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How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

Video is Never finished…

“Video is never finished.  It’s just taken away.”  I don’t remember where I first heard this old saying, but I wish I had said it.  Do I get to take credit for it if I repeat it a lot?  Probably not, sadly.

But I’ve been repeating it a lot this past week as we’ve just aired the 7th and final episode of the first season of Brew Dogs for the new Esquire Network.  And gosh darn it if it wasn’t pretty good  (if you missed episodes, you can watch on demand here).

But it wasn’t perfect.

I’m lucky there was an air date, because even as I watched it on TV, I was thinking, “You know, we could just cut that a little tighter…”  And because I work with a team of flaming perfectionists, we would have worked on it for weeks, spending time and money to play with alternative edits, add  funny bits, or change out shots.  Heck, we could have worked on it for another few months!  But fortunately, networks do not take kindly to missing air dates once they’ve, you know, told people the show is going to be on.  Thank God, or we’d still be working on it now.

You may be less fortunate (as I have also been) if you’re working on a video that’s doesn’t have a business deadline.  If you’re the boss, you can convince yourself that if you just shoot one more day…go back for a bit more b-roll…edit that last scene a little differently…add some effects…the video will be perfect.  Eventually.

This, of course, is a trap.  If you polish hard enough, you may find 100 alternate ways to cut your video.  But they won’t necessarily be better, just different.  By the time you’ve done eleven or twelve different versions you’ve probably found most of the interesting stuff.  After that, you’re just wasting time.  Maybe procrastinating, putting off that moment when people will see your work and judge it.

At that point, it’s time to ship.  Take the project away– from yourself.  Post it, hand it off.  Get rid of it.  Put it out there.  Stop telling people you’re “going to” and start telling them “you did.”

It will feel good.

3 thoughts on “Video is Never finished…

  1. John Coltrane once told Miles Davis that he didn't know how to finish a solo. Miles Davis replied, "Take the saxophone out of your mouth."

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