The Production Process

Too many teachers I have seen just say, “make a video, and turn it in with a script by the due date”  not knowing there are steps throughout the process that should be taught, practiced and assessed.

If you know the process of production, no matter what type of project you are producing and teach this to your students the video projects will look more professional than if the students rushed through to the end without guidance. Sticking to the production process will train your students how to properly and professionally produce quality videos you’ll be sure to be proud of.

Every form of video production has 3 phases. The tasks within each phase may very slightly depending what type of video project it is but they all have 3 distinct parts. Those parts are,  Pre-Production, Production and Post Production. Each phase also offers an opportunity for student assessment.

PRE-PRODUCTION:

This is the phase of production that often gets glossed over and yet it is the most important part, in my opinion. With beginning level students, I give them a week for pre-production because they really need to think through their project and I need time to review and approve it. Advanced students can get through this stage more quickly. Here are some ideas for activities during pre-production.

1a. Brainstorming - I have beginning students write out their top 3 ideas, then a persuasive paragraph on why their first choice is a good idea.. or...

1b. Pitch Sheet - I use a pitch sheet for my advanced students to describe their project idea, who is in their crew, shot list, production schedule etc. They can’t proceed without an approved pitch sheet. This is how I try to maintain quality control.

2. Script Outline - A description of the video’s 3 parts, beginning, middle and end.

3. Script - You can use any format you are comfortable with but don’t let them skip this step. So many students think there is not anything to write about for their video. Even a silent film has a script. They must draw me a picture with words before I let them take a camera anywhere.  I have used both the Film format and the Audio/Video formats. It really depends on how much time you want to spend on script formatting. Having them stick to a format will help you get the information you need to understand their project idea, as well as, benefit their planning for the project.

4. Storyboard - If you have time, a storyboard can help them further plan their shots and the flow of their project. There are many templates available on line, just choose one you like. I find this to be the toughest part of production for my students and I don’t always have time for it.

5. Shot list - Exactly like it sounds. A specific list of shots they need to get, including b-roll, establishing shots, close-ups, over-the-shoulder, etc.

6. Production Schedule - They must plan out their production week. If they are interviewing someone, they must check with them first. If they need our studio, they must sign up...etc. I have found that if I spend a little extra time on these activities with my beginning level students, they will be more productive, more organized and more efficient as my returning advanced students.

PRODUCTION:

This is the phase everyone wants to skip right to without any pre-planning. Once the activities in the Pre-production phase are complete, this is what happens in production.

1. Location Scout / Tech Rehearsal - The students rarely get anything shot the first day with a camera. So, I have worked in 1 day to scout out their location and rehearse with the camera. This actually takes the pressure off of them and if they get some good shots, they feel like they are ahead of the game.

2. Video Tape - One week is plenty of time to get all the footage they need.

POST PRODUCTION:

Finally, where it all comes together. This is where the magic happens and doesn’t have to happen in this order. Computer graphics, and music can be worked on before the video is even transferred to the computer. When students say they are waiting for the video or something to that nature, I have them start on their graphics, music and sound-effects.

1. Screen and Log - Ideally, they will watch their shots back, make notes and get a paper cut of the shots they want to use. We often feel too rushed to do this step correctly but, I always make them watch all their video before editing so they can find out right away if they are missing something.

2. Capture or Import Footage - The process of getting your video files on to your editor. This phase includes organizing a folder on the computer, labeling the shots correctly and setting up the preferences of the project in your editing software correctly.

3. Rough Cut - rough out the shots before adding transitions, music, sound-effects or video effects. Make sure the flow is right before spending time on all the fancy effects.

4. Fine Cut - add transitions, trim shots down to the desired frame, and add video effects.

5. Computer Graphics - Create and add the required slate, titles, credits, info screens, etc.

6. Music - Create and add original music or search music from your music library or royalty free sources to fit the mood of the piece.

7. Audio Sweetening - Last step - add music, sound effects where appropriate and balance out the audio levels from every shot. Note: Music videos obviously require the music first so students can edit to the beat.

That's it in a nut shell! Good luck and happy editing!


 Misty_CUMisty Gentle started with long format television programs for Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Florida. She worked her way up from a Production Assistant to Producer. Along the way, she worked in a variety of positions from pre-production through post. After that, she worked on shows for the Fox Health Network, Animal Planet, ABC, Disney, The Learning Channel, Discovery Channel and More. Misty has been a writer / director / producer for on-air promotions and corporate productions as well as 2nd assistant stage manager, Script Supervisor, Segment Producer, Associate Producer, and Post Production Producer. In the summer of 2008, she was Associate Producer for Nickelodeon's "My Family's Got GUTS". These positions have given her a broad understanding of production from show concept and development through post and delivery.

She began teaching in 2004 with a full television production program at the middle school level. After 5 years, Ms. Gentle moved up to high school where she currently teaches digital video production to 9th through 12th graders.

She holds a BA degree in Communications - Television and Radio Production and is certified as 'Technical Vocational Education - Television Production'.