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Why video production takes so long (and how to make it more efficient)

Why video production takes so long (and how to make it more efficient) Blog Feature

Megan Lang

Video Editor, 5+ Years of Video Production & Editing

February 27th, 2020 min read

If you’re new to the video game, you might wonder why it feels like it takes so long to get a video done.

Well, to start, let’s look an example I produced recently.

This two-minute video explaining our World Class Communications workshop looks easy and straightforward. And it was. But it did take quite a bit of time.

For the entirety of the video, from shooting to editing, it took four hours of total work. All for two minutes of final product.

For most people who don’t work in video production, these hours spent sifting through footage, doing color correcting, and matching audio, are hidden from view.

They might not realize just how labor-intensive making videos can be. 

Imagine this: Say you had your videographer shoot something that will really help your sales team.

Now, the sales team is waiting on the video to get started assignment selling. But it’s been more than a week and you’re starting to worry you might never see it.

There are a variety of reasons that video production can take longer than you might think, and videographers want you to know why.

Part of the frustration might stem from not understanding the video process. While it might only have taken an hour to shoot, it’s hardly the same for the post-production workflow. 

This post-production part of the process takes the longest. There are many steps, including logging and backing up of the footage, synchronizing the audio with the video, and running through the footage itself. Not to mention the actual cutting of the video and the review process.

Let's look at a few of the top reasons why projects can take as long as they do — and some things you can do to speed it up.

Problem: Sorting through footage

For me, I don’t always shoot what I edit. Sometimes it comes to me perfectly organized and easy to run through, which is great, and the projects can get done quickly.

This is the correct way to do a shoot — the video and audio should be logged for the editor. That translates into easy editing.

Sometimes, though, it comes in a heaping mess of audio and video files that have to be combed through.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to speed through or automate this process. It has to be done manually, and requires close attention in order to ensure quality.

There can be some time-consuming things to have to figure out. This is what happens when the proper steps aren’t taken before and during a shoot. It translates into a mess for the editor.

For example, there can be “false takes” for audio, meaning the talent started recording and stopped for some reason. Then, things you thought were going to line up don't, and then you have to hunt around for the real takes.

Usually, shoots have more than one camera. There can sometimes be upwards of 500 b-roll shots to comb through and figure out where they’re applicable, especially if the shoot was over a few days.

This takes time because the editor has to fully review the footage in order to understand it. It can take a while, even if the shots are less than a minute each.

Solutions:

As a marketer or business leader, you’re not going to be handling the files yourself, but you can encourage your creatives to develop a system of organizing their files.

If your editor is receiving footage they didn’t shoot, make sure they align with the videographer to come up with a system that makes sense.

I’d recommend sorting by day, by person, or by location as a jumping-off point.

For example, something that worked well for me recently was sorting by person. The videographer who shot the content organized it so every person who got interviewed had their own folder.

Their video and audio were put together, along with whatever b-roll was shot of them.

This eliminated the time needed to root around and find files and match them up.

Organizing massive amounts of b-roll will also take out a lot of the guesswork and questions.

This will not only make the editor’s life easier, but it also ensures the best final product. Organization can help make sure nothing gets lost or misplaced, and can prevent reshoots.

Problem: Review time and revisions

There’s not always a set practice for reviewing video, especially if you’re just getting started and are new to creating video content.

Some videos have to go through different people or channels based on what aspect of the video is under review. 

Video’s always on the back burner for reviewers that have other jobs, which is why it can feel like the process takes forever.

Sometimes there can also be misunderstandings of what people want to see changed or edited, especially if the reviewer is not totally familiar with editing terms. 

For example, I was once told a video needed more “analytics.” I took this to mean I should find more quotes from the interview giving analytic responses, but what the reviewer meant was to add graphics to reinforce what was already being said.

Solutions:

This one’s a little harder. You have to make a cultural shift if your organization. You need to get buy-in for video from everyone, especially leadership. This will ensure that everyone is committed to the projects.

You have to make video a priority. People ask for video status updates because they know the finished product is important. All the more reason to make sure everyone is using the same language. If everyone understands basic video terms it makes giving feedback easier to do and follow-through with. 

Lastly, you’ll need to hold people accountable. If you set deadlines, you will make sure your project stays on track. Each person should also be accountable for certain aspects of the video. 

For example, if you’re asking your product expert to review and approve the video’s product information, they don’t need to be commenting on the music. This practice reduces the issue of "too many cooks in the kitchen."

Problem: Technical issues

There are many technical issues that can hinder video production — and these often involve the computers needed to edit. 

Some footage might bog down older computers, limiting the efficiency of your video staff.

Footage shot in 4K or even 8K might look amazing, but the file sizes are huge, and they’ll slow down any process.

Higher-end cameras also shoot in a setting that can look almost gray, meaning your editor has to manually color correct it to look good — another labor-intensive process.

Another issue your editor might be facing is that the footage and audio that were shot might be of poor quality.

Whether it was shot on a busy showroom floor, or you were stuck under fluorescent lights, your video and audio might need a little TLC to get them looking and sounding up to snuff.

It might take some serious fiddling with audio to lower background noise, or some time-consuming color correction to make the footage look its best. 

Solutions:

If you can, invest in the right equipment for the job. Choose the desktop computer with the right specifications that can handle the footage you’re shooting. Select the hard drives that have fast write/read speeds.

Also, invest in faster internet with higher bandwidth for quicker uploads and downloads.

If you’ve got a limited budget, you can look into getting some good used equipment to cut down on costs, but remember, you’re only as good as your tools.

If you don’t invest in the resources, you’ll pay in the time that it takes to work with sub-optimal equipment.

If it’s really that big of a problem that it’s affecting your marketing and therefore your revenue, it’s worth it to dedicate the necessary resources.

Problem: Exporting time

Despite equipment, it can take a long time to render and export projects.

If you’re using a lot of effects in your sequence, an hour-long video could take double that to export. I include this problem simply to point out that some things are out of anyone's control.

Solutions:

Patience. Some things just take time. Even the fastest computer still has to go through a video frame by frame to give you a finished product.

So, while some things can help speed up the process, sometimes you just need a little patience and understanding of the process.

It's worth the wait

Sometimes it can seem like video projects take forever, and sometimes they do. Simply put, quality takes time. 

Investing in the right products and practices can make all the difference in the speed of delivery.

A culture of video is the key. Creating that culture will end up giving you faster turnarounds because people will become more comfortable on camera and you'll develop a structured workflow. 

Investing in the right tools and best practices will make your video production faster, which will give you time for more content. This equates to more engagement with your customers and potential prospects.

Make the investment, and you’ll see just how much your company will benefit.

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