What to expect when you hire a videographer

When I joined FansEdge in late 2007, I knew I had a steep learning curve ahead of me. Sure, I knew my way around video production and had plenty of experience, but the professional world was a spooky place full of cubicles, new lingo, and, *gulp* –  ties! What I quickly found out was that video production was just as new and spooky to my new partners because it was an unknown. So, since my first day, a very important part of my job has been to educate those around me in the video production process with an emphasis on my capabilities as well as the capabilities of the equipment I have at my disposal. It also has been incumbent upon me to learn more about my company and how it works.

Definition: Videographer

There are several definitions out there, but I believe a practical one would be “Someone who has a hands-on knowledge of the video production process.” Yeah, I know that’s somewhat vague and open-ended. There’s no real job description or list of required skills – just ‘hands-on’ experience. None of the job search websites list it as a profession, yet it’s a position with a growing demand.

Another way to phrase the definition could be “Someone who knows just enough about the many facets of video production to put a project together.” This version illustrates the fact that video production encompasses a broad reach of disciplines. If you’ve sat through the credits after a movie, you’ll have noticed the many departments responsible for making the movie: camera, electric (adds light), grips (removes light), wardrobe, makeup, audio recording, editorial – and these are just some of the departments. A videographer is someone who is familiar with all of them and uses that knowledge to put a small production together.

When you set out to hire a videographer, you will no doubt expect the candidate to be able to wear multiple hats. Each person you interview will come with a unique set of skills and experiences and the person you ultimately hire will have a major influence over the scale and scope of videos created. The tools you place in that person’s hands will further set the stage for the type of videos that are created.

The Production Process Demystified

There are three phases to creating video content: pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production is primarily concerned with conceptualizing and planning while the other two are focused on execution. It is during the first phase that the entire production is thought out and all issues related to the production are addressed. The goal is to make the execution phases as simple and straight forward as possible (and, as a result, less expensive). During pre-production you will need to work closely with your videographer on the following:

  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Writing a treatment (synopsis)
  • Writing a script
  • Developing storyboards
  • Planning a budget

Depending on your ideas, not all these steps will be necessary, but regardless, your focus should be to outline your business needs while your videographer focuses on how to meet those needs within her abilities and the resources available to her.

During the production phase, I would encourage you to take a step back and let the videographer work. On the day of the shoot, dropping by the set would be a good idea as you’ll get a feel for the amount of work and energy that goes into a production. Linger for a few minutes, meet the talent, but then allow them to work without the feeling of being watched. Depending on the shoot and your work ethics, you could also drop by for the Martini Shot.

Once the editing has gotten underway, you should take a chance to look at draft edits. My personal opinion is that the draft should be presented when all the basic cuts are done and some music and graphics have been roughed in, but before the piece has been fine-tuned. It is while previewing the draft that you go down your list of needs and check off the ones that have been met. You do have the power to make editorial decisions so if you see something that you don’t understand or rubs you the wrong way, now is the time to point it out.

Disclaimer

Just as every videographer brings a different set of skills and experience to a company, every video project will bring different challenges and opportunities. The success or failure of a video is something that is shared by everyone involved from marketing to IT to the production team. Taking the time to get to know more about the process – and giving your videographer the chance to learn more about the rest of the organization – will go a long way toward streamlining the process that brings video to your site.

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