A Client’s Guide to Understanding the Production Pipeline

By | April 24, 2013 at 9:22 am | No comments | Multimedia in Business | Tags: , , , , ,

At the start of a project, we try to educate our clients on what to expect during the production process. This practice allows clients to understand when to expect deliverables, exactly what the deliverables will be, and at what stages client feedback will be needed. While not every project is the same, we thought we’d compile a general guide to the production pipeline. Below is a list of the major deliverables in a generic production pipeline. Feedback is usually gathered at the completion of each stage.

Script Development
As noted in our previous blog, the scriptwriting phase is the first and most critical phase of the production pipeline. If done successfully the rest of the production process goes much smoother. Think of this as the blueprints for the construction of the video. Its important to spend the time here to get this right before moving on to the next stage.

Storyboarding & Mockups
In this stage, the script is drawn out into story panels that start to visualize what the video will look like. This is accompanied by a Creative Breakdown – a written technical description of what and/or how visuals occur in each scene. Lastly, mockups of graphics, layouts, or other design elements may be created in this stage. The goal of this stage is to gather all the visual building blocks in order to begin actual production. This is often the testing stage where the video production company is presenting a proof-of-concept to the client to make sure they are on the same page and that they both understand what is going on in the script.
It is typical to need to go back to the Scripting stage to rectify issues brought up during the Storyboarding stage.

Design & Illustration

Once the script and storyboard are signed off on, the production can begin. Here, graphical elements in the video are designed and prepped for animation. If illustrated art is needed, this too is created. This work is done in tight reference to the Creative Breakdown presented in the previous stage. Often there is a collaborative effort with animators to insure the illustrated or graphic elements will animate correctly. This stage allows client’s the first look at elements from the actual production. These visuals may be further combined or layered once brought into the animation program, but feedback at this stage allows corrections to be made before animation begins.

Live Action Video Capture

At this stage, any live action video that is needed is captured. Typical shots rely on the storyboard to determine how many shots are needed, at what angle, and what is on camera during a given scene. This stage captures the actual performance of the script. While minor paraphrasing may occur during any voice performances, ideally the script has been thoroughly practiced and auditioned to ensure its fluidity ahead of time. Live action video capture can be expensive; there are often many crew members present, all working on the clock, and relying on the success of the previous stages of the pipeline to efficiently get the shots needed. The Director will rely on the Script, Storyboard, Creative Breakdown, and illustrated or graphical elements to understand how the video footage will be used. This may dramatically affect how he/she captures the footage.

Editing & Animation
At this stage, imagine a factory – we’ve machined all the parts, now we begin assembling them according to the initial blueprints. Graphics or illustrated characters are animated and video footage is edited together. Titles and lower thirds are added, along with visual effects, sound effects, music, and other finishing polish.

Viewing Copy
Now the client gets a look at the fully composed video in its polished form. At this stage, it has gone through many rounds of feedback along the way so the client has a pretty good idea of what to expect. The video has likely simultaneously gone through several rounds of internal review and tweaks within the production company. The beauty is if thorough feedback has been given at each stage along the way, then feedback at this stage is limited to comments on the final polish and details.

Final Delivery

Here the video is considered final and is published to the web, TV, presentation, DVD, etc.

Orderly Progression
In a typical production environment, every stage requires handing off elements to experts in the next stage of the pipeline. When feedback is given relevant to a given stage, the pipeline keeps moving forward. However, if feedback is given later or out of order, the video must revert back to an earlier stage and be addressed by that artist involved at that stage, then continue in a linear fashion back through the pipeline. There isn’t a way to skip a stage. A measure of success of the production pipeline is the extent to which the video must cycle back through any stages of the process. The level of this success directly impacts the total cost of production and the timeliness of delivery.

The R.E.D. Team



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