Video Production Proposal Template and Download

Update: Read this post to find out about a great digital pack of all the film document templates you could possibly want! You can download a new version of the Production Proposal HERE (right-click, Save As…)

A video proposal is essential for explaining and recording what is required by the client and what you will provide. I sometimes call them a treatment, as – for me – they are similar in content. In my experience, however, treatments went alongside a nerve-wracking pitch for a film that nobody really wanted to make but me (until I convinced them, obviously).

A proposal needs some basic information about the what, why, who, how, where and when of the video in question. I have seen quite a few variations and you just need to edit your template until you find one that sits well with you. These can change, project-to-project, but are a good starting point. I have edited the one below a few times and am still updating it on each project I am faced with.

Files removed (see start of post for info + download)


The Sound of ‘The Black Swan’

I thought I’d follow up on the earlier post, The Cinematography of ‘The Black Swan’, with a nice video about the sound in the same film. Sound is often overlooked in Video Production, in favour of the aims and look. And ‘sound design’ is often not even considered; a good recording on someone talking + music is sometimes all that is required.

But I am fascinated by sound designers and the art of telling a narrative audibly. It’s one of the areas that I have never got into deeply myself but I hope to change that in the future. I’m not saying that intricate, original and experimental sound design should be on everyone’s mind when making a corporate video or filming an event – but it shouldn’t be dismissed either.

I hope to post more in the future, hopefully with a real-life example.

The Cinematography of ‘The Black Swan’

This has been a good couple of weeks for cinema-going, after seeing 127 Hours and The King’s Speech, I managed to get tickets to an advanced preview of The Black Swan. The film has been out for quite a while in the US and was in film festivals last summer but is only being released to the UK audiences proper today.

I really enjoyed the dark tale and found the handheld style to really work with the film. There are some debates on the internet about the merits of this kinetic style, but I felt closer to the action and felt like I was getting in Natalie Portman’s character’s head and was struggling along with her. It had touches of Cronenberg about it and was totally different again from the two films I mention above and some visual similarities to Kieslowski and Repulsion/Rosemary’s Baby. This different world that they created was one of the main things that I took away from the film; so familiar yet so alien.

The Cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, used a 5DMKii to shoot the rehearsals and have reference footage for how he would later shoot (on 16mm) – which I think is a great use of a camera that I have and want to maximise its potential. They ended up using 7Ds and 1DMKIVs for some shots where smaller set-ups and crews were necessary. He shot with a “Canon 24mm lens at 1,600 ASA to get as much depth of field as possible at a stop of T81⁄2” and pulled focus by hand. It’s nice to see the big guys doing stuff that is comparable to independent and tiny operations. I couldn’t tell the difference between the film and digital, but I didn’t know then – maybe if I went back to it and focused less on the story. Usually, my first watch is to take in the story as much as possible.

Find out more, including what a Texas switch is and its origin, in this interview with Libatique.

Editing Set-Up For HD Video Production

Apple Mac Pro
I left early to work from home on Wednesday lunchtime, I had a head-cold and was deteriorating as the day went on and I had no meetings in the afternoon. When I got up bright and early yesterday I was happy to see my editing set-up had arrived.

I had constructed a spec list for the basic equipment and software that would be necessary for the task but was unsure the exact items that would be provided. I have a Mac Pro on my home set up, with an Apple Cinema Display and secondary monitor and most of the software I’d like, so I knew what would work. I was definitely looking for more cores and more RAM as my system does get slow rather easily.

There’s a lot of discussion about where and when and what it is possible to edit with; there are minimum requirements for editing software and there are lists of people’s ‘ideal scenario’ set-up (which would usually increase the price dramatically). There isn’t so much talk of solid real-world systems or “What hardware and software SHOULD I be using?” because it is different for different people and purposes and also changes rapidly, as software and hardware are in a constant state of change.

So here is what I will be working with initially, let’s see how soon this becomes archaic:


Mac Pro
2x 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
6GB 1066 MHz DDR3

2x 22″HP L2245wg monitors


OSX 10.5.8
Final Cut Studio
Abode CS 5 Production Premium

The total price of this is around £6980, with tax and without any discounts. The hardware and software are quite evenly divided.

So that’s the core of what I’ll be using. Obviously monitoring speakers are coming in (but are part of the camera budget..), I will be using a tapeless workflow (SDHC cards), so good card readers will be added. The monitors are not 1920×1080, like I wanted (they top-out at 1680×1050) but they will do for now. I have ordered in a pair of Western Digital 2TB drives for all the HD footage I will bringing in. I’ll probably cover this stuff in workflows, archiving, etc. sometime soon.

As for the software, I am likely to use Final Cut Pro to edit, After Effects and Photoshop for graphics and basic effects, Compressor for conversions and DVD Studio Pro for making hard copies. I will probably also be using: Cinema Tools (conforming), MpegStreamclip (transcoding), Soundtrack Pro (audio), Color (colour correction) and other applications that I have missed but are probably absolutely essential – but I forget about them until I have a real problem!

Now I just need some footage to play with!

Filming in Progress Notification Signs and Template Download

Update: Read this post to find out about a great digital pack of all the film document templates you could possibly want! You can download a new version of the Filming in Progress Templates HERE (right-click, Save As…)

Not having a full budget and production team has led me, in the past, to forgetting to have “Filming in Progress” warning signs until the eleventh hour. At which point one is hastily drawn up on the back of a spare sheet of paper in marker pen and taped to a chair: not ideal. Generally people can get annoyed if you don’t have them, some places won’t be happy with you filming without them and most of the time it is just good etiquette.

Sometimes they will attract the wrong sort of attention: people will stop to see what you are doing, instead of behaving as normal and a crowd may gather. Also, I’m not sure where these signs stand legally, whether having them is sufficient enough to film passers-by and use that footage in productions (close-ups and focussing on specific individuals is definitely a no-no and would require release forms) but large companies have used signs that look very similar to the ones that you can download in this post.

I made these up so I can quickly print them out and use them on shoots, changing details as I go. The design is based on images and real life notification signs I have seen and the wording is similar too. In any case, you might want to check with your local laws regarding filming in public, but these are definitely a start. Available in Word, OpenOffice and PDF formats.

Files removed (see start of post for info + download)

The Cinematography of ‘The King’s Speech’

Colin Firth in The King's Speech

I went to see The King’s Speech last night, after ubiquitous rave reviews. I enjoyed it as much as anyone else but found that the cinematography excited me most.

It was all fog and wide angle distortion and natural lighting. There’s always some debate when a film comes out looking different from the typical, often causing a Marmite love-it-or-hate-it situation, but I found it really refeshing. The colouring and close-ups were superb.

In one scene, where Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter walk down a flight of stairs, they almost walk into darkness and it’s this avoidance of studio- or over-lighting that makes it feel more real.

Cinematographer Danny Cohen talks about it a little here and there are some caps from the trailer here.

Editing Set-Up: Hardware and Software for Macs and Final Cut Suite

For creative computing, I prefer to use Macs. I was originally taught to edit video on a Mac and use them for photo editing, web development and so on. However, I was also taught Avid and my previous job was all PCs, where we used Avid Media Composer to create broadcast television. I found there were some things I preferred on Avid, that Final Cut Pro just did differently. The way they handled files, the way you would control it and other things that I forget after a Christmas break.

But I am running this show and prefer Final Cut Studio for the whole package of software, as well as using it for my own projects so am comfortable with updating it and adapting it to suit my needs. I am sure I would achieve the same results whether I had chosen FCS, Avid, Vegas, Premiere etc.

Now that I have chosen Final Cut Studio, getting a Mac is the way to go.

I know I haven’t discussed camera equipment yet and there is a reason for this: the editing suite is going to be okay-ed and installed first. You’d maybe think the post-production hardware would follow the production hardware, but really neither is of much use without the other. I could start shooting and just keeping all the footage on a hard drive, but I want to test everything out and create a workflow that I am happy with, from start to finish. The main reason, though, is that getting a computer around here is much easier than all the production equipment I want, from lots of different sources.

I know I am likely to be shooting a lot of hefty HD footage, which will probably need transcoded and edited without bogging down the system. Deadlines are going to come pretty rapid around here and I don’t want to be held back with a machine that has difficulty doing what I need it to on a day-to-day basis.

So, the economics of the situation have led me to the following basic set up:

  • Mac Pro (mid-2010 model), dual quad cores with 6GB memory.
  • Dual 22” monitors.
  • Final Cut Studio
  • Abode CS Production Professional

Now, as I am unfortunately not in control of what precisely gets bought, I will have to wait until I am sitting using the Mac before I can be more specific about anything. That’s just the way things go. If I run into any obstacles with this, I will document as I go – but I think this set-up should suit my purposes.

The Cinematography of ‘127 Hours’

Crew Shooting 127 Hours

Click above to see the video.

This blog won’t be all technical and the proof is in the pudding. Some inspiration and theory for you today.

I was interested in what equipment was used on the production of 127 Hours and how they created the unique, visceral style.

My intention was to embed the video in this post, but WordPress seemed to struggle with that so click the image above or here to go to the source.

A New Video Production Contract

As I am starting the New Year in a 12 month video production role, I thought I would document the ins-and-outs of different areas of position. I will be looking at obstacles and work-arounds, theory and tech stuff.

I have no equipment for production or editing currently. Part of the job was to price-up a kit that could handle the type of projects we would be doing and an editing suite that could handle the footage.

The types of projects vary and I won’t be getting into specifics quite yet; and even later I might only discuss projects vaguely, to focus on the creative and technical elements. Here is a rough summary of what will be required:

  • Company promotional videos (/ads)
  • Events
  • Learning/Training videos

I should probably stress that over the course of this blog I would encourage commenting – especially to offer alternatives to the way I am working or for solutions to any problems I discuss and so on. Anything constructive that might help others in a similar situation. The technology involved is developing so fast and this is quite an exciting time to be working in this field.

I will also blog related media which I find along my way which is interesting, inspiring or that I just want to talk about.

Sometimes I will create templates for jobs or tasks and make them available for download and would encourage others to submit similar documents or anything else that might be suitable for this blog – proper credit will be given.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I will soon be posting some of the equipment research and kit I will be using.