How to Select a Video Production Company for Your Project
Which flavor of tortured artist would you like today?
We all know the ‘good-fast-cheap’ scenario (meaning you can only have 2 in any transaction) but the reality is these factors aren’t binary, they are sliding scales. These attributes are subject to much interpretation depending on where you are coming from.
To help you sort through these variables, here’s a closer look at some of the parameters by which you can evaluate potential video production vendors to see if they are a good fit for you.
Look at the big picture beyond this project, is this going to be a good video resource for your company in general? There are likely technical, creative, service, availability and expertise issues involved. Do you need someone who can walk you through the process or do you just need someone to execute on your plans?
The physical location of a video production company can matter – or not. It is indeed possible to work with companies far away if you are doing animated motion graphics projects and the like. However, if there’s shooting to be done, time spent traveling can really add to production costs and time-lines.
In some cases, working with a video production partner that specializes in the type of content you are creating is essential. For example, getting great snowboarding footage requires special physical skills and gear. The value can also be knowledge-based. We actually do a lot of video game-related video content and knowing the industry helps us know our audience, material and streamlines everything in production, yielding better results.
One aspect that’s easy to overlook is availability. Most projects have a due date and working with top talent or donated talent, can actually mean that things are harder to get done. Look for a partner that’s going to be able to be there when you need them.
While having the right tools may seem essential, it actually might not matter if your crew actually owns the gear or not. Video production requires a wide variety of tools in different scenarios, in many cases, owning everything you will need isn’t practical, all of it can be rented if they know how to use it well. Which leads to..
Video production technology is constantly changing, but some skills are timeless. Knowing all the latest tech is great but there’s more to this art than knowing how to use a tool. The ability to light a shot, pick good music, conduct a great interview, edit a solid narrative – these are the types of skills to look for.
This one is a bit more hard to spot but having a depth and breadth of video production experience will help everything go more smoothly. You won’t always know the pitfalls a great video production partner steers you away from. Sadly, those troubles reveal themselves when that experience isn’t there.
Talent is one of those game-changing parameters. There are so many video production companies out there, they can't all be great at everything. Just because they can do it doesn't mean they are great at it. Spotting talent is actually a talent itself so I’m not sure how to advise on this one. That said, when I have been able to work with truly talented people, it’s hard to miss.
Depending on your priorities, getting the best price may vary in importance. Video production companies are typically pretty fair about what they charge factoring in all the factors above. You get what you pay for so depending on what mix you need, prices will tend to follow suit.
If you end up working with freelancers or hot-shot agencies, you may not get the professional treatment you’d like. A quick phone call can usually show what are they like to work with. Find out: Do they keep appointments, answer all your questions and give you the sense they are looking out for you?
I’ll admit, I’ve been swayed by the perks. Having nice coffee, free parking, comfy chairs – all that adds up. Maybe it’s something else for you but trust your gut on this one. If you’re comfortable, you’ll just do better work. We’re not animals, we’re professionals, right?!
I hope all this helps you better evaluate your video production company options. Pro Tip: I find that if you just ‘go for the no’ and try and eliminate options buy actually trying to find a reason they aren’t a good fit, the process goes a lot quicker. Good luck!