The scoping-out meeting with your video production agency

The scoping-out meeting with your video production agency

In our previous post I discussed the preliminary stage of preparing for a film project and what to do before bringing in a video production agency. In today’s post, I’ll be looking at what to expect from the initial scoping-out meeting and how best to prepare for it.

From an agency’s perspective, a scoping-out meeting will have a number of different objectives; it’s an introduction to the key players within the project; it’s a chance to talk through processes, methodologies and indicative budgets; it’s an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the client’s objectives (and subject area if it’s a university research project) and most importantly it’s the first step in building a strong client relationship.

Project management

We’re firmly of the belief that a streamlined approach to project management (from both client and agency-side) is a core component of facilitating a smooth production process (too many cooks etc), so where possible, bring only people who will have key input into the shape and direction of the project. Too many inputs during the initial meeting can mean messaging and objectives get a little confused and that’s the absolute opposite of what the meeting is meant to achieve – so it’s definitely worth collecting and summarising any and all thoughts from colleagues before the meeting takes place.

From our perspective, the main people we would want to be present at the initial scoping-out meeting would be whoever is the main point of contact for the project and whoever is in charge of the feedback process (this may or may not be the same person). For any brand awareness projects, a Central Comms representative would be a good addition so that they could provide input on Brand Management and Guidance.

If the film project is departmental or a research orientated project, we’d suggest a departmental marketing representative or the lead researcher or academic. If the institute has internal creative resources, it can sometimes be worth a member of that team attending in a technical capacity to provide access to existing resources and assets.

The meeting is a chance for the video production agency to talk through their processes and methodology and to walk the client through their creative process, giving an indication of how they will manage the workflow and to ensure there is an understanding of timescales and what the feedback process might be. It’s also a chance to put the client at ease and to reassure them that they have made the right choice. For clients who may be unfamiliar with the commissioning process for creative video and animation, it’s a great opportunity to ask questions.

Limitations isn’t a bad word in video

Your budget needn’t be the ‘elephant in the room’ and it’s important (and helpful) that it’s discussed to some degree. From an agency perspective this is always something we approach with caution as it’s important that our clients don’t feel that we’re hunting for the top line. However, an indicative budget, or just an idea of what the range or scale might be, allows our team to come up with appropriate options.

Having an understanding of what is feasible and communicating that early to a client, ensures that the creative options that get presented are ambitious, yet realistic. This is particularly relevant when it comes to animation and motion graphics projects, as there’s a huge sliding scale in what can be achieved with your budget – which is entirely based on the level of complexity within the animation.

On the other side of the coin, a client might be pleasantly surprised with what is possible with their budget (drone shots, I’m thinking of you!).

Define success

It’s vital to set your objectives and messages early, and in particular how you will define success. We detailed this in last week’s post, but it’s essential that the objectives for the film are clarified within the scoping-out meeting, and this has to come from the client. Ensure you and the video production agency know exactly what you want the film to achieve.

Messaging within the film is more collaborative. A client should have a good idea of what they want to say within the film and to whom they want to say it… and at the same time, the creative team should provide ideas of what they think the messaging should be (to meet the agreed client objectives) and some initial ideas on how to communicate those messages.

Client: “Our ABC is ranked in the top 5”
Agency: “Ok… well this particular message could be communicated by XYZ”

If it’s a research orientated video, such as a submission for REF Impact, now is a great time for the creative team to gain a basic understanding of the subject matter so that the project is presented in the correct manner further down the line.

The creative process

Have a discussion around the creative direction; show examples of content you like – it doesn’t even have to be related to the subject, just don’t be married to any one particular idea or style just yet. The video production agency will have people in-house who are experts in creative and will be constantly researching approaches from all areas of visual communications, so it’s really worth having a listen to what they consider.

Once you think you’ve provided all the relevant information, wrap-up the meeting. The next step is to ask for the creative team to come back to you with a treatment. This will be a summary of exactly what the video production agency is going to produce for you and is an essential document. It’ll contain your objectives, messaging and audience (so you know that they get the brief), but also timescales, budget spend, deliverables, formats and ideally a concept for the creative (although not for ‘designs’ as that comes later). This treatment is something that you can refer back to during any future communications with the agency, making sure you all stay on track, stay on message and avoid the dreaded brief creep!

In next week’s post we’ll look at some of the earlier stages of the creative video production process, such as concept design, storyboards and maybe even scriptwriting.

We’d love to hear from you

Thinking about using video or animation production in your next project?
Or just want to chat through a video idea you may have…

Get in touch today.