Step 6 of the Video Production Process with GPC: The Skillman Post-Production Solution
In the Video Production process here at Skillman video group, we’ve curated six steps to creating the perfect final product for a client. These steps are Discovery, Strategy, Creative, Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production. To read a bit more about the rest of the video production process with GPC, check out our blog post on our experience with Gustavo Preston here.
This isn’t the first time that we had worked with Gustavo Preston. They’ve been clients of ours since April 2019 when we had done several 3D animation videos for their company.
Gustavo Preston provides innovative water filtration systems for large commercial buildings, resolves fluid handling equipment issues, and provides preventative maintenance solutions for companies all over the New England Area. They have been a family-owned business since 1881 and approached us at Skillman Video Group to aid them in creating a brand video that represents their core values.
Gustavo Preston entered into this brand video production with us in early 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic started before a shoot day could even be scheduled. During the length of a pandemic, the video production shoot still couldn’t be arranged because of extreme Coronavirus restrictions. It wasn’t until the fall of 2021 when we were able to continue our work, but unfortunately experienced numerous other delays that pushed the project into March of 2022.
When we were finally able to resume our first step was to teach our client, Gustavo Preston, our video production process and come to an agreement on the logistics of the final product. Although we’d worked with Gustavo Preston in the past, the process for a brand video production like this one is much different than the process for a 3D animation video production, like the one we had done prior to the pandemic. Brand videos require constant back and forth between the client and the video production company, with several different versions of the final video – and many more hours of work and editing. Educating our clients on what this video production process entails is essential for managing expectations and future success.
The final deliverable was determined to be a 2-3 minute branded video to be used on Gustavo Preston’s website. The primary audiences that Gustavo Preston was targeting with this video were property/building managers focusing on the aftermarket/service market. Any secondary audiences were determined to be potential employees or building engineers.
Before restarting this project in 2022, Christina Skillman, our CEO and creative director here at Skillman video group had committed to being both the creative director and the editor on this project. Taking on two roles of such high importance for these types of video production projects can be a double-edged sword!
On the one hand, the Creative Director and the editor have the same mind – and the same vision. It allowed Christina to work much faster because there did not need to be constant feedback between different individuals. On the other hand, a video production of this caliber means a lot of work for both of those roles. Typically, we employ freelance editors, but Christina had offered her time and expertise in the editor role because Gustavo Preston was a legacy client for the company.
One thing we knew we needed for this video was visually enticing backgrounds. Gustavo Preston is an innovative and heavy industrial company. The HR and marketing offices are not representative of the work that they do and having their employees sit in an office and talk about their client experiences doesn’t do them justice. Heavier industrial facilities like theirs offer attractive visuals, which is why we used part of it as a background. We were also able to capture some of the interviews at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a few other locations in the Seaport area of Boston.
The Creative Side of Video Production
At Skillman video group the 6th step in our video production process is Post-production. This is the stage in which the editing gets done and the final production is pieced together. At SVG we want to give our clients creative direction, but we do not want to be making important decisions without them. This is why we guarantee that our clients see at least four successive versions of their video. After seeing each version, we get feedback from the client, and they get feedback from us. We work together towards creating a final production that fits into everyone’s vision – while staying within the scope of what was agreed upon in the original proposal.
The goal of having several versions of the video is to execute what was clearly lined out in the creative brief that was agreed upon at the beginning of the project. The creative brief for a brand video is a concise outline that documents the key messages, key themes, tones, scope, and the timeline for a project.
The difference between key themes and key messages is simple: messages need to be audibly said, while themes need to be shown without words. We wanted our themes to convey that Gustavo Preston is adaptable, their work is consistent and technical, and they have reliable expertise to provide to their clients.
The key messages we wanted to represent were that Gustavo Preston is customer focused – they have a larger support staff to manage any situation or emergency that comes their way. We also wanted to somehow say that they add value to their customers by providing technical expertise – and their products are designed, engineered, sold, installed, and serviced all by Gustavo Preston.
How Our Post-Production Process Works
When we put together version one of Gustavo Preston’s brand video, it was SVG’s job to break down several hours of footage into about four to five minutes of the most important pieces of the interviews. At this stage, there’s no music, no graphics, and no b-roll. It’s simply just our interviewees talking about the business, with very rough initial edits to remove random “ahs” and “ums”. In the video for Rough Cut 1 linked down below, you’ll also see random edits that don’t make much sense now, but will all come together in the final video.
Here’s where the famous SVG creative direction comes in. Because we’ve created the ‘creative brief’ and we know exactly what the final production should be, we can direct the video production process to reach this desired final narrative without needing the client to make every decision. Many other video production companies will send all of the interview footage to their clients and ask to remove specific segments of their choice.
Instead, we order transcripts of the interviews so our Creative director can then edit down the contents of the video from hours to just a few minutes. They can choose to take out entire sentences or phrases that might be repetitive or that do not explicitly need to be said. The hope at the end of this step is that the narrative is finalized, and the editor knows exactly what needs to be in the video and what can be cut out.
Since we take over this part of the video production process for the client, we save the client time and energy. We recognize that most of our clients do not have any experience in the creative industries. We work with highly intelligent and innovative people, who don’t have the time to sit and watch hours of footage without knowing what to look for. But we can do this for them because of the intensive planning process we have curated here at Skillman Video Group.
We pride ourselves on being a video production company that does things out of the norm – and that’s why we can put together such impressive video productions.
At this point, we encourage our clients to just listen, and not watch. Playing the video with their eyes closed is the best way to hear what they’re saying, without being distracted by rough-looking edits. We ask them to listen for their key messages and make sure that their brand is being represented correctly.
The feedback that we get back from our clients is essential in our video production process. Sometimes, it means changing our intent for the video to match the client’s intent. With Gustavo Preston, we had a lot of back-and-forth on the narrative. After several changes due to their concerns, we ended up with an even better product – because now the video production in its entirety had the narrative that the client wanted.
These conversations make up a really important phase in the project – because the narrative can’t be created without them. If the narrative isn’t perfect, then no amount of visuals and background support can fix it. This intentional storytelling that we make sure is done correctly is what ensures that the final product is a real video production, not just glorified photography.
Moving on to Version Two
In “Rough Cut 2” down below, you can see some noticeable changes between the first and second versions. The narrative is now finalized, and the interviews are cut down to only the important content. We jump between interviewees to keep the story going and so that it can flow together nicely. The key messages are already represented in the script at this point, and the key themes will be continued to be built in the next several versions with the help of visuals, graphics, and b-roll.
The third version of our video is usually the second to last version. After viewing this video, the feedback should be minimal – as we already had the correct narrative down and it was only a question of what music, b-roll, and graphics to add. Luckily, we already had brand standards, lower thirds, and other important animations on file from our previous work with Gustavo Preston. Our editor added the pictures and videos of B-roll over top of the music to make sure that the entire video flowed at a smooth pace.
At this point, all of us here at SVG and those at Gustavo Preston loved where the video had ended up. We felt that it had accurately reflected the original proposal and creative brief, and we were proud of the work that we had done. Gustavo Preston had very minimal feedback as we expected until they showed their friends the video.
A Common Video Production Pitfall and Our Solution
After viewing the video, their friends relayed to Gustavo Preston that they believed the video did not have enough of an introduction. If a stranger were to watch this brand video, they would have to make it through several minutes before understanding what exactly Gustavo Preston does.
This is the point at which we drew our ‘Red Flag’ – and knew that an important conversation needed to be had with the client before doing any more additional work.
Nowhere in the creative brief or the script did we agree to add a voice-over narrated introduction. This change added hours of work to the animator’s and editor’s dockets and meant we had to outsource a voiceover artist. This is what we consider a ‘scope creep’ in our industry, and when we are forced to make changes outside the original scope of the project, that means that the hours worked, and the prices charged are going to change.
This also meant that because we needed more back and forth from the additional 45 seconds of content, we had to produce more than just four versions of the video. We ended up with seven different versions of the video in the end – something that is atypical in our video production process.
At the end of the day, both of us here at SVG and those at Gustavo Preston agreed that although we did not plan for it, these changes were going to have to be made even if it was going to cost more time and money. We were able to incorporate them before getting to the final version of the video, and in this case the feedback we received actually led to a better end result.
In order to introduce Gustavo Preston in the fashion they wanted, we rehired the voice actor that had worked with us for the initial Gustavo Preston 3D animation video. Having experience in the video industry, we knew that it was a risk to start off a brand video by talking about the brand because videos tend to do better when you start off talking about the client and their pain points. This is because the client watching a brand video is watching it from the perspective of “what can this brand do for me?” That’s what entices someone to keep watching and spending too much time on an introduction potentially loses the viewers’ focus.
Our clients at Gustavo Preston wanted a 45-second introduction. We strongly advised against this because we knew that we would lose a viewer’s attention within the first 20-30 seconds. It was a very collaborative process to agree and find a middle ground between our two visions. Instead of putting the full 45-second intro in the exposition, we moved the latter half of the voiceover to the end of the video. We knew that if someone had bothered to watch until the end of a 2–3-minute brand video, they would stick around to the end to learn more about the brand.
It split up the narration well so that it was enticing to watch, but still included the information we lacked in the previous version. At this stage which technically fit as “Rough Cut 3”, we were able to layer the voiceover over the chosen music. In the video linked down below, you can see the third iteration of the video. The rights to the music had not yet been purchased, so there is an audible watermark at certain points in the video. We wanted to ensure the clients liked the chosen music before purchasing the rights, so this was just a sample of what we would provide in the final video.
The fourth version of the video is when everything started to come together. With the voice-over narration now figured out, we were able to hire an audiographer to do some tweaks to the audio. Since a lot of the footage was recorded in industrial and highly mechanical rooms, there was a lot of background noise that needed to be drowned out. We were then also able to hire a colorist to go through the video and tweak the final video production until it was perfect.
The Final Product
When you refer back to the rough cut one linked video above, you can hear the nervousness in the interviewee’s answers. These aren’t actors or people who are used to being in front of a camera. There were a lot of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and hesitation in their voices. But once you get to the final video linked right here below, every person in that video is speaking eloquently and confidently. That’s the power of video editing – and why having a good video production team can ensure a seamless final product.
This also means that our clients need to trust the process. When watching the first few versions, they need to know that their final version is going to look completely different, and the first versions are simply steppingstones to get there. The video production process is a journey that we have to go on with our clients, and we need to keep them informed and educated every step of the way.
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