5 Key Elements to Pre-Production


What is the key to a successful shoot and a well produced video? Pre-production. As a sports video production company, all the steps we take before shooting, editing, and producing the final product are crucial to successfully delivering the best content for our clients. Though JPI works on a range of projects from commercials to full length television programs, we believe there are five core steps in pre-production that are essential. Check them out below!


First things first. Communication with our clients is key. We must understand the audience the client is trying to reach, the story he or she is trying to tell, and the objectives the brand wants to achieve. We work together until there is an approved concept for the video, and to help facilitate this vision we’ll supply the client with a deck that includes examples of work that they can watch and let us know what they like and don’t like about it to ensure we’ve got the same creative vision and know exactly what they want. If you’re not on the same page, you will waste a lot of time and money creating a video that is not what your client wants. We focus on every detail of style and mood, for instance; do we want to shoot with a high speed camera? Will interview audio be key to telling the story? Or do we want the perspective of the video to be done with a “fly on the wall” approach? Will we need to utilize graphics? We then create storyboards, a paper edit, and a shot list to ensure the client’s creative vision will be met to the best of our abilities.


Next we focus on all of the logistics. This is EVERYTHING. We have a production budget which our client will approve and then work off that to ensure our production is within means. After that the fun starts. We plan what type of crew will be best based on the shoot’s objectives, what equipment is needed, book flights, hotels, rental cars and make all travel arrangements if the shoot is out of town. In many situations, we have a scout day so we can get a full understanding of the location we'll be shooting in. It's important to know about the lighting in the area, whether it is inside or outside, surrounding noise, and available electrical outlets and wifi so we can plan the shoot accordingly.  We make a very detailed schedule, while also factoring in some room to deal with unexpected issues that inevitably come up. The sooner the shoot can be locked in, the better it is for the budget and our peace of mind. (We like to be VERY organized, if you haven’t noticed.) Also, once you're in the rhythm of doing similar productions, such as going out of town to document a Tough Mudder event, or capturing a Red Bull Basketball Tournament, the more capable you are at anticipating any needs that may come up so you can troubleshoot quickly.

3. CREW. 

The crew is very important, because they will execute the creative vision. Factors, such as their experience, their familiarity with our equipment, whether they have their own equipment, their rates, and whether they work well together as a team come into play. If the team worked together before and clicked, they tend to communicate better and there is a higher likelihood the shoot will go smoothly, so we definitely take that into account. The sooner we can book the crew the better, as we can make sure the team that we want is available, well briefed on the production’s goals, and committed.


The client always wants the best and we have to decide what cameras are best for the production and within the budget. For example, will we need to shoot in a RAW format to give the video a look and do color correction in post production? We also have to decide on how much equipment we are going to rent, including audio, lighting, grips, hand held rigs, lenses or even field monitors if we are going to need a better look at what’s shot on location or if the client is interested he/she can take a peak and offer instant feedback or have ease of mind on location. Again, being as organized as possible is necessary, as every piece of equipment is crucial.


Finally, before we head out on our shoot, we organize the project's post-production journey. Surprisingly, this can affect the way we approach our shoot. This includes data management strategy, creating a delivery schedule and establishing turn-around times with the client, pre-determining the number of rounds of feedback we’ll receive from the client, choosing the music, and deciding what post-production equipment is needed. We’ll have to be ready with the appropriate amount of hard drives, available editing bays with qualified editors, and any additional tools for color correction and sound design that the project calls for. The answer to these questions lies back in #1 with establishing our client’s creative vision and which aesthetic look is going to achieve that.

Jay Jalbert