By Tim Rose — Senior Video Production Manager, Polycom
Video projects are often made or broken in the edit suite, which makes each review of a new cut critical to success. Though I’m a big fan of collaboration, I know that if a 90-second product video needs more than four rounds of feedback, something was wrong with the review process.
When feedback isn’t clear or too open to interpretation, each new cut of the video will probably fail to deal with the client’s real issues. Ineffective reviews often lead to project delays and can even impact the quality of the final version. If you’re working with an external agency or production house, there may also be a cost implication.
To ensure Polycom’s marketers were getting the best videos on time, I developed guidelines for providing feedback. Incorporate these six best practices on your next project and you’ll get a video that delivers results without needing too many rounds of revisions.
1. Have a single point of contact
It’s a good idea to get opinions from multiple people on your team. Just don’t expect your video producer to decide whether the intern’s aversion to blue backgrounds is actionable or deal with the politics of conflicting comments. It’s better to give one person the responsibility of consolidating your team’s feedback and providing clear direction for the next cut.
2. Make sure you’re speaking the same language
Many technical production terms are part of popular vernacular but don’t always mean the same thing to a marketer and an editor. Take “zoom”, which reviewers often use to a mean a close-up but technically involves moving towards something. It’s often better to describe the end-result you want instead of using technical terms that could be misinterpreted.
3. Be specific and descriptive
If you don’t like something, explain why and avoid vague language that only leads to further questions. I’ve often been asked for the music in a scene to be more emotional without knowing which exact emotion to expand. If a scene is too long, be specific about how many seconds should be cut or if a color is too bright, do you want it reduced by 20% or 100%?
4. Provide feedback visually
You’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort from writing down time codes and describing onscreen action, if you find a more visual way to provide your feedback. Collaboration tools like Hightail allow you to leave time stamped comments as you watch a video and because you can highlight specific parts of the screen, it will always be clear to me what you mean.
5. Distinguish between discussion and direction
Always feel free to ask your video producer’s opinion about something. At this point in my career I’ve tried more tweaks and tricks to enhance videos than I can remember, so I have a pretty good idea about what our options are and whether or not they will work. I also understand that the brand or product or boss requires certain things to be just right. In which case, be clear that your comment is a directive by using language like “This needs to be…”.
6. Be clear about approvals
It’s funny how often a project has sat in limbo because I thought I was waiting on feedback when in fact the reviewer was happy with the latest version. Be clear when we’re ready to ship. If you need to get approval from others, don’t wait until v.final to show it to them for the first time. Ideally they should have seen an early cut so there are no deadline-day surprises.
Using these six best practices for video feedback will help you communicate more effectively with your video production team and ensure your next project is set up for success.
About Tim Rose, Senior Video Production Manager, Polycom: After years of touring in his punk rock band, Tim started his career in video production as a freelance music video editor and currently leads Video Production for Polycom. His main areas of expertise are cinematography, editing, motion graphics, visual effects, and color grading. Tim received a B.A. In Communication with an emphasis in Film/TV from Santa Clara University and has won multiple awards for his work in video production.