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Old June 8th, 2005, 10:28 AM   #1
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rant: bad corporate video experience

At my full-time job yesterday, we had a town meeting in which participants viewed a video produced in house by our Graphics department. (We're a book publisher, mind you, not a multimedia studio.) The video was a 20-year retrospective of our publishing division and its leaders. Aside from a good script and cute but effective animation, the video was poorly done, yet the team that produced this video received an award for the project. This is hard for me to accept knowing I could have helped make the video better. The lighting during the numerous interview segments was horrible and the shot composition was wrong -- the entire upper half of the screen was empty during interview scenes, so from where I sat midway back in the audience, I couldn't even see the the lower thirds (except when peering between peope seated in the rows in front of me). Oh, and the DVD bitrate was too high because the laptop connected to the LCD projector paused every 10-15 secnds to keep up, which made the 10-minute video seem like an hour.

I feel slighted by my company because for two years I've been pushing management to create an in-house video department because of (1) close proximity to critical departments and personnel, (2) lower costs, and (3) existing talent within the company. Our unofficial company videographer can't shoot his way out of a paper bag, yet he gets the enjoyment and recognition (and probably a bigger bonus). The head of our our Production department knows about my part-time videography business, and I've extended a standing offer to lend my services whenever needed. I would love nothing more than to make a living at what I enjoy doing. If I could land a corporate gig, I might abandon weddings and reclaim my weekends.

What can I do to further my cause? I've worked with the unofficial videographer for almost ten years (in different departments though, so we're not buddies). I've edited videos for sales conferences. My videography brochures are posted on all the company bulletin boards. Would it be worthwhile to offer the company videographer constructive criticism? Part of me wants to just forget it for the likelihood they'll use my guidance and leave me out of the loop again, yet if I can demonstrate some expertise they might want to work with me in the future.

Working for The Man sucks.

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Old June 8th, 2005, 11:13 AM   #2
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I'll offer my 2 cents worth, and that may be overpriced because I've never been in your situation.

Do not offer constructive criticism because it will be taken as an attack and/or sour grapes. You could, without criticizing (which may be hard to do), ask the company videographer about his equipment. What type of lighting did he use? Where did he place the lights? Has he tried using a dolly or stabilizer rather than just going handheld?

Talk to the person in charge of video production, stress your skills and experience, and express disappointment in not being included in producing the video. (Avoid criticism here and don't say that you could do a better job (unless asked point-blank) because crap + 1 is not what you want to be known for.) Don't rely on a standing offer. Check in with the decision makers frequently to keep making your interests known. If possible, bring your video equipment to work (lights, tripod, whatever you can carry). When people ask what all that's for, tell them that you're video-taping something for a friend after work, or working on a personal project, and you didn't want to leave the gear in the car. That way people will have a visual of what you can offer.

Good luck.
Philip Boyer
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Old June 8th, 2005, 11:35 AM   #3
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I think that your BIGGEST problem and what may keep you from ever being asked to participate in any project with the existing in-house "crew" or management is that you have obvious skill and more importantly, knowledge.

I would NEVER allow half-assed work to leave my shop! It reflects badly on the whole Unit.

The fact that the head of the video production department cannot see the lack of quality in the existing work or allows sub-standard work to leave his shop tells me that:

A: He's clueless.

B: He has limited or no real knowledge of the craft.


C: He is terribly threatened by someone (you) that he cannot bullsh*t.

People like this, like to surround themselves with others that know even less than they do. This is the way they maintain power in there individual little fiefdoms.

This is always a tough nut to crack because there is no real way to approach it without it looking like you are after someone else's job.

From the info in your post, I personally, would leave the whole thing alone unless the "Head Knucklehead in Charge" moves on to greener pastures.

Ask yourself..."Do I really want to work for someone like this?"

Good luck, RB.
"The future ain't what it used to be." Yogi Berra.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 12:39 PM   #4
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The old corporate bureaucracy

man I don't miss that. Here are my observations from my own experience. You are either a performer or a politician. There performers are bad politicians, the politicians are bad performers. A balance of the two will get you farther in your environment.

Jealosy is a demon you have to get hold of it both ways. Coming from you and coming at you. Leave your ego behind to reach your goal.

Corporations care more about attitude than a quality produciton if they are ignorant of what can be done. I suggest your swallow it and go tell them what a great job they did, work you way in with sugar. Keep your enemies close, embrace them. You might find more opportunity in your company by embracing the techniques of politicians. If you choose that is not the way to live then you should move on when the opportunity comes. Keep in mind you are building a portfolio with every shoot.

Jobs come and go, who you are and what you want to be is what you have to tap. Don't treat a job like a sacred cow that can't be changed, you could be laid off in a NY minute just to add a few pennies to the bottom line.

You are smart for thinking before reacting, you are on your way to being a better politician.

Last edited by Jerry Mohn; June 8th, 2005 at 12:40 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old June 8th, 2005, 06:12 PM   #5
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Tim I feel for you, but I do want to offer some constructive criticism. Your main criticisms of the video are all technical. But, you're not competing with the other videographer's technical skills, you're competing with his ability to communicate with his audience. In your post, you dismissed the most important part of the video.
Originally Posted by Tim Borek
Aside from a good script and cute but effective animation, the video was poorly done
In this case, it sounds like the video's purpose was to impress someone, and it worked really well, despite the technical problems.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 06:21 PM   #6
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"Good Script" = Effective communication
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Old June 8th, 2005, 08:26 PM   #7
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No offense, but I would say get over it. You are obviously not in a position with your company to direct the actions of others. I have been where you are and know how frustrating it can be . IMO take those frustrations and channel your creative energy outside the workplace and start a business or a project that is personally satisfying. You can always use your job to pay the bills or change jobs.


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Old June 8th, 2005, 08:27 PM   #8
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Tim, in corporate it could be a lot of things, but here is my two cents worth (and I probably owe you change).

1. Don't offer unsolicited advice to the people who did it. NEVER. If they know about you, you are out of the loop because they are already threatened or don't value your input. EIther way, offering advice can only make it worse.
2. Message (content) is everything. If you don't understand that, you are not ready.
3. There was some advice to worm your way in. That works, but was never my style. I never suck up to nitwits, I bypass them. You should find out what charities the BIG BOSS (owner, CEO) supports. Then go do some free work for them and make it shine. When the boss sees your work and finds out you already work for him, you could end up running the video department instead of working your way into a job for the clueless guy.
You are either growing or dying.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #9
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Possible reasons why they are sticking with their unofficial videographer:
A- They see you as being less skilled/good and they're right. ?In the real world, this may not come into play as often as you think?
Unfortunately for you it may be difficult to tell this because your own emotions may taint your judgement. Ego, jealousy, inferior complex, etc. (I'm not saying you have any of those traits... and I really wouldn't be able to tell.)
B- They like him (more than you).
People will help a person they like, or people who have helped them.
They may not like working with you. (You should be able to judge this for yourself.)
C- Risk. They may see it as a risk to switch to you.
D- Politics. No one wants to look stupid. Maybe switching to you would make them look stupid?
E- They may think you're not that good because videography is not your full-time job. Many people think 'specialists' (who do X for a living) are better.
F- They see you as being less skilled/good. This would be related to how you market yourself. How you can meet their needs (you have to convince them you can do what they want), how you market yourself (i.e. your image.)

Anyways, I would at things like this:
Would you honestly want to do video projects for your employer? It seems from your message that they frustrate you and that you see them as clueless.

I'd focus on doing something constructive, which is going after jobs from other people. Work on marketing yourself.
When dealing with people, try to keep things positive. People respond better to that. i.e. Don't focus on the other guy being bad at what he does. On one level, it implies your employer is stupid because they hired the guy.
Focus on how good you are. At the same time, you have to avoid bragging. One way is to "let your work speak for itself" by showing your demo reel or whatever. While you are letting your work speak for itself, you should also try to focus their attention to specific things that are good... i.e. how you can meet their needs. Or lead them to focus on the parts of the demo reel that are good (i.e. I used ___ light kit and ___ camera... they'll focus on the quality of the pictures/images)
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Old June 9th, 2005, 08:30 AM   #10
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I appreciate the input

Bob, Glenn, Mark, Jerry, et al.:

Thank you for your opinions. You've opened my eyes to possibilities I haven't considered. I'm certainly not send a "sour grapes" message to the team that created the video. I congratulated them yesterday, telling them that as a fellow videographer, I appreciate all the time and effort that went into the project and that it made for a more entertaining town meeting. One of the guys (who narrated and probably wrote the script) is a former supervisor who's consulted with me about videography before; he is the only one I feel comfortable addressing as a friend. I will tell him I'm disappointed not to have worked on this project and remind him that I'd like to take part in the next production. If you don't ask for what you want, people won't give it to you.

Other than that, I'm not going to waste my time waiting for something to happen here. After all, we're in the book business, so video will never be a priority. I'll continue doing what I do outside the office, get better at it, and network, network, network. I recently came up with an idea for marketing my services to veterinary hospitals. This idea's so crazy, it just might work! I'm not afraid to try anything.

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Old June 17th, 2005, 06:23 PM   #11
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I don't think anybody mentioned wages. Go look at the ridiculous job offers thread. Person who did the video was one who answered the ad for "experienced producer/shooter/editor" $7.50/hr. Heck after spending $50,000 on setting up their video department they don't have any money left to hire someone qualified. Heck all you need is some good gear and anything will look good, right?

Maybe your answer is in the script. Maybe he's a good writer/producer but weak on the tech side, where you seem to be strong. If you play the politics maybe you can tell him and the higher (hire) ups that it was an entertaining script and you'd love to fill any need in the department on the tech side.
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