There’s a sense of elation that one experiences after a successful film shoot, whether it’s a 5-day grind or a half-day simple set-up. No matter the scale, a shoot has been accomplished by the crew coming together, creating a vision, and executing it. When the footage is then brought to the editor, it starts like a disassembled puzzle, except you only have the vaguest idea of what the finished product will look like. It takes years of experience, countless late nights, and strong creativity and fortitude to create a video that stands out & that you are proud of. But too often, when you show a family member or a friend, or you get a comment on the video that boils it all down to a few simple thoughts.
“Looks great, what did you shoot on?”
“Really high-quality work. You must have spent a lot on gear!”
Maybe the worst part of these questions and comments is that they are steeped in good intentions. Most times the person conversing with you is genuinely impressed by what they’re seeing, and reaches for what they know - “High-quality video, must be an expensive camera!”
After all, we all pay thousands of dollars every few years for a phone that will shoot even better pictures, or with portrait mode, or with amazing low-light ability. We upgrade our TVs to be better far more often than most of us should - but we need 4K capabilities! We need HDR! We need . . . 3D?
To the consumer, the biggest determinant of quality in a video is cost. They hear that the 30-second car commercial they saw on TV cost $2 million. Their favorite Hollywood film cost $120 million to make. But ultimately, what those figures ignore is the hours, the days, the years of experience working behind the scenes. Endless books and videos absorbed, communicated and executed on, and then revised to improve for the next time.
When you see a beautiful painting, you don’t credit the brush. When you listen to your favorite song, you don’t attribute the success to the price of their instruments. The commodification of video has unintentionally led to the viewing of video as a product, versus the art form that it really is.
By the way, if you read all this and are still wondering what I shoot on? A Panasonic S1. Here’s an example of what my camera gives me:
And here’s what the human element turns that into:
So, next time you compliment someone on their video . . . don’t compliment the machine, compliment the human!