Skillman Video Group’s Full Video Production Experience: A Case Study with EFC

Skillman Video Group commits to providing the full video production experience, from concept to creation. We cater to companies from a wide variety of industries, so we’ve determined three categories we aim to look for in potential clients.

  • The first category is that this potential client is doing something new in their industry, something unique.
  • The second category is that this company is doing something that is complicated and requires explanation and some level of intellectual curiosity to really understand.
  • The third category is that this company has a story to tell, and they need SVG’s video production medium to help frame their narrative. 

Meeting an Ideal Client: EFC

Skillman Video Production Agency on set with EFC filming a Brand Video
Behind the Scenes with EFC

Very rarely do we get a client who falls into every single one of these categories, but this spring, we had the pleasure of working with EFC, the sole domestic producer of the high-end gases that are needed to manufacture semiconductor chips.

Since 2020, the entire world has been facing a semiconductor chip shortage that has caused massive delays in the global supply chain. From military vehicles to laundry machines to your laptop and phones, almost all modern-day technology requires the use of semiconductor chips. 

Semiconductor chips are so hard to come by in part because they depend on the rare and pure gasses that are almost exclusively manufactured abroad at plants that are facing regional instabilities.

Our client, EFC, has been able to bridge this gap in the market by locating their state-of-the-art plant in the United States. This relieves a huge pain point in the world supply chain backlog, as the high-end gases needed for these semiconductor chips can be sourced directly in the United States to the necessary extremely high standards of quality on incredibly rapid timetables. 

Embracing Complexity and Creativity

Equipment setup on set at a video production shoot

We excel when we take on projects in subject-matter areas that we do not initially understand, so that we can take the time to learn everything we need to know about our clients, no matter how complicated their product or service may be.

We also take this time to educate our clients about how our industry works, and how creativity is a major part of the video production industry.

After vetting our work and looking through our website in search of a video production agency, EFC was quick to reach out to us. We were immediately intrigued by their brand’s mission, and before we knew it, we had sold our fastest brand project ever.

Accelerated Project Timeline

We wanted to implement a planned approach to this project. Projects like this typically take two months from beginning to end, but we were able to complete it within six weeks on an accelerated timeline.

Our six-step video production process here at Skillman Video Group has already been mapped out in a robust project management plan, using a software application that allows us to list all the discrete tasks, see who is responsible, set and keep to their deadlines, and communicate centrally and regularly.

Role of Project Management

As it comes to expertise and time, we were aware of certain issues that might come into play further into the process and took every opportunity we could to mitigate those risks. Our biggest help was our project manager, Heather Ray, leveraging our project management information system.

video production process with EFC
An example of a “project” in our project management information system

Simply put, without a project manager, there is no project. They allow us to have a methodical approach to creativity, so we can backwards engineer the end from the beginning to prevent problems before they happen, so we can provide projects on time and on budget. 

Constant Communication

We ensured that the creative team and our client were in constant communication.

This regular intentional contact allows our creative team here at SVG to be aware of any potential “scope creep” or changes to the original planned work, as early as possible in the process.

These “red flags” in video production could include requested changes to an important aspect of the video, such as target audience, run-time, graphics, and/or music, or additional rounds of editing that would impact success, including keeping on schedule and within budget.

Educating our clients at the beginning of the project and reiterating throughout about what exact services we are going to offer and how is all important for setting their expectations so that we can agree to keep to our original proposal or adjust the plan together as needed to meet revised qualifications for success.

If these expectations are set from the very beginning, we can then ensure that we have a seamless video production process, which is exactly why we had such an exciting time working with EFC. 

Our Six-Step Video Production Process

In the next few paragraphs, you’ll learn about our 6-step video production process with EFC. It starts with Discovery, followed by our Strategy, Creative, Pre-Planning, Production, and Post-Production. This video production process ensures we can streamline the production efficiently and accurately.

Discovery: Learning about the semiconductor industry 

The first step in our tried-and-true video production process with EFC was the Discovery phase.

This all began with a 2-hour zoom meeting between Christina Skillman, our creative director and CEO, and several marketing and leadership executives from EFC. This was a time for our clients to ask us questions, but more importantly, for us to ask them any and all questions we could think of.

Our goal was to get as much information out of them as possible—not only what we planned to use explicitly in the video but also for our better understanding of their position within their industry as well as their broader marketing strategy. 

We strive for intellectual curiosity at SVG, giving Christina no doubt in her mind that EFC was a perfect match for us. To do this right, we needed to challenge everything that they thought they knew about video production and challenge everything we thought we knew about the semiconductor industry. (If we’re being honest here, there wasn’t much in the first place!)

Learning all this information was quite a journey, and the executives at EFC even mentioned that they were incredibly impressed with the questions that Christina was asking them.

She managed to get to the root of their values with her inquiries, and then it was her job to sort through all of the information she gathered to determine the story and scope of the narrative.

An EFC lab as our background on set for our video production
An EFC lab as our background on set

We determined that the final deliverable was a two-to-three-minute promotional video production to be used at the semiconductor trade show and on EFC’s website.

The primary audiences for this final cut were propulsion and semiconductor companies. The key stakeholders who were responsible for providing feedback at every step of the editing process were the director of marketing and other high-level executives at EFC. 

Defining Key Messages and Themes

We needed to pinpoint what should be included in the video and what could be excluded by determining the key messages and key themes we wanted to present. Key messages are what need to be explicitly said, and we determined that we wanted to “say” that EFC is an innovative technology company that provides solutions, and they will always come through, no matter how hard or technical the root issue is.

The key themes are different than the messages: they are ideas that need to be implicitly represented without audibly being said. We decided that we needed to show EFC as trustworthy, cutting-edge, intelligent, passionate, responsive, versatile, and, lastly, high-end. 

These messages and themes were all listed in our Creative Brief, the document in which we record the creative vision for the video production. Most of those decisions were made during one-on-one discovery meetings between Christina and those being interviewed for the final video.

From the very beginning, Christina emphasized that it was not the interviewees’ jobs to learn a script. Scripts are stressful, difficult to remember, and can cause anxiety in front of bright lights and rolling cameras.

Crafting an Unscripted Narrative

Instead, Christina uses an unscripted approach and frames interview questions to get the answers she needs. This is why having the Creative Director at every step of the video production process with EFC was incredibly important, and the process cannot be completed without them.

She needs to get to know the interviewees during this initial discovery process, develop rapport, and keep the key messages in mind, so that on the day of the shoot, all they need to do is show up while SVG does the heavy lifting. 

Strategy: Building a Narrative

The second step in our video production process with EFC is Strategy, which is the step in which we decide what is going to be in the video. How could Christina frame this narrative to teach others what EFC is about, while also being able to market them to capture a viewer’s focus?  

Skillman Video Group's Full Video Production Experience: A Case Study with EFC 1

EFC has four ‘pillars” (values) behind their brand that they wanted to detail in the video.

Christina was able to convince the team that the video would be more impactful if they steered away from talking about their pillars in favor of demonstrating them, by showing their customers what they can do for them.

That’s what a video medium is all about, isn’t it?

Being able to convey a message through visuals, text, graphics, transition effects, sounds, music scoring, etc., without needing to say something explicitly. We helped EFC reframe the message in a more captivating way for their audience, the semiconductor industry. 

What we wanted to show in the video is that EFC will always come through. No matter how complicated or technical a project may be, they have the brains, strategy, and resources to do it and do it well. Not a lot of people can say that, and we wanted that to be a focus. 

Creative: A Documentary Style Approach 

After Strategy comes the Creative part of the video production process with EFC, where we come up with our envisioned concept.

There were different directions we could have gone in for this project. In the end, we gave two proposals to the EFC team, and they decided that they wanted to continue with an unscripted “documentary” style. In the past, they had outsourced to a different video production agency that had simply put music over still images of their factory.

These still images do not tell the story of their brand, and they lack the emotional point of view that a documentary style can give.

The documentary style allows viewers to see the conviction behind the brand. Just because the project was “unscripted” does not mean it was unplanned. Lots of feedback and back and forth went into creating the interview questions that would be asked on the shoot day in front of the camera.

If you ask the right questions, you get exactly the answers that you need. This is why Christina had the initial two-hour discovery meeting with our clients, to determine what information was necessary to show in the video production. Here are just a few examples of some of the interview questions: 

  • Can you articulate your clients’ biggest “pain point” and their biggest “want” (that you are able to solve)? 
  • What makes EFC unique, and what is at stake for your customers to get this right? 
  • What is the ONE thought or impression you want to leave your audience with after watching your video?” 

Pre-Production: Who? What? Where? 

Our next step in the video production process with EFC is pre-production, which usually includes location scouting, interview planning, and figuring out all the organization of the shoot day before it arrives.

One issue that we ran into in this project was that our location was hundreds of miles away. Skillman Video Group, our video production agency, is based in Boston, Massachusetts, but the EFC plant is based in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. This made location scouting prior to the day of the shoot more challenging.

An inside look at the infrastructure outside of the EFC plant based in Hatfield, Pennsylvania on our video production shoot
An inside look at the infrastructure outside of the EFC plant based in Hatfield, Pennsylvania

Our creative director and production team had to work off photos of the plant to decide where they wanted to stage most of the interviews, which is a calculated risk because they did not know if it would work until they were there on the day of the shoot.

We also wanted to make sure that each of our interviewees had a different background behind them, so we needed to shoot in several different sites, which is difficult, practically speaking, when you have an entire factory to run behind you. 

Ultimately, our creative director and one of our talented local (Boston-based) directors of photography (videographers) traveled down to Hatfield to be able to complete a tour of the facility on one day and a full day of shooting on the next day, June 1st.

Our creative director was able to fly down, but our videographer had a lot of heavy, high-end video production equipment that he had to drive all the way down to Pennsylvania. Our crew also included an outsourced audiographer who operates out of the Pennsylvania area to capture audio for the project.

When the CEO of EFC was unable to travel to Pennsylvania for the shoot day, we worked with his team to coordinate a separate, streamlined half-day shoot at their Hoptkinton, MA-based administrative headquarters to conduct his video interview. Because we had planned ahead and were using the same videographer and multiple sites for the interviews, the footage integrated seamlessly into the final video production. 

Production: Capturing the footage 

Behind the Scenes image at a video production shoot at EFC
Christina Skillman, CEO of SVG & Director of Photography Behind the Scenes at EFC

The next step might be just the most crucial step in this entire video production process with EFC, in the sense that concept is first being converted into actual content, and that’s production!

Video “Production” covers the entire shoot day but needs to be meticulously planned well in advance of this big day, so that everything can be captured within the limited period allowed.

The call sheet for the day was coordinated and precise, where each step for each teammate was broken down by the minute to ensure that nothing was forgotten.

Whether that means parking organization, time out for breaks and lunches, or even ensuring there were enough outlets for the video production equipment!

All these details need to be facilitated so that the focus can remain on capturing the footage that conveys the key messages and key themes. 

At the Hatfield plant, because outside shots of the plant tell the story of EFC’s scale, the crew had to arrive early enough that they could have ideal lighting. Our videographer even used drones to capture impressive flyover B-roll footage of the plant.

Safety is a priority for EFC, so when our SVG team was able to walk the plant, they always needed a security officer with them. Personal protection equipment, like steel-toed boots, goggles, and gloves, was also incredibly important to ensure that everyone involved in the shoot was safe and followed the factory’s standards.  

Post-Production: Putting it all together 

Now we get to the most time-consuming video production step, post-production.

We only had one month to edit the raw footage and audio into the final EFC video, not as much as it might sound like. At SVG, for a video production project of this nature, we typically guarantee that our client sees four successive versions of the video before delivery of the final, where after each version we schedule time for client review and feedback.

After we make the necessary changes, we show the client the 2nd version, 3rd, and finally – the 4th. By the fourth, the client should have had the opportunity to provide sufficient input to be pleased with the final version.

The first version is always a “rough cut.” We distilled the raw footage to an assembly of clips that we deemed most important and compelling, so in this case, the two hours of raw footage were condensed into 6 minutes of play time.

We knew we needed to cut that down to at most 2 ½ minutes, so we solicited client feedback for their discernment on what else to keep and cut. (This was the stage at which we refocused EFC on showing their four pillars rather than spelling them out.).

Once we worked together to get that narrative right, the second version was just cutting and re-ordering interviews; further effects are added after these 1st and 2nd versions are approved. 

In order to proceed from one version to the next, there had to be constant communication between the editing team, the creative director, and the client. This was all facilitated by our project manager through our project management plan and tool and weekly check-in virtual meetings.

Using Skillman Video Group’s existing video production processes, we have a comprehensive outline of tasks that need to be completed in a sequential order with an understanding of their dependencies and impact on producing the next timely deliverable. 

Between the 2nd and 3rd versions is where we normally add the music, B-roll footage, effects, and graphics. That is when the video really starts coming to life, when we move from the narrative and the realm of imagination to the actual style points taking shape—the most rewarding part of the video production process with EFC! 

B-roll image for a video production agency captured in the lab at EFC
B-roll image captured in the lab at EFC

By the 3rd version, anything could still be changed if the client felt it just wasn’t working for some reason. Then we’d be in touch to discuss specific edits that would reflect the brand or tell the story more effectively.

By this point, we have communicated extensively about creative direction, and we are often on the same page, as we were with EFC. We used our video production review tool to collect their final minimal and concise feedback on these new style points, including from any other stakeholders who should review and approve the content before it was finalized. 

Once the client provided their minor feedback on version four, we had an audio technician filter out most of the background machine noise, and our editor color corrected to really make our interviewees pop! 

Because the EFC video would be shown at SEMICON in a huge and crowded exhibit hall, where sound was unlikely to be heard, we ordered closed captioning not only that EFC could include on their website for viewers to toggle on and off, but also a “burned in” version so that they would always display for the version on loop at their event booth. 

SVG made sure that EFC had access to all of the digital files for download of their final full-resolution export of the video in the proper aspect ratio and video format that they could use for all of their marketing needs, confirmed their sign-off that all qualifications for successful completion of the project were met, and scheduled time to debrief with them on how the video production project went from their point of view. 

The Skillman Video Group Guarantee 

Our guarantee here at Skillman Video Group is that if the video that we provide does not meet the expectations that we set in our original proposal or a mistake is made on the part of SVG that has affected the quality of the final video, we will reshoot and re-edit the footage at our own cost.

We can make this guarantee because we are confident that our process will lead both us and the client to a great final version.

We spend so much time planning our approach to video production and in the discovery phase to ensure that we really understand the message they want and that we provide the narrative that they need. In the end, EFC loved the video that we created for them. 

That’s the difference here at Skillman Video Group: we commit to providing the full video production experience, from concept to creation. Whether that means writing scripts, staging scenes, or just being creative consultants – our 6-step video production process for delivering videos at a high level of quality on time is what sets us apart. SVG takes the heavy lifting out of the client’s hands and into the care of our extremely qualified team. 

Creating Lasting Partnerships

It’s important to remember that 95% of our clients have never worked with a creative agency like us before. Most are unfamiliar with video production processes and can be overwhelmed by the number of steps we need to take to ensure a successful project.

At the end of the day, it’s our job to know what to do and we take it in our hands to lead our clients in the right direction. We create partnerships with our clients where we become their seasoned guides.

The Completed Video: