Why Professionals Avoid Web Video

In professional productions, broadcast or corporate, there is a deadline. If you miss that deadline, you lose. If you don’t want to miss that deadline, you have to hire someone competent and trusted. People competent and trusted have rates. If you don’t want to pay that rate, you can hire someone else.

Since you have an air-date, there isn’t an infinite amount of time that can be spent on your project. This is another reason to hire a competent editor. You can either have a REALLY GOOD video in 8 hours or an “ok” video in 8 hours. Actually, depending on how much you skimp, you might not have a video AT ALL in 8 hours and miss your deadline.

Quality’s important when you’re doing professional work. This is because the company that hires you cares about its image and its brand. The whole point is to get people to feel like trusting the company with their business based on how they present themselves through media. Because of this, companies tend to go with post houses or editors that they know can and will make them look good, and pay those people accordingly.

Elizabeth Hummer & Bill Cammack

Getting involved with video productions on the web is totally different. There’s no revenue stream coming from advertisers down to companies down to producers, shooters and editors. If a company’s going to make videos for the net, they have to be prepared to take a financial loss in return for increased brand recognition or social cred. They will NOT be making their money back via revenue-sharing. Unless they get tons of views, they will NOT be making their money back via sponsorships. They *have* to treat their videos as ADVERTISING and not some vehicle to make money with. They have to weigh their increase in social and business cred against the cost of their videos in order to justify a budget… ANY budget.

This is what makes it tough for professionals to feel like getting involved with the internet video business. Everyone in the space is trying to “make it”. Everyone’s clawing for that next dollar and that next passionate viewer and that next page hit to the point where it’s like a high school play. “Oh… could you run the lights for me?” “Could you dress up like a tree and stand in the background here for an hour?” “Can you pull the string that opens the curtains?” It’s REALLY incredibly unprofessional, but like I said, it needs to be, because these aren’t video production companies… They’re companies that are attempting to UTILIZE video on the net to gain something else. The bottom line is to spend as little as you can to produce videos that get you as many views as you can get that you can turn around and sell to someone that wants to advertise something.

So what you end up with is individuals or groups whose budget is 1/3 of your day rate who want you to get on board with doing a project that you know is going to take you three days. This is where TIME comes back into play. The question you have to ask yourself as a freelancer is “What else could I be doing during the time that I’m spending on this person’s project?”. Let’s see… You could be:

  • Doing work at your actual day rate
  • Socializing and making new business connections
  • Learning new styles and concepts in editing
  • Learning about new sites and apps on the web
  • Reading what others have to say in their blogs about your chosen field
  • Doing Trial & Error testing of new tools and concepts you’ve recently acquired
  • Doing follow-up calls & emails on invoices people haven’t paid you for yet
  • Posting to your blog or video blog
  • Spending time with family & friends
  • Enjoying your hobbies & other entertainment
  • Living YOUR life

So, basically, the point of the budget is to get the producer, shooter or editor to focus on YOUR project instead of doing ANYTHING ELSE UNDER THE SUN that’s more beneficial or entertaining to him or her. Therefore, the lower your budget is, the less time that person’s willing to apply to your production.

Unfortunately, there’s a baseline to the amount of time that’s necessary for a project, so there’s a baseline to the budget. For instance… If someone gives me a tape that’s an hour long, off the bat, that’s an hour that has to be spent loading the tape onto the drive (less time if it’s coming from a digital source, like an SD card or P2 card). There are only two other ways around this expenditure of money/time. Pay someone else to be a loader and make sure they coordinate with the editor so they know how to load the tapes properly, or DO. IT. YOURSELF. Do it yourself and say to the editor, I have this drive with all the footage on it, and I need you to edit it. Saves you money right off the top.

There’s also a baseline in PLANNING that’s necessary for a video. If you give me a page with clearly marked ins and outs, video and dialogue cues, I can crunch that out in no time. If you give me NOTHING, then you have to pay for all the time it takes me to watch all your footage and make up an entire story in my head that makes you and your company look good. Even if the final product is 30 seconds long, if you gave me three hours of footage from which to select the best 30 seconds…….

Then you have to deal with changes. If the editor you hire isn’t also going to be the EP (Executive Producer), you’re going to have opinions about the video after it’s done. “Change my title”. “Move this part here”. “Take that part out”. “Change the volume”. “I don’t look good here”. This means that MORE time is taken listening to / reading your changes and more time is taken making them and then encoding the file and getting you a review copy. This is why a lot of work is done on a day rate basis instead of a package deal basis. Video is almost entirely SUBJECTIVE and people will tweak and tweak until they run out of time (air-time deadline) or money (budget / agreement). As long as they’re paying for the time they’re taking up (and to the degree that it makes it worthwile to the editor), more power to them.

Bill Cammack

This is why production companies are now swooping down into the space and creating all these web shows. Their editors are STAFFERS. They get paid REGARDLESS of how many people watch the videos, whether they go viral, whether there’s rev-share advertising on it, whether it has a shelf-life of more than three days. This works for the reasons I stated above. Production companies gain social & business cred from doing QUALITY WORK. Since they pay their editors to DO that work, their ROI is continued and increasing business from clients who want that same level of quality and consistency for their productions.

Is there a solution to this? I don’t think there will be. In fact, it’s not even actually a ‘problem’. Since most people are concerned with hits and viewership and membership, it’s not an issue for them to output GARBAGE and do that for as close to $0.00 as they can. Their reputation is based on how many eyeballs they can attract to sell to advertisers and NOT the quality of the video on their site(s). Nobody’s ever going to ask them to get their team to make a web video for them or a corporate video for them or something to go on broadcast television. Nobody’s going to ask them to work on a film… evAr. As long as the video is the means and not an end, it’s going to remain a high school production, and as long as that translates into hits, views and sales, these web companies are going to be happy.

The only decision here is whether to dress up like that tree and go stand in the background or only entertain video production proposals from individuals and groups with a focus on quality and an understanding of what it takes to make that happen.

~Bill Cammack

Twitter: BillCammack
Social Media Category: billcammack.com/category/social-media
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