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How to streamline your video review process

How to streamline your video review process Blog Feature

Megan Lang

Video Editor, 5+ Years of Video Production & Editing

October 10th, 2019 min read

How often do your video production projects get done in a timely manner? My guess is, unless you have a set strategy in place for post-production, the answer is hardly ever.

I’d argue the majority of the time for video production is often spent in the review stage. This phase can drag due to either an inefficient or completely absent formal process.

In a worst case scenario, you’ll give the okay for the shoot, approve the content to be shot, and then somehow end up with something you neither wanted nor asked for — and it’s taken a month to get. Then you have to start all over again with revisions that take even longer.

Setting up a process for reviewing videos will significantly speed up your review time. This means you can then use your videos faster and get the most out of your investments.

I’ve been shooting and editing videos for over five years now. I have worked with many clients, and I have found a method that works best for me to be able to work quickly and effectively. Your editor is your friend, and you want to make it clear what story they will be helping you tell.

Over the years, I’ve learned to use three main cuts. These cuts create a streamlined review process.

The content cut

This is the initial, barebones edit, which is used to determine if you like what was captured.

This cut can be confusing for people not familiar with revision processes. You may ask questions about aspects that will come in later edits like graphics and color correction. Videographers should educate stakeholders on how this stage of the process works, and why.

The benefits of showing this cut is to address any content issues before getting into the meat of things.

If, for example, you don't like what the interviewee is saying, you may cut that interview rather than spending time and money editing it further.

What to pay attention to:

For a more interview-type video, if you close your eyes and just listen, does what’s being said fit what you were looking for? Is there something you’d like to cut out or rearrange in the content?

For an event video, does the footage accurately portray the event? Does the order makes sense? Does the video present the right balance of content (think: speeches) and hype (think: people dancing or mingling)?

The editor is only doing what they think is best. If you’d rather see more of a certain element, speak up! It all just depends on the style and feel you’re going for, and the content cut is the time to decide on that direction.

Another important aspect at this stage is the music. Does it have the right feel? Does it go well with how you want to portray your brand? Now’s the time to speak up, especially if the editor is going to do edits timed to the beat of the song. 

Changing this later will add significant time to editing, since the editor will have to re-edit to time everything up with a different track

What to ignore:  

You can ignore the color. At this stage, the editor won’t have color corrected anything yet, so if something looks too dark or too yellow, ignore it for now. 

Sometimes things look great out of the camera, but a lot of time the images need some TLC. The editor will need to go into each individual clip and adjust the exposure, the color, the contrast, and a whole mess of other settings, which can be quite time-consuming. It’s best to wait until you have content locked in so you don’t waste any time.

Any "b-roll" likely won’t be in place at this point. As the reviewer, you don’t have to worry about assessing this yet, especially for interviews. Similarly to the color, if you spend time sifting through and adding b-roll to a section that won’t get used, that’s more time wasted.

Finally, there are generally no graphics at this stage. Sometimes I’ll put the beginning or end slides into a video at this stage, but usually I wait until I have the go-ahead of the content cut before adding any names and titles.

Polished cut

This cut shows the reviewer almost exactly what their final cut should look like. This is where you’ll see the added b-roll, lower thirds for names and titles, and color correction.

What to pay attention to:

Now’s the time to say if names are spelled wrong, or there’s a wrong title. Make sure opening titles and segment titles are correct as well.

Now’s also the time to look at the color. Does something look too dark or too yellow? Now’s the time to speak up!

Audio is just as important in this pass. Is the music too loud in spots? Are voices sounding okay?

For the added b-roll, does the footage match what’s being talked about? Are there any weird details in the background of shots? I’ve totally missed people yawning or eating messily in background shots — and these need to be caught and cut in this stage.

What to ignore: 

Nothing should be ignored at this point. You want to look at this video as if it’s already on your site. This cut is a big one for quality control. 

Make sure you pay attention to all the aspects we’ve talked about so far. Watch it a few times, show it around, make sure you catch any and all remaining things you’d like to fix.

Final cut

By now you hopefully have a finished product. Between using the content cut for structure and the polished cut for everything else, there shouldn’t be much more to do.

What to pay attention to:

You should take one more glance for spelling mistakes and glitches in graphics or footage. You should also pay attention to the beginning and ends to make sure they either fade or just cut to black, depending on the desired effect.

What to ignore: 

Now’s not the time to be making serious structural changes; the content was approved in the first cut. Unless you want to just cut out one word, don’t be looking to change a major section at this stage.

You should also ignore the music. Someone before you has approved it by now and it’s informed the edits.

Every other polishing aspect is still fair game here, though. Make sure you are completely confident that this video will accurately represent your brand. 

Communication is key

Whether you’re producing videos for clients or creating content internally, the approval process is a shared, collaborative experience.

Make sure you have a document internally if you’re doing in-house video. Everyone should know the review process so they know the terminology and what to look for.

At IMPACT, we have a Google Doc that outlines exactly what the process is for reviewing, so anyone who has to look over and approve videos internally can know exactly how to do so.

Similarly, if you're a videographer working with clients, you must educate them on the review process. You can design a similar document — or even create a video — on both what to expect from the production team during the review process, and what will be expected of them.

Videographers will frequently have to remind clients, though, even if you send educational materials. They’ll still ask why there’s no graphics in the content cut. If you’re going to be working with the same people for a while, they’ll get the hang of it. If not, the review process will take a lot more time than it needs to.

It’s important to set up expectations before there are any problems. Taking a few minutes up front to inform clients on how your process works will save everyone time in the long run.

If everyone follows the outline, it makes it very easy on the editor and, therefore, faster for everyone.

Once the process is down, you can start getting videos out faster and more efficiently to share with the world.

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