The Complete Guide to Project Management for Video Production

Harness the power of project management tools to optimize your video production processes

INTRO

Foreward

Video is the fastest growing medium in marketing, advertising, and corporate communications. Why? They say, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. And as budgets shift to video, the speed, volume, and demands of video production are necessitating a project management plan for video production.

If video production sometimes feels chaotic, organizing projects across clients, freelancers, and distribution channels, you’re not alone. A film or video project can be a complicated adventure of elements from briefing to scripting to storyboarding to locations to equipment to bookkeeping to creative review to final deliverable and distribution. In this guide, you’ll learn the skills and tools you’ll need to have the right video production project management plan.

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Part 1:

Introduction to Project Management for Video Production

Before we begin, it’s important that we define what project management for video production is. Whether you’re new to video production or you’ve been doing it for years, it’s fairly evident that video production has a lot of moving parts. Project management is just a way to keep track of all those moving parts in one central location.

“Entrepreneurship doesn’t get easier. The goals just get bigger.” – David Capece, CROOW Founder

If you’re on a budget and looking to manage a project without investing in a 3rd party software, it’s doable with spreadsheets, google docs, emails, phone calls, etc. However, that method requires a lot of handholding and oversight by the project manager. Consistently updating the spreadsheet or google doc, sending out manual emails to let a team member know it’s time for them to take on their task, passing back and forth video files via email or WeTransfer to the client, etc. All of these tasks are time-consuming and hard to keep track of! “Did I end up emailing Sara that she was supposed to have those scripts done by EOD Friday?” “Does Gary know that he needs to be at the shoot location by 7am tomorrow?”

To make it easier on yourself, we recommend investing in a project management software. A quick Google search will prove that there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of project management softwares out there. And most of them have specific use-cases. Some are designed for information technology, others are designed for software development, still some are designed for marketers. While many of those options will work for video production, it helps to have a project management software built for video production teams.

Introducing: CROOWpm. CROOW Project Management is the first video production project management platform built by and for video production professionals. From storyboarding to call sheets to client approvals, CROOWpm assists video production teams every step of the production process. Learn more about CROOWpm on our website. 

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Part 2:

Project Management Opportunities Across the Video Production Process

In every step of the video production process, there are opportunities to use a project management software to optimize your experience. And because the video production process is so unique, it’s wise to not settle for just any PM software. Using a project management tool that’s built for video production will make each step of the production journey much simpler. Let’s take a look at all the steps of video production process and where a project management tool or tactics might fit in:

Lay the groundwork for your video. The initial briefing session with key video stakeholders sets the tone for the rest of the project. It’s at this stage that you determine the videos’ goals, general message, and tone.

Project Management Tip: A quality PM software will allow you to store all your initial notes from the briefing session in one central location. This way, you can always return to the foundation of the project as new thoughts and recommendations surface along the way.

Decide on production requirements. Will your video be shot in a studio or on location? Will you need actors or is it going to highlight employees? Will there be animation in the video? What types of cameras will you need? All of this needs to be determined first, as it sets the foundation for the rest of the production.

Project Management Tip: Most PM softwares allow you to add a project description at the forefront of the project. Keep your notes here and tag key stakeholders to make sure everyone is in agreement on the basics.

READ: Ultimate B2B Video Marketing Guide + Strategies

Determine your timetable. Start with the finish line. What time do you want to have your video completely finished by? Then work backwards from there.

Depending on the length and production value of your video, timing will vary. If you’re creating a corporate video, brand video, or animated explainer, you can expect roughly a month from shoot day to launch. That means: 1 day for filming, 2 weeks for producing the first draft, and 2 weeks of back and forth between stakeholders and the video production team. If you’re creating a high-quality, expensive video with changing sets, animation, actors, memorized lines, and more, you’ll want to give yourself more time (think months, rather than weeks).

Project Management Tip: Use Kanban Boards and Calendar tools to assign tasks by due date to specific users. This way, everything is recorded in the beginning and you can allow automatic notifications to keep you on-track for the remainder of the project.

Video Production Team… Assemble! With the basics of the video established, it’s time to roundup a team of professionals to shoot the video. Think: Do you need animators? Actors? Editors? People to man the camera? If you don’t already have a well-established team to choose from, there are many options available to you. Use websites like Upwork, Fiverr or CROOW, or pull from your own network to find trustworthy, hardworking video production team members. 

And of course, it’s important that all members of the team are included in whatever project management tool you’re using so they can be assigned tasks and held accountable for due dates.

Project Management TIp: Add all of your stakeholders (teammates, clients, etc.) to your PM Software so they have the ability to be tagged, assigned, and notified of changes/tasks as they come up.

Maintain Communication. At this point, you’re ready to film. Just make sure that your team, the client, your location, and any other stakeholders are aware of the plan so no one gets left behind. And from here on out, communication is the name of the game. Back-and-forth feedback loops are critical to make sure the video turns out just the way the client wants it. 

Project Management TIp: Any project management tool worth its salt will let you tag stakeholders in key messages. Keeping all communication in one central location, rather than spread out amongst different emails, phone calls, and text messages improves accountability. 

Track Timing. Often, video production teams get paid by the hour, rather than flat rates. If that’s the case for your team, you need to make sure that you’re tracking time every step of the way. Even if you’re not paid by the hour, learning how long it takes to accomplish specific tasks can help you optimize your processes along the way.

Project Management Tip: Log time to each task as they’re completed using your project management tool. Just like keeping all communication in one central location, having time logged by individual team members associated with each task will remove questions at the end of the project when it comes time to bill.

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Part 3:

Define Objectives to Better Manage Video Production Projects

Before beginning any project, video production or not, it’s important to determine objectives. What is it you hope to get out of this experience? What does “Success” look like to you?

Whether it’s been said out loud or not, every project starts with one primary goal. It’s up to the project manager to assess whether or not that goal is attainable, comprehensible and measurable. 

Clients may think that their goals are specific, but they almost always need to be adjusted. For example, “Spread awareness about Company X’s new product” is not a productive project goal. In contrast, “Spreading awareness on Instagram by increasing engagement by 15% by January 1, 2021” is much more precise. This is only step one. Next, the primary goal needs to be broken down into bite-sized, actionable objectives for relevant team members to act on. Set smart goals and set your team up for success.

READ: 5 Common Mistakes in Project Management (And How to Avoid Them)

So, where does that put video production teams? While you can’t guarantee engagement or even awareness with a video, as the promotion of the video depends on the team promoting it, you can guarantee certain elements of the video – and you can help your client understand video styles that will end up matching with their ultimate objective of the video. Here are some common objectives and the type of video that works best for these objectives:

  • “I want to drive [X%] more awareness of my company by [date].” General company awareness-based videos tend to be best represented by Digital Shorts. These are typically 2-5 minutes long, easily shareable on social media, and have one specific point they focus on. These types of videos can easily be shot in a studio or with a non-distracting background that represents the company, and they are often a “talking head” narration.

Check out this example of a Digital Short.

  • “I want to teach my audience about a product or service I offer.” Educational videos can also take the form of Digital Shorts, mentioned above. But if available, an interview with a customer or user of the product/service speaks volumes. Rather than talking about your own product or service, allowing someone else to exemplify how they use your offerings builds credibility with an audience and helps them visualize how they could be a customer as well.

Check out this example of an Interview.

  • “I want future employees and prospects to know what my company stands for.” This is a common request today as onboarding and training videos become more popular. Not to mention, many businesses have YouTube pages, About Us pages, and social media channels which could all benefit from an informative “About Us” video. This goal is best achieved using “Brand Videos.” In many cases, these look a lot like the aforementioned Digital Shorts, but their main difference is the content. Often, the talking head will be the CEO or Owner of the company and they will discuss their ethos, mission, and vision of the company, along with some history as to how they began. 

Check out this example of a Brand Story.

  • “I want to promote an upcoming event.” Whether it’s an upcoming webinar, presence at a tradeshow, fundraising event, or company party, these videos need to be easily shareable and targeted. Keep the content focused on the purpose of the event and written/spoken in such a way that will attract prospects to join. Edit the video so that it’s easily shareable on all social platforms so that employees can spread the word.

There are many other types of videos available, but knowing the objective of the video will help you determine the location of the shoot, the team required, and the script. 

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Part 4:

How to Gain Efficiency: Getting to 2x Productivity

There are many ways to gain efficiency at your tasks. Creating lists, blocking off time to focus, taking time off to recoup, and the list goes on. In fact, Indeed.com wrote a whole article entitled 12 Simple Strategies to Improve Work Efficiencies that goes through those tactics and more.

But how do those strategies relate to a video production team? And how can a video production team gain 2X productivity? After all, more productivity means more jobs and more jobs means more money. The better you can do your job, the more you’ll get paid, right?

Let’s break down some of the tools you can use to be more efficient at video production, and maybe even get to 2X productivity:

  • Set realistic goals. This is one we already discussed in the previous section, Defining Objectives to Better Manage Video Production Projects, but it rings true here too. By setting the right goals and knowing which type of video works best for which objective, you can get right to work on a video that will perform the best for your customer. Not only that, but having a solid understanding of your clients’ goals will oftentimes lead to a shorter feedback period – which means you get your projects done faster and you can move on to the next one.
  • Maintain ongoing communication. At the beginning of a project, this means truly understanding those aforementioned goals and agreeing on the style and script of the video. As the video is being produced, this means making sure the customer is easily able to make suggestions, edits, etc. In order to facilitate this, it helps to have a tool that allows you to make comments/suggestions directly on the video at specific time markers.
  • Develop project management templates. Again, this is where project management tools really help you create a repeatable process. Templatized video production projects in your PM tool will allow you to clone and reassign future projects using the same process that worked last time. Instead of building everything from the ground up for every single client, you can save yourself a ton of time by reusing what works.

Of course, it helps to have a dependable team backing you up and a customer with achievable goals, but regardless, setting realistic goals, maintaining communication, and developing repeatable processes with PM tools can help you get to 2X productivity.

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Part 5:

How to Manage Schedules and Portfolio: From Kanban Board to Calendars to Call Sheets

As a project manager, you have to make sure that all of your tasks are organized in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand. There are some tools you can use that will help you visualize all the disparate activities and group them in a specific time order. There are also ways to manage tasks without using unique Excel tips/tricks the old fashioned way.

Here are a few options:

Use an old-fashioned calendar. We’re not suggesting you get quite as old-fashioned as a paper calendar hanging on your wall, although that’s acceptable if it works for you! But using your email service provider’s built-in calendar function and booking time on all the appropriate team members’ calendars will help you manage due dates. You can usually set up custom alerts on the calendar invites so they remind you minutes, hours, or even days beforehand when your due date is coming up. Of course, these are useful for times you need to meet with the team, but also just generally useful as benchmark due dates to remind yourself.

Pro tip: Color-code the events in your calendar by project or task type so you can see at-a-glance what types of tasks are due this week.

Try a Kanban Board to Organize Tasks By Process. The word “Kanban” is actually Japanese and is roughly translated to “card” or “sign.” The reason is because this approach looks like a grouping of sticky notes or cards under specific categories. Your categories could be simple, like “To-do”, “Doing,” and “Done.” Or they could be more specific, like “Prospecting,” “Storyboarding/Scripting,” “Filming,” “Editing,” “Feedback,” “Done.” Either way, they represent a series of steps to completion. And at-a-glance, you should be able to see each task in that category.

croow kanban board

Call out Important Details with a Call Sheet. The call sheet may be the single most important asset you’ll create in pre-production. This document includes all the information necessary for the day of the shoot: What needs to be brought, where the shoot will take place, weather conditions, names and contact information of those in charge, parking information, and any other necessary details to help the day run smoothly. This typically gets sent out the night before the shoot so all the data is accurate and as up-to-date as possible. CROOWpm has a built-in Call Sheet tool that will allow you to collect all the elements necessary to build a helpful call sheet – including built-in tools to help you share it with the appropriate stakeholders.

croow_call sheet

Take a look at CROOWpm’s video production project management tools.

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Part 6:

How to Increase Collaboration: Across Team, Freelancers and Clients

In many ways, collaboration is synonymous with communication. In this guide so far, we’ve consistently stressed the importance of communication; whether it’s in the form of keeping your client in the loop, making sure tasks are assigned out properly, or simply making sure the objectives of the video are spelled out.

When you’re in the business of video production, you’re going to have to master the art of communication across your team – be they internal team members or freelance employees.

In our CROOW blog entitled, “How Creative Agencies Can Maintain Effective Organization,” we break down 4 key features of communication with your team and clients:

  • Stick with a Software. Whether you’re using an excel spreadsheet or a professionally-developed project management software, it’s important to find one and stick with it. Keep all your communication centralized so that all team members can find due dates, tasks, notes, and general communication in one location.
  • Standardize. Building consistent templates for your productions helps you create something that’s repeatable- not just for you, but for your whole team. Remember our tips on how to gain 2x Productivity? Standardization is a big part of productivity, and it allows you and your team to produce at scale.
  • Collaborate Using the Cloud. Any project management software worth its salt should have some form of feedback tool that allows your team and your clients to collaborate over the cloud on a video project. However, if you’re not using a PM software, there are some tools you can take advantage of that allow remote collaboration. Consider writing your video script docs in the cloud-based word processing tool, Google Docs. If you have a G-Suite business email or even just a personal gmail account, it’s free. And it allows you to make edits and work with teammates/clients live. For video editing collaboration, you’ll typically need to have a paid service (or you could have it included in your PM software if you’re using CROOWpm), so if you’re not willing to pay, you’ll have to send video files back and forth with stakeholders.
  • Provide Structure. Try to leave as little gray area as possible in your instructions to the team. They should know exactly what you need from them, and when. 

Following these four points should help you improve your collaboration both internally and externally.

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Part 7:

How to Maximize Production Time: Storyboarding, Call Sheets, Scouting, and More!

Once the day of the shoot arrives, you may only have a few hours to get everything just right – and if you’ve ever edited a video before, you know that if there’s a shot you didn’t get, there’s often not much that can be done to rectify the situation. To be the most productive you can be while at the shoot, it helps to come prepared. Here are some tips for how to maximize your production time:

Storyboarding Is Key. The time you spend prior to production is essential to making sure the day of the shoot runs smoothly. Storyboard every scene of the video, making sure you include b-roll scenes, narrator’s lines, headshots of key speakers, and every other detail so nothing is missing on the day-of. And double check that you have buy-in from all key stakeholders before filming to reduce the chance of disagreement or last-minute changeups. This is all made simpler with the help of CROOWpm and its native storyboarding capabilities: Simply map out your video in our pre-built video storyboarding template and receive feedback directly in the tool!

croow storyboarding tool

Know Your Shoot Location. Whether you’re filming in a studio or at-location, knowing what to expect once you arrive is extremely important for your productivity on the day of the shoot. If you’re picking a specific location to shoot, go there a few days ahead of time and make sure you are comfortable with the lighting and surroundings. Find areas where you’ll be able to get high-quality sound without external noise disruptions. Take a few shots for b-roll if it’s a nice day when you’re scouting (you can’t have too much b-roll!). If you’re using a studio, ensure you have a full understanding of the lighting and sound capabilities the studio offers. That way, you can create the atmosphere required for your video.

Build the call sheet. As mentioned earlier, the call sheet is perhaps the single most important document you’ll create throughout your production process. It includes all the information for shoot day to be as successful as possible. While you can collect all the information needed for the call sheet, type it into a word processing tool, and manually email it out to all the required recipients, you could also automate that process using a tool built for video producers: CROOWpm. With an embedded call sheet template tool, building your call sheet is as simple as filling out a form – and then tag all stakeholders natively in the platform so everyone is well-equipped for the shoot day!

From the inception of the video concept to the exporting of the final .mp4 file, there are a lot of records that need to be tracked down and/or created. Yes, this can all be managed using word processors and emailed out manually to those who need to be made aware, but why not use a project management tool to store this information in one central location? CROOWpm has built-in tools to help you build your video concept, storyboard, call sheet, and more!

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Part 8:

How Project Management Helps Grow Your Video Production Business

Throughout this guide, we’ve discussed all the various elements that work together to create a successful video. And whether you’re creating a 30 second explainer or a multi-episode web series, every video has a similar menu of basic requirements.

Having a solid, well-defined project management process will allow you to create more videos at-scale. How? Through repeatable processes. With a templatized video production process, each general step from ideation to delivery is the same, using that menu of requirements for every project. And with the right project management tool at the helm, you can make your life even easier. Here’s how:

  • Automate the Administrative. Any given task is made up of a certain amount of creative and administrative work. The creative work might look like ideating locations, scripts, speakers, and camera angles for the final product. Administrative work would be typing those notes out in a word doc or sending them for approval. With a project management software for video production, the administrative work can be automated. CROOWpm allows you to add your creative video descriptions and project requirements into one dashboard and easily share that information to the right stakeholders with the click of a button. Those stakeholders can collaborate with you by making edits directly in the platform, maintaining all original versions and changes as they go along.
  • Centralize the Data. Speaking of collaborating in one platform, project management tools locate all the data for your project in one spot. That means if you need to refer back to earlier notes, questions, comments, revisions, etc. for your video, you don’t need to dig through emails, texts, voicemails, and saved word documents to find what you’re looking for! 
  • Keep you On-Track. With time tracking and deadline capabilities, most project management tools (like CROOWpm) can provide you with automated reminders to ensure you’re completing your projects by their unique due dates. Nothing like a little nudge to keep you up-to-date!
  • Allow for Creative Collaboration. Video projects require a lot of communication. CROOWpm empowers your team to collaborate with each other and your clients more easily. With due dates and assigned tasks, you can ensure that your projects are getting done on time – and with the ability to let your team and client review the end product and make comments natively in the platform, you can save time and headaches of the back-and-forth emails.

By enlisting project management software to make your life easier, you can focus on what matters most for video production: Your own creativity. And without being bogged down by all the administrative headaches of a manual process, you can take on more projects and bigger projects without feeling overwhelmed.

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Part 9:

Conclusion

“Project management is the key to meeting deadlines more easily, getting greater creative output, and ultimately growing your video production business.” – David Capece, CROOW Founder

While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about video production, project management makes up as much of the job as equipment, actors, and scripts. Project management is an all-encompassing task that defines how you’re going to communicate with your stakeholders, build your processes, organize your thoughts, and scale your business.

Investing in a project management tool that will automate some of the processes and take the weight off of your shoulders can vastly speed your ability to scale and make your job a lot easier. And while there are plenty of project management solutions available, why not pick a project management software that was built for video production?

CROOWpm was built for video production teams by a video production team, and it can help you manage your project every step of the way, from video creation to completion. Register today for a free demo or learn more on our website.

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