Produce a successful video project

Messages delivered via video are most effective when supported by compelling visual images.

camcorderEach year, Extension and Experiment Station Communications video producers hear from faculty and staff who want to produce a video. They may want to do it themselves or they may want production assistance.

Project goals, audiences, and available resources often dictate a program’s final format, but it’s important to understand that even the most basic video projects require thought and preparation. Many Extension faculty and staff who have produced successful video programs say their colleagues should consider the following topics and questions.

Selecting a medium

Messages delivered via video are most effective when supported by compelling visual images. The next time you watch your favorite television show, notice the variety of camera shots. Think about scenes that grab your attention. Ask yourself whether video is the best medium to communicate your message. Is your subject visual? Does it have potential for graphics? Will it capture and hold the audience’s attention? Successful video projects depend on the wise use of this medium.

Research and planning

It can take several months to research, plan, write, shoot, edit, duplicate, package, promote, and distribute your finished product. Some video projects incorporate companion publications, which also increases production time. It’s important to research and plan your project before expending a lot of time and resources.

If you decide video is a suitable medium for your subject, it’s important to review similar projects, identify your target audiences and their needs, set objectives for your video, make format decisions, formulate a budget, and establish ways to evaluate your video project’s effectiveness.

Script writing

This stage may take several weeks or months, depending on the project’s complexity. Video scripts require a special format that incorporates narration, visual images, natural sound, and music. Successful video projects generally go through numerous revisions as the producer builds audio, video, and graphics into a production.

Subject-matter review

Before shooting your video, have several colleagues review the script’s content for accuracy. This can prevent lengthy, expensive delays later on in the production process.


Producing a program that meets your standards and those of viewers is one of the most time-consuming elements of video production. It may account for more than half the time spent on your video project. Consider these factors in planning for production:

  • Shooting preparations
    Plan to arrange for the necessary facilities, locations, talent, transportation, props, and sets. It’s wise to survey proposed shooting locations to aid in making technical decisions about set design, lighting, and sound.
  • Shooting
    Expect to spend at least 2 hours of shooting time for every minute of edited video. Complex projects may require additional time.
  • Editing
    The editor will review and log all tapes to determine which scenes are best-suited to the production. The next step is to edit a “rough cut,” or preliminary version of the video. Finally, upon final approval of the rough cut, the editor will compose a final version. Expect at least 1 hour of editing time for each minute of edited video. Again, complex projects may require additional time.
  • Publications
    If you choose to support your video project with printed materials, remember to schedule enough production time so they will be ready to distribute with your video.