We’ve talked previously about things you should be aware of when writing a video brief. Now let’s back track for a second and chat about the things you need to be considering when picking a video production company. This isn’t an advert for us, far from it – we’re just passionate about video, especially about video being done right. Allow us to help you discover what you should be looking out for when picking a production company, and tell tale signs to avoid.
QUALITY OF WORK
This SHOULD be the most important factor when it comes to picking a video production company. But, because money doesn’t grow on trees, it probably sits in joint first place along with the cost.
All video production providers will have a website – and if they don’t, then it’s time to run for the hills. Access to an online portfolio of work should be fairly straightforward. When you’re looking through the projects they’ve undertaken, you should consider:
- Do the videos look good? In other words, are they aesthetically pleasing? How does the camera work, motion graphics and/or animation stand up by your standards?
- Do the videos sound good? We’ve found that sound, especially in the world of corporate videos, is often overlooked. It’s surprisingly common to find that many don’t really have a decent sound mix, voice over or score.
- What clients have they been commissioned by? If you’ve got a little budget, then don’t go for the company’s that have worked with massive names, but if you recognise a few local businesses or recognisable company’s in your county, then it’s usually a good shout.
- Does their style fit your remit? It’s important to go for a company where you can see that they’ve produced work along the lines of what you’re looking for.
QUANTITY OF WORK
We don’t want to discriminate against companies that are only just starting up and don’t have a massive portfolio of work. You’ll be able to tell if this is the case most of the time, and if the company is honest, they’ll let you know that. So, don’t be deterred by a small amount of videos if the quality is good.
However, if you go on a company’s website and find yourself watching 20 videos all dedicated to just one client without much variation in content, it’s fair to say they don’t have many clients or interesting material. Often times, the videos will be interchangeable apart from the colour of the logo at the end or other tiny, unimportant differences that shouldn’t warrant them all being displayed online. This phenomenon is kinda like when you wrote the same sentence three different ways for every paragraph of every English essay you had to write at school – commonly referred to as ‘padding’.
The reason for this is very easily explained – usually, when a client commissions a video, we deliver different versions to them for their personal use – some will be sent out via email newsletter, some will be put on their website, others on social media, and perhaps also given in presentation form to their staff or shareholders. However, only the best or main one should be given pride of place in the portfolio, to avoid oversaturation.
We’d always recommend speaking to a company and getting a feel for them yourself – but this is one of the biggest tell tale indicators that they’re trying to make themselves look much larger than they are. Everyone is guilty of this, but you’ll soon learn the difference between the ones that do it well, and the ones that come off looking…not so great. This is a case of less is more – it’s difficult to hide a lack of clients and videos by flooding a website with samey material.
Many video production companies won’t have prices on their website. DON’T be put off by this. It’s simply because quoting for videos usually happens on a case-by-case basis, as each video will be different. You’re not buying a pair of shoes from a retailer that has made thousands of duplicates- you’re commissioning a new, original pair to be designed from scratch. Some websites do have prices but usually only for ‘package’ deals and the physical costs of filming, such as day hire for crewmembers and equipment. It’s always best to inquire and tell the company exactly what you need, getting a tailor made quote just for you.
Make sure you gather a few different quotes to choose from. If you send a host of companies the same brief, but get back a wide range of prices, then you’ll know which ones to weed out – usually the ones that cost a very small amount, and also the ones that cost more than your house. A price that’s somewhere in the middle tends to be a good bet. Too low, and the quality won’t be as good as it could be. Too high, and you’ll find yourself worrying where your money is actually going.
ONLINE PRESENCE, ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND TESTIMONIALS
This may sound over analytical, but hear us out. If a company isn’t updating their website with new content, if their twitter feed is quiet and unresponsive, and you can’t find any comments about how good their work is, it’s probably best not to go with them.
In this day in age, it’s important to have a decent online presence. It’s these details, regardless of the standard of their portfolio, that will form your first impression. After all, you are more likely to see a home page or a facebook page before you see a portfolio page.
Video is one of the most important components of a business’s marketing strategy. When you select a video production company, you’re basically telling them, “Here is my branding, here is my message, here is my money – now make me something I can put my trust in”. If you can’t find any evidence that the company in question has a strong marketing ethic of their own, it’s not a good idea to trust them to run with yours.
Unless you want a video that is purely motion graphics based with no live action, it’s best to choose a company that’s in your area. It’ll keep down filming costs, and means you can more easily have meetings about the project.
However, if you’re London based, we’d recommend scouring the north for production companies if you can. The prices are cheaper once you’re out of the capital as you’re not paying to keep a company’s lights on in the most expensive business sector in the country.
We’ve seen really great video work by both massive companies and tiny ones too. Don’t be put off by either. No hard and fast rule for this one.
Again, just use your feelers and practice common sense where you can. If you have under 1k to spend, then approaching a production that the general public might have heard of isn’t a good idea – in all likelihood, you won’t be able to afford what they’re charging. If you’re a national company with 30k to spend on a TV advert, asking your mate’s brother who does a bit of camera operating and editing in his spare time is probably a bit of a brain fart too.
AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO LOOK OUT FOR IS…
That feeling that says, “yep, these are the guys I’m trusting with my video”. When all of the above come together in a positive way, you’ll have your answer. Do your research, give a bit of time to it, and make sure you make an informed decision. You may have to compromise on certain things, which is fine – just don’t go with someone who makes your compromise feel like a sacrifice.
And with that, here’s a handy checklist to see you through.