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Companies of all types and sizes use corporate videos for various purposes – product demos, staff training, sales presentations, and so on. But how do you go about getting one made? Here’s a guide to finding the right studio and surviving the production process.

Know what you want from your video

It all starts with you, so get clear about the aim of your video, the kind of production values you’re aiming for, and your budget (that includes costs from pre-production like scripting through to editing and any extras, e.g. deliverables such as DVD copies). It might also pay to find sample videos on YouTube that are similar to what you want in your corporate video. You can show these to your chosen studio in order to better communicate your vision.

Dane Frederiksen, owner of Digital Accomplice, says the most important things to look for are high production values and creativity.

“I think that if you look at what a production company has done for other clients, even if they are a very different brand, you can get a sense of capability, talent, flexibility and quality execution,” he says. “I’d expect a well-rounded producer can produce a great music video, law firm testimonial video or documentary about poverty in Iceland.”

Search out potential video production studios

Studios run the gamut from major companies through to outfits with just one or two staff and everything in between, and the kind of technical equipment and human resources at their disposal can likewise vary. For starters, you could consider:

Rewatchable: corporate video production specialists with a “business casual” style

Digital Accomplice: a “big idea company” specialising in brand content, from video to interactive and games

Wild Plum: a creative “one-stop shop” equipped to handle video production projects of all sizes

Selecting the right one depends entirely on the requirements of any given project. (As the saying goes, you can only have two out of the three holy grail qualities: good, fast, and cheap.) Check out client testimonials and demo reels, which should be prominent on their website. If their clips don’t blow you away, odds are you won’t be impressed if you hire them yourself.

Sealing the deal

Once you’ve identified a few likely contenders, reach out to them. Be upfront about your budget in order to avoid wasting either your time or theirs, and pay attention to the impressions you get – are they professional, knowledgeable, experienced? Most importantly, did they seem genuinely interested in your idea? Your chosen studio should include you in the creative process from the start and take your comments on board.

Don’t be unduly swayed by things like the number of awards a studio may have won – shiny statuettes are great, but ultimately the litmus test is: are these the right people to deliver specifically what you need? Companies have different strengths and areas of specialization. For example, some studios may focus more on creative projects while others specialize in marketing content and delivering business results.

Pricing will vary widely by studio and depending on the project. Here are some examples of various video packages:

Rest Assured4th Wall, $1250

Catering by the FamilyArgonaut, $3276

Transworld Business AdvisorsSleepydog, $5000

As a low cost alternative, GoAnimate offers a DIY option with plenty of scope for customization. There is also a promo code available.

Get it in writing

It’s important to establish key project milestones, how many people will be working on the project and who the key contact person is. In particular, you’ll want to establish a good rapport with the director of the video and make sure you communicate well with each other. Again, those sample videos you picked out on YouTube can come in handy in setting expectations. As Frederiksen says, great videos start on paper and any problems caused by failing to plan will need to be fixed at the editing stage.

“Time spent planning saves money and perhaps more importantly makes a better product. Once you know what you want to create, only then can you know the best way to get there.”

Such projects often bring together people who haven’t worked together before and aren’t used to each other’s styles. Creatives and more business-oriented types can end up talking past each other or butting heads, so being explicit about expectations is crucial. Don’t hesitate to spell out even the most seemingly basic of things to ensure all interests are aligned.

Getting everything in writing minimizes the risk of misunderstandings further down the line. Your contract should include all relevant details, including timeframe, visual treatment, copyright, and review/approval processes. Here’s a sample contract template to get you started.

Making the production process run smoothly

During pre-production, expect to attend meetings with the creative team to make decisions about all aspects of the video, followed by the actual shooting (the mark of a professional is handling any issues calmly, quickly and with minimal disruption) and post-production, during which you’ll see a rough cut and can make any final suggestions for changes before sign-off.

Maintain regular contact to ensure things are progressing as anticipated and check if any problems have cropped up. Studios are under pressure to make deadlines, but at the same time, creativity is hard to quantify. Editing a truly compelling video sequence takes more time than putting together a formulaic one. Allow time for creative thinking and in the event a project starts to look as if it might run over time, start discussing the options.