Save Your Pennies, Then Hire Professionals

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. He’s a photographer, and I’m a video editor, so we kind of do the same thing, but not really.

He was talking about how, as technology increases, more and more people are calling themselves photographers because they own cameras.

Yes.. People have been owning cameras since cameras were invented, however, none of these people promoted themselves as professionals. They were hobbyists, at best. Mostly, they were civilians that happened to have spent some of their money on a camera.

At this point, people own cameras that take pictures on a level of quality that can be used in actors’ portfolios, wedding albums, or even as stills in television productions.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that any of them are GOOD at what they do.

It doesn’t mean they know about lighting. It doesn’t mean they know about framing. It doesn’t mean they know how to use computer programs to maximize the impact or quality of the pictures they take for you.

Meanwhile.. If you go to your favorite “Hire A Random Person To Work For You” website, you’ll see these civilian hobbyists listed side-by-side with verified professionals. This gives a skewed impression of what a photographer actually is.

Video Editors

This becomes an issue when you get to the video editor. I have the same phenomenon in my field. There are lots of people who own the same equipment that I own. In fact, there are people that have gone to classes to receive some bullshit certificate that says that they’re “certified” to use the same software that I’ve been using to put video on local and national television for over 10 years.. and they STILL suck at using it.

Of course they suck. The sat in a classroom and passed a couple of tests. They have ZERO real-world experience. Hiring them to edit videos for you is the same thing as hiring me to be your personal bodyguard because I’m a champion at first-person-shooter video games like H.A.L.O., SOCOM, Ghost Recon, and Call of Duty.

I’ve never shot anybody in my entire life, so don’t expect me to whip out the Desert Eagle .50 Cal and wax six dudes with AK-47s like I can on my XBOX or PS3.

Similar to the photography field, these Herbs are grouped together with me as “Editors”. In fact, they’re button-pushers. They’re not bringing anything to the table other than the equipment they own and the fact that they know how to use that equipment… SLOWLY.

This is another thing that people don’t get about post-production (the process of blending the elements you provided into the final product). If my rates are 3x as high as a button-pusher, but he or she takes THREE DAYS to do what I can do in one day, guess what? πŸ˜€ HAHAHA You just paid the same amount of money for inferior work that you received two days later than you could have.

If my rates are higher, and I’m better at working with you and your clients because I have advertising agency experience and have edited commercials that ran on television for years, you. will. lose. if you hire the el-cheapo editor and they cause your client not to give you any more business. You. Will. Lose. if the service your client receives was juuuuust that little bit worse than the treatment they received working with another studio, and they give THEM that next large contract instead of you.

99 1/2 Won’t Do

You may have noticed that you never see “most” of a show on television. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. The show cuts to black for a split second and then the next show starts. This is because there are regulations and television stations expect and DEMAND that you create your videos properly and completely, or else they will kick them back to you. They will tell you directly that until you do this, this, and that to comply with their broadcasting standards, your show will not air on their network.

There is no such thing as 99 1/2% of a video.

You have 100% of a video, or you have nothing.

You have 100% of a video BEFORE YOUR DEADLINE, or you have nothing.

Similar to baseball, I am the closer. I never fail. Never. I can’t afford to fail, because it’s not “Oh well! \o/”. If I fail to achieve what my client asked me for and I assured them I would deliver, there is NO SHOW.

If there’s no show, my client is accountable to the people that paid him or her to produce the show. My client’s reputation’s on the line. It’s not *MY* reputation, because as a freelancer, my name doesn’t go on myriad productions that I do for production companies that hire me. I’m filling in. I’m doing vacation relief or handling overflow or a certain type of video that their staffers aren’t well-versed in and I excel at.

If my client’s reputation is tarnished because *I* failed, they lose business, they can’t pay their staff, people get laid off or fired, businesses close…

I’m not trying to be dramatic about this. πŸ˜€ I’m saying that it’s like being an airline pilot. Pilots can’t afford to fail, because they won’t be the only ones that suffer the consequences. o_O

There’s no such thing as “Almost landed the plane.”

If you insist on hiring a low-cost pilot instead of a more expensive one that definitely knows what he or she’s doing.. Good Luck with that.

Budget vs Reputation

So if your company’s reputation isn’t important to you, go ahead and hire button-pushers. Save yourself the money, assuming they work just as quickly as the more expensive professional. Good Luck that they do it right the first time, too. If you have to go through several rounds of changes because of errors they made or because they didn’t fully understand what you wanted after you told them to their faces what you wanted, keep counting up the hours and watching your bill increase.

If you have work that isn’t important, hire button-pushers. If you have internal corporate videos that nobody’s going to see, except your workers, who cares if they’re garbage? πŸ˜€ Everybody knows that you’re a Senior Vice President and not an Executive Producer, so why should they expect your videos to be any good, right? πŸ˜€

On the other hand.. If you’re expecting your media (pictures, video, audio…) to represent your company and get you more respect and business in your industry, do some research, figure out who’s who, and plan your budget so you can hire professionals with proven track records to work with your team and complete your project for you in a quality fashion and BEFORE your deadline.

Some people like to utilize a hybrid style where they hire button-pushers to do all the grunt-work and then bring in a pro to tighten up their work. Sometimes, this works well, and sometimes, it doesn’t.

One of the main problems with working this way is that video production is “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. The process begins with making selections from the raw footage (video that came directly from the camera without being edited). If you send interns who don’t know anything about building a show to make your ‘selects’, they’re going to leave out a lot of things that they don’t realize would work well in your video and they’re going to select a bunch of things that don’t work well. Same thing if you do it yourself.

The upside of producing this way is that you save a lot of money, and the professional editor you hire will still make the best video possible from the footage you make available to them. The downside is that your production could have been a lot better if you understood enough about the process to get everyone to play their positions well.

Quality > Quantity

Mind you.. I’m not knocking button-pushers. πŸ˜€ They occupy a valuable space in the field. They’re inexpensive, and you probably don’t know enough to understand that the work you’re receiving is shoddy and your company would be better off if you never showed the video you paid for.

Button-Pushers are legitimate businesspeople and deserve to be hired. I started out as a button-pusher, of course. Everybody has to. What I’m saying is that if you’re a hobbyist, doing an online video show, or something you’re just going to show your family or keep for yourself, it doesn’t matter who you hire or if you hire anybody at all. Do it yourself! πŸ˜€ Use iMovie or Windows Media Maker, which came FREE on your computer’s operating system and go enjoy yourself. Take a month to do a video that could have been finished in one day. Spend hours that you could have been billing a client or hooking up with your SO working on creating an inferior product instead of hiring someone that knows what they’re doing, so you can enjoy your life while they’re working or make back the money you’re going to have to pay them anyway.

However….. If you expect people to watch your video and give you business, get it done properly. Go Big or Go Home. Period.

If you do a low-quality video and it goes viral, that’s not success. That’s 6 Million People that know that YOU SUCK! πŸ˜€

Instead, if you do a high-quality video and not-so-many people see it, that’s way better, IMO, because the FEW people that watch it are going to say “That person knows what he or she is doing, and I want to hire them to bring the same quality to my productions that they brought to theirs”.

Of course, the best situation is a GOOD video that DOES go viral! haha I’m just saying that you need to consider that the money you’re saving, hiring button-pushers instead of professional editors or hobbyists instead of professional photographers could very well end up working AGAINST your company’s reputation, which will ultimately negatively affect your bottom line. Connect with Bill via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Email Subscription, RSS Feed

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  1. @Taiwan & @Phil: haha No. Such. Thing. as MOST of a video, NAH MEEN??? >:D

    It gets done properly and it gets done on time, or it’s a strict and undeniable FAILURE. Period. πŸ˜€

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