Viewfinder: Video and Time

Time management vs. quality control, a true balancing act.

It’s hard to determine how much time we should spend when making a video. Too little time, and the quality of the video is far less than something we would like to share with others. Too much time, we don’t see a large enough return from our efforts.

Producers of wedding videos, for instance, usually see a reasonable return on their investment. The income generated from these videos can be significant, so the producer may spend more time refining every element of the project to assure the quality of the final product. Hobbyists, on the other hand, don’t measure their return in dollars. They measure their return in the pure satisfaction that they get from the experience, even if it means spending years on one project. For them it is the journey of making video that they are after, not necessarily the destination (or finished video).

Learning, in many ways, is all about spending time with something so that you can become proficient, particularly in the area of video production. So while learning may be more time consuming, in the end, your finished video will reflect your efforts and through the process you will have learned how to be a better video producer.

Most of us would be happy to spend less time making videos, without sacrificing quality. If your project is not too demanding, you may want to consider the technique of editing inside of the camera. The "in-camera" edit, as it is called, is challenging to do well but sometimes there is little choice. One of our editors here at Videomaker was in Central America making a video about a charitable group building a community center. He did most of his editing "in-camera." His goal was to chronicle the event so everything was shot in sequence, which usually saves a lot of time. Generally speaking, if you are conservative while shooting and shoot in sequence, documentaries like this can take less time than other video productions. Even if you are not editing in the camera, shooting in sequence can save time.

Another time saver is "logging" or documenting your video as you shoot. It takes a little more time to make notes of which shots were the best, but it saves much more time later when you are searching for the "best takes." This works especially well if your camera has an accurate counter or if you are using time code.

Sometimes it is OK to have "lower quality" video, depending upon the audience. If you are planning to distribute a production on the Internet (via streaming video), the quality of that video can be lower. Streaming video over the Internet reduces both the image quality, which makes it look grainy, and the quality of the motion, which makes it look jerky. There is no need to produce video of a higher level quality than the means of distribution can support.

Keeping your videos as short as possible is another way to save time. See if you can get your point across in less time. TV commercials are great examples of swift video communication. It is sometimes amazing how much information can be packed into 30 seconds.

The time commitment required to make good video is one of the reasons that very few people are video producers. Planning, shooting, logging and editing can all be time intensive. The first time that someone makes a video, he or she is usually very surprised to discover how much effort and time it really requires. After doing so, they can appreciate the thousands of man-hours that went into a major motion picture like Titanic. Before you begin your next video, try to estimate how much time you’d like to spend on it and, when it’s completed, see how accurate you were in managing your time.

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