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Four Production Tips for Successful Client Collaboration

From initial concept to final edit, creating an impactful brand video is a collaborative sport, requiring both the training of a savvy crew and the passion of an engaged client. Equipped with years of combined experience, the team at Chicago’s Bottle Rocket Media has learned how to build trust among all “players on the field” and inspire a winning outcome. Here are four tips on making the video collaboration process positive and balanced.

TIP ONE: SET CREATIVE EXPECTATIONS

No getting around it. With every shoot, comes a million creative questions and concerns from the client. Do your best to “head them off at the pass” with a clear roadmap of how the production will unfold, and how you envision both parties working together on the story. Publish a mutually agreed upon calendar, ASAP, with scheduled brainstorming sessions and creative meetings – or launch a shared online document for a rolling list of ideas. Be sure to let them know exactly where, when, and how they can contribute – and when your team will need its creative “safe” space.

Setting this boundary from the start is the best way to get content, while ensuring a friendly, appropriate collaboration in which no creative-toe gets stepped on.

TIP TWO: BUILD TRUST

It is practically impossible to hold a smooth video production without trust from the client – trust that you will take care of their brand as if it were a newborn baby. It starts with a good attitude and a solid first impression. From there, it is vital that everyone on the project get to know (and hopefully like) each other— by the end of the project the brand spokesperson should know the camera operator’s first name, and the director should have a sense of all the personalities involved. To get comfy with each other fairly quickly, there are many trust-building exercises online that can help. We’re not saying you have to fall blindfolded into a stranger’s arms, but it couldn’t hurt.

To build upon a good start, it is best to stay on schedule, on budget and meet any deliverables along the way. That’s why, at Bottle Rocket Media, we never agree to an overambitious blueprint just to appease the client – it’s a recipe for disaster. Talk it through and you will find a solution that works for everyone involved. Meanwhile, if you’re answering every phone call, text, and email, quelling every concern, and treating people like people, the trust will only grow.

TIP THREE: DESIGNATE A POINT PERSON

No matter what day of the week, or time of day, there should be one person always available to handle calls, texts, emails, or Skype requests from the client. Throughout any given video production, there is so much evolving information going back and forth, it can be hard to keep up: schedules change, brand messaging gets altered, on-camera participants drop out, locations move, and budgets fluctuate. By funneling every update through a point person on the production side, you can avoid incomplete, conflicting or confusing communication.

At the same time, it is super helpful (when possible) to request a point person on the brand side of things, someone that can answer your questions quickly as to avoid a wild, time-consuming, goose chase in the middle of a shoot or edit session.

TIP FOUR: PUT THE VIEWER FIRST

When working in a collaborative environment, where everyone has a different opinion or idea, it can be tough to stay on message. By using the audience as your “North Star” from the very beginning, you’re much more likely to stay on common ground along the way, develop compatible visions, and avoid senseless ego trips. Countless days, months or even years may have been spent cultivating the product/service, and that can make it difficult for brand creators to let go of creative control or stay open minded to the ideas of others. When things start to veer away from the game plan, a patient and seasoned creative can remind all participants of the ultimate goal: making a connection with the customer.

Ready to collaborate on your next brand video? Click here to find out how Bottle Rocket Media can help.

Client Spotlight | American Girl

Encouraging thousands of kids each day to let their individuality shine through play, no brand is more focused on empowerment than American Girl. After collaborating with their creative team to develop a series of traditional promotional videos, the perfect opportunity to incorporate cutting-edge 360 Video sprouted when they reached out to Bottle Rocket media to create guided tours of its New York and Chicago locations.

Since its start in 1986, American Girl has developed into one of the most popular doll purveyors in the country, with roughly 20 major retail stores that also serve as restaurants, party hosts, and play centers. With so much going on at each spot – including stations where kids AND their dolls can receive makeovers and ear piercings –it was the perfect opportunity to utilize 360 video to create a fully immersive experience for viewers.

According to Bottle Rocket Media co-founder, Brett Singer, a successful run with American Girl on past productions was enough to set the stage for the use of 360 video: “We had worked with [American Girl] on many other promo videos, and fortified a wonderful working relationship,” he says. “As a result, the brand’s creative team approached us to produce 360 VR store tours with accompanying motion graphics to help guide the viewer throughout the experience.”

Not every client Bottle Rocket Media comes across can expertly dialogue about the latest in media techniques – however, as Singer implies, it certainly helps. “It should come as no surprise that American Girl is a very forward-thinking company, and early to embrace new technologies – including both 360 video and AR (augmented reality). Loaded with creative talent, including an in-house design team, we were seamlessly provided with brand-specific graphics, and new ones created just for the videos. Working with them is always a pleasure, as they come to each project as a partner. No one knows the subject matter better, so it’s a no-brainer for us to welcome them into the process.”