Choosing The Best Quality And Value With Video Production Decisions

As a founder and principal of Blue Island Digital, I come from a film/video production background and that’s a lot of what I bring to the table for our Blue Island clients.  From the 1980 beginning of my legacy production business, Florida Film & Tape, which has been at the same Orlando location for over 30 years, we’ve always fought the budget/quality/value battle with agencies and clients, and frankly, among ourselves. The question today comes down to choosing the best quality and value with video production decisions.

It seems like a no-brainer to simply take the position that we’ll only do the best quality, all the time. But there are a lot of factors that go into that. Just take cameras, for example. In the not-so-distant past, there were three choices: 35mm film, 16mm film or video, in a generally descending order of quality and price. Now that 95% of the work is produced digitally, the camera choices range from an iPhone to a $50,000+ ARRI Alexa, with at least 3 dozen viable choices in between. All have different features and benefits that suit the videographer’s needs.

Being a creative pragmatist, I look first at the final goal to define the needs of the mission. Simply put, that’s defined by who are you trying to reach, under what circumstances and with what medium.  Secondly, I look at the logistics (am I shooting on a sound stage or a remote mountain airstrip in Idaho), which will influence much of the budget and finally, I consider the budget, which is either dictated or influenced by the first and second considerations. Not so easy, huh?

To help define the dilemma, let’s say I’m doing a Coca-Cola commercial to air on the Super Bowl in HD or 4k, where the budget is not really a factor. For this production, I would insist we shoot in at least 4K digital or 35mm film with a crew of 20 or more. Here the budget could approach $1M. On the other hand, let’s say I’m doing a testimonial for a cooking product that’s destined to show only on the internet. This project only requires a crew of 2 – 4 and is going to end up on some form of easily managed digital media, possibly shot with a DSLR camera.  Does that mean it sucks? Not necessarily, though many internet-only videos are produced very inexpensively and are, shall we say, less than perfect. What it means is that the goal of the mission dictates everything else about the mission.

These factors are not just prevalent in the digital video production process, but these decisions need to be made every day, at every crossroad of the process of serving the client. Maintaining the goal of “the best product and service for that particular need”.

In the digital marketing world, not every website needs a massive SEO campaign, but certainly the ones that are in very competitive industries, like an HVAC company or other service company, certainly need a boost.  An established brand, such as in the exotic auto industry, like Porsche, does not. Someone doesn’t search “exotic car” to find a Porsche. They would just search “Porsche” or key in Porsche.com.

In summary, choosing the best quality and value with video production decisions is all about what you really need in the end. Define the mission and refine the approach. And remember, if you shoot the video on your iPhone, please turn the dang thing sideways!

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