Video Editing on a Cloud!?!

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Strassner Editing Systems

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I came across this article this morning. This is really exciting news. And, I admit, I haven’t finished researching this yet (something about actually getting work done and meeting deadlines). But just the potential has me really excited. The idea that you wouldn’t be tied down to one machine or hard drive(s) to finish a product, that you would really be able to do production on-the-fly, is a mind blowing concept for me.

A million years ago when I first got into production the world consisted of tape-to-tape editing, and if you were lucky a switcher of some sort to make it look a little fancier. When I left college the buzz was on non-linear editing and the potential to get a system soon(ish). Then I worked in a real-life television station, in a small market, that got a system (mostly because the guy who headed commercial development and was probably the best in the market insisted on getting one – and was willing to help foot some of the cost). Of course being low person on the totem pole I was only allowed to watch it in use and stare at if fondly while I did my tape-to-tape editing on 3/4 (yep, three-quarter) tape. Not only was I tied to machines, I was in a tiny room with no sunlight and human contact. Eventually I got into corporate video and met my first non-linear editing system. I even got one at my desk. My own system right there where I worked!

The take away there is that it was at my desk. Where I worked. If I had to travel (which I did frequently) there was no checking out and capturing footage at night at the hotel. No rough cuts to show anyone so they knew how things were going. It all had to wait until I could get back to my desk and edit. Even now when laptops are able to do a good job handling editing you still need extra drives for the footage.

Just the idea of being able to edit using a cloud. That could access the video and allow you to edit without being tied down to any one computer. To be able to work where you need to, when you need to, without having to drag heavy drives with – this is the future. I’m anxious to see where all of it goes, and if it really works of course.

This is just one more reason why living in the future is so cool!

Magic Moments

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I was inspired after reading  this post. In it Mike discusses the role happenstance plays in video production. Let’s face it sometimes we plan shots down to the frame and they turn out ok, making us wonder if we ever had any talent in the first place. Then we when we turn around we just happen to grab a shot where the light is amazing, just the right amount of wind and all the planets align to create the perfect shot. The shot usually ends with comments about our own brilliance, deserved or not, and we remember why we love what we do.

It can happen on the set or in post production. After hours of blood, sweat and tears (in my accident prone case blood is usually involved), after wondering why I  didn’t go into some “normal” profession, like teaching or animal wrangling…all of a sudden the “magic” happens and I get a glimpse at perfection. These are the moments of greatness we look for. These are the moments I love.

The natural high from grabbing the perfect shot or doing the perfect edit is amazing. All the pain and frustration are forgotten. I remember why I chose to work in video, why I keep coming back to it after getting out for a few years at a time. All of a sudden I’m a little kid back again, on one of my family’s rare trips to the movies, watching The Empire Strikes Back. I remember that magic.

I’m probably never going to make that kind of magic, but just getting a taste of it every now and then keeps me coming back for more.

Pay As You Go Video?

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I read this article this morning and hated the idea. Then I thought about it some more and I’m actually starting to really like it. A UK company, Shoot Cut Go, has created a company that helps you figure out what kind of video help you want (there’s a toll free hot line  if you have questions), gets you instant quotes, books your experts on-line and then provides for electronic delivery! Video and multimedia freelancers all over the UK are part of the network. Whether you need a full shoot, voice over talent, or editing they can help you get what you’re looking for, one would assume at a good cost.

While I am generally a fan of a one-stop-shop, this is a brilliant idea. It’s bringing video production to people who can benefit from it, but can’t necessarily afford what a large production house would charge. Since they have teams of freelancers all over the UK, you would be supporting local talent (for shoots at least) and not have to worry about huge charges for transportation. It puts the power in the hands of the small business that can benefit the most from video production.

To me at this point, it’s all theory. I’m in the US and not really in a position to go out and check with clients and the freelancers to see how everyone is liking the operation. But I do like the idea. For the production folks it’s a way to keep busy – let’s face it, it is  hard to start a production business. These folks have a company, that in essence, helps them line up work. The client benefits because they know the crews are carefully selected (and I would imagine that if there was an issue the company would help work out the problem) so they’re protected. It’s really a win-win.

I think that an idea like this would work well in the US – even if just on a state level. A few production teams working together and leveraging each others ability. Don’t have a 3D animator, that’s ok because someone in Sterling dose. The work is spread around to those who can do it with little effort by team. It builds resume reels and client bases. The clients get what they need all in one place.

Could this be the future for small video and multimedia production?

What the Heck is Corporate Video Anyway?

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High end linear editing suite, 1999.

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When I started college as a Radio/Television production major I thought I would work in television or movies. I never thought I would end up corporate video. Like many of my classmates I entered the wonderful world of small market television after college eventually becoming weekend director at a top 100 market. After a couple of years I figured out that not only am I good at video production, I love it. I also figured out that I hate news production. After some work in marketing and public relations I discovered a home in corporate video production.

The much less sexy cousin of television, corporate video covers a range of uses and purposes. While it might not be as glamorous, it’s filled with variety and options that television just doesn’t have. One day you could be working on a training video and the next be working a flashy marketing piece. And chances are that unless you work in news your whole life, at some point you too will work in corporate television.

Most production companies will at some point be involved in corporate video. Whether they like to admit it or not. Doing commercials is a lot of fun, but unless you’re a big firm there usually aren’t enough of them coming through the door to pay the rent. Trust me, this was not the career path I would have predicted, but you know it’s not that bad. The hours are a lot better than TV that’s for sure!

The best part is that I get to do such a variety of videos, I don’t get bored. Some have been a little less exciting than others, but in the end I’ve learned something. The challenge is to make each and every production fresh and interesting, because that’s what you’re clients deserve.

More and more companies are moving toward video to reach their customer base. They’re going look for people with vision, creativity, and high quality standards to help them do it. I think that many of these business will be looking to form long-term partnerships with small production companies rather than forming internal teams. If you only want one or two videos a quarter, the overhead for putting a team together and outfitting it with the right equipment is not cost productive. Hiring a local production company to handle videos from concept to completion is likely a better investment. One or two videos a quarter may not seem like much at the start, but if marketed well and producing good work that one company turns in to three or four, and it could just keep growing from there.

To answer the question, corporate is a growing lucrative market for those interested in a career in video. It’s fairly stable and there’s a lot of room for growth. My only words of advice are, be good at what you do. Do you’re job right and the possibilities is limitless.

YouTube Buys a Producer of Videos

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I had heard this was in the works, but it appears that the deal is done. I can’t help but wonder what it means to the future of video production.

It most certainly will change YouTube. Today YouTube is the home of cute cats, babies laughing, and quirky viral sensations. With the addition of a professional branch one can only imagine that more professionally produced content is not far behind. Yes, there is professional content available now, but it’s provided by people, bands and others primarily for self promotion.

What we’re talking about here is the potential for professionally created content created exclusively for the YouTube audience. Video content produced exclusively for the web is not new. As a matter of fact, the only thing new is the appearance that YouTube wants in on the act. But, will this change what YouTube is?

Washington, DC, October 20, 2005 -- Paul Luke ...

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YouTube seems is the home of home videos. It’s where you put everything from videos of kids for grandma to see to your videos on just about every kind of how-to you can imagine. I can’t help but wonder if professionally produced episodic videos become a regular part of the site, will it change the quality of the video we see? Will the cute cats and laughing babies be pushed to the side in favor of longer home produced series (perhaps with babies and cats as featured players)?

In some respects, I hope so. Let’s face it, there’s a whole lotta crap out there folks. Sure there are videos only Grandma’s would love, and that’s fine. But there are other videos out there that are of such poor quality even Grandma won’t watch. To paraphrase a popular saying, “With the ability to produce video comes great responsibility.” We are creative people, we want to share what we create. Here’s hoping we see more creative (and higher quality) videos with YouTube leading the way.

Video Production vs. Instructional Design

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I’m sure many of my Instructional Design (ISD) friends will disagree, but I don’t think that there’s a lot of differences between video project development and ISD. I’ll wait for the ISDs to stop shaking their heads at their computer screens….it’s true. Some of the phases have different names, but the purposes are very much the same.
**Please note I’m talking about informative videos, not cute videos of your cat posted on YouTube or other videos created for entertainment.

Let’s compare…

Video

  • Audience Analysis
  • Requirements Collection
  • Interviews with Subject Matter Experts
  • Design & Development (write script, choose look and feel, etc.)
  • Evaluate

Instructional Design

  • Audience Analysis
  • Requirements Collection
  • Interviews with Subject Matter Experts
  • Design & Developments (write instructor guide, decide on look and feel of materials, etc.)
  • Evaluate

Even with writing there are similarities. You have to determine the most logical approach for the project. Where do you start? Where do you end? Whether you’re teaching or video taping a process you move from step-to-step in logical progression. The level of detail and end purpose may be different, but they way you go about it is essentially the same.

Whether I’m writing a script or writing an instructor guide I look at it as telling a story. Yes, there are differences but the fundamentals are the same. You need to get a point across. You want to have the viewer or learner leave knowing something that they didn’t know before.

I’ve come across more than one ISD or learning professional that will completely disagree with me. They are certain that the approach is completely different. And even when the instructional documents I completed were on par with what they completed (using their “vastly different” approach) they refused to believe that I used anything other than the same approach that they did.

I will agree that the level of detail, and the execution are different. And I know how hard it is to update video compared to updating and design document or instructor guide. I agree that there are differences. But most of the differences are in the fine print and not in the steps taken.

I’d like to think that video production folks, Instructional Designers, e-learning gurus, teachers, professors, and producers do more things alike than they do different. I think that it’s like having a different dialect. We’re all speaking the same language, we just have a different way of talking about things. The biggest differences come at the beginning of the project when the type of medium used and the purpose is decided (think back to the cute kitten video mentioned above – videos done for entertainment do not fit the approach I’ve described as well as a documentary or instructional video.)

Now, I’m sure that there’s someone out there reading this who is not happy with this line of thinking. I’m pretty sure that there are folks who could be down right angry. They’ll demand to know how someone like me – a video person for Pete’s sake! – could know anything about instructional design. I’ve spent most of my time in corporate video working with instructional designers on instructional videos. I also spent a few years working as an ISD developing a class complete with instructor guide and handouts. There are still people who I worked with then who don’t believe I developed the materials I did approaching it “my way.”

I say as long as the product does what it is intended to do, meets its objects and succeeds in training or educating someone, does it matter how you got there?

Making Do with What You’ve Got

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We’ve all been there. You’re on a shoot, or doing something in post, and you don’t have a piece of equipment you need. Well it happened to me a few days ago. I was cutting some voice-over when I realized that I didn’t have a mic stand. So I did what everyone in video production does in this situation – I improvised. I looked around the office and turned a lonely looking 3 hole punch into a stand with a little help from Gaffer’s Tape.

Mic Stand and 3 Hole Punch

Mic St and/3 Hole Punch

We’ve all done it. Gorilla video production. Production by the seat of your pants. Whatever you want to call it, it’s making do with what you’ve got. Maybe you’re missing a light stand…maybe you’re missing lights. A quick trip to a big box hardware store and you can get what you need for a stand or a light…or both!

Most seasoned video production folks have at least one story about how they made something work in a pinch. So let’s share some old “war” stories. What have YOU made do with? What did you have to make out of spare parts to get the shot and save the day? I’d love to see a picture too! This is your chance to show us just how ingenious you are!