Chapter 2: The Videographers Not To Do List.
In the Social Media landscape time should be measured in dog years. Six years ago (Forty-two in dog years) Myspace was all the rage, Youtube was just getting started, and being a videographer meant that you were either shooting corporate instructional videos or weddings. Today most serious brands have their own list of go-to videographers. Video on the web is today’s most powerful medium, and videographers are to social media, what photographers were to publishing. What is most exciting about videography now is that the conventions of old media film-making have been turned on it’s head. Just five years ago what took hundreds of thousands of dollars and several dozen crew members, can now be achieved for less than $10K and a small band of creatives. The biggest mistake I see in new videographers is taking this change for granted. They mistake low budget for cheap, and replace efficient with lazy. The result is a littered landscape of un-watchable, un-listenable, un-learnable videos that inspire more SMH’s than CTO’s.
In this Chapter I thought I would share a few of the technical and creative mistakes I see every day. Some of these very mistakes I made myself. Fortunately most of mine came at the dawn of the age of Video Blogging when the competition was scarce and second chances abundant. Make these mistakes today and you will find that your only gigs will be shooting parties for peanuts. Which I assure you will inspire a steady stream of FML’s.
10. Don’t shake your cam
My old photo partners and I use to make fun of the event photographers who wore those multi-pocketed army colored utility vests and lugged around heavy tripods. We were young, we were the new school, we held our cameras like automatics, sniping shots at unsuspecting partiers, moving in, out and all around our subjects like photo/video ninjas. There was no room for tripods to slow us down. The resulting effect was an in your face, light streaked/shaky cam montage of images in which the viewer felt like they were a part of the action. As unorthodox as it was, it was new, and it was now. The novelty of that style has worn out a bit. Today’s new media artists exhibit a cleaner aesthetic. If you want to shake and bake, approach with caution and much restraint.
9. Avoid bad cameras
If the story is King, then the camera is his castle. Think about how your footage looks. If you think you can shoot on a 1 chip or One CDD camera as opposed to a Three CDD camera and attract good clients you are mistaken. I strongly recommend shooting on a camera with a good sized sensor and interchangeable lenses that gives you the shallow depth of field that is all the rage today. A great site for camera pointers is Phillipbloom.net.
8. Don’t Sleep on Audio
Nothing screams amateur like shoddy sound. It’s the easiest thing to take for granted, and the hardest thing to fix in post. If you are using a DSLR camera at the minimum buy an external mic. Some clients are so picky that you are probably better off budgeting for a sound guy.
7. Don’t flat line
Nothing screams “creatively challenged” like flat line edits. That is an interview that has no creative edits. A flat-line. We have all seen them. They look like long news interviews. When videographers do this I assume they don’t care or can’t create a compelling edit (and adding a soundtrack does not count). I understand that the short story format is challenging, but that is why we get paid the big bucks (yeah right). One trick I use, is to closely mimic the storytelling arc of a song. The bottom line is, if you want to make the cut in this competitive field, than you need to make the cut on the timeline first.
6. Lazy Montages
Even the most talented amongst us (present company included) have fallen into this trap door probably more than once. That is the lazy montage. It is so easy to find a dope music track and chop together a compelling montage around this. The problem is that it is a short term solution to what is a long term challenge. The truth is that montages are really easy to create. It’s an in the moment edit that leans heavily on a music track. If you’re lucky enough to slip this past a client, or avoid repeating yourself quickly, chances are that you will be competing with the Trust Fund, Too cool for school, Party Videographer kids mentioned in Chapter 1.
Next Friday I will list the top 5 things on the “Not To Do List”
Trevor “Trevz” Bayack is a Brooklyn-born filmmaker who approaches his web pieces as mini documentaries. Recognized as a member of the 2008 URB magazine Next 100 for pioneering the “video blog” Trevz continually makes his pieces shorter, sharper and ever more shareable” Follow our twitter feed for more.