Can Video Production Quality Matter a Little? (Please?)

by Dan Dashnaw in Main

video-editingThere’s been a fair amount of discussion about the declining importance of video production quality in recent months. As you know, technology has induced a tsunami of ‘user generated’ video content by virtually eliminating the traditional barriers of entry, making it much easier for people to shoot and post videos to the web. All of this has fostered an undoubtedly exciting and liberating time for video as a medium.

However, whenever a set of rules is being re-written like this, it’s often a good idea to examine the new ground-level assumptions that are quietly becoming burned into mainstream acceptance. Without doing so, a number of elusive fundamentals can work their way into your filter without you even noticing. As such, here’s a question that I’d like to shake around a bit:

Does video production quality matter?

If I were asking a similar question about any other form of content, you would probably not hesitate to answer with a matter-of-fact ‘yes’. It’s for this reason that I’m writing this post and calling this to your attention. Why would it make sense to treat (or neglect) video any more then you it would any other aspect of your presence? From where I’m looking, it doesn’t.

As of late, it has almost become fashionable to play down the relevance of quality and presentation value when talking about video. Now, most of this is routed in the dismissal of the traditional, high budget ‘production requirements’ implied by television, film, and video production firms, and I completely applaud this self-enabling progression. I’m all about leveling the playing field and getting the tools into the hands of the people.

But does this mean that you as a video creator should completely abandon the pursuit of quality? Not to me it doesn’t. There is a middle ground to acknowledge here, and I feel compelled to mention it. Not because I have an agenda to sell you something (I don’t), but because I want you to get better results from your efforts. Plain and simple.

It’s all branding, right?

Super-polished, ‘over the top’ production is usually overkill and can even work against you in terms of relaying transparency and accessibility. But I also think that being able to create clean and effective video is well worth the learning curve, and that your brand will likely benefit from the extra attention that it requires.

You see, video - much like your blog, website, Twitter background, etc. - is content that will ultimately reflect your brand. As such, offering an acceptable level of quality should matter to you, as it will very likely influence your the perceptions of your viewers. The bottom line is this: even though your fellow video-bloggers may be totally cool with a shaky, inaudible and totally untreated video that you post, there’s an honest chance that others will not be quite as forgiving. I come to this realization pretty often when talking to people who spend their time well-outside of the social media sphere.

In short, I’d say that you should apply the same sort of attention to video quality as you would to anything else you’re willing to put your (brand) name on. Why would anything less make any sense?

A happy medium.

Now I’m not at all implying that you need to become a Final Cut Pro master or spend tons of time (or money) getting your video content out there. That’s hardly my intention. I’m rather suggesting that you focus some attention on enhancing your production skills (or outsourcing if necessary) so that your videos compliment the presence that you’ve been so deliberately crafting via other mediums.

It’s amazing what a few clean edits, good sounding audio, a nice title screen and some clean on-screen text can do in terms of helping to keep a viewer engaged. So why not allot some attention to getting it right?

Please post your thoughts in the comments below - This is a topic that I’d really like to extend. ;-)

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7 Responses to “Can Video Production Quality Matter a Little? (Please?)”

  1. Fred Light

    24. Mar, 2009

    Amen, brother!

  2. Rsmerk02

    24. Mar, 2009

    Video is diverging. HD on the tv, everything
    Else mobile. It
    To be
    Watchable! And easy to
    Understand. Trust me, your webcam is

  3. Matt Gore

    24. Mar, 2009

    Look, Film makers spend the money they do not just for the sake of art. Good looking visuals convey emotion, relay a story, and most importantly for most of us…they sell. The good news is you don;t have to spend a ton of money to focus your camera, remove the dirty clothes from the background, and light your video with more than your batman desk lamp. If your message is truly important, spend an extra few minutes on the canvas.

  4. Jay Groccia

    29. Mar, 2009

    Would you read a newspaper if it looked like a ransom note? Think about what it would be like to live in a world where everything was produced with the same production values of most online video.
    Restaurants would serve sloppy, half-prepared food.
    Surgeons would stitch people back up with the skill of a 5-year old.
    There would be no such thing as a two-hour movie because people would walk out at the 15 minute mark.
    Every car on the road would wobble and stutter with black smoke spewing out the tailpipe, and horrendous sounds would emanate from the hood.

    I find it ironic that women that spend hours perfecting their makeup, hair, and clothing will produce a video that make themselves look horrible and then say to the world, “look at me!”.

    Now, if you want to post goofy clips, or rant at the camera, then please, go at it!

    But if you’re trying to sell a house or promote your business, then LIGHT IT, get a decent mike, and keep the camera steady.

    And remember, just because the Flip Mino is HD doesn’t make it better, it just makes it bigger.

    Jay Groccia, Principal Photographer
    OnSite Studios

  5. Dan Dashnaw

    30. Mar, 2009

    Great comments, everyone…

    I think we’re all hitting pretty much the same point here, which is a hard one to argue from any angle that I can imagine. Perhaps I’m biased. You think?

    Jay: You call up some totally great analogies. Perhaps the lack of quality control can be at least partly attributed to a simple lack of consideration due to the relative ‘newness’ that much of this implies for many? I sure hope so…

    The bottom line is that when it comes to using video for marketing a business, property, etc., quality DOES matter. Just because you yourself may not know how to achieve an acceptable level of quality yet does not make its importance irrelevant. Perhaps people need some time for this to sink in…

    Jay - I also loved the line about the Mino HD. High definition crap will pretty much look like, well - ‘bigger crap’, with all of the imperfections even more clearly visible. It surely isn’t an excuse to care less about presentation and / or editing. ;-)

    Still waiting for someone to disagree here. Awesome comments everyone!


  6. Chris

    15. Jan, 2011

    Fits perfectly with a talk I’m giving to the Garden Writers Association in FL in Jan 2011, on the topic of Video Communication. My point will be: just because a videographer can buy a copy of Word, does that make them a Garden Writer? No. Writing takes talent. By the same token, just because you buy a Flip camera, you are not a videographer.

  7. Dan Dashnaw

    15. Jan, 2011

    Yes, Chris…

    I certainly don’t want to discourage people from using video just because their skills aren’t up to speed, as that certainly isn’t my intention. I’m rather just trying to encourage people to take the time to learn the tools and get their chops in-line so that the end result reflects their desired presentation level. It’s well-worth braving the learning curve.

    The tools are easy enough to digest, and the barrier to entry is just a small investment in practice and self-education.

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