Video Production: From Start to Finish

I thought it would be good to share the typical full production process of how a video is made. Hopefully it would give some insight to followers and goes to show just how much work goes on behind the scenes to deliver the final product. Not all stages are applicable for all videos. I just chose an extreme case of the longest video to produce; a customized haircut video ordered by a customer.
Advertising for models

Currently, Suzana finds models for me. She does so through her own network of friends and contacts. Alternatively, one can also post advertisements on buy/sell classified sites for potential models. Interested models are then asked to provide good photos to show their full hair length and face, from front, back, and side angles. They will also be asked what the shortest hairstyle they are willing to get. I may pay the model myself, or a customer may sponsor her for customized video, or some other arrangement.
Liaising with customers

I would post photos of the models on my website, and also mention the shortest styles they are willing to get. Customers interested to order a customized video will contact me, telling me which model they want. I would first ask the customer to describe what they want done in the video in a script. If the script is within the means of what we can and would do, we would then proceed to the next step, which is to decide on the model fee. It may take some negotiation among all parties until a final price is agreed on by all. There may even need to be changes to the script. Depending on how particular the customer is to detail, and response time from all parties, this process may take anywhere from a few days to two weeks. Once all is agreed on, the customer sends payment.
Organizing shoot session

After payment is received from customer, we would then organize a time to produce the video. Typically we try to do it within a week after receiving the payment. During this period, I would refine the customer’s script, breaking it up into scenes, with description of what happens in each scene, the camera framing, and the duration. We try to keep the total video length under 1.5 hours if possible, or else the video will need to be broken up into two parts or more in the final cut (not ideal). I would send the script out to Suzana and the models, so that they can prepare in advance. We would also sort out what kind of clothes and make-up the models need to wear.
Production day

Because we have done this countless times, production day runs systematically like clock work. Typically production takes two to three times longer than the actual video run time in the final cut. This is because we need to explain each scene, rehearse if needed, and also rest after every half an hour ideally. Fatigue does show, so we ensure everyone gets rest time every two or three scenes.

During video recording, we ask everyone to turn off their mobile phones, or at least put them on silent. We close all doors and windows, and try to reduce background noise in the room. Absolutely no chattering in the background while video recording is happening. Since we use an extra sound recorder, to aid audio syncing in the editing process, we would do a loud clap at the start of each scene, just like professionals do with clapper boards in professional productions.
Video delivery

The slowest part of the overall process is the time it takes to send the raw video files over from Suzana to me. My camera records at 1080p 24 fps cinematic AVCHD at either 17 Mbps or 25 Mbps. In my experience, there is no noticeable difference between the two modes, at least for the kind of videos we make. So we use the 17 Mbps mode for smaller file size and faster editing time. But then then, it is still about 8 GB per hour of footage. Suzana’s upload speed is only a mediocre 0.4 Mbps; it takes two days to upload 8 GB worth of raw video files. To make matters worse, the internet speed and connectivity is unreliable, so in practice it takes much longer to send.
Video editing

I use Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 to edit my videos. For a fairly straightforward video, it would take around three hours to edit the video. Rendering takes much longer, so I usually leave my PC to render the video overnight while I sleep, or during the day while I’m at work. With my ageing PC’s specs, the render time is about 7 times the video length, if no computationally intensive effects are added. Due to Sellfy’s restriction, each video file is no more than 2 GB. Making preview frame grabs and preview videos take another three hours typically. Making previews can be tougher than the full video, because of Catch 22; the need to balance showing just enough scenes to represent the video and generate interest, but at the same time don’t give too much away.
Video distribution

The customer who orders the customized video always gets the video first before I put the video up for sale. I plan my video releases in advance, so there may be a time gap of a week to a month after production before the final product is put on sale. I try to vary and alternate the types of videos I release for sale. Typically it would be about 5 – 7 days gap between video releases.

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