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The 5 Weirdest Things You Never Knew About Videography

By K’ai Roberts Fu on August 12, 2020

Every field has its idiosyncrasies–things you’d never need to know if you weren’t deeply involved in that particular specialty. For instance, from my past careers:

  • Automotive Chemical Manufacturing: Transmission cleaner may sell better if it smells vaguely like bubblegum.
  • Dance Teacher: Moving around the limbs and feet of near strangers (pre-quarantine) is just part of the job.
  • Program Director: I know the food allergies of the 60 different group members and can tell you who recently went vegan.

As for Video Production, it seems to have more than its fair share of surprising quirks. For the people now watching and using video as a primary form of communication, thanks to quarantine, here are five intriguing things about video that can bring more layers and more interest to your daily video viewing. For the video DIY’ers out there, knowing these five things that can enhance your video creation process.

 

Silence isn’t silent

A few months back we recorded a guided meditation for a hypnotherapist. After listening to her recording, she asked if we could “make the silence longer” between some of her statements. Oddly, adding silence is not a just matter of adding time with “zero” on the volume. A quiet room still has sounds: the distant hum of a fan, a slight shift in a chair, the almost imperceptible sound of someone’s breath. To make authentic stillness, we had to copy and blend in other bits when she wasn’t talking, so it wasn’t TOO quiet. Silence, on video, isn’t really silent.

 

Light has temperatures

Yes, you read that right. Light has temperatures, and that matters in video. Learning about them can help not just when you record video, but even when you’re buying light bulbs.

The first thing to know is that these “temperatures,” measured in Kelvins (K), correspond to colors of visible light. Remember the last time you bought an LED bulb? You probably understood some of the notes on the box, like “warm” (more yellow, like old incandescent bulbs) and “cool” (more blue, like sunshine). Well, light temperatures over 5000 K are “cool/blue.” Those between 2700–3000 K are “warm/yellow.” For a deep dive into why a 2700 degree Kelvin light is considered “warmer” than a 5000 degree light, check out Wikipedia – Color Temperature.

The second thing to know is that mixed light sources can create strange looks in video. For instance, if you’re recording a pale person standing by a window on their left side (bluish light) and are lighting the right side of their face with a 2700 K LED bulb (yellowish light), they are going to look a little off. A good choice if you do a lot of DIY video is to get an LED light panel with adjustable temperatures, so you can match your add-on lights to what is available in the space you are shooting in.

 

Microphones have directions

While mics may all look similar – wands with some kind of foam-covered shape at the end – there are three basic types. Each of these types has a different type of “direction,” which affects how and why you use them. The basic types of directions are uni-, omni-, and shotgun.

Unidirectional Mics

Unidirectional Mics pick up from one direction. They are meant to be used close to the mouth of the speaker. Uni mics are good for vocalists, PA announcers, DJs, and noisy situations, because they don’t pick up much sound in any other direction. Have you ever given a toast at a wedding?  The DJ probably gave you a unidirectional mic so all the background chatter wouldn’t be picked up. This works great if you hold the mic within a few inches of your mouth. However, if you held the mic with your hand down at your waist (which a lot of people do) the guests were probably hollering “speak up!” despite the fact you were using a mic. Now you know why.

Omnidirectional Mics

Omnidirectional Mics pick up sound from all around. Omni mics are great as lapel mics and for recording interviews in relatively quiet situations. The people talking can turn their heads and not speak right at the mic, and their voice can still be heard. Do be careful when using omnidirectional mics. Because these mics do pick up sound from all around, they can create screeching feedback if you don’t handle them right – like walking too close to the speakers (the AV type, not the people) when you’re giving a talk.

Shotgun Mics

Shotgun Mics pick up sound from one direction. Unlike Uni mics, they can pick up from a distance. Use a shotgun mic when you want to capture cleaner audio from farther away than you could with a Uni mic. They are generally used on boom poles.  You may have seen them covered with what looks like a dust mop in “behind the scenes” videos. Electronic News Gathering (out on location) also uses shotgun mics, as backup audio for the handheld mic the reporter carries.

 

A two-minute video takes more time to edit than a full hour lecture

It seems counter-intuitive, but 2-minute “About US” video is way more time-consuming to produce than a one-hour lecture. With lectures, there is some pre-planning, such as sound checks. Once the cameras start rollingthough, it’s a single shoot all the way through. Editing is then pretty straightforward.

With short-form videos, we may have multiple shoot dates and locations. We might have 30-60 minutes of interviews that need to be trimmed down to several short sound bites for a finished product of 120 seconds. We may have a couple of hours of b-roll (the visuals that go with the narrative) to sift through to find exactly the right shots. The tighter and more layered a video needs to be, the longer it takes to edit it.

Short-form video mirrors the challenges of concise writing. In a quote attributed to Blaise Pascal, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

 

Choosing music for a video is harder and more time-intensive than you might think

Choosing music can be both one of the most fun and most frustrating parts of editing a video. Fun, because you’re listening to lots of cool tunes. Frustrating, because you’re choosing from LOTS of options, and need to get it right.

There are a ton of considerations for choosing music. What mood do you want to convey? Does it enhance or detract from people talking, if there’s talking on the video? Is it right for your target market? Is it bland and non-intrusive, or unique and attention-getting?  Which option – bland or unique – is best for the message you want to convey?

We work with royalty-free music databases can have thousands of songs to choose from. Even when we know all the answers to the above questions going into it. It can take hours to narrow it down to a few choices. Even when we know all the answers to the above questions going into it. Most videos are timed to the music, at least in part. You greatly increase editing time if you choose the wrong song and have to do it over.

Finally, in most cases a client wants a part in the music selection. After hours scrolling through music, we’ll send them at least three viable selections. Once they make their decision, it’s time to start editing the video to the music.

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