A Guide To Our Video Production Process

Of course every production has its own unique set of challenges but here is a general overview of key stages in the process and of our approach to them.
There are three main production phases of any film, TV commercial or web video;  Pre-Production, Production and Post - Production.

1. Pre-Production

The Brief         
Your brief allows us to give the writer the information he needs, to formulate relevant creative ideas.

We want to discover:
Who the video is aimed at?
What does it have to tell them?
What Marketing Insights/Research can you share?
What are key priorities?
Where/how it will be shown?
Roughly how long it should be?
Will we need different versions?
When do we need to deliver?
What is your budget for this video?

Initial Creative Direction and Approach
We will discuss some preliminary creative options: What is the tone and style of the video. Should it be comedic, dramatic, straight documentary or a combination?
Will we record sync. Sound, or use a narrator? Do we need actors, models
or real people? Should we consider adding music and/or Sound FX? Will there likely be Visual FX?
Are we using stunt artistes, animals or children?
Of course any of these choices could change for the final idea or script but it gives us a creative and budgetary starting point.

Our Initial Proposal

Following our first discussion, we’ll give you a summary of our initial creative ideas and intended approach to the project.
We will follow up with an initial cost estimate and Outline Schedule.

Go-Ahead for Creative Concept and Script
If you wish to proceed, you will first need to commission a Creative Concept and/or Script and approve the fees for this work as shown in our estimate. These will be invoiced upon your commissioning of the work and are payable within 30 days.
Once you’re happy with the Script/Creative Concept we can proceed to Production Budget approval.
If you wish us to do more conceptual work or script writing, we will do so at an agreed cost.
If for any reason you decide not to proceed with the video production, please note that we will retain all associated Creative Concept/Script-writing fees.
You will own The Script at this point.

Production Budget Approval/Contract and Go-Ahead
We will need you to sign and approve the final production budget plus our contract, prior to giving us the go-ahead to commence production.
At this point we would also hope to agree a detailed schedule for the production, including deadlines for pre-production meeting, shoot dates, dates for viewing the rough cut and fine cut, completion and final delivery requirements.

Blake + Company bills 75% of the production budget to you on signature of our contract and expects payment no later than one week prior to the first day of shooting. This is because we start spending money as soon as the job is awarded and our margins do not permit us to ‘bankroll’ productions.
The final 25% will be billed on presentation of the Rough Cut and we would expect payment prior to delivery of the final video. On productions with very slender margins we bill full payment in advance.

2. Production

We will start planning the logistics of the shoot and will want to discuss your production requirements in detail. For example: What is the best way to demonstrate your product? Is there specific corporate property or signage which needs to be featured? We may need to know who is supplying examples of product or packaging. Do we need to have packs and labels optimized for filming? Will special storage be required? Are there particular staff members you want to see in the film? We’ll also need to know who will attend the shoot from the client side and go over transport and accommodation arrangements.

We will start our search for actors or models if needed. This may be done by an on-line open call or by use of a specialized Casting Director and their facilities. Once a short-list has been established our Director will personally meet with the selected actors in order to make his final choices.
We will send you video of his recommended talent for your approval, along with any 'back-ups' that have been selected.   
If necessary we will re-cast with the extra cost being passed on to you.

Set Design and Build
If appropriate, we will commission set designs from a production designer and will send sketches to you
for approval prior to going ahead with the set build.

Location Scouting
We will scout for locations and take reference photos.  After you’ve approved them, we secure the selected locations for our shoot dates, having obtained the necessary permits.

Pre-Production Meeting
This is our final consultation with you prior to the commencement of filming. It’s the last chance to ensure that we’re all on the same page and agree upon all controllable aspects of the upcoming shoot.
It is vital that all key decision-makers and stakeholders with authority to approve the final film are present or represented at this meeting.
Changes made to any aspect of the shoot after the Pre-Production Meeting may result in significant additional costs to you.

The Shoot
Filming is usually a fun and fulfilling process but it can also be frustrating at times.  Getting the right shot is extremely important and it often takes a few takes before arriving at one that is deemed good enough. There is no point in compromising for the sake of convenience; the end result will be disappointing. Moving and resetting the camera, along with setting up lights and ancillary equipment can be a time consuming business, so be prepared for plenty of ‘waiting time’.
Along with the Director and Actors, a location crew may include a Line Producer, Director of Photography, an Assistant Director, Camera Assistant, Sound Recordist, Make Up, Wardrobe and Script(Continuity) Supervisors, Props Supervisor, Video Payback Engineer, Data Technician, Lighting Electricians,  and a number of Production Assistants.
If the shoot is in a studio set, we might add a Production Designer, Art Director, Set Dresser, Carpenters, Riggers and Painters to the mix.
As the client, can I be on Set?
Yes! We welcome and need your input. If you think an actor is not doing something the way your company (or your audience) would expect it to be done, say so. If there's something in the shot that's not right for technical, safety or PR reasons, tell the director at once. Where possible, the crew will provide you with a monitor so that you can watch the action as the camera sees it.

Payments to Actors and Models (Talent)
Blake + Company will negotiate appropriate ‘buy out’ fees for acting and modelling talent along with those for appearances by ‘real people’ and extras in accordance with your budget. We may choose to enlist the services of a talent payroll service if ‘residual fees’ are payable, as in the case of TV commercials for broadcast in the USA and use of SAG (union) talent.

3. Post-Production

The footage is transferred to a lower resolution format and loaded into Editor’s Data Storage System. The Director and Editor then examine all the video from the shoot, condensing it to a ‘Selects’ roll.
Some Directors then sit with the Editor through the whole assembly/editing process, while others prefer to let the Editor try his own cut first, which they view with him when it’s finished; then they work together to make revisions, usually experimenting with several different edits until arriving at a 'Rough Cut' for first client viewing. Total time for this process, up until Rough Cut stage would average at about 6-7 days for a 30 or 60 second commercial and could be several weeks for longer projects.
On completion we will present the Rough Cut to you and will welcome your comments. We then make any revisions that are agreed upon before re-presenting the work. At this point you need to get approval from any colleagues/stakeholders who are part of your decision making process. We allow up to two rounds of revisions to the original Rough Cut before charging for extra editing work.
The final agreed edit is known as the Fine Cut, once this is approved we move on with the finishing stages of post-production work. Please note that any changes made to the edit after this point will result in extra editing costs to you and may also involve expensive reworking of elements such as Soundtracks, Titles or Visual FX and Transitions.

Narration: Usually recorded by a professional voiceover in a recording studio.
After consultation with you, the Director will select a narrator that he feels is appropriate for your film, We'll be happy to let you hear an example of their work in advance of the recording session to get your approval. Note that the Narrator’s fee may be subject to ‘residual’ payments in the case of SAG artistes working on TV commercials.

 This can add huge impact to your video. It can be used for intros or as background throughout the video.
Music can be sourced as follows:
Commercial recordings: These will be very expensive - literally thousands of dollars even for a corporate training video.
Original music: Composed and recorded to order for your production. This is still pretty costly.
Library music: Ready made background music, for which you pay royalties, usually for set time periods which are renewable. You may also be able to buy a library track ‘in perpetuity’ with no expiry on the usage.
Library music is by far the least expensive option but does involve time consuming research by the Director and/or Editor. This will be allowed for in our post-production budget.

Sound FX may also be recorded or obtained from a library to add atmosphere to your video.

​Titles and Visual FX

For higher budget productions, we may bring in specialist graphics and/or Visual FX companies
to create customized or animated title graphics or Visual FX. This work will most likely have been foreseen and in the budget but if it is an afterthought it will result in extra costs to you.
For lower budget productions we will have already included basic title and transition work in the Post-Production budget.
​Changes to titles and transitions (dissolves etc.) already agreed upon and executed will result in extra cost to you.

The delivery mix for your video will depend upon where it's going.

For broadcast TV  we’ll ‘conform’ the video and then distribute via a specialist company.

For web broadcast we will deliver as per your specifications..

Blake + Company can partner with Branding/Seeding specialists for SEO, to maximize traction for your web content, (additional fees apply).

That's it!
We hope you found this guide useful and look forward to working with you.