Video Production is Far Too Luxurious
(Disclaimer: This article contains a huge amount of cynicism and finger-wagging, if you are largely happy with the quality and price of your video content then do ignore... pinch of salt and all that)
A note to marketing agencies and small to medium size businesses; you’re probably being ripped off.
I’m going to make a prediction: that there will be a surge of local video production companies going out of business in the next 10 years. I’d also make a prediction there will a whole raft of new, cheaper filmmakers coming into the market. And here’s why. Hundreds of young freelancers will enter the market, and they will massively undercut the market price. But also a lot of businesses will start bringing video production in-house because the ROI is definitely worth it for them.
You can now easily equip an in-house videographer because the equipment needed to produce decent video content is drastically reducing. You can spend £600 in argos on a camera set up that can pump out good content you need to populate your social and your website. And not even that, perhaps even just invest in a tripod for your iphone, as iphone cameras are seriously impressive these days! Check this video I filmed around the City of Manchester all on my iPhone: https://vimeo.com/250421444
So which attributes are typically lacking in corporate videos? To start with high quality cinematography. Just because they turn up with a 4 man team with a £20,000 cinema grade camera does not mean they are going to produce a good image for you.
Editing skills will most likely match cinematography skills too, so make sure you pick a company with a good eye for composition, engaging camera angles and camera movement, and nice colour grading. The ‘traditional’ corporate video (and this will be different for everyone) involves: overexposed (bright white) backgrounds (bad cinematography practice) overuse of tripods, poor colour grading that looks bad on the eye (usually a moody (corporate) blue colour scheme 🤮)
About 5 years ago there was something called the DSLR revolution, where cheaper handheld cameras (>£2000) were starting to achieve the look more similar to cinema cameras, specifically these attributes are:
A shallow depth of field - where parts of the image can be out of focus, but your subject is in focus - nice and crisp. This brings more attention to the in focus subject.
‘Cinema’ (24) frames per second - the amount of images the camera takes per second, 24, is used in cinema films. If something moves fast enough in the shot, it will give a motion blur. 24 fps as a shutter speed gives the motion blur we associate as being ‘cinematic.’
Greater ability to color grading footage- cameras can give footage nowadays that is easier to manipulate and grade, so that we can adapt the colours to look cinematic.
Dynamic range - Cameras can film detail in shots where you have something very bright and something very dark, your phone on the other hand might be both over and under exposed when trying to film the same shot.
The dream of making the "film look" affordable and accessible to the masses soon took a giant leap. Check this video demonstrating the differences in a $500 dslr to a $50,000 cinema camera, the difference will be much less than you think:
Before DSLRs, the affordable video cameras were camcorders, which performed poorly with regards to any of the filmic attributes mentioned above. So for businesses back then, creating low budget, high quality video content wasn’t doable. But now it is!
There are SO many individuals out there at the moment who are producing incredible looking content with very little kit. Two areas we are starting to see amazing quality, low budget marketing are: social media marketing and influencer marketing. There are some social media influencers who are producing fantastic video marketing/content on the move. This is being exhibited right now specifically with influencer marketing we see on instagram. Let me put a few links for people who will use around about £2000-£3000 worth of kit when they film high spec social content or short business adverts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdRtvfQX0Kw Filmed on a Canon 80D (£800-£900) by Sam Kolder, a 22 year old social media influencer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gz1tzcr1Ko Filmed on a Sony A7SII (£1800-£2000) by Matt Komo, 24 year old social media influencer and head of social content at GoPro.
The market will soon become saturated with suppliers, and if my basic understand of economics doesn’t exceed me, prices should start to fall.
Production houses that use cinema grade equipment may be expensive, and if this is suited to your video content, that’s great, but if you don’t need your brand new coffee shop shooting in 4k in RAW, don’t use them! Most of the general public would not be able to tell the difference between a well filmed video from a DSLR compared to a cinema grade film camera.
A cinema grade camera costs a lot and these costs are going to be pushed on to your business when you pay for the video product. These are cameras that are used to film feature length films and prime time commercials, they’re simply not needed when filming a corporate video for a small-medium size business (and especially not if they’re not being used correctly.)
I recently watched an interview with Ryan Booth, an upcoming Director in New York. And he said, ‘I firmly believe that the fact that any of us get paid to do this is absurd, absolutely absurd.’ Which was an endearing statement to hear, reaffirmation that filmmaking is a passion first and foremost, that there are many people out there who will do a great job, for the price that the filmmaking experience is worth to them.
Soon there will thousands of newbies in the market willing to produce fresh and exciting content for great value or even free; 'peddling it as an easy way to escape the average 9-5 and have lots of fun whilst doing it.'
I’m not arguing that everyone needs to drop their current production house and go with a young, cheap freelancer, but there are alot of business being sold generic video content by traditional production houses that would be better off doing so.
So maybe, if you are looking to have a video made, get in touch with that creative freelance kid with the DSLR rather than shelling out £000’s to a local video production house who produce the ‘typical’ corporate video.
NB/ On the day I wanted to release this blog I had a facebok advertisement offer a free filmmaking course that pretty much summarised perfectly what I’m getting at in this writing! This is not an endorsement for this course, all the content you need to start learn filmmaking is free on youtube.