When people are thinking about making videos for their business, there’s often a debate about whether they should outsource the video production or attempt to make the videos in-house with a DIY approach.
Although I run a professional video production company, I’m of the view that there are pros and cons to both approaches, and that neither can be considered the universal “best option.”
Ultimately it comes down to what your business needs and can afford to do.
Do It Yourself
The immediate appeal of creating DIY videos is the potential cost saving. Most people have a smartphone with a fairly decent camera these days, and while you’re unlikely to get “professional quality” video from one of these devices, it’s certainly possible to create usable content.
Another benefit of recording video content yourself is that you can shoot little, often and get your videos out quickly. Whether you’re shooting video to go on your website, blog, or for social media, with a DIY solution you’re always armed to capture unique moments as they happen – and by having video clips of these moments in your archive, you can potentially incorporate this footage into any “higher level” professional videos that you make later down the line.
I’ve worked on many professional video projects where the client has supplied clips that they’ve recorded themselves that simply wouldn’t have been possible to capture during my limited time on site with them. The impromptu nature of the DIY approach gives you a bit more flexibility for capturing little pieces of footage when opportunity strikes.
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The Professional Approach
The DIY approach is not without its drawbacks, though. The immediate issue is the quality.
Many consumer cameras (including smartphones) will automatically adjust settings like the white balance, exposure, focus and audio levels, which can give unpredictable results. This makes filming video clips seem “easier” but it can lead to errors that give away that the video was an amateur production. When I’m out filming with a professional camera, I have manual control over the camera and do a lot of work to ensure that it’s doing exactly what I want it to be doing.
I generally like to compare cameras to hammers. If you don’t know how to use a hammer then buying an expensive hammer won’t help you hit a nail into the wall. You’ll just end up making even bigger holes. Skills and experiences can’t simply be bought on a shelf; they take time to develop and accrue. But skill and experience can be hired, which is what you do when you bring in a professional.
Additionally, when I’m out filming, I’ll bring professional lights, microphones, tripods and movement equipment (like gimbals, dollies, sliders) with me to get the shots I need. While you can buy a lot of these accessories yourself to make your DIY videos look better, like tripods and microphones that work with your phone, there comes a point where you’ve spent so much money and time making a DIY video that you could have booked a professional and had the video made twice as well in half the time.
Which brings us to the biggest downside to the DIY approach, which is that it relies solely on you or someone within your business taking the time to make your videos. Can you spare time to not only film yours videos but also to learn how to edit them professionally enough that they can represent you or your company?
Video production is a deceptively tricky skill to master when you consider the framing, lighting, movement, sound and – the hardest part – the editing. A professional will have the experience to avoid the common (and less common) mistakes that people make when they create videos, and will have an eye for making your next video stand out.
My opinion is that DIY video is a solution that’s best for low-stakes content with a short shelf life, and for capturing rare, off the cuff moments that would be impractical to have covered by a professional videographer.
For everything else, I’d say let the professionals handle it.
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