Thinking about hiring a professional video production company to make a slick new video for your website? Make sure you’re asking the right questions.
1. Are you shooting in High Definition?
There’s only one acceptable answer to this question. And that is, “yes.” “Of course. Why on earth would we shoot standard definition?” and “We only shoot High Def, ma’am,” are also acceptable answers.
These days, nearly every video player on the internet (and especially Vimeo and YouTube, the two gorillas in the room) supports High Definition playback. And the difference in quality is highly noticeable, even to the novice video watcher.
The only argument that can be made for standard definition is that it loads faster for people who may have slow internet connections — Vimeo and YouTube render that argument moot by giving viewers the ability to easily toggle HD on or off.
2. Will I retain full ownership of the footage?
Again, the only acceptable answer here is “yes.” If you hire a professional video service to film your business, school or organization, you deserve intellectual copyrights over all of it.
You may see contract language that grants video companies the right to use your footage for promotion of their services (basically they can use your footage as a work sample in their portfolio). This is normal, and if anything you can be happy that your company will receive the extra publicity.
3. Can I host the video myself?
Although this practice is becoming less and less common, some video service providers will convince you to host your videos on their YouTube channel or, worse yet, their own proprietary hosting service. It’s your video. You paid for it. So make sure you reap all the benefits by hosting it yourself.
If you don’t have a YouTube channel, create one. It doesn’t take long. If you’re not technically-inclined, ask your video services provider to create a channel on your behalf and upload the video(s). Most companies will do this for a small fee.
4. Will you be using professional audio and lighting equipment?
The single biggest distinction between an amateur and professional production is sound. If your video services provider is not using any external audio equipment (i.e. lavalier microphone, boom mic or shotgun mic) for interviews or other scenes where sound is important, you should not be paying much for their services.
Although not quite as important as sound, quality lighting is crucial if your video is to stand out as professional, especially if you are shooting indoors. Keep in mind that this equipment is expensive and takes years of experience and skill to operate properly, so you should expect to be paying at least $750/day for a company shooting with proper audio and lighting gear.
5. How will my raw video be stored?
Most video productions involve paring down a lot of footage to an easily digestible edit. In the end, you may have a two-minute finished product, but that two minutes was pulled from an hour of raw footage. And in most cases, you’ll want to hang onto that raw footage. Why? Because you may need to make edits to your finished product in the future, or you may be producing a new video that could repurpose some of this great older footage.
Unlike storing photos or documents, which have relatively small file sizes, High Definition video files are huge. Some projects can be several hundred GBs. Video service providers may offer to store your footage, usually for a fee. But you may also request to have your footage copied to an external hard drive, which you can store safely yourself. Be sure to work this out before production begins so there are no surprise charges later on.