A Quick Guide to the 5 Stages of Video Production

A Quick Guide to the 5 Stages of Video Production

Photo by Marcos Rocha on Unsplash

  • Videos can serve a multitude of different purposes. It could be a company culture video, product demo, tutorial, animation - the list goes on.
  • While some video content is perfectly fine to create with an iPhone or video marketing tool, sometimes you may be looking for something a bit more professional.
  • If you decide to hire a videographer or video production company, it's important to know the five key stages of video production so that you're across the project from the get-go.

It seems like everyone nowadays is jumping on the video bandwagon. In fact, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool (Hubspot, 2020). As one of the most powerful ways to drive audience engagement, this statistic isn't too surprising.

If you decide to hire a professional video production company, what should you expect at each stage of the production process?

The Stages of Video Production

Every video is different, and the production process varies from project to project. But broadly speaking, there are five stages involved in the average video production:

  1. Initial concept development
  2. Pre-production
  3. Production
  4. Post-production
  5. Distribution

1. Initial concept development

Initial concept development is where you can save a lot of time and money before getting an agency or production company involved.

  1. First decide WHY you actually want a video: Some examples include brand building, social media content, internal communication, product promotion, etc.
  2. Then decide WHAT kind of video you may need for that: It could be a traditional TVC, customer case study, corporate story, product demo, etc.
  3. Finally figure out WHERE it’s going to go and how you're going to promote it: Will it be on your website, YouTube channel, social media, third-party ad networks, etc.

You can adjust and adapt all of this as you go, but you really need a clear reason for a video before you invest time and money. You can also consult with a video production company about this - some may even offer basic free advice.

2. Pre-production

The pre-production stage is usually the time to get a video production agency or independent videographer involved. Pre-production, much of which an agency will take care of, involves tasks such as:

  • Scripting and storyboarding
  • Finding voice-over artists
  • Booking interviews
  • Hiring crews and equipment
  • Sourcing/commissioning music, graphics and animation
  • Securing locations (including any council fees and permissions for public areas)
  • Legal paperwork (insurance, contracts, release forms)

3. Production

Production is when the actual filming takes place. Most crews work by the half-day or full-day, usually based on reasonable travel time (such as metro area). If you need to film in a more remote location it may be worth sourcing a local videographer. Otherwise you’ll be paying flights, hotels and a lot more time.

4. Post-production

Post-production is when all the different elements - filmed footage, existing assets (graphics, logos), music, titles, subtitles and so on - get assembled. You need to clearly communicate about your brand identity and provide any brand assets such as logos, colours and fonts if they’re important. Provide the video editor with your house style guide well in advance.

Tip: It’s usually easy for the editor to create several versions of the same production. It may cost a little more, but shouldn’t be too much more. This is so you can have versions with and without music, or with and without subtitles.

It also allows you to get videos of different lengths, e.g a full three-minute video, with several 15-second or 30-second excerpts that are useful for social media and/or video ads. I always recommend getting a few different lengths, particularly as viewer attention spans are very short these days.

What typically blows out the budget with a video project is the review process. Often it’s a case of "too many cooks in the kitchen". Try to limit the number of people needed for the approval process.

Each new version of the video should then be seen by all those people, and comprehensive feedback, corrections and amendments aggregated and sent to the editor.

Ideally, you should only need two or three rounds of editing. In practice, I’ve seen videos take over twenty rounds of editing - usually because the client isn’t sufficiently organised.

Post-production - the fourth stage of video production

5. Distribution

Distribution is the final stage where the video is uploaded/shared, usually online (in the "olden days" you’d physically send out VHS copies), but there may still be some instances where you want to create a DVD.

Bear in mind that fewer and fewer people use DVD players (Apple started phasing them out in 2008) so if you do want to share a copy physically, a USB thumb drive is normally the best way.

There are also many file transfer sites (like Google Drive) that make it easier to share large video files. You'll also probably want to post it on YouTube and embed it on your website.

Tip: I advise making videos as accessible as possible. Allow viewers to download them if you can. If I'm trying to follow a how-to guide, it's much easier to pause and scroll back and forth if the video is on my hard drive than if it's online. 

Unless you're producing subscription TV content, there's rarely a need for videos to be "locked away". 

Final Note

Do you always need to go through this lengthy production process? No. I’ve seen companies record CEO messages on iPhones in a few minutes (usually for internal distribution) and many organisations record webinars and upload them as videos for later viewing, or turn screen-captures into basic software demos.

You may also have video skills within your company, such as a graphic designer who can create 3D animation and edit video.

But if you do work with a professional videographer, it's good to know what each stage of production looks like so you have a better idea of what's involved and what to expect.

Have any questions or things you'd like to share about video production? Tell us in the comments section below!

Lisa Creffield

Founder at

I'm a business writer and videographer with over a decade of experience in online video. Originally from the UK, I first came to Australia in 1998 and also worked for several years in the Middle East.