How to give creative feedback

Creative feedback can helpful if balanced and constructive. I’ve written a short guide on some key points to consider when offering creative feedback.

Julian filming the highly coloured reflections from a mirror ball in the shade
Julian Langham filming in Ibiza

A perspective on recent developments in video production

There have been many changes to the digital creative industries and in particular video production in recent years. It’s incredible to consider that YouTube only started up in 2005 and now has over 100 hours of video uploaded to it every minute. Over the last 10 years, professional video production equipment (and the technologies they use) have changed massively.  High definition equipment (and now 4K and UHD) has become smaller, lighter, and more affordable and this has enabled more creative people, at every level, to get involved in this exciting industry.

An example of how things have changed: Ten years ago I was working as an Avid editor for BBC Post-Production, at that time, they had around 160 full-time post-production staff editors. These days, the BBC has a much smaller pool of in-house technical post-production professionals. The BBC now contracts out much of their post-production work to freelance Editors who, like myself, work independently and liaise directly with their own clients.

Previously, when working in the former BBC environment, everyone was trained in the creative process and had a professional understanding of that process throughout. From admin staff, bookings teams, assistant producers, producers, craft staff, directors through to executives – they all had a background and training in television output and transmission and understood the work-flow and all the technicalities involved. Looking back I realise that I also worked in a mutually supportive environment where frequent feedback from your colleagues was an expected part of the creative process.

The changing digital world

Since becoming a video production freelancer my client base has changed a lot with many new online and website-based clients delivering to new channels like YouTube and Vimeo for online broadcast. In this (slightly more) mature digital world, I continue to deliver the same high quality of video to a whole new range of clients. Some customers have little knowledge of the processes of broadcast and video production. Of course, it’s a great opportunity for me, I can help them by guiding them through the many different processes of video production, post-production and delivery whilst developing a trusting relationship with them.

It can be difficult to explain to some clients (the timing never seems quite right!) as to how there is a need to keep their creative team involved throughout the production and post-production stages with feedback. Highly creative people are passionate about their work and can tend to live and breathe their art form, whether it is for paid work or for personal pleasure.  In the work context, the creative filmmaker or digital artist needs to connect with their client, feel free to communicate their professional advice and to share considered opinions about their creative projects as they develop. From a creative perspective, feedback from clients helps to provide a better or more relevant end product by sharing opinions and experiences.

Offering feedback: Start with something positive

From a client’s point of view, a good way to offer feedback to your creative is to start by finding something positive to say. No matter whether you are with your creative in person or responding on the phone or even in writing, saying something that you like about the ongoing project would be a good way to start any feedback or conversation. This would then help you progress into any further detailed feedback if required.

Of course, it’s completely normal that some changes may be required to a video, film or digital artwork, perhaps the brief has changed since the project started in which case some elements might need to be reconsidered or the project re-structured. In any case, feedback at stages throughout the process will help to keep your filmmaker or creative artist involved in the creative process and also highly motivated.

However, it is also important that any additional changes are thoroughly considered so as not to be making constant alterations that may affect the sign-off date and project budget as previously agreed. Certainly, when a project is delivered, it should be expected that some kind of positive feedback would be returned to the creative.

A definition – the creative: “a person creating something new and valuable”

Creative artists and freelancers, working remotely to a client’s brief, understand that their own decisions might need to be altered or adjusted slightly. Even if you are just sending e-mails with a list of amends or adjustments, you could start by being appreciative of the passion and effort your filmmaker or digital creative puts into your project. I am sure your creative would respond well to a considered warm human approach.

A constructive, sensitive and honest attitude to any creative working relationships will help ensure the speedy delivery and quality of your project. A considered and respectful attitude towards your own creative team and your communication with them will help your future relationship to develop and the final creative results will be all the better for it.

If you have any questions or would like advice on anything regarding your video production or post-production please do drop me a message. Check out my online video production portfolio to see more examples of my work or check out my latest productions on my Vimeo channel.

Julian Langham

Julian started his career in media in 1994; shortly after Julian was invited to join the BBC where he was quickly promoted to Editor. Julian left the BBC to develop his freelance career in 2009. Highly-practised and skilled in constructing engaging narratives, Julian’s key strength is his ability to produce strong visually-led stories. In his work, Julian shares his passion for creating powerful synergies between story content, visual rhythm and music.

Browse More