Friday, January 10, 2014

Preparing for Video

With the advent of desk top editing and smaller cameras and an increasing demand for online video, video production has become a smaller or more compact business for media production companies and their mid-sized clients. The reduced demand for elaborate productions and the need to reduce costs coupled with the explosion of high quality and cheap production technology has created new business opportunities for the do-it-yourself editors or all-in-one cameraman/editors.
Today, whether you are working at a national news service, large production firm or small production company most clients, i.e., agency representative, free-lance producer or corporate client, you are trying to do more with less and media production companies are expected to do it all for one low cost.  Editing, a once respected profession, as an important video discipline is now a part of the cameraman’s job, an interviewer is the cameraman, and the cameraman is the lighting director and possibly the writer as well. I think you get where I am going with this…
It was tough to get these functions done well when they were discreet roles, but now, combining many of these makes it more difficult to produce video that is compelling and dynamic. The production values for the most part remain good in this category in terms of the technical aspects of videos and it is more flexible than ever; but there is a “fly in the ointment”… producers are showing up less prepared than ever to the shoot or the edit suite assuming that new and enhanced production facilities can mask lack of creative and good planning.
I have a saying for everything… but this particular one fits this very well “Failure to prepare … is preparing for Failure”. While the roles and responsibilities have become more integrated on the production side, the preparation and experience of the clients, i.e., producers, corporate marketers, company reps and agency producers that are using video production services are less prepared than ever. Now to be fair to producers, they are experiencing the same kinds of pressure from their customers …there seems to be less emphasis on quality and more of a desire to do it for less. Clients tend to try and write their own scripts and storyboard projects, and there are few opportunities for smaller production companies to mentor professional grade creative directors, writers or producers. This leads to recognizing that there are gaps in the video production process which can only be addressed through better preparation and attention to detail.   
The need for preparation, in terms of good scripting, careful thought about lighting, graphics preparation, interesting camera work all influence the outcome of a video  long before you ever hits the edit suite.  The popular cry of the producer “We will fix it post” is being carried to new heights as producers arrive at the edit suite with unlogged footage, poor shot selection, lack of creative understanding of how sound plays into a video and more.
Creative … in any video, the life blood that defines its impact upon an audience can only be achieved when careful thought and preparation are considered in advance of a trip to the edit suite or before you show up on site at a video shoot. Of course there is an old sayings for this (yes another one of my sayings); “Just because you can...does not mean you should!” and this fits rather nicely I think.

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