Planning and Production Guidelines
for Corporate/Training Videos

These general suggestions can make a video producer's job easier by helping the video production process run smoothly.

Planning

Closely define training objectives. A specific purpose and well-defined goals for the video project will help you prevent elaborate and costly post-production work later.

Find out how the client wishes to present information once you know the preferred format (demonstration, interview, news show, panel, etc.), you can research your options for location equipment special effects, and so on.

Contact vendors and list prices for every item or service you may need: studio rental charges, set design and construction, professional talent, video format (1/2", 3/4", or 1") equipment rental costs, crew salaries, editing. etc.

Present your budget to the client and be prepared to back up each price quote with sources. Document your calls to vendors by writing down the name of the person you spoke with, the company they represent, and a short note describing your conversation.

Make sure your budget provides adequately for operation expenses and the costs of repairing and maintaining equipment.

Visit production houses to find out how professionals perform the various production processes, how they cut costs, and how they get the effects they need.

Talk to other trainers who produce video. Ask for advice on scriptwriting, camera angles and shots, lighting arrangements, location and studio shooting, editing. etc.

Examine the equipment they use and try to take the opportunity to watch them in action so you can pick up tips on direct ting talent and giving instructions to technicians.

When planning training content for your video tape, keep your material to a minimum. Too much secondary information can weaken the impact of your message. Stick with key points and don't overload your program with excessive detail.

Always use a client‑approved script to avoid expensive changes later. Your script should include all the necessary in formation and required narration. If there are any questions about content, complete all rewrites and get approvals before you begin shooting.

Prepare yourself by learning the script. You'll have only seconds to check it during the shooting. Know the content and refer to the script only for reminders and cues.

Pay special attention to difficult segments, for example, at the beginnings and endings of programs during which music, graphics, camera moves, and cues often occur simultaneously. Study these segments in detail thinking through your directions. Rehearse the commands until you are comfortable doing so without the script. This will enable you to observe the action instead of following a along with the script.

Review and study the lighting arrangement, floor plan, and prop list. This will help you plan shots and organize props in advance.

Time your program. As you rehearse, note how you are using time so you will be careful not to lose or waste any. This can help you know when you may have to push hardest to stay on schedule.

Plan and think through every move of the production sequence to keep problems or weak spots to a minimum during the shoot. Some examples of avoidables : shadows from boom microphones, insufficient time to break from one shot to another, one audio sourece and limited time to cue up for several different sound effects.

Use a storyboard to visualize each shot as it corresponds with the narration and captions. You can't determine how to shoot a scene from the script alone. Determine long shots, medium shots, close‑ups, graphics, etc, and illustrate them on the storyboard.

Decide where to locate your shoot. If your organization has the right space - an office or conference room - check the noise level of the surrounding area and make sure you'll be free of disruption during the shoot. Studios, though expensive to rent offer a quiet controlled atmosphere.

Always scout out the location. Find out if you can drive the equipment directly to the spot on which you must shoot. Look for outlets and power sources. Determine whether there's sufficient room lighting conditions and equipment. And make sure you have written permission to shoot in the desired location. This agreement should specify the date and time for the shooting and the name of the person to whom you should report.

Don't be afraid to delegate responsibilities. Each crew member should have a specific set of tasks. Hand out lighting plans, prop lists, and copies of the storyboard to assistant directors or camera operators to show them the shots and the set up for props. Give the audio engineer a script for checking sound levels and cues

If the budget allows, arrange to use professional talent. Talent agencies charge 10 to 15 percent of the actor's pay but save you time locating the right person. Double check the accuracy of the agency's choice by reviewing videotapes of the actor's work

If you must use nonprofessionals, try to budget for a professional narrator. The presence of a trained actor will add polish and smoothness to your production.

Always get signed releases from every individual who is speaking and appearing in the video but does not have an agent representing them. When they sign a release, they give you permission to use their voices and likenesses. This is the only way to protect yourself and the organization from a possible suit.

Throughout the planning stage assess the strengths and weaknesses of both your staff and your equipment. If you are aware of your limitations you'll be able to compensate for them by focusing on solid capabilities. This awareness can help you plan to avoid pitfalls. For example, you'll be able to edit out or change parts of the script that cannot be accomplished with your available resources.

Be certain that clients, managers, and decision makers fully comprehend the demands, costs benefits, and limitations of the video project. Keep them apprised of any necessary adjustments and always obtain their approval before making any major changes.

 

Production

Keep the video short and simple.  Experts say a maximum of eight minutes of viewing time is optimal. If pre‑production time and the budget are limiteded, aim for a maximum of five minutes. The exact length, of course, depends on the nature and scope of the instructional material but it is important lo remember that attention spans are short, so the shorter the program the better.

Be creative. Imaginative designs, graphics and editing good writing and research are the keys to quality, not sophisticated equipment and big budgets.

Throughout the production process, be receptive to changes, new ideas, and suggestions. Flexibility and openness to change will add freshness and creativity to your project.

Cover yourself by overshooting. No take is perfect. If you're not sure about a shot, shoot it several times until you're happy with it.

Shoot more than enough cutaways (an example would be an interviewer shaking his or her head). You'll need this footage later to help you cover disorienting jump shots and poor edits.

Label every tape. Whether shooting on location or in a studio be sure to assign a production crew member the responsibility of keeping track of tapes and labeling them correctly. This is the best way to ensure against timeconsuming mix ups.