Web design and online video, two important factors in any marketing campaign, are undergoing something of a revolution. Everyone now is a filmmaker or graphic designer, and the web has plenty of free tutorials for photo editing and web design as well as articles explaining how to to get stunning results from your DSLR video camera. This might sound good, but for me there’s a limit to such frothy excitement.
Sadly, too many of today's corporate films consist of loosely edited sequences with no sense of logic. They can challenge people's attention span — a serious issue in this frenzied world of social media — and you end up feeling that such films lack any real sense of purpose. The 'off the shelf' video also tends to ignore the human element of a story, as if interviewing somebody means having to come out from behind the viewfinder and actually interact with real people! Put simply, the cheap video risks adorning its sequences with an anodyne voiceover and misplaced music and calls it a day, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
You’d expect me to say this I know, but there really are some very good reasons why engaging a professional filmmaker is preferable to doing it yourself or hiring someone with all the gear and none of the know-how. There are many analogies here, from builders, chefs and solicitors, to vets, farriers and brain surgeons; the true professions are built on an honest mix of talent, ability and experience, and that’s why they should be worth their fee.
Just as few of us can be expected to understand the complexities of the law or how to fix brains, the same is true of filmmaking. Genuine experts have their place and we would be foolish to ignore them, even if it’s tempting to cut costs and do it ourselves.
While for the basic talking head stuff, a smartphone just might do the job (but please get the sound right!), anything more really needs the touch of a professional videographer, someone who has all the right equipment and knows how to use it.
As well as mastering the kit and working smart, the professional will also understand the audience; they will be able to develop a story that includes a strong human element, have a sense of the editing flow and appreciate what does and doesn’t work visually — all these things should come naturally.
Working together with your overall strategy, the professional videographer will create something that builds on your brand and image, endorsing the product and enhancing how your customers engage in what you do. Above all they shouldn't be churning out useless window dressing — it will be a well-thought out piece of work that creates impact for both you and your target audience.
I understand all too well that maximising profits and keeping down costs is an important focus for businesses in these straitened times, but as we’re seeing with so much online video nowadays, in the long term less doesn’t always result in more. We all instinctively know that cheap marketing, when badly designed and poorly executed can be more damaging than something carefully considered and thought out, and while the "stack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap" mentality might work for the discount supermarket, most stores would think twice about spending only a few quid on advertising and promotion.
In essence you get what you pay for, and just with brochures, flyers and websites, online video production is no exception.
About the author
This article was written as a guest blog post by James Harrison. Honeystone has collaborated with James on a number of projects and we are delighted that he has agreed to write this useful article for our blog.
As a Wiltshire-based independent film-maker, director and editor James has over 35 years of experience - much of it spent working for the BBC. Offering a fresh approach to making films - down to earth, with no fuss but plenty of professionalism and creative flair, James always strives for the broadcast standards which people have come to expect.
To learn more about James and to enjoy some of his work please visit his website.
I founded Honeystone in 2003 to help people achieve greater success by harnessing the awesome power of the internet. Formulating strategies, helping build brands and seeing clients thrive are my primary motivators. The professional and technical development of Honeystone underpins this and I am extremely proud to work with a team who share my vision of how we can make the internet a better place for all users. Badminton, cycling, entertaining and live music are some of my other passions.