How to work side-by-side with a client on video production

Working with clients is an inevitable step in any videographer‚Äôs career, and is a great way to expedite your hands-on editing know-how. But it‚Äôs not without its challenges. 

Adapting to someone else’s workflow and expectations can cause bumps in the road — especially when they’re the one footing the bill.

But here’s the thing: most high-value filmmaking typically requires some sort of collaboration. Whether it’s teams of producers working with small businesses, or a solo filmmaker like you working side-by-side with the video owner to achieve the best result.

So let’s imagine you’ve just secured the video production brief of your dreams. How will you make the process of working with that client as productive, and stress-free, as possible?

Establish trust with your video client

Your very first client-videographer discussions set the tone for your ongoing collaboration. 

Discuss the project thoroughly with your client:

  • What is the purpose of the video for them/their business? What are they looking to achieve?
  • Who is the desired audience and why?
  • How much money are they willing to spend? 
  • How far are they willing to go to get that shot? 
  • How much time do they have, from start to finish? 
  • ‚Ķ. And why are you the best filmmaker for the job?
  • Do you foresee any issues or obstacles in the weeks/months ahead?
  • Who will have final ownership of the video? Is the client happy for you to share the work you co-produce, at least in part, to advertise your video business?

Unpacking, and aligning on, the context of the video cements your collaboration and shows you‚Äôll be working together (and not in opposition). The best creative outcomes are born from great ideas on both sides, after all, so you want your client to trust your expertise and talent. 

Making that clear now will pay off for you and your client as the project progresses.

Agree on your client deliverables

Clarity and alignment is essential when it comes to deliverables, too. That‚Äôs why you should set a list of deliverables for the project, as early on as possible. 

Does your service agreement spell out explicitly whether you’ll find supplementary footage, translate subtitles and captions, mix and master audio tracks, deliver cuts for Facebook, help with video marketing, and so on? Those are the questions to ask yourself at this stage.

Is this the first video your client has commissioned from a filmmaker? Then here’s an insider tip for you: help them understand what the deliverables could be, based on previous projects you’ve done. They may well find it easier to tell you what they want and need when choosing from a menu of options — rather than envisioning it for themselves.

Decide on your post-production workflow

Next up: designing, and agreeing, a post-production workflow. We’re talking key milestones, what approach you’ll take to video editing (including which software you’ll use and in which format the files will be delivered) and when the final video will be ready.

And, while we don’t want to catastrophize, videographers need to be ready for anything. Think about all the things that could go wrong — from corrupted files to missing clips or notes — and show that you’re mitigating the risks.

Crucially, you should also make clear what responsibilities the client will have during post, too. It can be helpful to think backwards here:

  • What is your final product and what parts of the outcome may you need clarification on?
  • How will you share it with them (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)? 
  • Who from the client‚Äôs side will be involved in the video optimization, providing feedback as you go? 
  • How often does that mean you‚Äôll need to be in contact?
  • Do they want to be actively involved in all aspects of the post-production process? Or are they happy to leave you to it, save for some periodic updates?

Flexibility is a key ingredient for a happy client-videographer relationship. You may prefer OneDrive, for example, but Google integrates better with the project management system they already have in place. 

If you get the feeling your client needs things stripped back to basics as much as possible, then Vimeo’s video review feature is one to consider as well. This will aid a smooth feedback process with even the most inexperienced clients.

Choose the right software tools

Let‚Äôs fast forward now, to a time where you‚Äôve got your raw footage and you‚Äôre ready to jump into editing. Your next step as a filmmaker will be to put together a rough draft or 'assembly edit‚Äô: a loose sequence intended to set the tone for the final product. 

Video production is an iterative process, as you know. But getting the assembly close enough to the client’s goal will save you a lot of time — and free you from endless feedback loops — in the weeks to come.

That‚Äôs where Simon Says Assemble comes in, with its AI-powered magic wand. 

Creating assembly cuts couldn’t be easier in Simon Says — even when working side-by-side with your client. All you need to do is upload footage and Simon Says will automatically generate time-coded transcripts on your behalf. From there, you can arrange and trim your edit by highlighting and rearranging soundbites found in the transcript.

Client communication is easy within Simon Says Assemble, too. Invite the appropriate stakeholders to share their comments directly on the assembly edit. There’s even emojis to mark just how happy they are with your stellar work so far!

The AI-assisted tools, like Simon Says, really shine on script-based work, like an interview. Say you have assembled a draft of an interview, but you want a client to provide certain notes, captions, or proofread a translation. All you have to do is share the project with them via Simon Says. Your client will then be able to login in and place all the metadata exactly where you need it.

Compared with the traditional methods of client communication and collaboration (does anyone make phone calls anymore…?), a tool like Simon Says is revolutionary for assembly edits and post-production workflows. In one, shared digital location, you’re able to collaborate with your client on a draft that everyone can have their say on — all of which is easily exported to your chosen NLE later.

To find out more about using Simon Says Assemble — and exporting to Adobe Premiere Pro, FCPX, DaVinci Resolve, Avid Media Composer, etc. — you can read a step-by-step guide.

Save time for a thorough review

You’re almost there! Now you’re well on your way to a final video, but the review process sits right before the finish line.

Save time in your calendar for final client feedback, as no-one likes to feel rushed in the ending stages of a collaboration. Motion Array and Framer both offer tools to help smooth this process when working remotely, so you receive the right comments and timecodes, especially when working with larger client teams.  

You cross the line with the final agreed version of the video you’ve been commissioned to create. Hurrah!

At this point, you could also decide to throw in some specifically-formatted clips, designed for the client’s social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, whatever’s right for them). You should also circle back to the sharing permissions you agreed upfront: are you able to share portions of the work on your own video production reel and social media platforms, too?

Get a testimonial!

There’s one final thing to secure from your client: a testimonial describing the process. After all, you’ve worked super hard to make this collaboration as successful as possible — don’t waste an opportunity to build your brand.

Testimonials come in all shapes and sizes, from two or three line emails to 1000-word case studies. As a videographer, you could even produce your own testimonial video reel to show off your talents.

Feeling ready?

Time is an asset in video production — one you have to guard tightly and use wisely. Utilizing effective communication tools on your assembly edit and getting direct feedback by collaborating in one, shared location will save you a lot of time and a lot of fuss.

Give Simon Says a try in your next client-facing video project. And check out the rest of our blog for other tips for optimizing your video production workflow, too.

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