Breaking Down The Different Types Of Video Production

Video production can be a broad term when considering all of the many ways one can execute the process. Video production is literally everywhere with execution on every level. From films and commercials to sports TV and live events, each type of video production process requires a completely different approach, strategy, and performance from talent and crew.  

Media Northeast is a New England Video company that focuses on cinematic filmmaking, commercials, brand films, and more.


The film was created by a bet that Leland Stanford, a California Governor, had made in 1878. The bet — that all four legs of a horse leave the ground mid-Gallup. Since that magical incident, instantaneous photography spread wildly and grew into the visual form we call the film, cinema, movies, or nickelodeons. We should all be thankful for Leland’s tenacity. We now have an entertainment medium we all love.

Full Length Features

The film is an amalgamation of art forms. With that comes many departments that come together to create stunning visuals that last for over an hour. Making a full-length feature is a long, dedicated process that takes months and sometimes years to fully complete from pre to post. Not really falling under the title “video production” in the eyes of professionals until the emergence of digital HD cameras in the early 2000s.

Whether it’s independently made or developed by a studio, the technique, approach, and philosophy remain the same. Typically executed by large crews and a lot of talent, films are a beast to manage. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bad movie, it still took that production team a ton of work to accomplish. So if you like signing up for the long haul and dedicating yourself exclusively to projects for months, even years at a time, then you should consider a career in film.


Most people starting out in filmmaking begin by working with short film production. Whether it’s for school or for your friends and family, it’s a great way to test and strengthen your film craft. It helps you familiarize yourself with the entire process on a fractal level. You’re going to be working with a small crew, minor amounts of talent and the entire production should be completed in a much shorter time period. But you go through all of the same motions creatively, logistically, and legally. It’s a great starting point if you want to dive into the film industry. 


Documentaries are entertaining and educational presentations have been around a lot longer than you may think. Early documentary films pre-1900 were called ‘actuality films’ and consisted of nothing more than a single long shot of factory workers, a train pulling into a station, etc.  Eventually, things like prize fights and surgical operations pushed the length to an hour around the turn of the century. The term ‘Actuality Films’ was changed to ‘Scenics’ for a number of years until the term ‘Documentary’ was created in 1926. 

Since then, documentaries have grown right alongside movies and have a rich history in the world of cinema.

Full-length Features

Thanks to Ken Burns, the documentary template changed in the 80s and became more cinematic and less dull and informational. Though there are different types of documentaries (Participatory, Reflexive and Performative) the approach on a basic level remains identical. You’re typically working with a crew of one or two camera operators, a sound engineer, and a few producers for the majority of the production. 

Each phase of the production (Pre, Production, Post) takes a longer amount of time when compared to fictional film production. The research and development can take years sometimes and so can the actual production. Gathering all of the content that you need takes a long time to acquire. Documentaries are very interview-heavy. The majority of the content you’ll need in the can is one-on-one interviews between the producer and participants who are connected to the true-life story being told. You’ll need a ton of B roll to make your film interesting and digestible for your audience. B-roll will consist of reenactments, interviewees in their natural element, establishing scenes, and sometimes animation. 

The post-production phase is where the story really comes together. Out of all stages of the production, the post is conducted like any other fictional feature.

Documentary Series

Thanks to PBS and HBO, we now have a hybrid documentary template that turns the documentary film into a series that sometimes spans multiple seasons. In this structure, you can delve deeper into the story and touch on more topics by spreading out the content over a number of hour-long episodes. By leaving cliffhangers at the end of every episode it keeps the audience engaged in binge-watching until the end.


Commercials are an advertising form in which goods, services, organizations, concepts, or what have you are promoted via television or the internet. The commercial is developed and produced by an outside agency. Airtime is purchased from a network or channel in exchange for sponsorship of its programming. Commercials started out as an audio form of an advertisement on the radio from the turn of the century up until the advent of broadcast television from the 1940s and last anywhere from 10 seconds to 90 seconds on average.

Creating a commercial however can take longer than expected. To accomplish a commercial, you need to assemble a crew that’s closer to a feature film as opposed to a documentary or something of the like. Commercial production can span days even weeks at a time with budgets over $100k. 

Lifestyle Narrative or ‘Brand film’

Pushing an advertisement in an audience’s face to buy a product or service doesn’t work as it used to in the past. You need a more strategic approach and you need to relate to your audience emotionally. This has led advertisers to tap into a consumer’s lifestyle to create a commercial that we call a brand film. The style and tone are more cinematic and the narrative is built with a quick 3 act structure that is free of any aggressive sales tactics and embodies a feeling of realism. 


This is a more traditional form of advertising where there isn’t necessarily a story being told, but rather a product or service that is being highlighted by a celebrity, actor, or a representative from the brand itself. Sales tactics are implemented in fun or informational manner and the concepts are usually a bit more simplified and sometimes abstract.

Episodic TV

Nothing resembles a feature film structure and technical approach more than a television show. Released in episodes that follow a narrative, a TV show is broadcast in real-time or can be found streaming on internet platforms.TV shows proved to be a stable, modern form of entertainment that was here to stay. Fast forward decades into the future and now we have a plethora of genres and different types of TV shows that we can feast our eyes on.

TV shows require a longer commitment from crew and talent when compared to a feature-length film. With films, the director is running the ship and pushing the progress along. On TV productions, the producers and the DP are the ones guiding.

Live Events

From sports and concerts to award shows and special engagements, live events can be a massive undertaking, and coordinating a video production team to capture the live event and broadcast it to the world can be just as difficult. With live events, you have a team sometimes exceeding 100 people with dozens of camera operators, lighting technicians, grips, producers, stagehands, set decorators, etc.

Unless it’s a sports team, most live events are either a one-time gig or an annual event. The upside is you’re not locked into a yearly position on a production crew that doesn’t change, you get new scenery and a change of pace.


From testimonials and interviews to conferences and internal training videos. Corporate video production is almost a necessity with certain industries and serves many useful purposes outside of external product/brand advertisement. 

Ready to learn how to plan a video production project? Contact us for planning, advice, and start your video marketing today!