I hope this doesn’t sound like a generic post. It’s from the heart. These myths are all related to real questions and issues we regularly face with clients here at New Sky Productions. We take our work seriously and take pride in what we do.
VIDEO PRODUCTION IS ONLY ABOUT SHOOTING VIDEO
Oh, if only. It’s easy to hear “video production” and think about a guy with a video camera. Or maybe you see a crew of people with lots of equipment. But that’s only part of it. After all, how did all of those people get there? And what happens to the footage after the shoot?
It takes time to plan out a shoot. It’s only a thirty-second commercial spot, you cry! How many actors? Crew? How many different scenes? What equipment needs to be brought? All of this planning is what we in the biz call pre-production and is a full time job.
VIDEO TAKES TOO MUCH TIME
That’s what we’re for! While it certainly takes a lot of our time, it shouldn’t take much of yours. After contracts are signed, we’ll usually have a creative kickoff meeting to make sure everyone’s on the same page and we have a clear vision of what it is you’re looking for. After that, the ball’s in our court. Interviews usually take an hour at most. And while scripted spots often take multiple days of shooting, there’s no reason for you to be on set for that entire time unless you want to be!
If you have a newer iPhone, you can already shoot 4K video yourself, right!? Or how about Periscope? Live video, oh yeah, that’s the ticket! Is it easy to turn a camera on? Yes. Even our production cameras you could figure out—it’s the big red button. Taking footage from a camera and putting it on YouTube isn’t difficult either. But video production is about more than that. It’s about crafting a specific piece of marketing material for your business that speaks to your demographic. It takes skills in marketing, lighting, camera operation (Do you know what a panning dolly shot is? A dirty single?), audio recording, storytelling, editing, audio mixing, music mixing, color correction, color grading, etc. And all of that requires insane project management skills (headed up by our Senior Production Manager, Meghan Desrosiers.)
Often we’ll get clients that have only worked in—or primarily work in—still photography. In that case, it really is “all about the shot.” But that’s not always the case in video. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all about epic shots. But video is about storytelling. It’s about crafting a narrative. It the shot is great, but a plane flies overhead while we’re capturing it, the audio is probably ruined, so we’ll do another take. Or if the shot is great but it doesn’t fit the narrative, we won’t use it. There are also many constraints in editing that exist so as to not confuse the viewer. Cutting from one camera angle to one that’s almost the same angle looks really weird. Cutting from a shot of someone sitting to one of them standing doesn’t usually work (except when it does).
This one really gets me since I deal with this directly. It can’t just be “fixed in post” (after we’ve already filmed). There’s a lot we can do in post-production, but it always comes at a cost to image quality. And there’s a lot we can’t do. There’s (usually/mostly) no cropping in video. (There is if we shoot 4K footage and crop to HD, but we have to plan for that in advance.) We can crop maybe 5-10% down at a noticeable loss of quality. Any more than that and the footage just falls apart. If you want us to shoot closeups, we have to know that beforehand.
This also goes for retouching faces and fixing audio. Retouching faces is the job of the makeup department. Don’t get me wrong—technology is amazing, and we can make you look like a very convincing space alien if you so choose. But it’ll break your budget. Don’t like the way you sound? We’ll hire someone to do the voiceover, because doing voiceovers are hard. It’s not as simple as just reading through a line. Messed up a line? If we’re not shooting b-roll (footage shown while someone is talking), there’s generally nothing we can do about it. If you have to deal with regulatory, make sure the script goes through them first.
“I’VE GOT TO FILM IN DIFFERENT AREAS, SO I’LL HIRE MORE THAN ONE PRODUCTION COMPANY.”
Hiring different production companies in different areas in order to save on travel expenses will bite you in the ass in the long run. Different production companies have different styles and different equipment. You can point to a style and say, “Emulate this,” and any production company worth their salt can get often get close, but they’ll never replicate the same feel. And if they’re shooting different cameras, different lenses, using different steadicams, all of that will change how the final video looks. A cohesive brand is important—that goes for video production too, not just your office stationery.
This goes back to #1 on the list—thinking video production is just about shooting. But it also comes from clients who got their feet wet in video by hiring a videographer. We’re not videographers. Please don’t call us that. There are certainly some shoots that don’t need as many people. But do you need lighting? (Hint: you do.) Audio? Do you have actors? Because then you’ll need makeup. And with a production van full of equipment, asking a single person to drag it all to and fro is just cruel. A “small” shoot might require anywhere from three to fifteen people on set.
“WE JUST NEED SOMETHING FOR OUR WEBSITE / YOUTUBE”
If you have a marketing department, you’ve already conquered this myth. If not, how are you utilizing your video? YouTube is amazing. Use it. But it’s just a platform. It’s not like renting a billboard where you just pop a sign up and people see it. If you’re new to marketing and/or don’t have the time to put together a marketing department yet, find a marketing app that works for you. Come up with a campaign that has a clear course of actions for pushing your new video content onto social. Also: This is our bread and butter. If you don’t want to bother, ask us! We can build out an entire video campaign for your company.
Do you come to work wearing a stained sweatshirt? Even if you work in a gym, I hope you at least bathe. Video should be as polished and professional as the rest of your business. If you wear a collared shirt, for the love of all that is good and delicious hire a professional to do your video marketing and don’t just use your iPhone or your Uncle Fred. Just like wearing a stinky sweatshirt would turn off potential customers, so too does stinky low-budget video.
“CAN WE SHOOT TOMORROW?”
Probably not since we usually have at least the next two weeks booked solid. But assuming we could squeeze it into everyone’s schedules, do we need to book talent? Casting calls take a week or two. Do we even have a location booked? A busy office doesn’t often work—people working in the background generally ruin audio. We might also have equipment and cables running everywhere, creating tripping hazards. If you’re just looking to grab footage of one little thing, we might be able to make it work. If you’re looking for video production and not just some rando-footage, budget your schedule to allow for at least a couple weeks of pre-production before we film.
There’s a bit more to it than that. It’s usually true that once something is shot, it’s all downhill—but it’s a big hill. Editing takes significant time. And even after it’s cut, the audio still has to be mixed. Music has to be licensed. Color has to be corrected and graded. Next day turnaround is highly unlikely, even for a very small rush job. Turnaround for a thirty-second commercial spot might be a week or two at least.