BEFORE YOU START - VISIONING

I love this stage of the project.   Honestly, I think it the most creative phase.  This is the time when you have a world of possibilities for what your video can be.

During this stage you can play with ideas around so many different elements.  What will it look like?  What feelings do you want to evoke?  What type of people do you want to include?

Whether you are a client or a filmmaker, both can start creating a video vision board when you have a project in mind.  Unlike a branding “mood board” you do not need to keep the elements on one document.  

I use the term “board” loosely here.  Just find a place where you can compile your ideas.  I now keep my ideas in a notebook in Evernote.

Tech Tip:  Evernote is a great place to store ideas.  You can create a notebook for your project with a series of searchable notes with ideas, links to references, “clips” from webpages (bypassing the need for screen captures) and more.  Check out free training on YouTube on Dottotech with Steve Dotto.

These are the elements that I think of when doing visioning.

TONE:  Do you want your video to be serious or humorous?  Shocking or heartfelt?  What tone would connect with your audience?  

I recently did a short video about Rules of the Road for urban cyclists.  Being a cyclist myself I know that there is a segment of the population that is afraid of cycling in the city and they are concerned with safety.  And there is a population that just wants to go fast and they are less concerned with safety.

So we took a playful approach, hoping to ease the fears of new cyclists and entertain the cyclists who may think they don’t need to follow rules.

APPROACH:  Do you want to create a mini-documentary, a lifestyle portrait, an educational piece guided by an expert or a man-in-the-street or are you going for a fictional narrative?

In my mind the content itself influences the approach. Look at examples of videos from both inside your field and outside of your field and put together a list of videos that are working with similar type of content.

Once you have a diverse list of videos, you can look at what is working and what isn’t working.  It is sometimes good to have an example of “what not to do” on your video vision board.

HOOK:  What are the possible ways you can engage your audience in the first 20 seconds of the video and get them interested in watching more?

Is it a look at a before situation—is your life like this, and you want it to be like this?  Is it a shocking statistic?  Is it a glimpse of your customer looking happy and relaxed?  Is it an inspirational quote?  

Spend 25 minutes browsing different topics on YouTube and flag all the videos that grabbed your attention in the first 20 seconds.  You can analyze what worked later.

Tech Tip:  Huzzaz is a new online tool that lets you create private galleries.  They are still in the development phase so features are basic but you can create a Pinterest like gallery of the videos you like and either make it public to share with your friends or keep it private as a Video Vision Board for inspiration.

VISUAL:  When I think of visuals, I think of what elements will be in the video itself.  What locations will match the tone of your piece?  What graphical elements do you want to include?  Do you have a color palette in mind?

For the piece I did for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in Buenos Aires, I spent time looking at photos of the city online before heading over to film.  I was looking for location ideas and cultural elements that would represent Buenos Aires.

The film itself was about transportation.  I loved the graffiti and wanted to work it into the video so I put images of graffiti on my vision board and once I was in Buenos Aires I was able to ask about and find bike paths that were adjacent to famous graffiti walls.  

People think about tango when they think about Buenos Aires. In a film about transportation, how could I incorporate tango?  I decided to bring it into to the sectional title elements and at the beginning and end focus on the feet.  An element that came up when the film talked about new pedestrian areas in the downtown district.

Screencapture from my Evernote: Photos collected from Google Image Search

Screencapture from my Evernote: Photos collected from Google Image Search

Think of what visual elements represent your topic.  Even if you do not think they “fit” you may find a creative way to weave them into your story, thereby grounding your story in a specific place or genre, and giving your audience a deeper feeling of your topic.

Feel free to draw on inspiration from videos, photos, graphics, and design in your environment.

Tech Tip:  Do a Google Image or Flickr search on your topic to get ideas from photographers.  If you see something interesting while walking, take a photo and upload it to Evernote.  See an interesting photo in a blog article, screen capture or web clip it and save it to your vision board.

SUBJECTS:  This might seem easy but who do you want to film?  Do you want them wearing a formal outfit, a uniform, something casual?  Are you going to include a straight couple or a gay couple?  Father and son (following the Super Bowl trend) or two best friends?  What age group?


The more you vision all of these elements up front, the happier you’ll be with the end video.

Have fun with this process.  At the visioning stage, be open to a variety of ideas.  Having more than one idea helps when you need to start prioritizing the different elements based on the reality of what will work with your specific goals, messaging and budget.