5 things you should look for in a video production company


Video Production Company - batchfilmsSo you need a video, yes?

You and or your superiors are expecting something that stands out from the crowd, yes?  Something that drives your brand forward and your message right into the heart of viewers?  Hmmm.

It used to be that getting a professional glossy video produced for your business had to go through an expensive ad or digital creative agency.  If not, a “corporate” video production company could make something “for cheap” that often ended up looking rather “industrial”.

Nowadays there are a lot of small creative video production houses that can create fantastic videos in a wide range of creative styles.  But not all the video production companies have the same level of experience, know-how and skill.

Although new technology in the last decade has greatly facilitated video and film production, making a video is still an involved process.  There is lot of planning and coordinating that goes into an effective video so you will want to work with someone who is at the very least experienced.

A video production company specializes specifically in the production of digital video content.  Of course, various ad agencies can also provide video production services but it is likely that they will outsource the production process to a video production house.

It’s important to remember that video production companies can sometimes be run by people who know a lot about operating equipment, managing footage and coordinating projects but may not have the creative approach and resources that ad agencies have.  I should say however that this situation is slowly changing as more and more video production houses are functioning as “video production agencies”.  It’s nonetheless important to choose a video production company that can show a portfolio that depicts the various creative styles and general visual brand excellence that will be a fit for you.

The benefit of using a video production company will generally relate to cost.  A video production house will likely charge less than a traditional ad agency.  Furthermore their customer service approach might be more personal and less corporate-like.

I certainly don’t want to cast a bad light on agencies as they can produce wonderful content.  I have worked with many and we have all seen the awesome advertising content they can offer.  If your project is part of a large digital marketing strategy and includes multiple facets across many business functions, I would say the guidance of a recognized creative agency is in order.

But if what you want is a well crafted video that tells your story in an engaging and compelling manner, a video production company can do the job – as long as it’s right one.

Here is what you should look for:

1-Project management

Producing a video is most often an elaborate project and requires good project management skills above and beyond those of lighting, editing and operating cameras.  To ensure that your project doesn’t turn into a ball of confusion with missed deadlines, miss-managed components and last minute phone calls to alternative cinematographers, make sure your chosen company has a team with a proven track record for project management.

If their portfolio includes videos that show multiple locations with multiple interviews, you can safely assume that the project spanned over many dates and required someone to co-ordinate the details.  Did the client have to help manage these details or did the provider take care of everything? Ask for references.

A good production team will provide a well prepared project timeline with clear goals and milestones and highlight the tasks that you, the client, are expected to carry out in order for the project to move forward smoothly (like ensuring drafts get reviewed by the relevant people in your company and providing feedback to the video producer in a timely manner).  They should also state how many “passes” or editing changes you can request during the post-production process before the video is completed.

2-Experience

You will want to verify that they have an appropriate amount of experience.  There are many people today who are starting up video production companies.  They are talented and committed.  If you know any of them and trust them and if they fit the profile you are looking for then that could be a great match.  Otherwise, you will want to look for a production house that has been around the block several times and that can provide solid results.  Again, look at their portfolio, see how many videos they produced.

Experience can also be expressed as a sum of the combined experience from all team members.  Does the company have a solid team, does it have an educated approach to choosing outsourced talents, actors and voices?  There is also a lot to be said about companies with dedicated offices and staff. They’ve been around for a while and you know they can be held accountable.  Overnight start-ups are a little trickier that way.

3-Creative ability

Creativity is very subjective so there is no right or wrong answer here.  You may not need expensive visual effects or a clever twist ending to convey your message.  Sometimes a simple concept with a carefully crafted visual approach can yield wonderful results.  Your chosen producer should be able to discern what will work for you and not try to sell you on a big expensive production if that’s not what you need.

Being creative is often about finding ways to make a compelling video within the client’s means and not about coming up with wild and crazy ideas.  If wild and crazy is what you want, a good production company should still be able to present any idea, wild or simple, in a comprehensive document that includes a storyboard and or a well prepared script.

4-Good communication skills

Good communication skills go hand in hand with good project management.  But beyond that, a good communicator must also be a good listener.  It’s very important that your video producer takes the time to listen to your vision, your story, your expectations.  This information is crucial in order to understand what a successful outcome will look like.  If your producer prefers to talk about their story instead, their vision, their equipment, their contacts, it might be sign that the project will proceed according to their vision and not yours.

5-Budget Conscious

It is important that your video production provider can prepare a detailed and realistic budget that clearly demonstrates where your money is going.  It’s also important that the producer can execute on this budget and deliver the intended video without last minute extra costs.  There are certainly cases when the client asks for extra components that were not included in the initial budget like an alternative cut, different language voice over, video copies on branded USB drives, more footage, etc.  But if the budget was clear form the beginning then both parties are clear on what is included and what isn’t, which greatly helps to manage expectations.

A note about budgets.  A video can be expensive, yes.  There are certainly many ways to make them more affordable but I have seen video projects stifled by low budgets that resulted in a product that was either mediocre at best or simply of no use.  In the end, however low the budget was set, the money spent was wasted.  Take the time to reflect on what kind of video you want, what kind of outcome you are looking for and find out from your provider the various costs involved.  Then decide whether you want to proceed with a professional video production or not.

In conclusion, producing a good video requires multiple components and a good team to create and execute.  The best video production company ultimately makes it simple for you, the client, and takes care of the nuts and bolts behind the scene while keeping you involved and aware enough in order for you to make the right decisions.  Take the time to talk with your provider and make your expectations clear from the beginning.  Demand a clear budget and project timeline.  A video can represent a significant investment for a company so it’s worth doing your homework to find a provider that will efficiently create and produce a video that you can use.

I would love to see any comments anyone might have on this subject as producing videos is a constantly evolving art/science and production companies must evolve as well.


About Sebastian Howard

Sebastian Howard has been crafting videos and documentary films for over ten years while partnering with various agencies as a producer/director for Batchfilms. He lives in Montreal (sometimes Toronto) and spends most of his off time trying to convince his 10 year old daughter that he's cool, he's in, he's down with it - to no avail.

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