Maximize Your Impact When Working With Video Teams

By Megan Morreale November 29th, 2023

I once edited a script 62 times before the video finally wrapped. Our team was happy with the final product, but in our case, it shouldn’t have taken six months to get there.

Our downfall was a lack of proper planning and communication. We thought we’d move smoothly from storyboarding to scripting, then from production to editing.

But that’s not the reality of working with video teams. Workflows don’t move in a straight line—writers, producers, designers, and editors have to work together at every stage of the process, and it can take time to align your joint vision.

A one-minute video can take three to six weeks to animate, four to 10 days to shoot, and between 45 and 60 minutes to edit. With that math, longer videos could easily take three to six months with storyboarding, scripting, and editing, too.

The key to working with video teams is making it easy for others to give you feedback so your original timeline stays on track. You can do that by ensuring there’s alignment on the initial brief, creating a strong outline, keeping feedback in mind when you write, and staying flexible during the editing stage.

6 ways to maximize your impact working with video teams

The key to maximizing your impact on a video project is taking the initiative to ask questions and explain your work before it’s critiqued. Your goal is to anticipate your client’s needs before each step of the workflow.

1. Make sure your brief is really complete

The same project that took 62 rounds of edits had a really vague brief. We took this at face value and jumped right into the script. That meant all the decisions that should have been made at the brief stage happened over those rounds of edits.

You’re likely going to get a brief from your client before you start working on a video project, but if you don’t, make one for them. Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • A thorough audience description
  • The specific action the client wants your audience to take
  • The goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) your client wants to achieve
  • Their video distribution plan, including specific platforms
  • The type of video and why it was chosen—explainer, commercial, etc.
  • A description of the video’s main character. Is it an actor, celebrity, or cartoon?
  • A list of required script elements, such as action lines, dialogue, or on-screen text
  • A list of people who need to sign off on the video and their roles

The whole point of a brief is to make the creative process easier. You’re looking for details that will inform your script or storyboard and will allow you to make decisions about audio and visual elements.

Here are some questions to help you determine whether or not your brief is complete:

  • Is there a description of the audience’s problem?
  • Has my client proposed solutions to my audience’s problem?
  • Can I make assumptions about what the audience wants before they buy?
  • Does the CTA match the KPIs?
  • If sales are the goal, how will this video specifically fit into the buyer’s journey?
  • Are the client’s goals reasonable based on the distribution plan?
  • Are they expecting one version of the video across multiple platforms?
  • Do you need to suggest different scripts or storyboards for each platform?
  • Does the type of video support the goal?
  • Who is the main character of the video, and why were they chosen?
  • What visuals are at your disposal?
  • Do you have access to props? Products? Can you make animation requests?
  • How long should the video be, and does that align with the budget and timeline?
  • Who needs to approve the video?
  • What do they want to see in a script or storyboard so that it’s valuable for them?

You want to walk away from this exercise with a thorough understanding of what’s important to all video stakeholders. The more confident you are in your understanding of everyone’s expectations, the better you’ll be at anticipating their needs.

2. Get a script template and outline approved before writing

Before you dive into a specific script or storyboard, know the basics of how your client wants to see that information. Include a detailed outline based on the brief.

A basic script or storyboard template will include detailed notes about the audio and visual elements for each frame, like so:

Frame #1Hey, check out our new product!Actor comes into frame
Frame #2It's a really cool product.Holds product up to camera.
Frame #3It's got all of these cools features.Cut to product close-up
Frame #4Plus, it's on sale!Cut to shoppers in store checking out
Frame #5Don't miss out!Actor comes back into frame

If you’re working on something simple, this may be all you need, but you’ll likely be better off including a column for each video element. Here’s a more detailed example:

 DialogueSlug LinesAction LinesOn-Screen TextVisuals
Frame #1Hey, check out our new product!Actor in front of green screenSmile, welcoming tone, talk with handsNoneB-roll of store in background
Frame #2It's a really cool product.Actor in front of green screenHold product up to cameraProduct name, only $99.99Animate text directly under actors hand
Frame #3It's got all of these cool features.Actor in front of green screenPoint to product featuresNoneCut actor shots with b-roll of specific product features
Frame #4Plus, it's on sale!Cut to live shots of customers at registerHappy customer checks out at storeLimited Time OfferShow limited time offer under register with animated text
Frame #5Don't miss ou!Actor in front of green screenNo product, actor pointing down with handsGets yours with the link belowAnimate text under actor hand, highlight link

Thoroughly prepare for the editing stage by adding a column for each reviewer. Include a suggestion on how you’d like them to edit your work, or ask them specific questions. Here are some examples:

Frame #1Review to ensure this will grab audience attention.How can you show enthusiasm without going overboard?How does the actor need to be positioned so you can animate your text?Review for audio/video best practices.

You want to paint a thorough picture of every frame that includes directions for how every team member will be involved. You also want to walk away from the outline stage with a clear understanding of the general video structure and message and how all stakeholders will provide feedback.

That way, when you send the script, or storyboard, to the client for edits, there’s already a built-in feedback structure for the team to use.

3. Write your script or storyboard with editing in mind

Keep some general principles in mind: dialogue should be conversational, directions should be easy to read, and don’t dwell on any one frame too long.

But remember—working with video teams on a script is all about anticipating their needs. Do this with comments throughout your script after you’ve finished writing. Make comments on:

  • Areas where you weren’t able to meet a request. For example, maybe the animator requested that on-screen text not exceed three words. But, there was one place you couldn’t whittle it down to less than four. Let your client know you didn’t overlook that request, and ask if they have any ideas on how to meet it.
  • Areas that have the greatest impact on KPIs. For example, these could include clickable overlays that drive traffic to a website or CTAs that take place within actor dialogue and will need extra editing attention.
  • Areas that will need to be adjusted for a different platform. For example, if you know your client will distribute the video on both TikTok and YouTube, note frames that could be cut for TikTok.
  • Areas where you need additional visual elements. New b-rolls, product shots, props, or other visual elements should be called out for your client so they can allocate resources accordingly.
  • Areas where you have a strong opinion. For example, if you change the CTA dialogue from a usual favorite, explain why you think it will impact their goals.

Now you haven’t just written a script; you’ve prepared for a productive editing conversation. These comments should help eliminate unnecessary back and forth.

4. Before you submit your work, edit yourself

When you’re working in such a collaborative environment, it can be tempting to skip this step. If you do, you risk putting your worst foot forward.

Most self-editing principles are consistent between written content and video content, but when it comes to video, don’t forget these tips:

  • Finish your script early, at least two days before your deadline. That way, you can take a day-long break and then approach it with fresh eyes.
  • Cut anything that feels even minutely repetitive or irrelevant, and if it was someone else’s suggestion, leave a comment about why you cut it.
  • Review transitions and moments of rest. Are you sure they won’t be awkward or give the audience a chance to disengage from the video?
  • Have someone read your script out loud, or find a tool that will read it to you online. It’s extra important to hear your script.

The rest can be left up to conversation with the group. Be prepared to walk through your script and collect feedback with an open mind.

5. Ask your client for a table read

A table read—done virtually or in person—is the best way to collect feedback from the whole video team. “Table read” is a term from Hollywood. It describes a meeting where everyone involved in the production of a movie sits around a table and reads the script out loud, together.

It’s a great editing tool because it provides a forum for healthy debate at a time when all decision-makers are in the same room together. It can greatly minimize any unnecessary rounds of edits.

If a table read isn’t possible, flag areas where you think there might be some debate amongst certain stakeholders in your comments, and proactively make suggestions to solve disagreements. You’re always going to have to make some edits, but the goal is to keep the rewrites to a minimum by anticipating any sticking points.

6. Plan your schedule to be available during production

Even when an entire video team has signed off on a script and storyboard, you should expect to make edits during production and editing. Some changes might include:

  • Edits to words or visuals in animation
  • An actor who gets sick and drops out of production
  • Frame cuts for brevity
  • …and so many other potential scenarios

To maximize your impact at this stage, proactively communicate your availability and ask about expected turnaround times. Try to stay flexible and provide quick feedback at this stage so you’re not slowing down the timeline.

The key to a successful video project is good problem solving

Videos can take a long time to create and can be expensive to produce. Your client’s first priority is making a high-quality video, but their second is almost always minimizing their costs and sticking with their timeline.

The most valuable freelancers are the ones who work to minimize costs and maximize time so that the project is completed on deadline and within budget.

You can do that by anticipating your client’s needs across the video team and proactively solving problems that might arise along the way. Doing so will make you a valued partner for future video projects.

If you’re a video vendor and would like to join the Contently network, create a freee portfolio. Or, consider recommending a freelancer or vendor to work with Contently!

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