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Old March 14th, 2013, 08:07 AM   #1
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Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

I went to visit a new client over the weekend, and they wanted to show me the sort of thing they wanted on a dvd of the bride's oldest sister's wedding from a few years ago. As soon as she put it on, the first thing I noticed was the low picture resolution. I remarked on this and she said "Do you think so?" She said that it was put onto dvd from the original VHS 'which should have made it better'. I ignored that and watched the bits she wanted me to see. The content was ok but nothing special, so we then viewed a couple of mine which she actually preferred.

The point is that at no time did she mention the obviously better picture quality, just the content. Her fiancee had joined us by then and I pointedly asked them what their thoughts were and they both agreed that they much preferred my work. I then asked them about the picture quality and neither had taken much notice, concentrating on the content. I have found this quite a lot over the years and noticed it more since moving over to HD filming a few years back. Occasionally a client will comment that it looks very clear, but normally it's not something they seem to notice or bother about.

On this forum, it is very clear that many wedding videographers are constantly striving for the best possible picture quality, investing a lot of money into high end cameras, expensive dslrs with various costly lenses and accessories. Frequently multi cameras and now with talk of 4kx2k. All of this needs fast editing systems with sophisticated software, monitoring etc.

As professionals, we want to give our clients the best that we can produce, but in our quest for the best, have we lost sight of what most brides want, and are consequently limiting the market? I genuinely believe that if I went into a discount electrical store and bought a pair of the cheapest consumer camcorders that I could find, that I could film and edit a wedding video that would more than satisfy 90% of couples.

Although this will be my best year ever, the photographers that I know are all telling me that they are seeing fewer videos being taken at weddings, but more friends using smart phones and consumer camcorders. Am I alone in thinking that maybe the gap between our own standards and those of prospective clients is widening and that just maybe, there is a whole market out there for quick and easy wedding video!

Roger
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Old March 14th, 2013, 08:49 AM   #2
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

most people eat crap, listen to crap, and watch crap. the industry gives awards to crap.
does this mean we should produce crap?
i personally do the best job i can and strive for the best quality i can get. my soul would shrivel and die if i made music videos of rappers throwing money at strippers and glorifying misogyny, violence, mindless consumerism and bragging about themselves. with a SD handy-cam.
i guess just ask yourself: do i want to be a chef, or flip burgers at McCrap?
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Old March 14th, 2013, 09:10 AM   #3
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

I think content is the most important, but you shouldn't ignore picture quality and camera technique. Rarely do people comment on depth of field, style of editing when judging a movie, only whether the story was good or not. However that doesn't mean that the technical aspects don't play a part; they are techniques used to sell a story. I don't think anyone would notice the focus pulling of one actor to another when each is speaking unless it was done wrong. However subliminally they are drawing their attention on the person speaking because the focus is on them. It's like special effects - the best effects are the ones you don't notice. I'm sure one special effects guy said the best praise for his work was when people didn't comment on the effects.
That said I have had some clients pick me because they liked a certain technique I did, another telling me that my video looked like a proper one without really defining why and another commenting negatively on some of my video for being too dark and grainy - so some do notice.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 09:15 AM   #4
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Hi Roger

Yes we do become obsessed with resolution and a perfect picture and the bride really couldn't care less as long as the dresses are the right colour and things are in focus. They are simply obsessed with content which is the way it should be if you think about it. I did a survey on a bridal forum a while back and most brides said they couldn't tell the difference between SD and HD!! Why?? cos they are watching the content.

Guys do amazing shots with shallow DOF and the bride looks at it and says "why is my husband's hair fuzzy ?" I have seen plenty shots here where DOF was way, way too small .. to some it might be "arty" but to most bride's it's out of focus and they don't care for it. I always try to cater for content because I know the bride will be pleased with the result. I did a wedding with a 2 cam setup and used my GoPro as a super wide shot high up on a light stand and the bride raved about the GoPro footage and asked for more..not because it was "cool" but simply because she could see everything that was going on.

On the other side of the coin we simply have to be resolution obsessive otherwise what would be have to talk about on the forum. Yes I shoot and render to the best of my ability and don't produce a "VHS" copy but I still put content first and brides appreciate that cos that's what they expect.

Chris
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Old March 14th, 2013, 10:57 AM   #5
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian David Melnyk View Post
most people eat crap, listen to crap, and watch crap. the industry gives awards to crap.
does this mean we should produce crap?
i personally do the best job i can and strive for the best quality i can get. my soul would shrivel and die if i made music videos of rappers throwing money at strippers and glorifying misogyny, violence, mindless consumerism and bragging about themselves. with a SD handy-cam.
i guess just ask yourself: do i want to be a chef, or flip burgers at McCrap?
I think that perhaps I didn't make my point clear enough! I wouldn't want to do any of the things that you mention either, and I was referring to mainly wedding work. I am also not talking about artistic and filming quality, rather the technical apects. The point I was making was that I could buy a pair of cheap consumer cameras, and use my 27 years of wedding and commercial production experience to make a nicely framed, stable and competently edited video which would satisfy the requirements of 90% of brides. I could probably edit a well taken single camera wedding in a few hours on basic equipment and sell the service for way less than my normal work, probably at a price that would make it highly attractive to those who would not otherwise consider a video on the grounds of cost.

I am not in any way suggesting that techniques go out of the window, rather that we could produce good videos for a fraction of the equipment costs that are essential for high resolution high definition video. My theory is that as we gain in experience and ability, that we also tend to increase our own expectations and the quality and therefore cost of everything that we work with. My wedding work is filmed in HD but mostly delivered on dvd, and many wedding companies seem to be filming and editing on ever more sophisticated equipment that may be above the quality level that most wedding clients would be very happy with.

There is also the point that some wedding videographers see weddings as a way to pay for better equipment and to practice cinematic techniques that will enable them to move into more lucrative areas of videography or film making. There are also plenty whose equipment and techniques are already used in more demanding film projects, but use the same equipment for weddings.

So what I am saying here is for many wedding clients, are we trying to sell a Rolls Royce to a couple who would not appreciate the quality and equipment involved, when they would be over the moon with a family car at a price they can afford? Should be be eploiting the potential of this budget market?

Roger
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Old March 14th, 2013, 11:30 AM   #6
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Isn't there a pretty famous photog, shooting for fashion mags, who uses an old point and shoot film camera? He knows his camera and it's limits well enough that it's never a problem.

Roger, I'm inclined to believe that, as long as you know how to use it, you could easily do a good job with lesser gear. Grab some Canon T4i's rather than a Mark iii and you could still do well enough for almost everyone and only lose a few shots because of low light limitations, or a hard pan.

they won't notice relatively small differences because they're not seeing the quality difference side-by-side. I think there is a line somewhere between a $125 camcorder and the Mark iii/C100 where people would just notice, or you'd be too limited to put a good video together (a single cheap camorder from the back? yuck... or a stock f/5.6 lens on a Canon T2i trying to shoot a 1st dance in the dark).
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Old March 14th, 2013, 11:45 AM   #7
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Roger,
I can not nor will I speak for every person shooting wedding videos, nor will I attempt to speak for every bride and groom in the world or in the USA or in Illinois or in Chicago! ;-) BUT I will speak for the ones that I have shot over the years and yes, I agree we're not talking about VHS qualtiy vs. HD quality.
I agree that the quality of the is less important to me than the VALUE of the shot, meaning does the shot help tell the story and can I live with something that may be a bit unsteady (for example) than another shot? In 99.9% of the cases it is a resounding YES, the VALUE of the shot is more important than the QUALITY of the shot. We have to remember we are there first and foremost to document the day and if we can make a cinematic trailer or a music video out of it, great if that's our style and that's what the B&G wanted and hired us to do but IMO EVERY wedding should be able to be made into a long form doco style that tells the story. Who am I to decide for the B&G what is or isn't important to them?
Yes, I agree with Chris that sometimes we get so involved with the latest and greatest peice of gear we forget what we're there to do and I agree with you that I could take a consumer 1 chip, and still get a quality video that tells the story. Hell that's how I was brought up in the video business and I'll bet many here were as well. One camera cause that's all we could afford.

Sure the difference in viewable quality between cameras can be noticed and even spoken to by B&Gs but I also remember reading an article about one of my heros in the still photography area. Alfred Eisenstadt who had more published covers of Life magazine than any other 2 photographers. He used a single Leica MII with a 50mm lens. That's it. As he said the photograph is made in the mind before it's made on the film.
The emotion of the day needs to be captured be it by a $20,000 camera, a GoPro or a cell phone. Capture that and NOW you've got something to work with.
Maybe I'm just too old school but I know I'm not the only one and I love the toys as much as the next guy but the toys aren't going to dictate my finished product. The toys are only the tool to produce the picture in my mind.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 12:30 PM   #8
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

I approach it with the mentality that when I go eat at a restaurant, I can't always identify every single aspect of a dish that makes it delicious. Somedays I would be able to point out that a dish is good because of certain ingredients that I like or I can comment on how my meat was cooked but most of the time, I would enjoy the overall dining experience without too many specific reasons. I just know that the chef works his magic in the kitchen and I like eating the food.

I think brides are also like that. They can't always identify every single aspect of a film that justify why they like it more than another one. Some would maybe notice a few shooting techniques, some would pick on image quality, some would simply comment on the dress. Even when I show my work to another industry friend, they sometimes don't see EVERY single detail that I personally paid attention to when I put the piece together. But that's fine with me because I think it's the combination of everything together that affects the overall enjoyment of my final product.

Would people still like my work if I cut down on image quality?
Would people still like my work if I don't spend time colour grading it?
Would people still like my work if I don't pay attention to sound design?
Would people still like my work if I didn't use X or Y equipment?
Would people still like my work if I cut out certain scenes from my film?

The answer is yes and no for all of those questions. You can certainly get away with a lot of things and still find people who love your work. But you can also cut down on some of it and people would not like your work as much too.

As a perfectionist (or I try to be), I personally aim for the best I can give. So far, I think most of my clients are able to see it and I hope to keep it that way. I tend to believe that brides hire me because they like my work and trust my vision so they will simply let me "cook something delicious for them" and they would just sit back and enjoy it.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 12:52 PM   #9
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

I think the whole cinematic thing is just to add value to your business.

Ultimately content and the way you tell the story is everything. Brides don't give a sh!t (to put it bluntly) about your depth of field shot.

I have actually done a few weddings where I took a gamble and tried something different only to smack my head when it came to editing. But the bride and groom didn't notice the defect I was so paranoid about ... instead they mentioned the fact that I didn't show enough of their mum, or a certain member of family.

So in the end the quality of a certain scene which I was paranoid about was irrelevant in their eyes as everything flowed really well ...

I think we are so concerned in trying to become hollywood style film makers that we forget we are being hired to document a family occasion. A wedding. A memory that people want to cherish. We need to capture all the details, and everybody in it ... and try not to miss a scene!

The bride can easily get a family member to document it. But they would rather pay some one out of the family, who is experienced, who does it often to film it !
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Old March 14th, 2013, 01:02 PM   #10
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Long Truong View Post
I just know that the chef works his magic in the kitchen and I like eating the food.

I think brides are also like that. They can't always identify every single aspect of a film that justify why they like it more than another one.
DING DING DING..... WE have a WINNER HERE !!!

I agree wholeheartedly with Long on this analogy. As Chris mentions, a non video person can see out of focus shots, but otherwise has no clue on the mechanics of what is going on...nor do they care !!!

So, IMHO, it comes down to your "magic", how much you want to build in, how much your customer expects and how much your competition may be offering.

As others have stated, content is and always will be king. If you ain't got that, you ain't got squat! But after having all the shots your bride wants, how you get them and how they look, could be the reason you are preferred over someone else's work.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 03:03 PM   #11
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

It's interesting to see the comments on this subject and I get as much pleasure out of using great gear and a technique coming off as anyone else here. I also feel that sometimes the work that I put in can only be really appreciated by someone else who is in the same business. There is the satisfaction of a job well done, but the couple just love to see the emotion of the day and all their family and friends..

A couple of years back I was approached by a couple who had a friend film their wedding for them on a very basic old consumer video camera on Hi8. There was four hours of total disaster unedited footage and they asked me if I could do anything with it. I spent 2 days picking out the only bits that were useable, and reluctantly delivered them 25 minutes of edited highlights on dvd. They were absolutely over the moon with it, and treated me as if I was Steven Spielberg.

As Don said, with the experience and skills you can make almost anything work for you, the thing is are we ignoring a big potential market while we wait for the better paid jobs to come along? Also has the rapid growth of good quality filming on phones and small devices, together with run and gun reality progammes altered young people's expectations of what is good?

Roger
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Old March 14th, 2013, 03:13 PM   #12
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Heh, Roger the cell phones today produce better image quality than most of the very expensive video cameras I used back in the 80s and 90s. I'm sure you found the same thing.
Maybe we should just ditch the cameras, get a couple of cell phones and have at it! ;-)
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Old March 14th, 2013, 04:12 PM   #13
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Maybe we should just ditch the cameras, get a couple of cell phones and have at it!

That is not as off the wall as some may think, as evidenced by the lengthy "Shooting weddings with small handicams" thread:

Shooting weddings with small handicams

I'm sure that everyone has found out in their own time that content always trumps quality. But thats not to diminish the very real benefits of some techological advances. For example original HD footage can be cropped to obtain better compositions than was apparent when you were actually shooting especially content from unattended B cams. And cheap consumer cams may well work for the majority of weddings but you are going to come unstuck very badly the moment you hit a low light ceremony. Then there is the diminutive size of lots of the latest equipment which enables you to be unobtrusive - no more fat sweaty blokes with huge broadcast-style cams on their shoulders ruining the ambience for all the guests. And so on.

Pete
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Old March 14th, 2013, 04:20 PM   #14
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

I'll second (or third or fourth) the "doesn't matter what you shoot with", as long as you cappture the content...

Sure, it's nice to have "gear" that makes your life easier (like a nice monopod, some lights, extra audio, etc.), and it's the "little things" that often make the difference between usable footage and what the amateur might shoot. Does that gear have to be "expensive"? Nope, not really, unless you're hoping to impress someone with your "toys".

I appreciate a nice camera as much as the next guy, but if you can't pick up a cheap P&S and get a "good" well composed shot, that $10K camera isn't really gonna make you a pho-to-gra-pher...

Over time I've gotten more and more picky about those "little" details that comprise picture/color/sound "quality" - but we live in a "post yer cell phone video and become a viral sensation" world... things don't go viral because of the "awesome high definition" video, theatrical lighting, and studio sweetened sound... people watch (and pass it along) becasue it "moves" them.


I think the question posed has another aspect we've been tiptoe'ing around - is it possible to seek out more "work" by using less expensive gear so you can offer lower rates... to that I'd say "maybe", but think real hard about the "clientele'" - there's been plenty of discussion on rates, and there's a lot to be said about (NOT) "competing" with the "$299 wedding videographer".


In the end, it's not about the gear, but the operator.... the odds are pretty good that a professional will have a fair amount of gear, both in cameras and auxilliary/grip/support equipment. All the toys are amortized and written off over time, but the skill and talent in CAPTURING THE CONTENT are where the value lies. If your client can only afford $299, and you want for some reason to take the gig, well, that's a personal choice, that should NOT be governed by how much you just spent on a new toy...
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Old March 14th, 2013, 06:27 PM   #15
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Perhaps this leaves the door open for a genuine two tier system. Dave mentioned tiptoe'ing round the 'more work with less expensive gear' question. I think that raises a subject that is almost perhaps seen as taboo, CHEAP VIDEO!

You can almost hear the gasps go up and people covering their ears. Why should the experienced professional even consider competing with the $299 man. After all we have spent years building up expensive equipment and experience and techniques, so you can't expect to offer that for peanuts just to compete with the college kid with a camcorder.

The answer to that is simple DON'T! But as Dave pointed out, the world has moved on, people take videophone clips that go viral, home video clips are viewed by millions on tv programmes as are shows built around cctv footage and police video. The expectations of young people particularly have changed in many ways. Rather than competing with the college kid with the camcorder, why not join him in that market.

There is no reason why a two tier business couldn't offer 'Reality Weddings' alongside their upmarket products. Clients don't get your expensive cameras, gliders, cranes etc, they just get a guy with a camcorder who follows the action, keeping the editing to absolute minimum and doing it for a knockdown price. How many times have you been asked if you can show the ceremony to the evening guests? I normally politely refuse, but with SD card scene recording and one camera, it would be simple. To be honest, if you keep it that simple, you could even take a laptop, and in the evening sit down and do a simple edit, adding titles you prepared earlier. Give them a copy, maybe on a usb stick and the job is done.

Rather than sitting on our backsides waiting for the upmarket jobs, with client meetings, complex multi camera edits etc, etc, we could be filming dozens of quick cheap weddings using the expertise, websites and marketing tools that we already use. It doesn't lose us the expensive jobs if promoted properly, but might gain a lot of work from people who would not normally consider it, or get Uncle Harry to film it.

I've almost talked myself into giving it a go :-)

Roger
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