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#1 Look at a video production company’s demo reel but take it with a grain of salt.

Many video production companies will have a compilation video of their work on their website.

In many ways, it reflects their overall abilities in production, graphics, animation and effects.  But demo reels are meant to dazzle and the segments may come from projects with larger budgets than you want to contemplate.

What you want to see are complete videos that are similar in style, content and budget to your project needs.

#2 Know what you really want

This may sound odd at first because what you want is a video.

But from our perspective as video producers, it’s not unusual for a potential client to call us and say with some urgency “we need a video.” For example, it may be a video for a conference but beyond that all they say is “we need something that makes us look good.”

A video is like any communications product. It has a message, a defined audience and possibly a call to action.

#3 Choose video producers you connect with.

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Make sure the video production company understands your needs.  Producers are the people who will either design or manage the project.

You should feel the producers are probing you and your organization to get a better understanding of the issues you want to address.  They will then point out different approaches and associated costs.

If you feel you are coming out of meetings with a better understanding of the process and  “they get it,” it’s a good sign you have a good rapport.

#4 Be realistic about costs.

We are so conditioned by Hollywood and TV shows, and know the cost of good quality video equipment has dropped dramatically, we sometimes loose a sense of how expensive a video can be.

If you are contemplating a shoot with several locations, lots of lighting and special effects along with 3D modeling, well, expect to pay for it.

Some type of projects require the video production company to have a team working many hours with costs that reflect it.

Don’t be afraid to ask: “is there a less expensive approach?”  There usually is one.

#5 Get several quotes

Different proposed budgets by different production companies can range quite dramatically for the same project.

Sometimes the cost differences are quite legitimate. The devil is in the details.

Look closely at the company`s proposal because they may be suggesting an approach that will have a wonderful look and feel that explains the wildly different prices tags.

#6 Don’t be afraid to ask for proposals based on a specific budget range.

Sometimes it is less about how much you pay for a video and more about what you get for your money.

A specific budget will provide a video production company a clear guideline on what can be offered in a proposal.  Some companies may drop out, which is not always a bad thing, or provide a less expensive solution to meet your needs.

Steven Hunt is a senior producer at SDC Video.

Steven Hunt is a senior producer at SDC Video.

#7 Don’t be dazzled by the equipment.

The type of equipment a video production company has is definitely important but it should not cloud your judgement.

We are well past the day when a producer had to mortgage their home just to get started in video production.  The quality and low cost of equipment means many small companies can compete with larger producers in many categories of video projects.

So unless you are planning to create blockbuster, that video for your next business meeting, conference or kiosks, focus on what matters.  It`s not their equipment it`s their skill set that really counts.


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