10 (Plus 1) Questions to Make Sure You Pick the Right Video Production Partner

A 4K “prosumer” camera now costs less than $5,000, and a “video editing suite” is a laptop with a $60 monthly subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Today, virtually anyone can open a video production shop out of their home office for a lower initial investment than the price of a good used car.

This low barrier to entry has spawned a slew of start-up video shops. And the promise of bargain production costs can certainly be tempting,

But creating powerful video messaging requires more than just equipment. A professional video production company has the experience, dedication and creativity to be a partner in telling your organization’s story. It understands trends in the market. And it will be there for you in the years to come, as video becomes an even more essential connection between you and your customers.

As you evaluate video production companies, here is a “Top 10” key questions you should ask to ensure that your video partner has both the tools and experience to make your vision a reality. (Since it’s the holiday season, we threw in a bonus question.) And be sure to download our whitepaper to learn more about how professionally produced video can help grow your business.

1. Can They Describe Their Creative Process?

Creativity can be spontaneous, but your business can’t afford for it to be chaotic. Professional video production companies have a clearly defined process for every creative phase of video production, from scriptwriting to storyboarding to editing the final product. Ask your prospective video partner how it will approach each phase of your project, particularly conceptualizing and scriptwriting. Anybody can point and shoot with a camera, but the ability to truly understand your story and translate it to video require skills that are developed with years of experience.  

2. Is Communication Clear, Concise and Collaborative?

Even the best-planned video project is going to run into some snags. Ensure that a prospective video production company has clear lines of communication to express concerns or change requests. Get regular status updates on your project, and understand the process to guarantee that no detail fall through the cracks. The video provider should want you to review scripts and early treatments — collaboration can only make your finished video product better.

3. Do They Understand the Goals of Your Video Project?

How many times have you heard horror stories about expensive, “cutting-edge” videos that win awards for the production company but fail to connect to customers? A successful video project is designed to meet specific goals, as laid out by your organization. Do you want to increase direct sales? Inspire customer advocates to promote your brand? Motivate employees to beat last year’s record numbers? Make sure your video production partner listens when you detail your goals for the project, and adds value by suggesting creative ways to hit those targets.

4. Do They Fit the Culture of Your Organization?

In many ways, selecting a professional video production company is like making a full-time hire. You are beginning a long-term relationship with a group of professionals who will do far more than just provide final video footage. Your video production partner will help define the story your organization tells to potential customers. Be sure that the video production team you choose shares your professional and institutional values and will be a comfortable fit for years to come.

5. How Long Have They Been in Business?

Small video shops come and go, often leaving clients scrambling to finish a job or even get the footage from a completed project. Look for an established production company with at least five years experience. Also be sure to ask for references from other clients who have worked with the video company for a couple of years. The fact that a new shop will do backflips to impress a new client is not nearly as important as ability to build a long-term, sustainable relationship.

6. Do They Have the Resources to Keep Your Job On Track?

All businesses have to juggle resources to meet high client demand, but small, start-up video production shops often operate with bare minimum staff and resources. If a larger project comes along, will your production team have the necessary in-house or freelance talent to keep your work on track? Or will your project slow down or get completely derailed? Be sure to ask about Plan B.

7. Have They Told Stories Similar to the One You Want to Tell?

Every video project is a little different. Even within broad categories such as how-to or branding videos, a production team will bring its own creative vision and visual style to every project. And you need to be sure that personality matches the image you want to project for your organization. If you want to create a light-hearted branding video that illustrates the casual, creative culture at your company, be sure to ask for specific examples of similar projects. Remember, your video shop is doing more than running an editing board — they are helping you tell your story.

8. Who Owns Your Video Footage?

Not all the footage shot for your video project will make into the final product. But you may find this footage useful for a variety of purposes, from social media to a future large-scale project. Some video companies try to maintain ownership of raw footage and provide clients only the final cut of a video. Be sure you’ll have access to your raw footage if you intend to use it for other purposes.

9. Will They Have Your Footage If You Need It?

Storing video projects and raw footage is not terribly expensive, but some smaller shops look to cut corners anywhere they can. A professional video production company will archive your footage for about three years and make it available for use in new projects or additional outlets. Fly-by-night shops might not even be around in three years, and they may throw away files to keep their storage costs barebones. Be sure your valuable video assets will be there if you need them.

10. Do They Carry Insurance?

Video production and editing are not high-risk ventures, but anything can happen over the course of a project. Accidents can derail your project and possibly cause the loss of footage and other vital assets. Many freelancers, especially those new to the profession, are operating on a shoestring budget and skip out on the cost of insurance. But most reputable video production companies carry insurance to cover the loss or destruction of video assets during or after a production.

Bonus: Are They Prepared for a 4K, Virtual Future?

Just as standard definition (SD) video appears outdated today, the current HD standard will eventually pale side-by-side with 4K (UHD). Shooting on 4K today, although slightly more expensive, will stretch the lifespan of your footage.

You also should confirm that a production company is prepared to shoot 360 | Virtual Reality (VR) footage for your product demos and other how-to videos. (To get an idea of the power of 360 | Virtual Reality, check out this VR tour Videobred produced for the University of Mississippi football program, which quickly went viral on social media.) VR content will ultimately become a core skill you will need from a video production partner.

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