Building a Video

16 June 2011

Several times each week I am asked how long it will take to make a quick 5 minute video.

Before working with visual media as a career I would have been disappointed to find out it takes longer than 5 minutes which is what most would assume – especially when it’s a last minute request.

The process of creating a great video and telling an engaging story is one of the most misunderstood processes today and unless you’ve personally worked on a project yourself, it is hard to understand why it takes so long and/or potentially costs so much.

So for those in the visual media line of work who would like a way to help others understand, or if you’re the boss or client who needs to know why “they take so long just to make your ‘quick’ video”, I hope this helps 😉

THE PROCESS OF CREATING A VIDEO IS LIKE BUILDING A HOUSE:

ARCHITECT = PRE-PRODUCTION

When you decide you want to build a house (or in my case a video) you need to start by having an ARCHITECT draw up plans to suit your specific needs. No matter how big or small the house, a plan or blueprint is required to make sure that the final construction meets the needs and goals of the owner. Without a well thought-out plan you will end up with a chaotic final product that more often than not, won’t achieve the goal you began with.

In creating a video we call this planning stage PRE-PRODUCTION. In Pre-Production, a Producer (or often a collaboration of Producers/journalists/Directors) research and gather the information associated with the project. Together they decide what the message needs to communicate and the best way to communicate it to the audience. Other decisions are made in creating a visual style and what feelings they need to emote in the audience etc. This process requires significant time as ideas not well thought through will create major problems when the building stage of the project begins.

PREPARING THE BUILDING MATERIALS = FILMING

Once the Architect has finished the blueprint and specific details for the builders, the MATERIALS are purchased and prepared ready for construction. When creating a video this process is called FILMING or PRODUCTION. The success of this stage relies heavily on the work done in PRE-PRODUCTION. In PRODUCTION the building blocks of your story are acquired; this includes the research and organisation of interviews and shot lists to tell the story. The filming process is carried out by a team typically made up of Producer(s), Director, Production Manager, Camera Operator(s) and assistants, Sound Recordist and assistants, Lighting Director(s) and assistants.The quality of materials gathered will determine the quality of your final building. Short cuts in acquiring your story elements will have a direct impact on the quality of the story you are able to tell and the message you hoped to deliver.

CONSTRUCTION = EDITING

Now that you have the floor plans and construction brief from the Architect and your materials (footage) have been sourced and delivered, you are ready to start building the house using qualified and skilled CRAFTSMEN. When creating a video we call this stage EDITING. The foundation for the house is poured and set to the standard needed allowing the house frame to be built. This is the EDITING process that builds and tells the story, collating the interviews, voiceovers or titles to verbally communicate the message.

Once this frame is up, the next stage requires brick laying, drywall,
flooring, windows etc. This is where the editor finds and edits-in the shots that best illustrate the story (known as overlay) and finds (or has a composer create) the music score to compliment the mood needed for the various stages of the project; all with the aim of effectively communicating the message set out in the ARCHITECTS plans at the PRE-PRODUCTION STAGE.

Just as CRAFTSMEN are overseen by a SITE MANAGER or FOREMAN, an editor and music composer work closely with the project Producer and Director to ensure the elements being edited are achieving the end result set out in the PRE-PRODUCTION Stage.

Just like constructing a house, this process can often be the most time consuming of all the processes, even if the original plans don’t change from the Architects original.

PAINTING/DECORATING = COLOUR GRADING/SOUND MIXING

As you approach the final stage of construction, you will have the basics of house finished; the walls will be up, fittings attached and roof on but it¹s still looking raw and unfinished with many of the bare materials still showing. Like a PAINTER paints the mood of each room a COLOUR GRADER and SOUND MIXER put the finishing touches to the project, smoothing out and covering any divots or visual abnormalities, ensuring a consistent finish throughout the video.

IN CLOSING
The success of any construction can only be measured by how well it resembles the original plan.

Ben Field

For more from Hillsong Film please visit film.hillsong.com