What’s your image of a creative workflow?
Maybe you see a painter’s studio: paint everywhere, pieces of fruit in still life on a table, half-painted pieces on easels…. or an animation artist, bleary-eyed and intent on a computer screen he or she hasn’t left in days, with half-eaten pizzas in the background. A sculptor who forgets to eat in the thrill of the work. A wild Picasso masterpiece. A waterfall exploding over a cliff. Maybe you have a mental image of someone in a beret, smoking a cigarette at a cafe in 1940s Paris?
An animation about entertaining viewers
What’s workflow got to do with it?
Freely flowing creativity is intoxicating and exciting. In your quest for a video production company, you definitely want to sense creativity in the air. You want to work with people who enjoy making your message come to life with flair and verve, right?
But here’s the thing: making a video is a very complex undertaking. It’s a project that requires skillful management. If that freely flowing creativity isn’t well-coordinated, you might get a surprisingly expensive end product that looks fantastic but doesn’t exactly serve your need… a year or two from now.
And the more quickly you want your project done, the more complex a project it is, and the higher the production values involved, the more project management skills are required.
Process is important
This is significant enough of an issue to make it something that should be very high up on your requirements list when selecting the organization you’re going to work with.
You want to work with a company that has a very well-practiced process. Far from stifling creativity, an effective structure sets up an environment in which the creative elements get more focus, not less—and you get what you came for.
A strong process provides you, the client, three benefits throughout the process:
- You understand each step and how it fits into the overall timeline
- You feel confident that your project will be completed on time and on budget
- There is an easily accessible system that lets you know how your project is progressing, every step of the way.
In short, effective process means no surprises—for anyone.
Where’s the evidence?
So how do you find out if a strong workflow exists in a company you’re considering? As you interview a company, it should become obvious.
As you review existing projects the company has done or is working on, representatives should refer to this process and how it worked in that particular project.
As you talk about how the company would approach your project, documentation describing their process should be in evidence. Advanced organizations have software designed to enable and support the production process with the goal of delivering on-time, on budget.
However the workflow is put into operation, it needs to be easily accessible by everyone, and easily understood by you. It’s important for you to understand what is happening, what the next steps are, and if things are proceeding according to plan.
A clearly predefined process allows you to have reasonable expectations, and be able to make informed decisions as the project is proceeds.
No unpleasant surprises
For instance, if the director forgets something on location and needs to go back and shoot a missing piece, it’s almost impossible to recreate the same conditions later. Or if you suddenly realize you forgot to tell the team some very important thing that must be included in your video, it can be very costly to add to the creative soup late in the process.
A strong workflow makes sure things like that don’t happen. Clearly defined checkpoints mean everyone involved “signs off” at designated junctures, so unpleasant surprises don’t occur.
There are number of approaches to the management of video animation productions. For instance, both “agile” and “waterfall” processes are proven programming workflows for video production. But whatever technique is used, it should
- conform to a recognizable model
- contribute to crystal-clear communication about your project’s progress
- make your involvement and feedback clear and easy to contribute
- result a video that meets your expectations, and is finished on time and on budget.
For other insights, watch the vBook and download the eBook titled “Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Promotional Video Production Company.”