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Utilizing Smart Processes Saves Valuable Resources.

Just as in math class, the order of operations makes a difference in video production. And your important resources—time and money—are on the line.

Of course, having a solid and thorough preproduction process can protect your project from scope creep by eliminating the need for additional shoot days or unnecessarily complicated edits. But even more can be done to avoid wasting resources as the project enters into the editing phase by thoughtfully planning client reviews and revisions. In nearly all projects, the most efficient process begins with content lock, then picture lock, and ends with final approval and delivery.

Content Lock

Often, we will send a video for content lock first. This usually includes reviewing the narrative pieces of a video without any frills such as b-roll or graphics. At this stage, we’re looking for feedback on the story itself—what is spoken, the structure, overall length—so other details including the coloring of the footage or the audio levels might feel unfinished. That’s because they are! It’s possible some of this footage will be cut or replaced, and we don’t want to spend time and resources perfecting the clips just for them to end up on the cutting room floor. Once the content is locked and we know there won’t be any further changes to the story of the video, we can move to the next phase.

Picture Lock

With the storyline and pacing of the video locked in, we can confidently add b-roll and graphics to the piece because we know there will be no further changes to our foundation. With those additions, we will send the piece to be reviewed with the goal of getting all the visuals (a-roll, b-roll, and graphics) approved. This is called a picture lock. However, keep in mind that the color and audio are still not complete at this stage because the b-roll clips need the chance for review and revision. When you’re reviewing for a picture lock, focus on how the b-roll complements the story, how clips flow from one to the next, and how graphics work into the mix. Once you’re happy with all that, we will consider the picture locked and we can move on to final details!

Final Approval

At this stage, we can finally complete our color grade, sound design, and audio mix because we are certain all the visuals are locked in and none of the effort will be lost on the cutting room floor. With one last client review to approve those details, we can consider the project final. Congratulations, team! But there are still a few more things to do before the files leave our studio and head into the world.


Following the final approval, we make versions of the video based on your scope of work. If closed captioning, subtitles, or multi-language versions are a part of the project, we take care of that after the video is finalized. In the preproduction phase, we would have discussed each use for the videos, and now we’ll use that information to ensure we are exporting and delivering files customized for that use. We will also collaborate with distribution partners to ensure every standard is met, from aspect ratios (vertical, horizontal, square, jumbotron, etc.) to host platform standards, bit rate, and everything in between. The very last thing to do before sending the files is a thorough internal quality control to make sure nothing was missed in the process!

Of course, everything varies from project to project, and at times it might not make sense to complete things in this order. Typically, though, this is the most efficient way to work through an edit. To further streamline the process, ensure you’re giving the most effective feedback possible in every round of review.

We always keep our clients’ best interests in mind as we work through projects together, and utilizing smart processes is just another way we can ensure effective and efficient video production.


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