Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Before You Post Video on the Web, Read This

I got interested in making short narrative films about five years ago. Since then, I've produced several. I started out knowing nothing, so I read a lot, talked to folks with experience, practiced, and learned by trial and error.

I don't pretend to be an expert, but I'm seeing a hunk of unnecessarily ugly vlogging and video on the Web. I thought maybe I could spare us all some pain by sharing what I've learned, which is:

In order to produce a decent piece of film, consider the follow components in the process:

A Producer—that organized, energetic, multi-tasking, diplomatic somebody who can work with creative people, quirky egos, technical types, guys who haul cable, and animals (human and otherwise).

Production Values—the attention to visual detail that makes us say “Ah, nice!” In short, production values seamlessly make the video look good. Most people know production values when they see them, but have no idea how they happen (well, actually, they don't just happen; they're planned .. carefully).

Location Scouting—the art of finding just the right spot to enhance the message (it’s probably not in a chair, inside an office, with a blank wall and a potted plan behind the "speaker" ... and it’s quite possibly more than one spot, even for a three-minute film).

Casting—the insight of a person familiar with what an actor can bring to the video party, along with a knowledge of who can work behind a camera, who can’t, and why.

A Director’s Touch— a firm grasp of such film production techniques as camera angles, long, medium, and close-up shots, framing the shot for optimum visual interest, and the seamless, intuitive human interaction that brings out the best in everybody who will be on camera.

A Cinematographer/Art Director’s Eye—which is different from point-and-click shooting, different from the way a weekend photographer sees things, and the difference between desktop publishing and Vogue magazine: in other words, no comparison. Much more than a shooter, this guy or gal is an artist.

Lighting, Sound, and Gear Professionals—the crew gets film in the can that looks, sounds, and plays as it should. We all know what imperfect looks like—sound that vacillates between loud and soft, camera work that jiggles and blurs, lighting that's too dark, etc. An experienced crew has been there and doesn't do that.

A Film Editor—in these hands, everything comes together. Film editing is art and science. It takes considerable technical expertise, an investment in learning, and—most of all—a deep love of and familiarity with what “works” on screen. If you make only one investment in your video, do multiple takes from multiple angles and then get an experienced film editor.

Bottom line: Web video looks better shot in a filmmaker's light. It's harder than it looks, but easier when you consider the proper components. See you on set ...

- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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