Question of the Week: Optimizing Video Production Workflows

by Susan Murphy

This week’s question of the week comes to us from Meagan Hanes, a web designer and digital media maven from Canada. Meagan is asking for advice on optimizing her video production pipeline:

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 3.24.35 PM

That’s a great question Meagan, and one that I think many people struggle with. I’ve been working in video production for nearly 25 years and I can tell you that some days, I’m still learning myself! But here are a few tips on how you can be more efficient in the production process from beginning to end!


Pre-production is arguably the most important phase of any video production project. In fact, it’s said that good video productions are 80% pre-production and 20% production and post-production. Most of your hard work should happen in this phase.

I always say, “begin with the end in mind”. Ask yourself what you really want to accomplish with your video. What story are you trying to tell? What is the end result? Having a clear focus on how you want to tell your story will help you determine what you need to do. Everything spins out from knowing your story – from who or what you’ll want to appear in your video, to what resources you’ll need to shoot, direct and edit your piece, to how much it’s all going to cost.

Have a solid plan before you ever pick up a camera and you’ll set yourself up for success!


The best piece of advice I can offer here is “shoot to edit”. The tendency when one gets a camera in their hand is to run around all willy-nilly and take shots of everything you see. While it’s great to always shoot more footage than you need, taking it too far can result in headaches down the road. Before you get to your shooting location, take some time to plan out what you want to shoot. Figure out how it fits into the story you’re trying to tell. Then, when you get to the shoot, make those things a priority. If other stuff comes up that would be “nice to have” then you can shoot that too. But making sure you get the stuff you need (plus a bit extra just in case) will save you hours in the editing room later.

One other thing to make sure of when shooting video – if you’re shooting an object of some sort, get a few different angles – wide shots, close ups, pans – then you’ll have more to choose from when you edit.


I firmly believe that the difference between tearing your hair out in the editing room and getting into a creative flow with editing comes down to one thing – being organized. Before you even start cutting stuff together, make sure you have all of your assets labeled, and organized neatly into folders or bins. Nothing hurts your productivity more than having 300 video clips named “Untitled1, Untitled2, Untitled3, etc.

Before you start dumping clips into the timeline, take some time to review your footage in detail. Make notes of interview clips you want to use, and highlight visual clips that work well. Select a few different pieces of music so you have some options to try and you don’t need to hunt things down later. Compose any graphics you need as well.

You may even want to go as far as doing a paper edit, which is simply writing out the in and out points of all of the clips you want to use, and then putting them in order. There are electronic tools that will help you do this, but I’m old school and like to use paper and pen for paper edits.

Like the other phases of production, the more organized you are before you sit down to edit, the smoother it will go, and the less time it will take you to get something you’re proud of.

Technical elements are important in video production – you want your project to look good and sound good – but  I feel one of the most important things you can do to help ensure video success is be organized in every step of the production process.

Hope that answers your question Meagan and good luck with your projects!

If anyone else has a question they’d like us to answer about social media, the Internet, video or online content, drop us a line via Twitter or Facebook or leave us a comment on this post! We’d love to hear from you.


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