Before hiring a video production company for your next project, read our 9 tips from a professional videographer on what to look for in a company. You might read about something that saves your project!
#1: Production Quote
Make sure that the video production company gives you a complete proposal identifying what they will do. Our proposals contain the following:
Scope of the Project – a broad overview/understanding of what we will do.
Services – contains a detailed outline of what will be done.
Depending on the complexity of the project, we may break this section into three areas:
– Pre-production – scripting, organizing talent, scout survey, etc.
– Production – how big the crew will be, how many cameras, how many days, etc.
– Post Production – focuses on editing. How many hours, still and motion graphics, photos, etc.
Deliverables – explains exactly what you’ll be receiving at the end. This can include video files (MP4, etc.), DVDs, footage on a hard drive, etc.
If it’s a more involved project, we include a timeline identifying what will be done and when it will be completed:
Video Samples – links to examples of related productions we have done.
Rights to the Video – This section states that you own the rights to the video and can receive all of the original footage, graphics, output files, etc., on a hard drive that can be bought from us or supplied by you.
Budget – a complete breakdown of costs and what we’ll do.
About Our Company – talks about our history, clients, approach, etc.
About Our Staff – provides a short synopsis of our most important asset – our people.
These are only cursory descriptions of what’s in our proposal, but it should give you an idea of what to look for in a production quote when seeking bids for your project.
#2. Timeline and Agreement
Find out how long it will take to complete your video in advance of signing any contracts. The letter of agreement should contain a timeline that spells out the beginning and end of the video production process. This is especially true if it’s a more detailed project such as a promotional video.
If it’s an event video, an extensive timeline isn’t necessary. All you need in terms of a timeline is the assurance that the videographers will be at a particular place at a certain time, stay for a designated length of time, etc.
Make sure the videographers plan to get there early, with plenty of time to set up, no matter what type of production it is.
Is the letter of agreement easy to understand?
Or would it take a Philadelphia lawyer to understand all of the clauses and conditions? An agreement should simply restate the proposal and at the end, spell out what you will get, what you will pay and how payments will be made. Both parties sign it and then the fun begins.
#3: Video Rights
Make sure that the video production company is willing to give you all of the materials and rights to the video that they produce for you.
Some companies give you the finished product with restrictions about how you can use the video. This is nonsense. You paid for this and are entitled to everything, including the right to use it any way you want. Make sure the video company gives you the following:
– Raw footage files
– Project file
– The final output file(s)
Plus, the right to make any subsequent changes as you desire – with whomever you desire. Obtaining the video rights is something you should not compromise on and a professional company would not ask you to.
Chances are that nothing bad will happen. But on the rare occurrence that someone trips over a cable or some other mishap occurs, you want to make sure that the video production company will be able to handle the claim if it’s their fault.
All cables should be taped down and no one should trip over anything. But accidents can happen. Also, the fact that the company has insurance in the first place shows that they are a responsible and prepared company. Having insurance says a lot about their character among other things.
#5: Reputation and References
Check out the video production company on the Better Business Bureau website. Are they a member in good standing? Any complaints? How long have they been a member for? As long as you’re on the site, check out their profile on the BBB.
See if there are any reviews on Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search engines. Make sure they’re overwhelmingly good reviews!
Google them. See what comes up. They should have many citations in the search engines. Make sure that they’re all good. If there is something negative, make sure that the video production company has at least responded to the complainant and has offered a good explanation of events.
References are important too!
You may want to go the extra mile by asking for and contacting references for other companies they did work for. Ask if they were easy to work with, started and finished on time, did a great job, went beyond the call of duty if warranted, had up to date equipment, knew what they were doing, and other factors that affected your video production.
#6: Past Clients
Check to see if their website contains testimonials. The fact that a company is willing to put themselves on the line by allowing us to feature them on our testimonials page is an indication that they not only like our work, but have faith in our character, judgment and other attributes.
Who is providing these testimonials? If you’re looking to have a business video produced, the testimonials should be from a variety of size businesses. This shows that the video company is flexible and knows how to work with a variety of corporate cultures.
#7: Work Samples
When the video production company you’re seeking submits their proposal, they should include video samples. After looking them over, make sure the quality of the samples matches your expectations and the style is similar to what you’re looking for.
It’s important to make sure the samples line up with what you need. For instance, if you need an event video, the company should be able to send you samples of events they have recorded. Same thing goes for an interview video, convention shoot, etc.
However if you’re a manufacturer who needs a promotional video about the nuts and bolts you sell, don’t expect the company to have a promotional nuts and bolts video to show you. But they should have one or more manufacturing video samples to show you. So the more specialized your industry, don’t expect the exact same video sample. But samples show the quality of work that you can expect.
After you’ve had your initial conversation and they send you a proposal, is it obvious that they have or haven’t done their research about your company? This is another ‘tell’ about them. You need them to care about your final product as much as you do and not just go through the motions just to make a sale.
After your discussion with them, the video production company should do some research to discover who your company is. This will enable them to offer relevant suggestions about how to improve your video, make it more appealing to your audience, how to make it fit your brand, etc.
It’s not enough to know about the craft of producing video. It’s also important to match your company’s personality, needs and goals with the mechanics of production. This should not be a robotic exercise on the producer’s part; their suggestions about the script and the proposal should be a reflection of their research.
#9: Good Listener/ Communication
Is the producer you talked to more concerned about telling you about themselves or are they asking about your project? They should be asking you questions about aspects of your production that you may not have considered and otherwise helping you think things through. There’s plenty of time for them to put their best forward. But they should be listening to you first.
What kinds of questions are they asking? Do they seem germane to your goals? If they’re asking you questions that help you clarify and focus, that’s a good sign.
Does what they say make sense? Are they willing or able to work within your budget? Do they offer you different scenarios to match your budget and expectations? They should.
Attitude is vital, as you need to have a positive experience with the company you’re going to work with because the process definitely influences the final results. I think the operative word is caring. If we notice something that should be addressed that you haven’t thought about, we mention it. Then you can act on it or not. But often a client isn’t aware of certain things because it’s not their field of expertise.
Speaking of suggestions, our philosophy is to make a suggestion to the client and if they say they want to do it another way, that’s the final word. Beware of the company that insists on doing things their way because it will only get worse from there.