5 surprising truths we've discovered about video production

1. The shorter the video, the longer it takes

Huh? This seems wrong. The shorter the video, the longer it takes? How does that make sense? The answer comes down to the editing process. Editing is a cruel mistress. It forces you to cut fantastic footage—amazing footage that you've grown to love. You have to be brutal with your decision making. The shorter the video, the more brutal you must be. It's agonizing and time-consuming, but most often makes for a better end product. 

2. Chronology doesn't really matter

The beauty of video is that you don't have to tell the whole story to understand the whole story. Video makes exposition easy. Instead of explaining what happened next, you can convey the passage of time through a montage of still shots, a brief time-lapse sequence or with a text slide that says "5 months later."

Often, you don't need any of these tricks. Viewers can figure things out on their own. For example, if a shot of a pregnant woman and her husband cuts to a shot of a delivery ward, then to a shot of the same woman holding her newborn baby, the viewers understand what's happened. They didn't need to see the rush to the hospital, the Lamaze breathing, the pushing...

3. A perfect backing track is a needle in a haystack

Gee whiz. Have you ever embarked on a royalty-free music hunt? It ain't easy! Even if you're willing to spend the big bucks to license a track, finding the perfect song to complement your footage takes patience, determination and time. Lots of time. 

Sourcing the right backing track always comes down to the "guess and check" method. You may hear a song that seems perfect, but once you place it behind the visuals, it just doesn't fit. The only way to really know if a song works is to test it out behind your footage.

4. Want great shots? Record in the great outdoors

Shooting video outside—particularly an interview—has a lot going against it. The neighbor's barking dog, the roar of Boeing 747s overhead, the shifting sun casting crazy shadows over the subject's face—there's a lot to contend with. Yet, despite the hangups, we can't deny that outdoor video shoots make for more interesting, eye-catching footage.

The camera loves the outdoors! It soaks up the vivid greens, the warm light and the pleasant movement of wind through the foliage. 

5. Scripts are double-edged swords

A loose script is a useful way to stay on track during filming and make sure the client's message comes through. However, sticking too closely to a script can make the video seem corny, overly promotional, stiff and ultimately, not very compelling. 

The more you can use a subject's own words to tell the story, the more engaging their interview will be. Key to achieving this is asking well thought-out questions and being willing to go wherever the interview takes you. To make sure you get your all-important opening and closing lines, you can ask the subject to rephrase a particular point or say snappy, pre-written sentences. But having them read from a script is not recommended.

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