Video Production: Where do I Start?

So you’re thinking about Video Production?

Well, it all starts with questions.
If someone says, “I need a video”, you are going to have to ask them a lot of questions before you ever pick up a camera. Or you may pay a heavy price.
If it is an art piece, you can always just grab a camera and go experiment. That’s a lot of fun too.
Never stop experimenting with light and motion and sound.
No matter what you are shooting, there are 3 main steps to all productions:

1. Pre-production -the most critical stage-careful planning and a clear understanding of your goals, of what really needs to be communicated.
2. Production -shooting
3. Post production -editing and output


  • You should always ask lots of questions.
  • We always start with the last question: What is the end use?
  • What is it you want to accomplish?
  • What role do you see yourself in?
    • Camera operator?
    • Director
    • Production Assistant
    • or one of the many roles in making a production (see below)
  • What resources do you have?
  • What else do you need?
  • Who can you partner with so you don’t have to buy everything yourself?
  • What are you going to do with your finished piece?
  • What higher purpose could this piece serve? (Because we have observed that when we attach good intentions and a higher purpose to our companies, they prosper, for some reason.)

Answer:  Study. You’ve heard of the Internet, right?

Here’s a big one:
Do you want to make this your business or keep it for yourself to enjoy as a hobby? If you want to make this your livelihood, then we strongly advise you to study the art of business.*Highly recommended: Read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber to see what can happen when you make your passion into your livelihood. A great book.

Don’t forget to set aside 30% for taxes as you will receive a 1099 – and if you are smart, another 20% for your savings.
Other business considerations: an accountant, Invoices, contracts, your company policies etc

Marketing yourself
Your Reel

  • Carefully file away all your masters for a demo reel later. Back up your data. always.
  • What is your strategy to find business? Better have a plan. Get a business degree. Or at least study the art of business on your own.
  • How will people find you? We get 50% warm referrals and 50% Internet inquiries because we have been around a long time. Your own network of friends and business is the best way to start. Ask “Who do you know that might profit from the kind of services I can offer?” A warm referral enjoys around 80% success rate. A cold call about 1-2%. Where would you rather spend your time?

Basic equipment setup

  • What is your budget?
  • Do it in phases. Buy carefully. Partner with others who already have it. You pay them and so make less money. But it is done right and you still make money. Do not think that you need to buy everything. The best asset is amazing, trustworthy partners.


  • Choosing the best format
  • DSLR? Camcorder?
  • Traditional video camera; perhaps one that records perhaps to SD cards. Beware of super-compressed formats.
  • Not all cameras labelled High Def are any good at all. It depends on the glass and the chip in it CCD Charge-coupled Display. They can be 1/3” or smaller or bigger.
  • What is the audio input on the camera? Will it allow a better mic to be plugged in?
  • Study how to shoot. How light works. Different lenses.

How to light a subject for professional results

  • A basic kit. What is a basic light kit?
  • What is the right one for you?
  • Get a basic kit and rent or borrow anything else you will need
  • What is diffusion? What kinds should you have on hand?
  • Why wear gloves when handling lights- There a 2 good reasons
    • 1. The oils in your hand can wreck the bulb (which may cost $60)
    • 2. you can burn yourself really badly- they get HOT!
  • Start looking at light and shadow in a new way
  • What is white balance? Color temperature?
  • Learn all the dozens of different lighting fixtures
  • A definitive book: Cinematography by Kris Malkiewicz


Editing Computer

  • Mac or PC?
  • Workstation or laptop? Which is the best fit for you?
  • How much ram? look at packaged models and study them
  • Video cards. Which one works with your software? Id the interface what you need?

Editing Software

  • Final Cut for Mac or
  • Adobe Creative suite 5 – Premiere for PC
  • After FX and Motion

Data Storage
*and a proper system for BACKUP. Losing data makes for a very, very  bad day.
So back up data while working on a project and the masters when you are done.

Camera Supports

  • Tripods, dollies, jibs and steadicam-style devices
  • Make your own mounting gear. It is a blast. Do you ski, skate or ride things off half-pipes? You may want to check out GoPro cameras. Their demo is crazy.  They work nicely on helmets, car bumpers or underwater.

Bags and Cases

  • Protect your gear. Treat it like gold and it will last a long time.
  • Custom-fit your own cases.
  • Pelican is a great brand and ‘’pick& pluck’’ foam helps to make customizing easy.

Stock Footage, Music and Effects

  • What kind? Where do you get it?
  • Online sources are plentiful
  • Digital Juice has amazing still backgrounds and video too
  • Virtual sets can make you look like the network. Google them.

Green Screen

  • What do you need to shoot green screen? What is a key?
  • Everyone loves a crazy background. It is not always good when your face has holes in it because of spill. So read Green Screen made easy
  • A REALLY great source for green screen materials  is

Blank Media/Duplication

  • When you are all done, apart from uploading your piece, you may need to author a DVD
  • Did you know that much of the media at retail stores is really bad? Buy from a pro. It is no more expensive and you get the real deal. And good professional advice as well.
  • We buy great quality media (and hard drives etc) from Robb Taylor at Great Lakes Multimedia. 1307 Allen Drive Suite D, Madison Hgts, MI Call ahead to order. (248) 588-9177 Tell him Randy sent you

Now you want to share your work with the world.

  • Start your own YouTube channel -it’s free.
  • Or Vimeo. A few nicer perks available- currently $60 a year
  • Use Dropbox to deliver elements to online collaborators


Additional Resources
You will find a lot of tutorials and information online without buying books. I like to buy books too, though the technology-based ones go out of date before they are printed. Note, however, that the real knowledge of how to shoot a great image remains constant, so some old books are priceless.
A site with a LOT of info

Other Info here

Rental Partners

Need more?
You can join our iMPOWER community and sign up for one of the many seminars we will be offering in our program. Video staff from Orange Dragin and Semper Media Group will be conducting workshops at NextWave and they are lots of fun as well as educational.

And our crazy List of Some Jobs in making a Video or Film

  • 1st AD
  • 1st AD & Script Supervisor
  • 1st Assistant Director
  • 2D Compositor
  • 3D Animation
  • 3D Animation Design
  • 3D Animator
  • 3D Artist
  • 3D designer/animator/modeler
  • Administrative Assistant
  • After Effects Artist
  • Agent Assistant
  • Journalist/Anchor
  • Animation Instructor
  • Animator
  • Art Director
  • Set Dressers
  • Artificial Intelligence Programmer
  • Artist
  • Assistant
  • Assistant Art Director
  • Assistant Editor
  • Assistant to Director of Photography
  • Assistant to Executive Producer
  • Assistant to Producer
  • Associate Producer
  • Video Editors
  • VideoTech
  • Camera Operator
  • Camera Operator / DP
  • Camera Operator/Editor
  • Sound & Lighting Crew
  • Casting Director/Producer
  • Choreographer
  • Cinematographer
  • Client Relations
  • Commercial Producer
  • Composer
  • Computer Graphic Artist
  • Construction Crew
  • Coordinating Producer
  • Wardrobe Designer
  • Hair Designer
  • Craft Service
  • Creative Animator
  • Crew Call
  • Design Artist
  • Design Director
  • Designer/Developer
  • Development Assistant
  • Development Director
  • Digital Artist/Producer
  • Digital Assistant Coordinator
  • Digital Linear Editor
  • Digital Production Artist
  • Director
  • Director & Choreographer
  • Director of Photography
  • Director/Editor
  • Documentary Filmmaker
  • Documentary Producer
  • Driver
  • DVD Editor
  • Editor
  • Editor (Non-Linear)
  • Editor/Producer
  • Editors & Post Production Supervisor
  • Engineering Support
  • Executive Assistant

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