Video Pre-Production Tips

October 16, 2019

I like having a plan in place before I press record.

‘Run-and-gun’ situations are when videographers find themselves with little or no time for preparation before filming. When possible, I find the quality of the final content can be massively improved with pre-production planning.

Here are five things to consider during Pre-Production.

1. Research

I have produced videos for numerous sectors including broadcast, events, tourism, retail, construction, pharmaceutical, finance and so on. I am not an expert in those fields – certainly not compared to my clients – so each time I work on a new project I do some research.

I get to grips with new jargon, industry leaders, competitors and the needs of the audience. On most projects I will visit sites to conduct a recce. I will determine what style of content the client likes by sourcing video samples. I also like to have a look at what content the client has previously published.

2. Script and Storyboarding

It helps when everyone involved on a project has the same vision for it. Sometimes, just a checklist will do, such as a list of interview questions or a shot list.

Other types of projects require a script. It is important to read a script out loud in order to know how long the video will be. You will be amazed by how many people read it in their heads and then believe the video will be much shorter than it actually is.

Storyboards are an effective communication tool too. I personally like to go one step beyond storyboards. For advert projects, I create a demo video. I get a group of colleagues together in the office and I actually shoot the entire sequence and edit a demo cut. This gives me the chance to test a lot of the big elements such as a staging and camera angles before we start spending budget on big items like kit, cast and studios.

3. Set Design and Props

Background elements like set design and props are often underestimated on small budget projects. Having said that, set design does not always need to be flashy. Simple clean colours can look professional. One of the key things to remember though is to make sure your background does not distract from the foreground elements.

4. Talent

Actors, presenters, voice-over artists and performers are all types of on-screen talent that you may have to source and work alongside. I find it is worth getting to know a few good casting agencies. It can take time to find the right talent.

5. Kit

Captive North has a lot of in-house equipment but we also hire additional kit on a project by project basis. Sometimes we may hire additional lenses, lights or grip. I remember filming a travel diary video series that required clamps so we could attach the cameras to the outside of a moving vehicle. We tested the kit before the shoot and worked out the best way to get the shots. Technology is constantly evolving, so in order to keep up with the times we regularly talk to our kit hire provider Procam and we also check out new product releases at IBC.

I hope you found these tips useful.


Tom Marshall

Creative Director, Captive North