Your company has decided to invest in producing one (or several) videos, for the purposes of marketing, storytelling, educating, recruiting, or otherwise, and they’ve decided to put YOU in charge of finding the right video production company to execute it. In a highly saturated market with lots of options, you may be feeling a little confused about what factors you should be weighing in this decision, and you’re right—this is a very important decision to make. Here at Jillian Irene Lee & Associates, we’re sharing our tips so you can feel more confident in your search and decision.
Video production companies are like clothing stores. Old Navy, the Gap, and Banana Republic all sell clothes, but each at a different price point. The quality and styles available from each of these retailers vary, and video production companies are no different.
On one end, you have smaller production companies typically made up of 1-2 people, who may have less experience and/or equipment but offer their services at lower price points. On the other end, you have large production houses with extensive portfolios, years of experience, the best gear, and a large price tag to go with it. There are also numerous video production companies that sit in-between.
Go ahead and shop around—once you find a price that you’re happy with, don’t hesitate to negotiate and ensure that you’re getting the most value for your money. However, make sure to be realistic with your budget and expectations. Like clothing stores, what you pay for is what you get in video production companies.
Take a look at the portfolio section of a company’s website to start evaluating the level of production quality you can expect from them. If they don’t have a public portfolio, request samples of their published, in-use work, and have them provide you with client testimonials. Watch some of their previous videos and see if any of them align with your brand and what you’re looking for. Here are some things you can look for as you watch:
- Are the shots composed nicely? Is the colour appealing and consistent? Are they steady or jarring?
- Is slow motion used for effect? Not all production companies have the capacity to offer the emotionally compelling feature of slow motion.
- Is the video nicely edited? Do you like the transitions from shot to shot, or are the cuts disconcerting to you? Do the cuts match the beat of the music or the content of what is being said? Are there enough shots in the video, or do you have to watch the same shot for a little too long? Do they repeat shots? This is an indication that not enough content was filmed, or that the quality of the filming was not adequate.
- Do you like the camera moves? Are the shots taken from the shoulder of the camera person, or a tripod? Do you like the look of the movement (or stability)? Are there smooth, sweeping motion shots? Stabilization systems like a Dana Dolly is a value-add and not available from all video production companies.
- Is there a time lapse in the video? Time lapse footage is captured by specialized equipment that not all video providers will have. Time lapses are excellent for showing a lot of action in a short period of time or for capturing key milestones in a long-term project. They tend to capture viewers’ attention and fascination more easily than traditional video alone.
Besides portfolios, quality of service is also important to note. Head over to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, or Google Business page, and read some reviews and community posts to find out what their clients really think of them. Social media portrays a real, authentic reflection of the quality of service—whereas portfolios are more of a highlight reel.
Relationships take you a lot further in getting the product you want than you might initially realize. If you have a good rapport and open communication with your video provider, you are more likely to be pleased with the resulting product.
At smaller companies, often there is only one person acting as the producer, director, videographer, and editor, which can indicate knowledge in all areas but a specialist in none. Larger companies typically employ experts in each area—the videographer can concentrate on video, the sound operator on sound, etc. Some companies employ a blend of both (like Jillian Irene Lee & Associates). Keep this in the back of your mind when comparing companies and their team sizes, and what would work best for you.
Right off the bat, prior to signing any agreements or accepting any proposals, arrange to meet the account manager/business director/producer face-to-face. Use this time to evaluate if you gel with them, and if you can foresee any issues with communicating your vision for the video. Do they have prior experience with videos in your industry, or at your budget? Do they seem to be detail-oriented, strong communicators, innovative, dedicated, and knowledgeable? You’ll be working alongside this person from initial idea conception, through execution, to final product, so it’s crucial that you understand and get along with each other.
If you represent a large corporation, chances are, your video has a tight deadline. When you meet with the video production company, ask about their process. How organized are they? Do they have a concrete process for conceptualizing, storyboarding, producing, shooting, and editing the video within the time frame you have allotted? Do they leave time for last-minute changes? How open are they to client feedback and suggestions throughout the process?
You don’t have to know the differences in technology yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask what equipment the company uses and how it compares to what other companies use. Will that type of camera be a good fit for the video you are envisioning? Do you want it to look more professional and cinematic, or are you going for a more personal, interview-style look? Do you need sharp, crisp sound for an interview or voice-over dialogue? The type of equipment used can affect the outcome of the video greatly.
The benefits of knowing what you are buying will outweigh the time it takes to compare each video production company. Have any other questions that will help you make your decision? Let’s talk! (Remember, Jillian Irene Lee & Associates is an option too!)