How to Conceptualize for Video in 4 Easy Steps

So you’ve been given a brief for a video that you now have to make – time to come up with a concept. This is where you can really get creative and have fun with ideas. Don’t limit yourself strictly to budget at this stage, just come up with something that works.


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1. Research the Competition

The first step to coming up with an effective marketing strategy is to see what’s out there in the space that you’ll be placing your project. Once the brief has been covered, you should know where your video will be placed, so get out there and have a look at the competition. So if your video is going to be online, on your client’s website, have a look at your client’s competitors websites. If your video is an advert that’s going to be on TV, think of some examples of Adverts like that you may have already seen on TV. Also you can again look at YouTube and Vimeo for things like ‘Best TV Commercials 2016’, or even the best in that genre (eg. ‘Best Furniture Commercials 2016’). Whatever video you’re aiming to make, there’s likely some pretty good examples on YouTube. Remember, it’s the second biggest search engine in the world. When you’re looking at your competition, remember to be analytical. As soon as you get snarky about something, you’re no longer analysing why it didn’t work or what didn’t work about it. Conversely, if something is great, ask yourself ‘what is being done here that I wouldn’t have done before seeing this video?’. Break it down into elements–the lighting, the acting, the casting, the choice of shots, the scripting, the premise, the editing; what can you learn from this video?

2.Create your Concept

Once you know what you’re competing against, come up with something that separates yourself from the crowd. With any video, from artistic short film to corporate event promotion, you should be putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and asking ‘is this hooking my attention?’. The more the audience engages emotionally with your video, the more worthwhile the experience will be. Creativity is often misconstrued as the act of inventing entirely new things, in actual fact it is the act of combining existing pieces of knowledge in new and original ways. So take what you have learnt during your research and twist and combine ideas and elements to come up with a concept that surpasses what you have already seen, something that challenges the existing formulas and structures and gives the audience something new. Whenever possible, it should be something that entertains as much as it informs.

3. Tailor to Budget 

So you’ve got your idea, your winning concept that surprises and delights the audience with its outstanding originality and creativity. Now it’s time to make sure the idea you pitch is going to be financially agreeable to the people you’re pitching the concept to, so take off your writer / director hat and put on your producing hat. Hopefully by now you’ve come up with something that puts the end product and the audience reaction first, before considering the budget. So the next step is to go through your concept, piece by piece and research how much it’s going to cost. Assuming the concept is too expensive, go through your bits and pieces and replace them one-by-one with cheaper alternatives. The important thing here is, you’ve set the bar. You have created a standard of quality and your aim should be to keep the quality as high or higher than what it is. So keep that creativity coming, rack your brains and figure out how you can keep the concept equally effective and evocative with in a smaller budget. Instead of an explosive car chase, could it be a well-written chase on foot? Instead of3D animation, could it be a charming, simplistic 2D animation? If you find that certain elements of your concept are impossible to do at a lower budget without compromising the quality and the effect on the audience, then decide on an A option and a B option. If you’ve got an idea that you’re passionate about and you think is worth spending the money on, pitch it to your client. You never know, they may decide that their return on the investment will make your high-budget concept worthwhile.If they don’t, you’ve got the B option to fall back on, and it’s the client that made that compromise in quality, not you.

4. Put Your Ideas to Paper

So you’ve tailored your brilliant concept to fit the budget. Now it’s time to document your idea to win over your client (or team / director / producer etc.) Decide on the best way to pitch your idea. This can be anything from showing an existing example to concept art, but ideally, it should be a combination of elements. For example, you could show them an existing video (one of your own if possible, but it’s okay if not, after all, you want to keep expanding your experience and abilities) and say you ‘want to go with this style of animation’ but with your client’s colour palette in mind and then you could show them a sketch you did of a few of the characters that would feature. You might also pitch them a preliminary storyboard, concept art, stock images/videos/vectors, music, a piece of camera equipment, a particular shot from an existing video, anything you can think of! Whatever you use, just make sure you are going as far as possible to make the concepts clear as possible to your client. Sometimes you may be dealing with someone whose imagination may be lacking in the visual department, or the auditory, so play it safe and put it in front of them. And finally, remember to bring that passion to the table! No one is going to invest in an idea that even the creator is not passionate about. Make sure they know that what you’ve got in your head is the winner and has what it takes to go the distance!