Let’s face it — we’re all experts at filming content on our phones, whether it’s from a night out or catching your pet hilariously falling off furniture. How hard can putting together a video for your business be, right? All you need is a camera and an idea.
Whether it’s a small or large-scale project, creating a video from scratch is not as straightforward as it may sound. Chances are you need to rely on someone else’s skills (and creativity!) to turn your vision into reality.
Enters the video brief.
Why do you need a video brief?
You rock up to the set, explain to the camera crew what you’re after (“just interview this person with two cameras”), and off we go. Shouldn’t be too difficult.
Well, not so fast.
If you want to get it right the first time, videography is closer to a well-choreographed ballet than something you can wing, and a video brief takes care of all the guesswork. Coordination between the camera crew, talent, set and equipment is paramount.
A video brief is a document designed to communicate your vision to your producer and/or videographer, and help them understand what you have in mind for your project. The brief is also very handy for you to keep in control of the day and how things are run.
Not only will you save time and money by having all your talent in place at the same time, but you’ll also provide answers to any questions before they arise. Importantly, you’ll ensure you stick to your budget and the videographer comes into the shoot with knowledge of your brand.
What should a video brief include?
Every brief is different, but some key elements can be found in almost all of them. What you need to keep in mind when composing your brief is to communicate your vision clearly and include important details that are necessary for your camera crew to get their job done.
Are you in charge of this project, or are you simply facilitating for someone else? Either way, your videographer needs a way to reach you, and an email contact won’t cut it when something needs clarification on the day of the shoot.
This is especially important if you intend to pitch the same video brief to several freelancers and agencies. Providing a budget helps your counterpart visualise how realistic your project might be.
Is there any wiggle room if you want to add extras, like props or actors? Not every shoot happens seamlessly, and you might need to consider an ‘emergency fund’ of some sort.
Every company has an ethos and a way they like to present themselves. In your video brief, let the videographer know the vibe you’re trying to capture. An up-and-coming startup (“move fast, break things” like Facebook in the earlier days) will have different needs and desires than a fortune 500 (“stay safe and don’t hurt our legacy”) in terms of the image they want to project to the world. A good company background provides the backdrop for your story.
Do you want a documentary style video, or something a little more relaxed? Not only does it influence the way the video will be filmed on the day of the shooting, but also how the post-production will cut sequences, insert music and more.
Furthermore, how will it be distributed? Something for the big screen will be shot differently than a video for social media. A more polished video will require a stand for the camera, while a more ‘aggressive’ video packed with action can be done without.
Tone of voice
Closely related to the video type section, defining a tone of voice helps your videographer understand what is permissible on camera for your audience. You don’t speak the same language to all types of customers! The levels of humor, formality, respectfulness and enthusiasm will be different.
Any good company should have their target audience ready to share, and ideally provide you with a ‘persona’ or clear description of their main characteristics. Similar to the tone of voice, knowing your audience helps your videographer shoot to fit the style and interest of your audience. For example, programmers and ‘nerdy’ people will not be interested in the same content as women binging on reality shows, and the references and cues used on camera for each group will be different.
This is the core of your video bief where you can really hammer down on what you want to convey to your audience. Do you have a product to sell? A particular information to relay to your audience? Is there a call to action you want your viewership to follow? Be as clear and explicit as possible so your agency can cut through the noise and best address your needs.
While you can go to some great lengths to describe your vision for your video, and even provide some storyboards, in most cases your creative agency will take care of fleshing out your message and providing the storyline, so no need to pressure yourself here.
Every company has to follow strong brand guidelines to ensure that the brand is truly and consistently represented during the project.
From a practical standpoint, you will need to share with your videographer assets to make their work easier, such as your logo, your fonts and any brand guideline documents you can share. This is an often missed step in the process, causing a lot of delay and back-and-forth with your camera crew, sometimes too late to fix on time. If your company has a high-standard of presentation, these details are imperative.
While not always necessary at an early stage of a video project, it can be sometimes good to share information about your video shoot when the project is simple and straightforward enough or if some details are already known or unlikely to change in the future.
Date & Location
Do you have a date and location in mind for your video shoot? Are such details already set in stone (a location only available on a certain day for example)?
Moreover, will the camera crew (and actors) be able to easily access the set? Have the security been informed for sensitive locations?
For shoots taking place outside, will the weather influence the shoot? Is there a backup plan on the day?
Provide an extensive list of participants on the day, with their name, emails and phone numbers. If someone is late or not at the right location, it is easier to coordinate with each other if such information is known beforehand.
Additionally, for larger shoots, knowing the role of each participant will help your crew manage priorities effectively and rotate through your cast in an organised manner.
Don’t think your videographer will show up on set with everything, only for you to choose what you need on the day. They will often travel ‘light’ and only pack what they think is necessary on the day. If you require extra equipment, this is a good time to think ahead and mention those requirements to your videographer. This may also impact your budget, so choose carefully.
Some extra equipment you might want to consider:
- Zoom lens
- Additional lightning
- Additional camera
- Additional audio/microphones
- Stills required
- Client monitor
Your video doesn’t finish when your shoot is over. Your videographer will then spend some time to edit and cut your raw footage, add special effects, music and more. This process can be long and time-consuming, especially without a proper review process in place.
Often, your videographer will not provide the perfect video on the first try. It will require some back-and-forth with you, and perhaps with some additional stakeholders. Defining a clear review process, identifying people whose approval is required and setting a deadline will all contribute to delivering a finished product on time that everybody is happy with.
So ensure to share a date and contact information early in the process.
Creative brief examples
While not technically a video brief, creative briefs follow the same template when it comes to brief a creative about the brand, the messaging and so forth. You can find some great examples below.
Video brief template
Tired of creating all your video briefs from scratch? Don’t know what to include in your brief?
This is why we’ve created free video brief templates: copy and customise our Google Docs templates by adding your branding, changing the colors and fonts and editing each sections. Once finished, you can then share your brief with your videographer or video agency to get a more accurate quote or simply let them manage your project in a more efficient way.