Making a Step-by-Step Video Series

for the San Francisco Health Service System

September 28, 2021 | Andy Linda

The Plan

Some processes are simple… once you break them down into a step-by-step video. In this instance we’re talking about a video breaking down the process for signing up for retirement benefits when you’re a new City of San Francisco retiree. It’s something you literally do once in a lifetime. And it’s a government procedure, need we say more? But it really isn’t that complicated, it’s just daunting when you first encounter it. So what to do?

The first step is to hire a good video production company that can break the information into simple, easy-to-follow bits. There were three major steps to follow, so we designed a series of three 1-minute videos. The client liked a roadmap image, so we worked with that suggestion and wrote it as a “road to retirement with three simple stops.”

Due to COVID we considered making the whole step-by-step video series animated. That was also the reasoning behind the ultra-short form factor. But then everyone on our crew got vaccinated and with the client’s OK we switched everything to a live video production.

Cameraman directing an actress while producer holds a silk diffuser
The Execution

The client supplied on-camera talent: their current and former employees. We also used their offices as shooting location. Both choices presented challenges: the real-people-as-actors limited us how much we could ask of them in terms of performance, and a single office had to stand in for three different locations. But we supplied a fun, zippy car to tie the three episodes together. We also had to create an unusual number of props to pull this step-by-step video off: several form which had to be filled out, an entire Health and Human Services mailer complete with a Medicare card, a mailbox in a shoot-able location, a 2022 calendar with certain dates already marked, and a set of vanity license plates for the zippy car. In addition we put in some cheesy digital effects during post-production to drive home the point of which offices a new retiree needs to visit to secure their retirement and health benefits.

Overall this step-by-step video production project was successful. All of the client’s objectives were met and in spite of the challenges a resurging COVID threw our way the program was delivered on time and on budget. Most importantly the client was happy with the video production process and they ended up with a step-by-step video series they can be proud of.

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