10 Things To Compare When Choosing Between
“Homemade” and Professional Video
Sure your own sales guy, the boss’s nephew, or even the college kid next door says he can throw together a video for a fraction of what a real video will cost. But, when you’re making a decision of how to approach creating a video there are 10 factors to take into consideration. The first comes down to practicality, and the next nine come down to technical concerns and aesthetics.
First and Perhaps Foremost
Does your sales guy cost less because you are already paying for the time he spends doing it? Consider it like this: if that’s time that should be spent on selling, then what’s your REAL cost? And which is he or she better at, sales or video production? And if the lower cost proposed by the nephew or the college kid looks attractive, what exactly are you expecting as an end result? Have they ever DONE anything like this before? Will they take the time to truly understand what you are selling or needing to communicate, or will they just provide their idea of a video?
Now for the nine technical comparisons you can easily make.
Can you clearly see everything you want shown? Is the lighting flat or does in convey a feeling and a mood, whether that’s high tech, traditional values or any number of things in between? Does it help isolate your subject or product, or does it just blend into the background? Lighting, and knowing how to use lighting matters. A lot!
Image Quality and Resolution
High Definition on the internet used to be unheard of. In fact, in the beginning — and still on some sites today — videos are shown the size of postage stamps. Now HD is available everywhere, so the idea that smaller and less sharp is fine for your web page may no longer be valid. Of course, having the ability to use your video on a big screen at trade shows or even on your sales peoples’ laptops and tablets certainly adds more to the argument in favor of producing in genuine high definition.
Camera Variety, Close-ups and Movement
Getting above, below, beside or, on occasion, even inside your subject can make a difference on how watchable a video is. “Point-of-view” can be intercut with objective and subjective camera angles. Intermixing reverse views can lengthen the time looking at a process or a product while keeping it visually interesting.
Close-ups can be used to emphasize specific features and to tell the story of an interconnected chain of events. Camera movement during a shot on a dolly or a boom can make the difference between a cinematic experience akin to a movie versus the static, bare bones look of a used car dealer’s commercial.
Does your video sound like something you would watch on a network television program or does it sound like a bad speakerphone recorded in a cave? Professionals know how to use the best equipment to get the best sound. Amateurs? Not often.
Music and Location Sound
Using the right music in a video helps draw in the viewer. It can also establish and influence emotion. We select from tens of thousands of pieces of music from dozens of “production music” libraries.
Want the theme from Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm?” It’s sitting on the shelves in our offices, along with thousands of others licensable pieces of music. Would you instead like to just use a popular song you got off iTunes? Not a problem since permission to use them can often be obtained for several thousand dollars. Or you can just go ahead and use popular music and risk being sued for several tens of thousands of dollars. In the age of the internet that happens with increasing regularity. Pros know the rules and play by them for the benefit and protection of their clients. Amateurs may not and often don’t.
Sometimes the ambient sound of the location can play an important part in telling your story, but other times it can be a distraction and compete with the music and narration. On camera interviews must have maximum clarity. Our beginnings in audio production help us bring years of knowledge to the process.
Editing Technique and Pace
What’s the right length for a shot and how does it intercut with the ones before and after it? What’s the rhythm of the video as a whole? Is it to be motivational and inspirational or strictly sales-oriented? Or is it meant to engender sympathy and compassion? These and many other approaches to editing, and production in general, are the keys to creating successful videos. Skill means using the right tools and techniques at the right time. It never means using every transition, cut and trick available just because you can.
Professional graphics also separate the men from the boys. As is the case with editing, graphical judgment involves knowing what helps communicate the message and what look best accomplishes the goal. Sometimes this means that graphics move to heighten visual appeal, while other times they may be used to highlight and call-out specific actions happening in the video.
Coloration and Color Correction
Modern cameras, lenses and lighting equipment are capable of producing amazing results. But even these can be enhanced in the post-production phase. It can be as simple as making one scene look like another or as complex as consistently altering the color of a moving object. Color tints and vignettes can also be used to create and enhance a mood. What comes out of the camera may not always be perfect, but the video that goes out the door should be as close to perfect as possible.
The ability to tell your story, to convey your message in a professional manner that presents you in the best light, literally, comes from experience. Red Adair, the famous oil well firefighter, said it best, “If you think it’s expensive to use a professional, wait until you use an amateur.”