By Kevin Elliott
Video is playing an increasingly large role in our lives.
From Netflix to YouTube to TikTok, video storytelling is quickly becoming a primary way we communicate. Everyone and his cousin has a YouTube channel and 16 year olds are getting rich with make up tutorials.
Then why do video companies charge so dang much?
Because not all video is the same. If you want hand-held phone video, knock yourself out. Or call that 16 year old.
But if your project is worth pro-level video, it costs. Here’s why.
Shooting Video is Crazy Dynamic
Think of the best photograph you’ve ever seen. A mind blower. Perfect composition. Delicious lighting. Color? Heavenly. The subject could not be more compelling.
That photo represents one “frame,” a perfect nanosecond of frozen time. Modern video cameras can shoot 120 frames or more. Per second.
That means a videographer has to do everything that photographer did to get a perfect shot, but hundreds of thousands of times over, even for a short video.
Watch this little example of how to do it right. It’s from a series of shorts we did during the COVID-19 quarantine, to show normal life through a cinematic eye.
Watch how it flows, every scene like a beautiful moving photograph.
A videographer also has to capture those millions of frames while trying not to bump in to anything. Which brings me to the next point.
Video Moves in 3D Space
Photographers, when they capture those lovely moments, have to stand stock still while the scene moves around them.
Video requires the camera operator to move around in the scene as the scene moves around the camera operator. It’s like chess with a camera to your eye.
Video production is incredibly dynamic. Not everyone can handle that many moving parts.
Telling stories is the oldest and most effective communication we humans have.
Effective video tells great stories too. Even the most beautifully shot piece, without a story line, will fall flat.
Remember Star Wars episodes 1-3? Exactly.
Here’s an example of great storytelling, if we do say so ourselves. In just over 30 seconds, we bring you into a day-in-the-life story during COVID-19 quarantine told from the perspective of a coffee cup.
Can’t wait to find out what happens next to that mug, right?
Once the era of silent films was over, it was over. The best video has a variety of sounds threaded through it, many of which you don’t even notice (unless they’re not there).
Short for “natural sound,” well placed nat sound is crucial to quality video production.
Nat sound is just that – the natural sounds of the setting your video takes place in. For instance, is your piece set in a bar? You should hear glasses clanking and people talking.
Here’s an example from our docu-series CRAFT, about artists and artisans.
The episode is about stand-up comic Jason Hedden. We shot it in a bar during a comedy show.
To tell the story, it had to sound like a bar during a comedy show.
It feels – and sounds – like you’re there, right?
A great music track makes the video. Without it, you’ll get lackluster results at best.
The music should “feel” like the subject of the video. It is super hard to get right.
A couple more examples from our docu-series. The first is about watercolorist Heather Clements. We chose ethereal, folksy music, because that is Heather.
For comic illustrator Jayson Kretzer, we chose happy jazz.
Think of music as another character in your video. You have to cast it right.
Why do some films feel “warm” and some “soft” and some “edgy?”
Light comes in all colors and varieties. Skilled videographers use it like a painter uses her palette, stroking it in the right hue and thickness.
Bad lighting, bad video.
Here’s a before and after example of a shoot we did for Florida State University the other day.
Same spot, totally different look.
Just like photographers and graphic designers, videographers must have a touch with color. The color of the video has to be adjusted so it gets the right mood but also looks true to life.
You can see it in the pic above. The subject looks natural, but the whole scene feels warm and professional. Just right.
There is more than this to making great video, but these are the bare minimum that go into any video worth representing your organization.
It’s incredibly hard, even for very talented people with high-end equipment. That’s why it is expensive.
When it’s right, though, it is worth every penny.