Successfully Set Milestones and Interfaces for Movies and Videos

Milestones Milestones Defining interfaces
No problems, only solutions ... this is how you define interfaces | © Photos Pixabay

This article is about milestones in film and video. He explains how to define these as interfaces and how to agree sensible process patterns with the client.

The production of a video must be as efficient as possible. At the same time, the highest possible quality must be achieved and the customer wants to be informed.

Where is the right balance between risk management and documentation, between flexibility and planning security? The definition of milestones leads to the answer of this question.

You need to know

  • The production of a video is always marked to a certain extent by conflicting goals. Film is an economic good that serves communication and has artistic aspects.
  • By defining milestones and agreeing on interfaces between the parties involved, efficiency in project execution is increased and quality is enhanced.
  • Depending on the complexity of a project, an average video production can be completed in four to eight stages.

Milestones and interfaces in video production

Movies and video are not suits that you buy off the rack and can hold in your own hands before you decide to buy. Rather, they are highly complex projects in which many different factors influence each other and help shape the result of the work. They require the definition of milestones to control the manufacturing process.

Filmmakers from the USA like to cultivate their own ego with the saying “Film is War! (in German: “Film means war”). What is meant here is not teamwork, but the complexity of the project work, coupled with economic and artistic expectations. This can quickly lead to spectacular collisions.

Milestones as areas of conflict in the production of film and video

The clash of opposing views is not an option in commissioned productions. Image films, CEO videos, testimonials and product films fulfil a clear task. They must be subordinate to a core statement. This key message should be conveyed as clearly and convincingly as possible, and preferably in an original way. That’s where all the energy of everyone involved should go.

This becomes possible when all potential areas of conflict in the video production are identified and regulated as milestones between the video producer and the client in advance of the production start.

Checklist with basic questions

It starts with answering the following three important questions. Questions A to C must be addressed before the start of production. When creating an image film, the answers to these questions not only serve as a basis for defining the milestones, but also as an indicator for the degree of professionalism of the provider and thus as a warning light for possible incompetence.

A Risks

Where are the project risks? How do you deal with it? Risk avoidance is always a cost factor. Where is the optimal line for the respective task and the specific customer?

The classic way of dealing with risks: You recognize them and name them, but you don’t talk about how the risks can be avoided. This also applies to milestones.

B Documentation

How should documentation be done? Writing in general and writing down processes and decisions in concrete terms means comprehensibility and security for all those involved.

Conversely, a flood of emails, minutes, meeting notes and memos can also lead surprisingly quickly to these documents no longer being read and then quickly making a stellar career as legal fodder when problems arise. This is also a real danger with milestones. Less is usually more.

Is it allowed to release an important project step in a hurry on the phone under time pressure? Will such a decision be recorded retrospectively? How do the other parties involved find out about it?

C Knowledge gap

When is a knowledge gap between the film production and the client not a problem and where does it become problematic? A client usually hires a video producer as a specialist because they can do more than the client.

If half-knowledge comes into play, it can quickly become dangerous. What happens and who is responsible if the client uses a technical term in a briefing but gets it wrong?

Define milestones and interfaces

The larger and more complex a project, the higher the number of project milestones and the more detailed the definition of interfaces for film and video.

For a filmed testimonial, three simple steps to match the customer are sufficient, while for an elaborate image film, three times the number of decision points is still not enough.

Milestones, the name says it, are milestones that you reach on the way to achieving your goals.

The tighter these waymarks are set, the less chance there is that any of the participants will stray from the path on the journey.

Milestones can usually be achieved in different ways and with different cost implications and time budgets.

The consequences of what happens if a milestone is missed or cannot be achieved must be contractually regulated.

Information should not overlap. Therefore interfaces are also a check for congruent information at a certain point in the project process. In the process, the sum of all available facts is processed and compared at regular intervals. This is so that a consensus can emerge for the next steps.

Phases of production

A production consists of more than just three summary project parts, not only in the case of feature films.

Shooting preparation (also called pre-production, with the pre-production meeting (PPM) at the centre), shooting (production) and picture and sound editing (post-production) are indeed crucial for any audiovisual production. Nevertheless, they do not represent all the milestones of film production.

The following eight events define the essence of a film production for a commissioned film:

  1. Parameterization
  2. Creation
  3. Preparation for shooting
  4. Filming
  5. Post-production
  6. Finalization
  7. Versioning
  8. Archiving

The parameterization defines the basic data. Where appropriate, this is done in the context of a call for tenders and in the briefing.

Checklist and example of flow pattern

1 Parameterization

Based on the client briefing, the production company prepares an analysis. To this end, it defines the key data and milestones together with the client and then, in consultation with the client, defines the Production Values (the allocation of resources within the production in order to maximise the impact and therefore also linked to benchmarking). At the end is the briefing for the creation phase.

2Creation

This is where the film or video is created for the first time. On the one hand, because the creative competence in this milestone translates facts into pictures. On the other hand, because these images are only captured in words and therefore can only inadequately define the later result. The creation ends with the release for film production. The basis for this can be a film sketch, an exposé, a screenplay or a storyboard or other forms.

3Preparation for shooting

Filming preparation is a more precise term for pre-production and is preferable to this because clients usually understand moving image production to mean the entire production process and not just the filming. The preparation of the shoot is one of the most important milestones. Casting, search for locations and actors and all logistical preparations for the handling of the shooting take place in this sub-step. The team (lighting technician, cameraman, production manager, etc.) are also hired at this time. Only the person of the director has usually been on board since the creation.

4Shooting

For outsiders, this milestone is the most exciting part of the filmmaking process, although in reality, almost every breath taken here is planned in a professional film production. There are no coincidences here. And where they exist, they are deliberately planned for and allowed.

5Image and sound editing

The film gets its shape in the film cut and the montage. Once the digital image editing has been approved, digital effects, sound and sound design follow.

6Finalization

The video or film is delivered to the customer, usually in versions, and neatly archived.

7Versioning

In the milestone of versioning, the name says it, versions of the video are created. Also, making different length versions in use for social media is usually a must today. Language versions are often included.

8Archiving

The stepchild of production is archiving. Nevertheless, at a later date, access to the material (original material? Only the scenes used? Only the final cut version?) must be ensured.

Milestones in film production and video making

Whether it’s a low budget video or an expensive image film, the mechanics of setting milestones always remain the same due to the media:

Simple projects require 4 milestones

Ensuring quality and target achievement and functioning interfaces for simpler projects (testimonial, product video) with a tight budget corset is ensured with four milestone meetings

  1. At kick-off meeting after award of contract, even before creation phase, define, explain and/or summarize objectives
  2. Acceptance of the shooting draft and further release for implementation, combined with budget check
  3. Cut approval and OK for final production
  4. Final product acceptance

Depending on this, additional intermediate steps are useful. Likewise, the meetings following the kick-off are documented with a resolution protocol as legally valid interim acceptances.

Complex projects require 8 milestones

For demanding projects (image film, advertising video), quality and project progress are assured with eight milestones / meetings

  1. Approval of the parameterization and allocation of the production values to the film concept
  2. Kick-off after awarding the contract: define goals, explain or recapitulate before starting the creation process
  3. Approval of the shooting script for implementation and preparation for shooting (budget checks are usually carried out separately, unless there is a lump-sum budget).
  4. PPM (Pre-Production Meeting). Here all details of the moving picture production are discussed in detail (actors, locations, costumes, camera movements, weather risks, etc.).
  5. First cut with layout sound, followed by optimizations
  6. Final acceptance with la and release for final production
  7. Acceptance of the film or video in its final form
  8. Acceptance versions (lengths and languages, etc.)

Depending on the task, further intermediate steps are necessary. All milestone meetings are documented in a legally valid form with a record of the discussion or at least with a record of the decision.

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

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