A Guide on Soliciting Feedback and Review for Film Drafts
Don’t get bogged down in a client feedback review loop. Here’s your guide on how to properly solicit client feedback and review film and video drafts.
In the entirety of the professional film and video production workflow — from the earliest stages of pre-production to the delivery of video files — the section by far most likely to get bogged down in annoying client back-and-forth is in the final review and feedback process. It gets ugly folks, and video industry professionals have been dealing with it basically forever.
You could say the problem is with the clients themselves. But you’d never say that because, you know, they’re the ones paying you at the end of the day. Instead, we in the industry simply try our best, smile, and often (begrudgingly) make re-edit after re-edit based on the whims of a client’s latest feedback.
As inevitable as this all seems, there’s hope. There are things that editors and video professionals can do to take back the power. And, it all has to do with planning and communication — clearly explaining the workflow, setting timelines, and leaving as little room as possible for last minute additions.
Export a Review Draft
The first step has to do with the initial exports of these drafts for review. (We also talk about this in our guide to staying productive during long exports.) Basically, when you know you’re looking for reviews and feedback of your videos, do a smaller, quicker, and lower quality export.
That is, unless a client is absolutely insisting on the highest quality of footage to review. If this is the case, you can always export out a small section or include images. Even this will absolutely save time on your end.
Share Video for Review (and Be Upfront on Expectations)
We’ll get into some of the collaborative review platforms below, but here’s the traditional way to share videos for review. After you export a lower quality draft of your video(s), you can upload them directly to video hosting sites like Vimeo or YouTube, or through a file sharing website like WeTransfer or Dropbox.
From there, in an email (or your client’s preferred form of communication), you can send these files over directly for the client to download and review. But here’s the catch. It’s in this initial send-over email that you get your opportunity to layout your recommendations for this review process.
The key word will always be “consolidated,” as in regards to soliciting feedback. Early in the communication process, you should ask your client who and how many people will actually be reviewing drafts and providing feedback. Your point of contact might want their changes made immediately. While you should do what they say, always try to exercise patience on your part and ask for the complete and consolidated amount of feedback.
Remind them that you’re working on their time, and it’s in both of your interests for you to spend the least amount of time working on revisions. And, you can only do that if you have all the feedback that there is to have.
Consider Collaborative Review Platforms
A great way to help make this happen is to utilize one of the many helpful collaborative review platforms that have sprung up pretty much for this exact workflow. If you’re already using a video platform (like Vimeo) to host or share your videos, you might be surprised to learn that they offer a video review platform of their own with their video review page.
Here are some other options:
Consolidate and Make Revisions
Once you feel like you’ve received the entirety of consolidated reviews (or at least exhausted your ability to ask for such requests), begin making your final revisions and edits. I’d even recommend making final color grades and sound design at this point (unless you’re worried about client feedback).
These final revisions should truly be your final video(s), so go ahead and export at the highest quality desired by your client. Here’s a good article on the exporting process if you need some more tips.
Final Videos and Deliverables
Typically in the video editing business, the steps for these final video and deliverables section gets a little complicated. Not only are you sending over (what you truly hope to be) the final video, but you’re also often asked to share the entirety of the deliverables for your project.
This can often mean several videos as part of a whole project. Or, it can also simply mean that a client is looking for all the RAW footage, as they might want it for their internal team needs later on.
Either way, this should be clearly defined in your contract and scope of work. If you’re sharing a small enough amount of files and data, then using those file sharing web services (mentioned above) should be fine. But, in more extreme cases, this might require the physical delivery of hard drives or SSDs — either in person or by mail.
These final deliverables are also your ultimate leverage for receiving your payment, in most cases. If you’re working with a familiar client or a clearly esteemed company, agency, or entity, then I wouldn’t sweat this. Just try to follow your contract as closely as possible. However, these final moments are a good time to make your best pitches for repeat work, solid recommendations, or asking for more opportunities in the future.
Top image via David MG.
Here are some more resources for exporting and managing the client review process: