Why should I hire a professional production company? Typically when people are consider hiring anyone other than a professional production company, it is usually a concern around cost… “can I get a result which is either ‘as good as’ or ‘good enough’ for less than it would cost to hire a professional production company to make my videos?”
The likely answer to this question is ‘probably not’. The next question is ‘Is it worth it?’ The answer this time is a resounding ‘DEFINITELY NOT.’ Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for amateur or ‘user-generated content’ but for any business which cares about how they are perceived then enlisting anyone who is anything other than a serious professional requires some carefully consideration.
Before you enter into any arrangements, here are some handy questions you can put to a supplier before giving them the go-ahead to produce your films.
Q1. CAN YOU GIVE ME A RUN DOWN OF HOW YOU SEE THE DAYS PRODUCTION GOING?
If the producer gives vague answers and/or doesn’t factor in practical elements such as travel time, set-up times and breaks to download your footage then I would give serious thought to whether this person has enough practical experience putting together productions.
Q2. CAN YOU GIVE ME ANY ADVICE ABOUT MY USAGE RIGHTS FOR BOTH THE FINAL FILM AND ALL IT’S COMPONENTS?
This is an area which can get you into a lot of bother! Brand names or logos featured in the footage without the necessary clearances can be problematic as cam unlicensed music. Whoever you choose to produce your content, you should expect them to have access to a comprehensive music library and can issue you with the required guarantees for your chosen distribution platform. Video content without the necessary clearances can be pulled from channels such as YouTube and Facebook or in extreme cases can be subject to financial penalties.
Q3. ARE YOU INSURED TO HANDLE MY PRODUCTION?
The last thing anyone wants is for anyone to get injured on a production or for anything to get damaged however occasionally unfortunate things happen. You should expect anyone you hire to be covered with public liability and hired-in insurance. This means that if anyone is either injured during production or if anything is damaged then the liable production company is protected. With the correct insurance in place your media will also be protected meaning that if any data were to be lost, the cost of reshooting can be found or the money you spent can easily be returned to you. At Element 26 we are fully insured and we provide copies of our insurance documents with all commissions. A professional production company will plan for the worst and aim for the best.
Q4. AM I PROTECTED BY A PRODUCTION SERVICES AGREEMENT?
Its important to understand what you’re buying and what you can expect your supplier to deliver. Without a production services agreement in place there is nothing to stop whoever you hire from suddenly walking away from the project or failing to deliver either in-part or in-full exactly what they have committed to. A Production Services Agreement forms a binding contract between your and the production company.
Q5. HAVE YOU PRODUCED ANYTHING LIKE WHAT I AM LOOKING TO ACHIEVE BEFORE?
It is vital that whomever you choose to work with has a demonstrable list of productions under their belt. It is not necessarily about seeing exactly what you are looking for in a previous video (although that is nice). It’s about observing a variety of experiences which can inform your productions. It is also about getting a feel for the types of production they are used to producing and making sure the fundamentals are in place. There is nothing more distracting than a video which features poorly recorded sound, is over-exposed, is badly framed or is unintentionally shaky.
At Element 26 we have worked on all sorts of productions, in all manner of locations. You can take a look around our website for examples. Don’t see what you’re after? Get In Touch and tell us about what you’re looking to achieve and we can send you some examples.
Q6. HOW WILL YOU SAFEGUARD MY FOOTAGE DURING BOTH PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION?
The right provider for you should be performing numerous back-ups on location regularly, throughout the day. These back-ups should be secured on separate hard drives, individually checked to make sure the data is safe (and accurate) before travelling back to the post-production facility individually and with different crew members. A professional outfit will likely bring a series of hard drives or even better yet use an on-set back up solution such as the Codex where LTO backups can be implemented immediately.
Once your footage is safely back at the post-production facility you should expect your material to be backed up to a robust medium such as two or more LTO tapes. LTO is a long established archive medium used by many of the world’s banks to safeguard their financial data. LTO is also popular in the media industry and this is what we use at Element 26 to make sure all our work is safeguarded against fire, theft or flooding. One LTO tape is stored in a fire proof safe, the other is stored off-site in a secure location.
Q7. IF I WANT TO REVISIT THE RUSHES IN THE FUTURE, WHAT GUARANTEES CAN YOU GIVE ME THAT YOU WILL STILL HAVE MY MATERIAL?
It’s quite common for enthusiastic startups to share hard drives across a number of projects however this is bad practice because not only does this increase the odds of lost or deleted media (many amateur operations use the same hard drives for production as they do for editing) but crucially your material is fundamentally private and is not meant to be taken out into the field.
At Element 26 we store all project files locally as well as in a secure cloud environment. This means your project, no matter how old it is can be revived at a moments notice. Furthermore because all your video assets are backed up to LTO you can rest assured that your footage is secure too. Oh, and we only ever take production drives out into the field meaning there is no chance of prying eyes taking a look at your content before its published!
Q8. CAN YOU OFFEER ANY ADVICE ON HOW TO MAXIMISE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MY VIDEOS AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN PRODUCED?
At Element 26 we make a big deal out making sure our clients make the most of the video content they produce. Most people default back to YouTube and in many cases this is a perfectly acceptable solution however is this really the best option for your needs and does it maximise the full potential of your video content. There are a whole heap of options beyond YouTube and many of which offer vastly more benefits. Before committing to a service provider ask them what they recommend you do with your finished films. If the answer is YouTube and this is what you had in mind then great but it would be worth asking what they would alternatives they might recommend.