Monday, August 27, 2018

"These days, ANYONE can make their own video!" But should they?

Obviously, as a professional who makes their living producing videos, I would disagree with the headline statement on this blog post.  Any many would assume it's because...well...I make my living producing videos.  According to Hubspot, "Where both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service."  I would add, that video is only as effective as you make it.

So. This post is designed to provide a new perspective on the difference between DIY, and what I (and most other video professionals!) can bring to the table.

1.  QUALITY IS KEY.  Producers do this for a LIVING. Every day.  Years of experience have helped them anticipate challenges that you might not think of.  They know what works, and what doesn't.  They also have access to higher quality equipment and resources that you may not be aware of, since it's not your normal world.

2. BE THE CONTENT EXPERT, NOT THE VIDEO EXPERT.  Your video production team needs YOU to ensure that the message is accurate. They will worry about the lighting, graphics, compression, etc.  But the message can make or break the video, and if it's YOUR message, shouldn't YOU be in charge of that?  Your production team can look at the project and let you know if they might suggest a way to clarify the scripting, or if you missed something in the message that they assumed was clear or apparent.

3.  EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.  Often times, in the process, it might be decided that graphics, or a narrator, or stock imagery might be needed to improve the video, or make the message more dynamic or clear.  This is common, and you may find that a road bump could easily prevent your video from being made or finished on time.  Professionals are trained to handle these last minute changes or decisions, and also can advise on how the change might affect the budget, as well as offer an alternative you may not have thought of, so that the project can stay within budget.

4.  IT'S NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS.  Just because the tools are available and more attainable, that doesn't mean that the process will be easier.  In fact, the myriad of customization options and tools can leave someone even more confused!  And understanding how the production process flows together is critical to ensuring that you're using the "right tool for the right job".

Video does a great job in engaging with customers, generating brand awareness, and clarifying messages.  But if the audio is poor, the lighting is the wrong color, or the editing not done thoughtfully and purposefully, you'll lose your audience.

And what's the point of making a video if people don't want to watch it?  Or if they are so distracted by the poor production quality that they're missing the point of what you're trying to do or say?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Converting old media, and how to "future-proof" (as of today)

When I started my company, everything was analog in my world.  I shot on 3/4" video tape for the broadcast houses, and mini-DV tape for my own projects.  I delivered video on VHS tapes for my clients.  I used tape decks and an editing controller to make cuts, and needed another machine to handle any effects other than dissolves or cuts.

Delivery expanded to CD (limited), and then DVD.  And then all of those analog machines went away, and everything moved to computers.  I still create DVDs for one of my clients, but I'm trying to move that client to the digital world, to a "pay-per-view" model.

In the meantime, I have friends and family with VHS tapes and DVDs sometimes, who want these things off their shelves, into an electronic format that they can upload to YouTube, share with others, and have in, what they believe, is a future-proof format.  Their ability to understand how time will degenerate media is limited to the information I've provided them, particularly in the VHS transfer process, that the older their tape, or less physically-protected it was (a cardboard sleeve vs a plastic box), the more brittle the tape becomes, and thus, the media starts to have issues playing back, even in the transfer process. 

Truthfully, they have solved that physical playback problem by transferring the media to an electronic format.  And re-gained some space on their shelves in the den!

BUT!  What are they doing with these electronic files I deliver to them?  Are these files safe for the future?  I usually deliver the electronic files on a TEMPORARY, but safe method.  If it's just a few tapes, I may deliver them on DVD, if they wish.  If there are multiple files, I'll deliver them on a small, portable hard drive, but I tell them that this hard drive can break down the road, so they shouldn't just replace the spot on the shelf where the tapes were with this small hard drive, and forget about it.  They should store them, ideally, in the cloud, on a date storage service like Dropbox,, etc.

Now, there's a new concern: will the files that are on either the DVD or the hard drive play back in the future?  And even those files in the cloud- will they play back later, as computers and codecs evolve?  DVD drives have already started being phased out of computers.  Are you going to hold on to your DVD player in the hopes that it will be able to play back your home movies 20 years from now at the family reunion?

For the editing geeks out there reading, earlier this summer, Adobe formally announced that it “will no longer support legacy QuickTime 7 era formats and codecs starting from the following product versions":

  • April 2018 release of Premiere Pro CC (version 12.1)
  • April 2018 release of After Effects CC (version 15.1)
  • April 2018 release of Adobe Media Encoder (version 12.1)
  • April 2018 release of Adobe Audition (version 11.1.0)
Affected codecs include:

  • Cinepak
  • Graphics
  • Sorenson Video
So, 32-bit files are being phased out of being able to be played (Quicktime 7-era formats).  As an editor, I need to ensure that I'm using 64-bit applications to export files for my clients.  The experts advise that Pro Res files are a good way to go, and they deliver a .mp4 file.

The H.264 compression method, frequently used in tandem with the MPEG-4 file format, is by far the leading compression and format combination in the industry today. Occasionally, you will see these formats offered as independent formats (MPEG-4 or H.264), but whichever name they adopt, you can be sure that they're using the same format.

As a consumer, you need to ensure that whomever is transferring your old tapes and DVDs is delivering your file to you using a 64-bit application, and h.264 compression.  You want to receive .mp4 files.  So those are the questions you need to ask!

In my next blog post, I'll talk about digital legacy do you ensure that your home movies, where ever they are stored, are not lost forever, just because you are gone?