8 Steps to Making a Video

Image: 'Camermen...' by nkzs. Sourced from http://www.sxc.hu. Used with permission.

Fantastic!  You want to make a video.  But wait – don’t start filming right now!!  Making a video is a bit like all that stuff you hear about food on Masterchef – getting your idea and preparation right at the start will see a better process and more impressive results.  So here’s the process that I aim for when I want to make a video. (This is just an overview.  To get more detail on any of the below steps, just click the heading)

1) Make sure your idea is incredible
Look at the process backwards – your editing can only ever be as good as your footage, which can only ever be as good as your filming, which can only ever be as good as its content, which can only ever be as good as the planning/script, which can only ever be as good as the initial concept.  So, don’t skimp out on your idea!  Make sure you work it and rework it; where’s it going?; how will it end?; is the twist as good as it can be?; does it work within your limits (budget/equipment/actors/music/skills etc)?  Make sure your idea is the best it possibly can be, because your film will only ever be as good as that idea!

2) Script everything!
I’m not just talking about dialogue, but everything that happens.  Put it down on paper so that you know exactly how your idea is playing out.  Then run it by someone else, especially if they are handy with words.  Even if you’re doing a vox pop or interview, know what kind of content grabs you’re looking for.

3) Storyboard everything!
This is where you basically map out every shot.  You draw a still frame for each shot, and put the part of the script next to it that the shot will cover.  At the end of this process, you should be able to effectively ‘watch’ the film in your head.  You’re basically editing before you shoot, and it means you have less footage to trawl through in the editing process, and your footage will be a billion times better (possibly an over-exaggeration).

4) Organise your filming day
You need to organise all your equipment (camera, charged batteries, tripod, sound gear, headphones, lighting?, extension cords etc); your actors; your crew; your paperwork (scripts, storyboards etc); your locations; and your realistic plan for shooting – when will you film each shot and how much time will it take?  Have you left enough space in your schedule for all those unexpected things that will happen?

5) Film your film
If you’ve storyboarded and planned will, this should be fun.  It’s a good idea to make sure you’re really familiar with the camera you’ll be using on the day.  Stick to your storyboard unless you can see that you really need another shot to supplement how the filming has gone (since things don’t always turn out exactly how you pictured it).  Make sure you communicate really well with your actors and crew – don’t be afraid to get a bit bossy (but of course do it gently).  Always encourage your people helpers with things they do well!  And make sure you adequately reward them for their help!

6) Import your footage for editing
This always takes longer than you think, and very often can be where videographers run into trouble.  Always check that you have the right settings (PAL 25p/50i fps and a 16:9 resolution are probably going to be what you’re looking for, but check your camera settings and see if it matches with your computer).  Allow sufficient time for this.  If you can avoid importing shots that you won’t use, then that will speed you up later.

7) Edit your film
Sorry to say this, but chances are that the newer you are to this, the longer it will take.  Be ready.  But stick at it.  The more you edit, the faster and better at it you will get.  Check out my video on how to make an interview video if you’re using final cut pro – even if you’re not making an interview video, it will give you some principles to work from.  The basic principle is to let the audio guide your editing.  It will set the rhythm.  So edit to the audio rather than the visual.  Audio always covers a multitude of visual sins, but not the other way around.

8) Export your film
The final step, but this can also be the most painful.  So make sure you’ve got enough time for your computer to do its thing, and make sure you know the settings that you need for whatever purpose your film is for.  If you’re making it for church, are you exporting it in a format that will play on your church computer?  (FYI – a playable DVD is not just copying the movie file onto a writable DVD and burning it; you need to use a program like idvd etc to build a dvd).

And you’re done!  Did this help?

This post only summarises the above 8 steps.
For more detail, start with Step 1. Make sure your idea is incredible
Go here to see how I put the 8 steps into practice on a recent project

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4 responses

  1. Pingback: Step 1: Make sure your idea is incredible! « Making Better Video

  2. Pingback: Step 2: Script everything! « Making Better Video

  3. Pingback: Step 3: Storyboard Everything! « Making Better Video

  4. Pingback: Step 4: Organise your filming day « Making Better Video

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