Death by 1000 cuts: 6 tips for a better video review process

Tim Rose

February 21, 2017

giphyVideo projects are often made or broken in the edit suite, which makes each review of a new cut critical to success. Collaboration is important but when feedback isn’t clear or too open to interpretation, each new edit 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. Unless the contract with your client specifies how many rounds of changes you’ll do, there may also be a cost implication.

To ensure my clients get the best videos on time, I developed guidelines for providing feedback. Incorporate these six best practices on your next video review and you’ll create a video that delivers the results your client demands without needing too many rounds of revisions.

1. Have a single point of contact

It’s a good idea for your client to get opinions from multiple people on their team. But that doesn’t mean that you should be expected to decide whether the intern’s aversion to blue backgrounds is actionable or deal with the politics of conflicting comments. It’s better to suggest that one person on the client side has the responsibility of consolidating the team’s feedback and providing clear direction for the next cut.

18rp7g2. 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 ask your client what end-result they want instead of accepting their use of technical terms that you might misinterpret.

3. Make sure feedback is specific and descriptive

If your client doesn’t like something, ask them explain why while avoiding 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, they should be specific about how many seconds should be cut or if a color is too bright, do they want it reduced by 20% or 100%?

4. Get feedback visually

Your client will save a lot of time and effort from writing down timecodes and describing onscreen action, if you can provide them with a more visual way to provide feedback. Collaboration tools like Hightail allow users to leave timestamped comments as they watch a video and because they can highlight specific parts of the screen, it will always be clear to you what they mean.

5. Distinguish between discussion and direction

Always encourage your client to ask your opinion about something. If you’re like me at this point in my career, you’ll have tried more tweaks and tricks to enhance videos than you can remember and have a pretty good idea about what the options are and whether or not they will work. Of course, you also have to understand that the brand or product or boss requires certain things to be just right. In which case, ask them to be clear when comments are 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. Ensure your client is clear when we’re ready to ship. If they need to get approval from others, don’t wait until to show it to them for the first time. Encourage them to share early cuts so there are no deadline-day surprises.

Using these six best practices for video feedback will help you communicate more effectively with your clients and ensure your next project is set up for success.

An amended version of this article originally appeared on VideoInk.