Monday, February 28, 2011

To Flip or not Flip...that is the question.

Having video on your website is one of the most important marketing decisions you can make today. The democratization (to make something available to all people) of video has been with us since the 80s, but now, more than ever, it is truly in the hands of everyone. The dominant platforms are cell phones and flip style video cameras. Anyone can shoot and upload video to the Internet.

What I’d like to discuss is when and when not to use Flip (I will use “Flip” as a generic term for any kind of lower grade, hand held video camera) cameras to promote your business or organization.

Let’s start out with the advantages and disadvantages of using a Flip or hiring a professional. We’ll look at just a couple of the most important for both.

The advantages for the Flip are:

It’s small, easily accessible, and fast.

The disadvantages for the Flip are:

Picture quality (not using proper lighting techniques being the main reason).

Poor audio quality because of the built in microphone.

Less production values.

The advantages for hiring a professional are:

Proper picture and audio quality.

A better planned production with more production values.

The disadvantages for hiring a professional are:

It’s not fast, more expensive, and takes more time.

Let me say this, I love Flip cameras! I’ve been in the video business since 1992 and I’ve seen all the equipment get smaller and better throughout the years. Also, it is possible to use a Flip camera to create great productions. The video of Luci, my Great Dane, on my home page was shot with a Flip camera. The real question to ask is what does this project call for and what are you trying to do?

Here is the biggest thing to keep in mind…audio is 90% of video. Weird huh! People will except and watch a bad video imagine, but they will quickly stop watching a video with bad audio. The message is the most important part. Hearing, clearly, what people are saying is the most important part of the video. The main reason audio is so poor with a Flip is because it’s a small, inexpensive, built-in mic that picks up everything in the room you’re taping. It’s set to “automatic levels”. So it will “fight” back and forth between all the noises in the room. It can be very distracting.

Another consideration is lighting. When uploading video to the Internet, by default the encoding process zaps the luminance value of the video. Basically, it makes the image darker once it’s online. If the videos you’ve shot on a Flip camera are already dark and hazy, then the final product will not be what you want.

If your message is important, then hiring a professional and planning will solve all of the above problems.

So, in conclusion, shoot with your Flip cameras and have fun! Knowing the weaknesses of the camera will allow you to decide if you should or shouldn’t.

Here’s a checklist for minimizing problems shooting video with a Flip camera:

-Shoot interviews up close (2 to 4 feet away) and in a quite room.

-Hold the camera as still as possible, use a tripod or set it on something static.

-Be aware of the lighting and always try to move your subject into good lighting.

-If you’re going to edit the video, leave 2 to 3 seconds of “slop” at the beginning and end. This will give you more freedom to cut, dissolve and use fades.

-Have fun and experiment!

Keep in mind though; you do not eat at a 5 star restaurant wearing cut up jeans, flip-flops, and a stained T-shirt. Choose a professional, like Visual Media Concepts, when you need a top-notch production to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more.

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