What people don’t get about video, is that they don’t get video. Here are the four misconceptions that drive me really crazy:
1) Video is not film. People still goof this one all the time, even in 2011. Film is still photographs on celluloid tape running through a mechanical projector at 24 frames per second. Video is what you see on TV, what you watch on YouTube, what you shoot with your phone. Video is information encoded digitally (unless you still have a VCR, in which case you are either a video artist or very… quaint. Anyway, VHS tapes store information magnetic tape, but we don’t do that anymore). So 90% of people calling themselves “filmmakers” today never actually shoot film, but hey, maybe it sounds classier than “videomaker.” Maybe you don’t care, but I do.
2) Video is not easy. Ok, you can shoot a video about your hilarious cat on your cellphone and get a million YouTube views. But constructing beautiful images and compelling narratives is actually incredibly difficult. I studied it — at a fancy university, actually — and I probably pulled more all nighters than you did. We were the only department with keys and 24-7 access to our building. And we logged countless nights in tiny, windowless, basement closets editing, learning from our mistakes, watching our shitty student films hundreds of times until we had no idea if they even made sense anymore.
3) Video is not fast. Video is slooooooooooooooooooow. Video is getting faster, thanks to amazing advances in technology, but I can only shoot and watch video in real time. So I can only shoot a video as fast as my interview subject can talk, and every time someone makes a mistake we have to go back and do it again. Try working an 18 hour nonunion shoot with no overtime… and then do that every day for a week. Editing is even slower. To cut two hours of footage down to five minutes, I start by watching two hours of footage. Good, now I’m ready to begin editing. Every new cut, I watch again, and again, and again, ironing out kinks, masking mistakes, cutting out the thousands of “ums,” “uhs,” “likes,” and dead pauses, just so that my interview subject doesn’t sound like an idiot. But then, magically, after hours, days, or weeks, the story runs quickly and smoothly and my interview subjects sounds like a genius. Every cut just pops with dynamic energy — except when they’re invisible. Like ninjas! It’s almost like… magic.
4) Video is not cheap. Even the most basic project (see above) is incredibly time consuming, and that means hours and hours of people’s time. These folks are highly trained, they keep on top of new tools and programs, they have a finely tuned visual sensibility, and they are cool under pressure. These folks need to get paid. It is fun, but it is work, and we do it all day (and often late into the night). So unfortunately, much as I would love to edit your 20 hours of footage from your conference/wedding/documentary about urban gardening, I can’t. But your cat video is totally awesome, by the way.