When you decide to make a video, you should plan to spend about 70% of the total time investment on pre-production: that’s setting goals, planning, and budgeting. The pre-production stage is fairly inexpensive when compared with production (filming) and post-production (editing). However, if you skip any important steps in pre-production, which a lot of folks do, you’ll be making up for it in production and post-production, which is far less cost-effective.

We’ve isolated the 8 most common mistakes that people make in pre-production to help you get the most out of the planning period, and avoid costly (and time-consuming) mistakes in the long run.

1. Forgetting expensive details when creating the budget.

Often people rush through the budgeting process, and forget details which can cause them to run well over budget later. If you’re making a proposal to your boss, team, or a client, you have to be meticulous with budgeting for exactly that reason—so don’t cheat yourself by not being careful when you’re producing your own videos.

Your budget should include every piece of equipment needed, every person you’ll have to pay, every incidental (such as accommodation, travel, food), and a variety of other costs.

2. Skipping market research.

You may think you know your market backwards and forwards, but for each new substantial marketing effort it will be worth your time to gauge how your audience might respond. This can be as simple as looking to see how other videos similar to your video concept have fared with your target audience. Use analytics from your previous videos as a quick resource to check out what’s working for your target audience and what isn’t. Two hours of research can make the difference between a video that wins or one that bombs.

3. Going in without a paddle.

First-timers often think that ad-lib videos, especially with company staff, are more likely to feel spontaneous and real. This can be true, but you should always have a backup script or, at the very least, a set of bullet-pointed topics to cover in case your subject loses his or her nerve in front of the camera.

4. Not building a storyboard.

A storyboard is a document, either on paper or created with specialized software, that lays out very clearly all the shots you’ll need for your video, and all the transitions in between. Having a storyboard helps you get everything you need during the production process, saving you from having to schedule reshoots to capture things you missed. It also tells the editor precisely what’s required during post-production, helping the process run as efficiently as possible.

5. Expecting to arrange production equipment/resources at the last minute.

I can’t count the number of times someone on one of my production teams assumed they could borrow a piece of equipment, only to find out the night before that the owner was out of town/using it already/had broken it. This, of course, leads to delays and expensive last-minute rentals. To be on the safe side, arrange lending and rentals of your equipment and space well ahead of time.

6. Not setting clear project objectives.

From the outset, you should know exactly what your video is trying to do or say. “Make a really cool video about our product” isn’t specific enough, and when you’re explaining the video’s goals to the production team, they’re not going to be able to easily decide how to make it happen. Instead, have a specific video objective such as “Demonstrate the newest feature of our mobile app by showing it in action and providing two customer testimonials.”

7. Having a loose production schedule.

A common mistake, particularly in busy teams, is to have a “do it when we get to it” mentality about producing video content. Sometimes this works, depending on content, but often you end up actually wasting time by not coordinating production resources effectively.

To avoid this, take a few minutes to set specific deadlines for stages in the production process and make them public with the entire production team. That will help you stay accountable to those goals. In the end, this will be more timely and cost-effective than producing a video with an hour here and an hour there, because you can get everyone working together at once to get it done.

8. Skipping the all-important pre-production meeting.

The pre-production meeting is one of the first things to happen once the planning process is finished. This is where you lay out roles and expectations for everyone on the production team, discuss and agree on the production schedule and determine deadlines, give out a contact sheet and production schedule to everyone involved, and answer questions. Skipping this will almost certainly lead to some kind of confusion down the line, so don’t leave it out.

Have anything to add or ask us? Try us at @SproutVideo or leave a comment below!

Written by Laci Texter

SproutVideo blog contributor. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Posted March 4, 2013

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