Video Pre-Production Basics

A simple breakdown of the pre-production process.

Every pre-production process begins with development. For any given campaign, the creative team or marketing department determines their strategic goals and which assets to include to reach the desired outcome.

Video pre-production begins with development

Development is an important part of the video pre-production. It’s during this planning phase that the selected audience, message, budget and strategy will guide the content of the video. In development, ideas are fleshed out and a concept is created around the requirements and limitations of the project. In the development phase, it’s important to consider:

Distribution method, such as:

  • Broadcast TV

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • YouTube

  • Email blast

  • Tradeshow booth

  • Internal meeting

  • Website

Budget, such as:

  • What locations can you afford? For example, a baseball stadium is significantly more expensive than an internal conference room or retail location.

  • Who will be acting in the production?

    • Local personality?

    • Company CEO or employees?

    • Local talent?

    • Voice-over specialist?

Length, will it be a:

  • 30 or 60 second commercial?

  • 5 minute presentation?

  • 10 minute infomercial?

  • 30 minute TV pilot?


Video Pre-Production

The pre-production process involves everything that needs to be complete before the cameras roll. Before the video process begins, the following steps should take place to help the production move smoothly and efficiently:

Build a creative team

Companies may have internal video production teams and can access writers, directors and other talent from their own pool. Other times, script writers, actors and additional production crew are needed to bring the vision to life.


The writer and other creatives will work together to create a script that will provide dialogue, visual and additional audio cues. This is the blueprint of the video process and ensures the right message is conveyed to the right audience.

Creating Shot Lists and Storyboards

Based on the script, the director and cinematographer will work collaboratively to create a list of shots that match the production needs and convey the right message based on the established marketing objectives.

Storyboards take the shot list and provide a visual representation of how the video will look. This critical piece of the pre-production process involves visualizing the shot and helps determine what type of camera equipment, location, actors and lighting are necessary.

Scouting, Permits, and Casting

Location Scouting and Permits

If you’re shooting on-premises, it’s easy to scout locations and permits may not be necessary. If the production calls for a city park, for example, there are many factors that can impact both shooting capability and budget like cost of obtaining permits; requirements of permit, such as insurance and security; and lighting, such as the sun’s location relative to shooting needs, available outlets for equipment or generator rental.


Once you know how many actors are required to be in the production based on the script and storyboards, the casting process begins. Auditioning lead actors or finding background actors will take time depending on the action of the shots.

Finalizing the Pre-Production Stage

Scheduling the shoot

Perhaps one of the most complex aspects of video pre-production is, creating a shooting schedule that involves organizing the shoot and ensuring all crew, talent and stakeholders know when and where they need to be. The shooting schedule will help the camera, sound and props departments know what’s required for each day and hour and prepare accordingly. The location, types of shots, the length of time to set up shots and talent availability will help determine the shooting schedule.

Creating contingency plans can help save time, money and headaches. Shooting outdoors means being subjected to weather and unexpected environmental elements. It’s advised to overestimate the time you think it will take to complete each shooting day.

Creating the call sheet

The call sheet is distributed to every stakeholder needed on the day of shooting and lets them know when they’re expected to be on-location.

Finalize the budget

Although creating videos can be a tedious, it’s often worth it. Videos with a strong core message aligning with marketing strategies and goals provide a strong ROI. Taking the critical steps during the pre-production process will lead to a smoother production and ensure the outcome meets the marketing needs of your organization.