The 10 Biggest Misconceptions About Video Production

Video is everywhere. The viewing public is exposed to millions of videos on every platform, and yet as a director and editor, I still find that there are many misconceptions people have about the video production process.

I decided to reach out to others in the industry on Twitter and LinkedIn to find out what misconceptions their clients have about video production and post-production. The topic cultivated a lot of good discussion as other video production professionals shared their experiences.

Many of the same misconceptions kept popping up throughout the thread, so I compiled them into a top 10 list. If you are a marketer and currently looking to hire a video production company, this will hopefully provide some valuable insight to the process, so you know what to expect.

  1. All production companies are the same. This misconception assumes that all you need to do when looking for a production company is to get three quotes and then choose the cheapest one. In reality, all production companies are different and they each bring their own specialities to a project. It's up to you, the client, to do your research. Take a look at the company's showreel to get a sense of their strengths. Is it visual effects and animation? Infographics? Documentary storytelling? Tabletop? Aerial? Fashion? Commercial? Find the production company that will fit best with the type of video you want to make.
  2. Every viral video follows a certain blueprint and, therefore, can be replicated. If your only plan from the outset is to create viral video, I suggest going back and revising your creative brief. Of course there are steps you can take to help meet this goal, but there isn't one magic formula that will launch a video into online stardom. A few years ago, ABC News conducted an experiment to see if one could create a viral video from scratch and they documented the process.
  3. You can shoot the video yourself with that camera you bought. Although the cost of cameras with impressive specs has decreased dramatically over the years, there is still so much more to producing a quality video than just pointing and shooting. Cinematography consists of composition, lighting, lens choices, and camera movement. It takes time and practice to master that craft.
  4. A video can look like a Super Bowl ad with only a $1500 budget. No, it can't. You can draw inspiration from a high-end commercial, but a $1500 video will never look like a Super Bowl ad.
  5. Shooting will only take two or three hours. Production is a time-intensive process, requiring multiple shots, multiple camera angles, and multiple set ups. You won't be able to shoot the footage you need for a quality video in only a couple of hours. Just turning the camera around to shoot another angle will require a change in lighting and blocking, which requires time to set up and rehearse.
  6. All you need is a camera. Whenever I arrive on location with multiple carts full of gear, I usually hear the following comment, "Whoa! You guys sure do have a lot of equipment." Clients are genuinely surprised that so much gear (besides a camera and tripod) is required to capture footage for a video. Capturing quality footage requires necessary supporting gear and crew, which costs time and money. Remember, just because a video doesn't look "lit," doesn't mean lighting and other support gear wasn't used during production.
  7. Editing is quick and easy. If the video production process was illustrated as a pie chart, the slice representing post-production would take up a large portion of that pie. Taking the raw footage and crafting it into a concise, cohesive story takes an incredible amount of time and skill. You can't set unrealistic time expectations on your production company if you want a quality product.
  8. Everything can be fixed in post. Some things can be corrected in post-production, but certainly not everything. Over-modulated audio, bad composition, shots that are out of focus or too shaky, the flicker from fluorescent lighting; these are all errors that can't be totally fixed, even with the best editors or software plug-ins. 
  9. Footage and music found online is free for anyone to use in their own videos. I once had a client hire me to edit a corporate video and some of the video assets on the hard drive were videos she found on YouTube. She ripped them and wanted to use them because she thought those clips would help illustrate certain points for her company's video. Everything posted online is not free for everyone to use. You must have permission from the copyright holder to use any piece of music or footage you find online.
  10. All requested changes to the edit can be completed in a few seconds. If your video contains a lot of graphics and compositing work, even the smallest of changes may require a significant amount of time. This is because an editor must go back into the project and re-composite that section of the video and re-render the entire piece.

Hopefully these 10 items will help you better understand video production. If you currently need to produce a video for your business and have questions not addressed here, please leave those questions in the Comments section and I will do my best to answer them. And if you work as a video producer, director, or editor and want to add something else to this list, please do so.