Video 101 why you don't want one person who does it all

You might expect the following on your shoot: a production assistant, a producer, a shooter, and an audio engineer.

You’ve heard of producers, directors, videographers, gaffers, grips, and so forth. Right? They will each likely have a place at your next corporate video shoot.

These are people you don’t see in movies, or out on the street. You see the broad-shouldered videographer hoisting a camera to his shoulder as if that’s how it’s done.

Videographers don’t usually shoot video from a shoulder-mounted cam

Running a camera from your shoulder is really NOT how it’s done, except for a few moments, when a tripod is just too much trouble. And not every videographer can run a steady shoulder cam. It’s really pretty infrequent that I meet a shooter than shoots from the shoulder as well as he or she does from a tripod.

Producers need to be involved for any story of substance — not the news

Whether you’re making a tiny podcast or a half-hour educational video, you need a producer. A producer keeps everyone on the same page. A good producer has good taste. A good producer saves you money.

You also need an audio engineer

I created an estimate for a client a couple of weeks ago, and he looked genuinely surprised as he read my menu items for a videographer, audio engineer, and editor.

“You mean you don’t do it all?” he asked. He was under the impression that I would show up with a video camera and, I believe, save him big bucks.

It had been a long time since I’ve had to explain how video works. Sure, there are times I send a single person out to capture footage, or footage and audio. But it’s not every day.

I don’t mean that videographers can’t recognize a good story. They can. Or that they can’t run audio at the same time. They can.

So, why don’t I think “doing it all” is a good idea?

Professionals who are working all day long need to have assistance.

Videographers need an audio engineer. If you’re moving around a lot, you also need a grip. And maybe a gaffer. The more important and long-lasting your product, the more you need a single person for each job. You don’t want to hear, back in the editing room, “Oh, it was my turn to white balance?”

Interviewees often need make-up, whether it’s applied by the producer or a professional make-up stylist.

Yes, you can run a videographer ragged if you want to.

But generally I try to make sure I don’t. Especially when there are long interviews, many locations, and little down time.

I hardly know where to begin explaining it.

  1. Each skill used on a video is a commodity. Camera people usually aren’t also producers, and producers usually aren’t also make-up artists.
  2. Even if people on a shoot share some of the same skills, you usually want each skill performed by a different person. On a video shoot, so much happens at one time that forcing it all on a single person will make for a poor product as well as drag out the number of budgeted shooting days. If your videographer is getting subject releases while monitoring audio and video levels, he or she will one day forget to white balance. And you’ll get bad footage that can’t really be color corrected.
  3. Long before the camera begins to roll, there is such a thing as planning. Maybe not for the news videographer, who runs out of the office without a tripod and shoots everything from his or her shoulder. This is not video. This is news.

Also, when the camera does roll, you want each person paying attention to his or her own task: picture quality, audio quality, lighting, and makeup and styling. The interviewer needs to concentrate on the questions and answers, not on technical aspects of the shoot.

You’re welcome.

Video 101: Why you don’t want one person who does it all

by susan time to read: 3 min
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