’ve given to your clients?

Video type. Whether you’re going for traditional live-action filmed content or animation, whether you want to emphasise voice-over, motion graphics, or both, let your video agency know about it.

Scripting. Are you confident in your in-house writers, or would you prefer to leave it to the agency? Some companies will have their own in-house scriptwriting professionals to assume the burden for you.

Distribution. Who’s it for and how are you getting it to them? Are you going to use it in presentations, in broadcast, or on your website? Know before you commission your video and life will be much easier.

At TopLine, we manage all aspects of this process in-house, and we’ve got it nailed down: from pre-production through to delivery. As a video production agency, we’ll have the above in mind constantly during the pre-production process – and because we make it our business to know our stakeholders, their audience, and their objectives inside and out, we’ll ask a LOT of questions upfront; maybe even to the point where it seems unnecessary.

But the more you get right in the early going, the more you get right throughout the entire production process: it means less editing time, less confusion around messaging and maybe even lower costs. When soliciting production partners, then, it’s vital to choose wisely: ask them to talk through project milestones, sign off processes, and explain how they work internally. Insist on knowing who your points of contact are, and on having access to them at all (reasonable) times.

If they don’t agree, don’t work with them. A video is an expensive investment, but it can also be an opportunity to raise awareness, engagement, leads, and even revenue. Without a robust pre-production process, it’s an opportunity that’s easily wasted.

Want to get the ball rolling on your corporate video? Contact Jamie Field, our head of production, to discuss your brief.