VARIABLE TIMING

How long to string a piece of video?

How long is a piece of string? (maybe you knew that Q was coming!). Questions with infinite answers need a bit of qualification.

The word video used to mean one thing: electronic display output from a videotape machine source. Video was originally very expensive equipment, available and controlled by only a few with such resources.

Within the last generation, video has become a verb (to video) as well as a noun - developing into a everyday technology kids can master on a mobile phone.

MEET YOUR MAKERS

Video content can now be uploaded in real time by any sole individual with a cell phone - a 1:1 manufacture to distribution ratio. This improved creation capability has ballooned to a 30,000:1 ratio of content uploaded to YouTube: 30k hours new video per hour. The modern public expectation and reality is that video is now or nothing.

VIDEO STRING-ALONG THEORY

While creating (and recreating) the short banner animation accompanying the story on last week’s post, my significantly better half asked how much time was left before I was done. Other chores beckoned.

As I had finally just settled on the final concept while tinkering on the timeline, I could only reply with a feeble “few more hours.” How can I justify to anyone that it takes so long to punt out a 10-second video program?

Son Adam recently wrote an article on the tribulations of coding a big project: 3 Lines of Code Shouldn’t Take All Day. Limiting software development processes impeded progress, and he was having none of it.

I needed the opposite tack for my video slacking excuse, especially since the product was all me. No gate or wall stands in my way except “designers block” so I’d better prepare a line of reasoning to support my string of madness.

REASON FOR BEAN

I was nicely asked to write a this weekly series about technology experiences. Jumping into the internet ocean with just another wall of words seemed like a lonely and futile pursuit. I would need a better hook to catch anything out there.

Great illustrations have long been used to burnish words - what would the New Yorker, Scientific American, Playboy and Mad Magazine have done without them?

On the webornet, the thumbnail picture and headline is the only hope anyone has to be seen, so searching and figuring is in order. Blandly, the vast majority of online article use images that appear to be clip art or stock photographs.

PRODUCT OF MY IMAGINATION

I am no artist, but I have tooled around with paint, photo, animation, and audio-video editing software. Illustrating my own words with the very technology that I speak of seems a fit.

I enjoy learning a wide range of creative skills, but do not have time to focus on many. Having a regular commitment to produce something - anything, will keep my hands and mind on creative tools. The experience will speed my work and personal progress.

We hope to be different than the rest, and that should help visibility out on the sea of hopefuls.

IT’S BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME (I THINK I SHOULD BE GOING)

Now to the part where making video can take a long time, and if somebody is paying - more money. If we are shooting a $250k per second big name commercial, there is endless money and enough time for perfection.

My perspective is a lower level concern. Sitting here by the light of my dark mode screen, why does it take ME so long to make 10 seconds of video?

If we needed to make a report, we might reverse engineer what it takes to get the job done:

 RESOURCES
      Existing computers, software and 
      cameras provide quality product
 BUDGETS
      none - deal with it.
 CREATIVE PRIORITIES
      1) be relevant to the article content
      2) be flashy and to the point
      3) subtly demonstrate skills learned
         in the process
 PROJECT TIMELINE
      Yesterday or ASAP, whichever is first

While we stress over 10 seconds, a real film or video production would require many days and weeks to prepare for and manage all of the following subtopics:

 FINANCING
 PLANNING
 HIRING
      DIRECTOR
      PRODUCER
      CAMERA OPERATOR
      SOUND MIXER
      GAFFER (LIGHTING)
 LOCATIONS
 TALENT

As none of these traditions are needed for our project, we can save weeks of time and loads of cash. Thank goodness for consumer grade technology.

Wait - some PLANNING and TALENT may still be necessary!

CONCEPT IN PROGRESS

Ideas for creative concepts develop while writing the words to Analog Samplings. In the same way articles change heading and direction mid-draft, it helps to be flexible on video execution.

Concepts turn into creative choices with the help of STORYBOARDS - a board of stories you are supposing to tell. Professionally this is done on formatted templates with typed words and example pictures and diagrams.

If there is no team of people to yell at or otherwise communicate with, formality of the planning process need not strictly be enforced. Some decisions are made for you based on assets available, time left on the clock, and random thoughts or feelings in the moment.

For a scant 10-second video, you likely do not need a spreadsheet to keep track of your project - your head may have capacity for a few items of note (minimum one required). Sometimes you can get away with using the flipbook in your mind.

Based on the storyboard, some sheep (ewe) has to put together a shot list of media parts needed to pretend together for the show.

In the case of the Car Trek Technology video for the previous article, the list is fairly short:

  SHOT LIST
      VIDEO
           windshield view driving through hills
      PHOTOGRAPHS
           mid-60s GM Delco push button radio
      GRAPHICS
           in-dash car stereo display
           dashboard background
           separate radio dial parts from photo
           Unidentified Flying Object
           exploding fireball
           sun rays through fog
           green electrical disturbance field
      SOUND EFFECTS
           old radio changing through stations
           electricity zap
      VOICEOVER
           female says "this is ROCK4 from Mars"
      TEXT CAPTIONS
           none
      SUBTITLES
           none
      MUSIC SOUNDTRACK
           eerie, foggy intro 

First, we have to admit this is a post-creation list. Several of the items came to mind after the base parts were assembled, and a couple of ideas were dropped.

Having a list of exact requirements provided up front, rather than being made up along the way would have saved and shaved plenty of think and sink time. Genius arrives on its own timeline.

Hopefully more genius will arrive in time for the next installment. We will dive into how to make and find the parts need for this video assembly in Part 2.

Randy Berg

xyz digital inc.

Video Production - Wikipedia

Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute - Statista

YouTube by the Number: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts - Omnicore

The Best Video Editing Software for 2022 - PC Magazine