Some of our clients are getting really smart with video.
In the old days, video was something you paid a fortune for other people to create. No one quite knew why it all cost so much, but hey, they had really cool kit and it seemed to take so many people to shoot…
Nowadays everyone can shoot video. Your phone can shoot good video. You 6 year old is making movies of her dolls.
So what is the smart response to this new world?
We work for one smart company who shoot a lot themselves and then get us to put it together. Because the real dark art of video isn’t shooting, it’s editing.
Editing is how you turn a mess into a movie. It’s the difference between ‘meh’ and ‘wow’.
It’s the thing you as a non-professional, don’t see. Don’t be offended by that. Not being visible is what a good editor is aiming for. It is the editor’s curse that the better they are the less they should be noticed. Just as a great writer has succeeded when the response is ‘I get exactly what you mean’ not, ‘what a great sentence.’
So capture, or filming as we used to call it, is quite easy. You can get an HD camera for £500. That will shoot you an image which is similar in quality to what David Attenborough shoots on his glossy wildlife shows. Every frame will have 5 times more information than any frame of any Morecombe and Wise show ever… (Which reminds us that quality is much more than picture quality – content is king)
So why do we continue to pay great camera people lots of money? Because, sometimes you want it shot really well – to dazzle, not just inform – and often you want a lot of stuff shot in a limited amount of time.
But say you want to record a short speech? Why not shoot it yourself?
Here are three principles to make that work.
1. Don’t move the camera.
Get a tripod. Frame a nice shot. Press record. Now step away from the camera!
Great hand-held camera operators a quite rare. That’s not you. So don’t try it.
2. Sound is hard.
Invest in a microphone that you can get close to the subject. Take advice from people who know. Radio mikes are easy to use. A lapel mike can be bought in dozens of shops on the Tottenham Court Road, or on-line.
Sound intensity is proportional to the square of the distance, or put it another way, if your 4 feet from the air conditioning vent over your head, and 12 feet from the person speaking – you have a problem. So get a system that gets round that.
3. Give it to an editor.
When cheap lightweight camera arrived in the late 80s, the BBC thought Producers might be able to shoot and edit their own stuff. The first did work, to a degree, the second didn’t.
On one series where they tested it, they found the quickest producer took twice as long to cut a sequence than a pro editor. The slowest took 10 times longer.
And, they missed the third eye. The outside view that says, ‘I know you had to drive though the night to get this, but it’s dull, so I’ve cut it out.’
Editing is what turns a mess into a movie.
So, our advice, get smart. Video is great. Doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
But understand what you can do – simple, clean capture – and what you can’t do – make it sing.