Planning is the Hardest Step — But It Pays Off

Matthew York, Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.
Years ago, Stephen Covey published a now-famous book titled The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the most noteworthy and valuable habits is the call to begin with the end in mind. Covey challenged readers to think ahead to their own funerals, imagining who they would like to be there and what they would like people to say about them, and to then live their lives in a way that accomplished that end.

 While some may think this an extreme and somewhat morbid example, the principle of identifying and working towards desired outcomes is indisputable, both in leading a successful and satisfying life and in creating effective and satisfying media. In order to produce video efficiently and effectively, I would suggest that the wise producer has a well-thought-out purpose and plan before he or she begins. To paraphrase Covey, the highly effective producer might be challenged to begin with the edit in mind. 

To paraphrase Covey, the highly effective producer might be challenged to begin with the edit in mind. 

Different types of productions lend themselves to various degrees of production planning, but planning is an essential part of every production. The production processes isn’t unlike taking a road trip. Some drivers like to feel their way towards a destination with the freedom to take backroads and detours more than others. Some prefer to map out every turn before leaving the driveway. But neither knows how to pack—what to bring and what to leave behind, how much money to carry or how many days they will be gone—unless the details of the destination have been identified. The same is true for planning a video. When the producer has a set of clearly defined parameters for the project, the process goes much more smoothly. Beginning with the final edit in mind helps the producer make informed practical decisions about such things as what gear to pack and what to leave behind, how many hours of battery life are needed, how much media storage capacity is required, and whether or not a particular scene, shot or scenario has high or low value in regards to the overall production. 

There are a few things to keep in mind as you set out to plan a production. It is wise to ask questions like: who will watch this video and in what environment? What is the desired response of the viewing audience? Broadly knowing whether the purpose of a video is to inform, instruct, or entertain makes a difference in how to approach production. Understanding that the video is intended to provoke a viewer into buying something, feeling something or learning something helps to clarify the process. Once you know the goal, it becomes easier to assess whether any individual production decision moves the project forward, and thus the viewer, closer to or further away from that result.

While production planning may seem like a drag to those who prefer to function in spontaneity, planning actually enhances one’s ability to improvise. Improvisation is most effective and creative genius is most appreciated when they occur within the boundaries of a clearly defined goal. Whether you plan by sketching notes on the back of a napkin, using a notetaking app or in an Excel spreadsheet, the time you spend planning the purpose and logistics of your productions will help you focus your energy in the right directions.

Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

Issue: 

Matthew
York
Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:41am