You are no dummy. You know the power that video has for communication. You’ve been on the receiving end for most of your life. People have used video to communicate to you as you watch TV. If you are an average TV viewer, you spend a few hours in front of a TV each day. That’s a lot of communication. TV has shaped your opinion on important things like politics, but also on little things, like the size of the car that you find most appealing. The TV advertising industry is a multibillion-dollar industry because video is one of the most powerful communications tools. Your inclination to use video to help you communicate is, without a doubt, a good avenue to pursue.
Many newcomers ask me, is it as easy as it looks? The answer is: yes and no. Compared to the days of shooting film, video is very easy. It provides immediate feedback: What you see in the viewfinder is an excellent representation of what you have captured on tape. Editing video has never been easier. Any new computer comes "ready-to-edit" right out of the box. Once you transfer you video to a computer’s hard drive, you have immediate access to any video clip you need while editing. These examples are some of the most rewarding aspects of using video to communicate.
However, like most other things in life, high quality comes from finesse and proficiency in a craft. Directing on-camera talent is more complicated than it appears. It is very easy to pay too much attention to someone’s diction and overlook the faded shirt that they are wearing. You probably won’t notice that until you start editing and then it may be very inconvenient (or impossible) to re-shoot. Lighting is one of the most important skill sets in making good video. Even with the latest technology, it is very challenging to light a subject in the field or on a set. The lighting that we see on TV programs is excellent because masters of the craft set the lighting. They use a wide array of lighting tools, which allows them to make very small adjustments that ultimately distinguish professional TV from home movies.
As I have written many times before, editing is much more time consuming than people imagine before they become familiar with the process. Very few people can accurately estimate the passage of real time while they are editing. When you look at the clock, you can’t believe that you’ve been editing video for four hours, because you feel like only one hour has passed. In many ways, this is one of the chief virtues of making video: it is often so rewarding and compelling that you lose track of time, totally absorbed in the task at hand.
Video is a powerful communications tool that requires more discipline than meets the eye, but most find video production to be an extremely rewarding and fulfilling endeavor.
Matthew York is Videomaker’s Publisher/Editor.