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Old July 30th, 2013, 05:39 PM   #1
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Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

It seem a lot of times content is king. In this video maybe it's because it's Lance Armstrong?

What if this would have been an unknown? would you be more critical of the filming?

Lance Armstrong talks Oprah backlash at Iowa bike ride
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Old July 30th, 2013, 06:31 PM   #2
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

Content makes a difference, but that's pretty bad looking, given that it was a sit down interview. I might still watch it if I was into cycling/Lance/whatever, but I think it makes him look bad.

I think *context* makes a bigger difference. Consider a cat video that gets a million hits. Nobody expects good video quality; they just want to see a cute cat that does something unexpected.

Or what if Princess Diana came back to life as a ghost and I was able to capture it? The video quality could be atrocious but it would still be on every news network across the globe. Then again, if I had a crummy video of Prince Charles sitting in a chair, nobody would care.

To me, it's the "unique moment" that overcomes poor video quality.

They say that a great photograph has the following characteristics:

1) Competence. This could include exposure, framing, balance of colors, nice light, or whatever. It might even be technically "wrong" but artistically "right".

2) A message. In the video case, if Lance reveals intimate details, it might have a compelling message.

3) A unique moment in time. A mountain at sunset might be beautiful but a very similar photo might be available next week. Capturing Frasier's glove as it strikes Ali is a unique moment that can't be repeated.

If #2 and/or #3 are good enough, then you can overcome so-so competence.

FWIW, Lance had better be saying something important to make that video worthy. It's a sit-down interview, so it's not such a unique moment - it's staged. The remaining value would be what he says.

But for sure, it's not good to stage an interview and make the talent look that bad.
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Old July 30th, 2013, 10:25 PM   #3
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

If you look at a lot of breaking news footage, content certainly is all over technical quality. For me, if the subject is compelling enough and it's a once in a lifetime type of thing where there isn't a lot of time to get the shot and it's just BAM! Point and shoot, then content is king but for a sit down or something where you can take the few extra seconds to make the proper adjustments to the exposure, WB etc, then why not do it right.
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Old July 31st, 2013, 11:45 AM   #4
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

I think context is important in two domains. One is news/urgency. The other is point-of-view (POV).

The Blair Witch Project is probably the most successful POV film. They had a small budget, shot with crummy cameras, and wrote the script to have a documentary, bozo-with-a-camcorder POV. They did this well (or well enough) and put their energy into promotion rather than gear. Genius.

Low quality can add a feeling of authenticity, specifically to convey urgency or a specific point of view. But the material had better include a unique moment, deliver an important message, or tell a compelling story. Otherwise, you just have a bad looking video with poor content. In that case, the only feeling that the technical problems convey is that "the videographer is poor at their job".
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Old July 31st, 2013, 02:29 PM   #5
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

Those are all some good points. Would anyone care to guess what could have happen in this situation?

Could you have imagined yourself in the same situation?

Is there something beyond the videographers control that could have prompted this outcome?
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Old July 31st, 2013, 03:09 PM   #6
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

Some possibilities include:

* They were just about to set up the lights and then Lance says, "I have to leave in five minutes." At least they had time to wire his lav.

* There were physical limitations behind the camera that we can't see.. "You can't put lights there"; "This light can't be turned off"; "There are no more outlets and that light blows the fuse"; "Zap!... I can't find my spare bulbs!"; "I thought you brought the light kit"

* Lance said, "I don't wear makeup."

* "Our ENG camera failed. Do you own a camcorder?"

* It was shot by the local high school video class.

It's hard to say, really. They got some aspects right and he's a celebrity, so I think that makes us expect more. If it was handheld or if the subject was a "nobody", we might expect less.
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Old July 31st, 2013, 04:02 PM   #7
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

The reason I asked this question is it reminds me of a situation I was in recently where we were scheduled to roll tape at 10:30 am

I drove 220 miles to get there. The shoot was in a High rise corporate office with the CEO.
I arrived at 8am, Parked in the garage down below and loaded my cart with gear and up we go. The only thing I would have to go back to the garage for would be my light kit but I had plenty of time.

I signed in and was met by the CEO's personal assistant who was very nice. She showed me to the room where we would be shooting. It was not a bad room. I thanked her and said i would be right back , as i had to get my light kit.
She said we have to move the shoot up a bit as the CEO has a plane to catch. I said no problem i'll get my kit right right away. She said no, we don't have time for that, and to set the camera and be ready to go right away.

I couldn't believe that I got to a 10:30 shoot at 8am and this is the way it's going to go. And that's the way It went . In less then 10 minutes the CEO was in the room as if this change had no effect at all and he was raring to go. And he made everybody below him extremely nervous. And they passed their fears right along to me. I have never heard the words "are we ready" so many times in such a short period.
I was frustrated beyond belief. And my toughest job at that point was to keep it from showing.
How did the shoot come out? Just as bad as the Lance Armstrong video ,except mine was white balanced.

Thats not the only time that happened. Mind you I'm contracted to most of my shoots by someone else.
Did a shoot at a major hospital in L.A. My assistant and I rolled in early and the client met us the elevator. We were shooting 1 scene in a conference room with a doctor, and another scene with the same doctor in his personal office.
Well upon greeting me the Producer, who is a Doctor/Producer, said to me where's the rest of the lighting, the last guys had almost a truckload. My paperwork had small light kit looking for down and dirty look. He also asked where was the rest of the crew? Downhill we go.

I have to admit I actually liked the Doctor/Producer guy, he knew his way around production. No sooner then we got into the conference room he took his laptop out and showed me some previous videos with the look he's after. He was right, it was a truckloads of high end lighting and there I was with my little down and dirty kit.
In the end I captured the content beautifully, but the look suffered. Would have been a great client to have, but I doubt i will ever work with him again. I got thrown to the wolves, beaten eaten and left for dead.

When I looked at the Video with Lance it made me wonder , what really happen?

Painful friggin lesson.
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Old July 31st, 2013, 05:02 PM   #8
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

Sure enough, your first story about the CEO aligns with my first bullet above. You think you have time. All of a sudden, you don't.

Then again, sometimes things align. My son did audio with a small crew that had pre-scheduled a couple weeks in advance to interview Buzz Aldrin. A day or two before the interview, Neil Armstrong passed away. The interview was after Armstrong's passing but long enough before Aldrin's flight out of town that they had time to do things right. They had time, people, equipment - and the hottest interview subject in town. Not a joyful interview to be sure, but a very touching and timely one.

On your doctor/producer shoot, maybe the lesson is to bring more than you're contracted for and leave it in the trunk (insured, of course.) I don't know that a bit more gear would salvage the client relationship (especially without a crew), but you never know. The results might have exceeded expectations enough to get future work.

Yeah, I wonder if the director got a similar surprise as one of your stories. "Whoa. The subject is Lance Armstrong??? And I have no gear or crew??? And he's got a flight to catch??? Dang!!!"
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Old July 31st, 2013, 05:05 PM   #9
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

Remember the first steps on the Moon?

"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."?

This video was very grainy but everybody watched it and it has been repeated ever since.

So I'd say "Yes" to the answer with regard to the content question.

Then, of course, lets not forget the paparazzi with their long lens cameras .....
Anything to make a buck/pound/Euro/etc at the expense of someone else.

With our family's photos, my wife has taken many very nice photos with her camera (did I say she takes lots of pictures?) because it is handy, fast, and easy to just to a picture grab while with my more, ahem, "professional gear", it takes me longer to get it out of it's protective case, get set up, dial in the focus and exposure I want, frame it, and all the good stuff that one wants in a good shot, and by then the moment has often passed. Her shot will shine with raw emotion while mine will usually do well technically so to this extent we complement each other.

Another thing she does that is annoying, she never deletes any of them. Well, almost never.
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Old August 1st, 2013, 02:10 AM   #10
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

It takes a certain number of man hours to set up and light an interview. Basically, the smaller the crew the longer it's going to take. This Lance Armstrong interview looks like it was lit with the on board camera light and available light, the decision to go this way can depend on how much time is available, how far you've got to transport equipment.

Was the best decisions made with what was available? Possibly not, but, unfortunately, it's not that unusual on news programs or even lower budget magazine programmes. On news the important thing is to get the shot, really good people are within the zone and can consistently catch it, defining perfection is another matter, since the content can change a blurred photograph into a classic.

http://test.classconnection.s3.amazo...lver_print.jpg
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Old August 1st, 2013, 02:29 AM   #11
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

Thats a very good example.

I used to look at videos like that and automatically blame the shooter without knowing the situation.

Having been down that road, now I look and wonder what must have happen.
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Old August 1st, 2013, 03:32 AM   #12
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

I think if you interview a guy like Lance you could shoot it on a iphone in a dark room, people only want to know what he has to say, it is mainly us videographers that look how the light was positioned or how much grain is in the footage. :)

If it was a unknown person, it would depend a lot on the topic, I saw a documentary recently about a guy who used to work for the mafia and was now a debt collector, the videowork was not stellar but the story was, I didn't mind the shaky and sometimes unsharp footage, it was the story behind that guy that made it intriguing and that's what I remember from it, not the way it was shot.
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Old August 1st, 2013, 01:44 PM   #13
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Re: Can content overide creative or technical perfection?

In some ways, an iPhone video would be better. When we see a guy with a lav in his shirt, seated in a nice room with a lamp to the side, we expect high-end video quality. Had they gone into the back yard, held the camera by hand, and walked a couple of steps and stopped, we'd get the feeling that this was more impromptu.

It might be a good idea to develop strategies for high, medium, and low quality. For high quality, you really take your time and light the background. For medium, you light the subject well and simply blur a so-so background. For low quality, you develop a handheld camcorder quality (or, say, a shoulder-mount ENG quality) that is professional and clear but implies no available preparation time.

Part of the "no time" option would include the person walking at the start and end of the interview, as if they stopped briefly before continuing on their way. Given that context, the audience isn't at all surprised if the lighting isn't "done" or if they hear a car or plane in the background.

As long as one can setup their "low cost" method quickly, and it can be sold to the client, it could be very effective.
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