Smash Out A Video Brief for Live Action Video In Six Easy Steps

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Live action blog header
Creativa
December 17, 2021
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Making a video can be daunting – even if you’re a seasoned pro! There is so much to consider and there can be so many people involved. It’s normal to be unsure of how to start. 

I’m Dana, and I’m the Senior Creative Producer and Director here at Creativa. I’ve worked in post production and production since 2005 – so you’re in good hands! In this post I’ll be posing important questions to help you gain clarity on what to include in your brief when making a live action video (‘live action’ meaning that it’s not animated!). 

Dana (in green) on the set of a live action shoot for Advance Care Planning

I’ll also outline how the answers to these questions help the production company you work with identify important points of strategy – from big picture distribution to what genre your video would suit best.

A quick disclaimer; don’t worry if you don’t immediately know all the answers to these questions, just know that it’s important you work through them before the pen hits the paper.

Once you have worked through these questions, you’ll have a super clear brief which will help the production company you work with feel more informed and aligned to the project. This will then help your video achieve the goals you’ve set.

Because why create a video in the first place if it’s not going to do what you need it to do?

What is a Video Brief, and Why Does it Matter?

Every project should start with a brief.

A brief gives an overview of the project, what its goals are, who the intended audience is and what deliverables will be required. 

A video brief does just that; outlines the project, its timelines, the business goals, the deliverables, the intended audience and how the success of the video will be measured. It becomes the guide for everyone involved, from pre-production to post-production.

Without a brief for your video, you run the risk of not being clear on why you are making this video, and in turn, your video will not have the intended effect – especially if you haven’t defined how to measure its success.

Ultimately, while this behind the scenes work is time consuming, a video brief allows your production company to create a video that is fit for purpose and has a better chance of performing well. 

Dana in her directing chair for the eSafety shoot

How to Write a Video Brief for Live Action (Five Steps)

Here are five steps that you need to take in order to create a video brief that is helpful, informative, effective and aligned to your business goals.

Step 1: Start With Why

As Simon Sinek says, it starts with why. 

Let’s take a look at why you need a video. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Do you want to come across more ‘human’ on your website? Do you want to use emotion so you can drive your audience to take a certain action? Do you have an interesting story you want to document?

There’s no wrong answer here. Your why will act as a guiding light for the video brief. It helps you stay on track with the overall reason for the video, and provides clarity when you are decision-making throughout the process. 

For example, your why could be ‘we want to come across more human-like in our content’. Great! So this may influence which actors you work with in production, the language and vocabulary in the script (possibly more casual, rather than formal) and much more. 

Having a clear why means you can make decisions and move forward in the project with confidence.

Over to you: 

Write down why you’re wanting to make this video.

Step 2: Where Will It Live?

What platform will your video live on? Will it end up on a webpage, a social media platform, maybe a cinema screening, or a digital billboard? Knowing the final location is important to know from the beginning because this will influence the way forward as you write your video brief. For example, your producer will need to know if you are planning on releasing your video in cinemas, as that will determine your video’s output specification as landscape (so that it suits its final screen!). However, if it will live on a social media platform, it could be portrait, landscape or all the above. Essentially, its platform will dictate how we film your video.

Over to you: 

Write down where this video will end up. You don’t have to know the exact specifications for the video on that platform – your producer will help there.

Step 3: Who Is The Video For? 

Who is your target audience for this video? Understanding your target audience and how they interact with the platform you are releasing your video on will influence the creative aspect of the project. 

Over to you: 

Write down who this video is intended for.

Step 4: What Do You Want Your Audience To Do? 

Now that you know who this video is for, have a think about what you want them to do as an action after watching the video. 

Maybe you have a specific call to action, like asking them to sign up for a new deal. Perhaps it’s to call you. Maybe it’s just that you want your audience to have renewed confidence or positive affinity with your business.

The action you want here, coupled with knowing who your target audience is, will dictate what tone your producer takes with your video. For example, whether it is a jovial or a somber call to action. 

Over to you: 

Write down what action you want your audience to take after watching the video. For bonus points, include some emotive words that you want your audience to associate with it.

Step 5: What Are Your Goals? 

Let’s imagine that your video went viral. You’ve gotten millions of views, and tons of people shared it, but your project goal was to get sign ups for a newsletter on your website. However, your call to action wasn’t clear enough, so no one clicked through to your website. 

Was your campaign successful? 

Well, even with those millions of views, if no one signed up to your newsletter, I would say your video was a bust. 

When you’re working with a production team, you need to be clear on your goals so they can help you craft your message and by extension, what genre and style it would sit best in, amongst other things.

The goal could be marketing related, business related, event-specific, or otherwise. For example, a marketing goal could be to get 100 sign ups for an online webinar.

Then, once you know your goal, identify what the metrics are that you’ll use to measure its success. This is where it’s helpful to know what action you want your audience to take, as you can use that as measurement. For example, if your goal is event sign ups, then you could measure the amount of attendees that sign up that can be traced back to watching the video. 

Let your producer know what success looks like and they’ll make sure you have a strong call to action that will help your video reach its goals. 

This is the step where you would consider what your distribution strategy is, meaning how you will get your video in front of your audience. If you’re not clear on this yet, just make a note of this so you can discuss it with your production team.

Over to you: 

Write down what goal (or goals!) this video is supporting for your business, and then how you will measure success.

Step 6: Budget & Logistics

This step is all about logistics and budget – both important to include in a brief so that your producer can know whether you’re working towards any particular dates or costs. 

Include Any Dates And/Or Timelines

Does your producer need to know about any dates you’re working towards? These could be a specific date you need the project delivered by, or maybe a general time frame that you need to produce the video in (because of your availability or you’re wanting to film at a certain location etc.). 

Let’s Talk Budget

You’re working towards a budget. You know it – we know it – your producer knows it!

So don’t be shy about including it in your brief. Even if you’ve just got a ballpark estimate (e.g. We’re budgeting somewhere in between $15,000 – $35,000), it’s worth putting it on the table so that your producer knows where your budget.

To give you an idea of what this could mean – a smaller budget means you will need to sacrifice or make compromises on the final deliverable (we find that clients can often underestimate the cost of live action), so be prepared to negotiate your deliverable. When you’re working with an experienced production company, doing this doesn’t mean you’re going to get a ‘bad’ video – not at all! On my projects, I match the creative (aka your final deliverable) around the budget – rather than trying to recreate the film Titanic with a budget of $2,000.

When you’re not trying to overachieve with limited resources, your creative (and your producer) will thank you.

Over to you: 

Note down what dates are important to the timeline of your project, and include a project budget, even if it is a ballpark figure.

Optional Step: What Is Your Inspiration? 

This step is optional because I know that not every project comes with clear visual inspiration for the video. You might have some idea of what style/vibe you are looking for, but then again you might just be looking to hand that side of the project to the producer you are working with. 

I encourage you to do some thinking on what existing videos you think suit your brand. If you have seen something that you love that you are inspired by, show your producer! A picture speaks for a thousand words and we producers love checking out great content. 

Alternatively, you can provide your production company with your brand style guide and they can work with you from there.

Over to you: 

Note down some videos that inspire you and that you believe suit your brand. 

Congratulations! You Have A Video Brief. 

Now that you have the basics of your video brief written up, you’re on your way to a successful project and measurable video. 

While some of the specifics of the brief may change during the course and execution of the project, the work you have done has set the tone for the project. From here, you start to work with the production team you have hired for this project. 

On set for the eSafety shoot

Three Final Tips For Your Live Action Video Brief 

In this last section of the post, I’ll talk through some tips and reminders for you to keep in mind as you take your video brief to your production team.

Don’t Forget Distribution Strategy 

Earlier in this post I mentioned putting some work into your distribution strategy. Why?

Because your distribution strategy answers the all important question: how will you get eyes on your video? 

Your distribution strategy is how you plan to distribute the content (in this case, your video) to your target audience.

If you are planning on uploading it to your website and crossing your fingers in the hopes of thousands of views, you’re going to make your producer sad (and you’re not going to see that result). Because the hard truth is that a video simply existing online does not guarantee it any views, or any sort of traction.

For example, you could already have an engaged email list. These people are your target audience for an event you are organising. .  An appropriate distribution strategy here would be to plan an email campaign where you distribute the video to them via email. This would be a focused strategy to generate interest and encourage sign ups to the event.

You know what they say – if you fail to plan, plan to fail. With this in mind, I urge you to consider your distribution strategy, and to discuss it with your production team if you’re not sure where to start. 

Consider Cut Downs of Your Video 

With an idea of what your distribution strategy is, you can then go to your production team and figure out the following:

  • Whether or not you require cutdowns of the video (snappier, shorter versions of the hero video that are appropriate for social media or email campaigns)
  • The aspect ratio for these cutdowns (depending on where they will live online)

Try To Avoid Cutting Corners With The Talent 

If you are considering using non-actors to save casting and talent fees, please don’t. Viewers are pretty good at picking up when someone is uncomfortable or unnatural on screen, and it will cost you more in the long run if you don’t hire trained professionals. 

Our crew in action

The Craft Behind Video Production

There is a craft and a science behind video production. It’s more than editing together a few pretty clips. At Creativa, we work with you, learn your service or product and at the end of a project, we make sure you have a clear, visually compelling and entertaining story that serves your end goal. 

Now that you’ve got this brief all done and dusted, get in touch with us to start your project.

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Creativa provides complete video production and animation services for clients direct or for agencies nationwide, specialising in creating content that engages Aussie audiences. Working with local crews dotted around the country to capture live-action video footage, we manage all the coordination for you. Whatever type of video you need, we’ve got you covered.