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Videographer Provides 5 Steps to Great Production

Five steps for a successful video production

Here are some ideas for planning out a proper production are essential for success. For starters, you shouldn’t limit yourself and you should always keep an open and creative mind. If it is required of you to be creative, you will find these 5 steps very useful:

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Video Expert Discusses Storyboards and Shot Lists

Shot Lists and Storyboards

Using shot lists and storyboards can be very beneficial during a video production shoot. Shot lists and storyboards are money-saving ways to up the quality and efficiency of your videos. Even legendary directors, like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas use storyboards to communicate the visions they have for their projects. With a storyboard, your subjects, actors and crew will have a better idea of your vision, which then improves the likeliness of everything running smoothly. Read more

hired talent

Talent Recruiting Tips for Your Video Production

Finding Talent for Your Video Production

Having the proper talent for your video is important for portraying the ideas and focus of the shoot. I’m quite sure you’ve seen movies and shows with horrible actors and it ruined a perfectly good storyline and plot. Don’t let this happen to your video. Make sure that you recruit the right talent for your productions. Read more

Preparing for a Video Production Tip #9: Lowering Costs

lowering costs

Lowering costs for video production

The first thing you have to decide is on what level of production value your video has to be. You don’t want to over or under produce your video.

For training/educational videos

If your video is for staff training or other in-house use, it’ll probably need to be very content-based. But it still needs to be entertaining in order to retain their attention. In fact, that’s job number one for any video. If you lose the viewer’s attention, nothing else matters. So keep that in mind.

For corporate event videos

If it’s for a trade show booth or other marketing purpose where professionals will make a snap judgment based on the looks of your video, it has to be really good. And as you probably have deduced by now, good isn’t cheap. But there are creative ways to produce an excellent video and still keep your costs down. That’s what we’ll focus on here.

It all depends on your audience

As we mentioned, the first thing is to decide what level of production value your video needs to be. And that will be largely determined by your target audience.

Do you absolutely need motion graphics?

Do you absolutely need motion graphics or can animated text from a professional editing program work just fine? Custom motion graphics are, of course, better than pre-generated ones, but you have to decide what’s most important for your video. This can be a big factor is lowering costs.

Actors in videos

We discussed the actors or no actors decision in an earlier email. Actors cost money, even if you go through a non-union agency. If you can use your employees for stand in roles, great. But if you need someone to emote and say the lines professionally, actors are the way to go. Just remember that you’ll also be paying for whoever auditions the actors before they’re hired, plus a fee to the agency that supplies the actor(s).

The number of cameras in your video

Also covered in a previous email, the number of cameras will affect the price. The more cameras, the more cost for production and editing, as it takes longer to cut the material from two cameras. But the positive tradeoff here is that you’ll get a nicer looking production.

Scrip writing for your production

Who will write the script? If you can write the first draft, all the better. The production company can then massage it and make suggestions. This was covered more extensively in a previous email, but the three steps to script writing are:

  1. Identify your 3-5 major talking points or assets of your product, service or company.
  2. Develop an outline around these talking points
  3. Put meat on the bones of this outline in the form of complete sentences, which comprises the voice over narration for your video.
  4. Visualize the voice over. Identify the visuals that the viewer will see when they’re hearing the words.

The cost factor: editing

We saved the best for last! The edit. Here’s where you can save big bucks. As the adage goes, preparation is the key to success. The same goes for editing: the more prepared you are for the edit, the better!

The cost of an edit is determined by the amount of time we need to spend on the project. If you can supply us with an edit decision list (edl), we won’t have to search around for the best shots. Here’s how that one goes:

  1. Have us upload all of the raw footage to Vimeo so you can view it.
  2. Watch it all and pick the best shots that were made for each take.
  3. Your edl should look like this when we get it:

Shot#      In      Out            Description

1            6:43      6:50            Establishing shot of our company

           7:20      7:45            CEO welcoming viewers to the video

Essentially, the edit decision list follows the script. If you select the best takes for each shot in the script, that will speed up the editing process.

Another thing you can do to cut the time is to identify text you want inserted. This should already be there with the script, but make sure those decisions have been made.

You should also have your music chosen by now. The edit room is no place to be making music choices.

Lowering your production costs

To wrap this up, the edit is based on time. And the time is based on the number of edits we need to make, the length of the video, special effects, graphics, how organized things are when we get the project and how decisive you are. If you ask us to see how a shot looks with 5 different transitions, that takes time. We’re happy to do it, but as they say, there’s a cost for everything. Just make sure that as your lowering costs, you’re not compromising the quality of your video.

If you need advice on lowering costs of your production or need a video production company to shoot or edit your video, contact us at (773)252-3352 or at

Preparing for a Video Production Tip #8: Equipment

video production equipment

What equipment do I need for the production?

Some of the pieces of equipment that you might want to use for your video include a teleprompter, jib, dolly, backdrops, steadycam, etc. Lets go over a few:


No matter how glib someone might be in an off the cuff discussion or even while doing a presentation, when someone is facing the camera, they can often become tongue-tied. That’s where the teleprompter enters the picture. The talent can have their entire presentation on the teleprompter screen or just an outline that keeps them on track. Since the camera is shooting through the teleprompter screen, the viewer of the video will never know that the talent is using a teleprompter unless they sound and look like they’re reading the script.


A jib or jib arm is a piece of equipment that extends the reach of the camera. The arm can extend 5, 10 or 15 feet. It can be used for elevated shots, sweeping shots and other type of maneuvers the operator wouldn’t be able to do without a crane or other very expensive piece of equipment. Here’s an example of the use of a jib:


This piece of equipment is used to create more movement in the shot. The camera operator sits or stands on the dolly while another person pushes the dolly along a track. It can be used to circle or move towards a subject, glide across the set, or to create another type of movement without using the camera to zoom, tilt or pan.


As the name implies, a steadycam keeps the camera steady. This piece of equipment is attached to the camera and operated by the videographer. This is very useful when the operator has to move around, walk, run or is otherwise moving around while trying to keep the camera steady.


A backdrop is often used behind a person being interviewed. It’s an attractive, yet non-distracting piece of material that’s suspended behind a ‘talking head’ or someone who is being interviewed. Backdrops are often used when shooting in an unattractive or nondescript environment. It can also be more cost efficient than preparing a background for the subject.

There are other pieces of extra equipment that you might want to use in your production, but a professional video production company should be able to bring these to your attention when you discuss your project.

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If you need any assistance shooting or editing your video production, contact Video One Productions at (773)252-3352 or at

Preparing for a Chicago Video Production: Tip #7 Production Checklist (2)

Tip #7: Chicago Video Production Checklist

production checklistWith so many factors going into your Chicago video production, many things can be overlooked. Below are a couple more suggestions about things to think about when going over your production checklist and preparing for a video production.

Are there any music overlays for the video?

A music background is a definite plus for most videos because it sets the tone for your production. The music can be toned up, down or out at appropriate times. Just make sure its appropriate for your audience and not just what you like.

How many locations do you envision shooting this at? Will you need a studio?

Time is money. The more locations, the more setups. More locations often make for a more interesting video, but it takes time to set up the camera, lights, background, etc. for each one. Once you know what equipment you’ll need based on location, make sure it’s also included in your production checklist.

Will you want testimonials?

If so, how many? Will they come to one location or will we need to go to theirs? Video testimonials are a great way to convey trust. If a client is willing to take the time and effort to go on camera for you, they must really like what you are offering. Again, since time is money, will your testimonial subjects all come to your location or a single one? Or will we need to go to each of their locations? If they come to yours, perhaps they can be filmed with different perspectives and backgrounds so that it appears as though they’re at the office. The number of locations and setups will determine the number of shooting days it takes for your production.

Are there graphics requirements?

Still graphics, motion, or both? Custom motion graphics are time consuming. But they sure look good.

Do you have a proposed budget for this project? Sometimes a client will propose a budget and we just need to tell them what can be done within those numbers. So instead of going from a zero-based budgeting approach—where we identify the amount of preproduction time, shoot days and editing time—we work the other way and see if we can do what they want within the price they propose.

When are you planning to begin the project? Timelines are good. You don’t want to wait for us and we don’t want to wait for you. If you want a video, we go under the assumption that you need it done fairly quickly and don’t want things to linger. And you are right to believe that we will turn your video around in the time we agree to. Make sure that the production company identifies a timeline on the proposal or the final agreement.

When do you need the production completed by? If you have a timeline, tell us. We’ll make sure that we meet your expectations or not take the project in the first place. But make sure that you tell us when you need your video by and if we take the project on, we’ll meet your deadline or have it done sooner. These question get the conversation started and gives everyone a good idea of the production value of the video, expectations and of course the budget. So if you plan to call us for a production quote, or even if you don’t, now you have a head start towards thinking about your video.

If you need help shooting or editing your video production, contact Video One Productions at (773)252-3352 or at

Preparing for a Video Production Tip #6: Production Checklist (1)

Here is a checklist we often go through with potential clients so we can assess their needs, budget and expectations. It also helps them sort out and clarify what they want, because they’re not always clear on that initially:

What is the purpose of your video? What’s your desired result?

Always have the end result in mind. What’s your call to action at the end of your production? Do you want them to click, call, email, buy, come to your store? Let the audience know what you want them to do. That is the ultimate purpose of your video.production checklist

What message are you trying to convey?

Similar to purpose or result, this goes more towards the content of the video. If it’s a training video, do  you want people to learn how to do something, practice safety, or otherwise gain knowledge? If this is a promotional video, perhaps you want to succinctly convey the top 3-5 ‘talking points’ or strengths about your company, product or service. Be clear on this so as not to confuse the viewer. Video is supposed to be succinct, entertaining, informative and motivating. Make sure that that happens. Otherwise, people will tune out one way or another.

Where will the video be shown? Who is the audience?

Who will be watching this video? What’s their attention span? What are their interests? What industry do they represent? Know your audience so that you speak their language.

Do you have an idea of the style or tone of the video?

This goes towards the last point. While not wishing to stereotype, you should be mindful about the tastes and interests of the viewer. A promotional video for a garden club should have a different look and feel than one where auto mechanics are the primary audience.

Do you have an example that you wish to emulate?

If you can find a sample video similar on YouTube that you want produced, it will help us understand the production value you are looking for, the tone, pacing and overall look that you’re going after. That will definitely help us determine your budget. We’ll be able to see if they used multiple cameras, special equipment, props, sets, actors, etc.

What’s the duration of the video?

The less time it takes to convey your message the better. It’s no secret that people are time challenged these days. So if you can communicate the benefits of your company in 90-120 seconds, that’s a lot better than trying to do it in 5 plus minutes.

A promotional video should be between one to 3 minutes. Maybe four, but you’re pushing it.

A training video should be as long as it takes to succinctly convey the information. If necessary, break it into modules so the viewer can take a break if necessary before the next section begins.

An event video is a tricky one. The ideal duration depends on who is watching. It depends on how motivated they are to get the information from it. But often, event videos are summaries that last for 5 minutes, tops. However, sometimes people want and need the entire event to be shown. But perhaps you want to modularize that in whatever way seems logical and appropriate to the event.

Who will write the script?

Here’s where you can save money. You can write at least the first draft of the script. The way we approach it is to first have a discussion with the client and outline the major talking points of their video. This forms the skeleton. Then we ask questions or read their material or website to put some meat on those bones. Ultimately, a script needs everything broken into different shots, identifying what will be heard and what will be seen. One side of each page of the script contains the audio and the other side is the video. The audio generally goes first, as the visual supports the story—which is contained in the audio.

If you take the first crack at writing the script, all we have do is suggest changes. We can guide you on this or we can also write the whole thing. But in order to budget your video, we need to know what you plan to do regarding the script.

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Need help with shooting or editing your video production? Contact Video One Productions at (773)252-3352 or at

Preparing for a Video Production Tip #5: Budget


How do I set a budget for my video?

It can be difficult setting a budget for a video, especially if this is your first time. I often ask our clients what budget they have in mind, not to see how much we can get out of them, but because this way we can determine the production value the client is expecting for their video.

At Video One, we have produced promotional videos for as little as $1250 and as much as $45,000. An example of a $1250 shoot is one we did for a small business with one camera and little editing. Here’s what that looks like:

The $45,000 one, however, was a longer, scripted video for a national brand with actors, multiple cameras, props, scripting and other necessities. Here’s what that one looks like:

As discussed earlier, two cameras will often give the video production a better look. However, two cameras are more expensive than one and add to the editing time.

Here is a checklist to consider when sizing up your budget needs

  • Do I need a studio?
  • Do I need a professional voiceover?
  • Who will write the script?
  • How many cameras do I need?
  • Do I need motion graphics?
  • Where will this be filmed?
  • Do I need production, editing, or both?

Whatever budget you decide on, make sure your video production company will honor it. If they agree to the project, they have agreed to provide all the services you wanted within your budget. Make sure that is clear before you start filming. You don’t want to go through the entire filming and editing process and be surprised by an exorbitant bill at the end.

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Need help shooting or editing a video production? Contact Video One Productions at (773)252-3352 or at

Preparing for a Video Production Tip #4: Actors

Should I use actors in my video?

Unless you have a solid storyline for your video, actors aren’t really needed for a business video production. Now let’s go under the premises that you will need people to act in your video. Should you hire actors? Maybe. It depends on how much true acting needs to be done, your budget and who your target audience is.

If not a lot of acting, but mainly ‘placeholders’ in your video, then anyone who will follow direction will do. If your target audience is other employees at work, then maybe you can use employees as actors. Of course there are budget considerations, which we’ll get into in the next section.

Hiring actors for your video production

If you decide to use actors for your video production there are several sources to get good talent without breaking the bank. Some of those sources include the drama departments at schools, theater companies, and placing an ad in Craigslist. If you want to go with a talent agency, I’d recommend making sure that the actors are non-union. Otherwise, you may have to deal with a lot of red tape and expense that you can probably live without.

We always use a non-union talent agency. They either send us headshots or we look at their online portfolio of actors. You always get a huge choice of actors to consider when using a talent agency. Here’s an example of one of our videos with a storyline and actors:

Audition your actors

Make sure to audition your actors. Send them a few lines from the script and have them come in to audition. Get them on video if possible too. But make sure they know they’ll be filmed before they come in to avoid any uncomfortable conversations when they see a camera setup.

Professional voiceovers for your video production

If you have a voiceover need for your video, you can try finding someone with a good voice and intonation at your company, but it’s generally always best to hire a professional voiceover talent. Since audio is one half of an audio/visual presentation (which is video), then it really needs to be done well. Few things detract from a video more than bad audio. Similar to the actors, audition them. Give them a portion of the voice over to read and compare a few different voices.

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Need help shooting or editing a video production? Contact Video One Productions at (773)252-3352 or at

Preparing for a Video Production Tip #3: Special Effects

Do I need motion graphics or special effects for my video?

First, let’s define motion graphics. Motion graphics are animated videos that make use of illustrations, photos, and other images. They provide clarity, entertain and otherwise help the communication process in a video. Here’s an example of an entirely motion graphics video:

So let’s figure out which productions need motion graphics.

Event Video

If you’re producing an events video, all you’ll probably need is an animated logo to open and close the video. Otherwise, if you want to place text on the screen to emphasize a point, a simple animated text build is a good option. Maybe have the text enter the screen with a special effect, but other than that, you probably can skip the fancy stuff.

Training Video

If you’re producing a training video, you may want to use motion graphics to retain interest, emphasize a point, or illustrate a complex process. Sometimes an animation is necessary for these because training videos tend to be longer than a marketing video. And they typically don’t have the entertaining presenter often found in a seminar or presentation video.

Seeing is understanding. If you’re trying to communicate the inner workings of how a complex machine tool operates, an attractive animation will retain their attention. It will also communicate the process like nothing else can.

Marketing Video

A marketing video can go either way. You just want to make sure that special effects help illustrate your point instead of get in the way of it. It should be succinct, with quick edits, interesting shooting perspectives and other entertaining aspects. Similar to the events video, if you want to use special effects in for text or graphics, certainly use some form of motion to give them some energy. However, these can be kept simple if you have a lot of other action happening in your video.

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Need help shooting or editing a video production? Contact Video One Productions at (773)252-3352 or at