When You Do It All for Your Videos and Then Totally Mess It Up

When You Do It All for Your Videos and Then Totally Mess It Up

This week I learned a hard lesson. Well, like 85 hard lessons but they were all rolled into one project. Thank GOD I was filming friends of mine and they’re cool with the results, but that does NOT excuse me. I am so thankful to be able to keep learning this stuff with the support of great people around me but poor quality and lack of attention to the details is NOT a watermark I want on any of my work in the future. Ever.

When you’re in charge of EVERYTHING, from scouting to writing to directing to editing and all the roles in between you wear a LOT of hats and you can’t just DROP one because you’re in tunnel vision on one area or just completely distracted by unrelated shiny objects. This project will now go down as a classic example of how I can be a terrible juggler when I don’t take every project just as seriously.

On this project I failed on:

  1. Pre-production planning. I sorta took it for granted that, since I was filming friends, it would all sorta just “work out” because we were “all cool” or whatever. But something mystical happens to everyone that’s not a highly trained professional actor as soon as they see a red light on a camera and it’s actually very unlikely that you will weave a coherent story out of the footage if the story isn’t already quite planned.
  2. Directorial administration. Even the funniest, most poised and conversational people will still clam up as soon as they know the camera is rolling and it takes a strong director to be able to guide them, get them comfortable, and then juice them like the grapefruits they are…
  3. White balancing. Again. I white balanced on the damn wall like a moron and that’s a huge NO because walls are often not a true white. Normally I use a blank index card but even that is wearing out its welcome, I think I need something bigger. To my defense in this case though, I WAS also working with sparse & weirdly placed fluorescent lights which is also the worst thing ever and even the sexiest white balance can’t salvage, but that’s for another time…
  4. Setting my subjects up with microphones. My external mic has been giving me a buzz if I’m in too quiet of an environment so in a crunch on one of the shoots I did in the conference room at my office I jilted it and used the internal mic. it turned out all right, so off-site I jilted it again…NOT all right, holy crap, never. Again. I have the volume on all of my interview clips turned up to the max and about 3 different filters on them (THAT I arrived at by frantic trial and error of every feature available in Final Cut X, by the way…) and wasted a HUGE amount of time just trying to make the video audible. External microphones are deadly important when doing stuff like interviews and being in all sorts of environments. I’m scouring Amazon right now for some mics that can save me from this happening again…

If I was diligent about minding my full production checklist and then “viewing the rushes” on-site like I was taught to do in college I could really deal with these things in a more timely manner. I tend not to though because I take things for granted or don’t want to be an awkward burden or I’m just too into the setting or conversations with my subjects to bother. It’s tough being really social when you have another entire set of really technical stuff you need to be minding as well…Lesson learned though because better a few awkward minutes of making sure my ish is tight than struggling with footage for the next several days to build something coherent and not completely  stomach-churning for me to release into the world.


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