Behind the scenes of Rapid Video Development

Behind every video is a story. This story reveals what’s possible in video production, and the common fears we all must address.

First, watch this 48-second video that took just under an hour to produce (start to finish) for zero budget with a crew of one.

Did you like it?

ATD sure did, they featured it top-front-center of the Speakers page for their annual international conference coming up this week. (ATD is the largest professional membership organization for trainers in the world, and this is my first time speaking for this event.)

I’m not bragging. I actually can’t stand this video.

Why? Because I’m in it, that’s why.

And because this was just an experiment. Here’s the story…

With a busy day ahead of me, I woke up an hour earlier than usual. Just from stress. Rather than diving into the work stressing me out, I chose to divert/procrastinate. I got dressed, flipped a spare mattress up against the wall, rolled out a piece of green fabric and clipped it to the mattress, pointed some lights at it, clipped my phone to microphone stand, plugged in my headphones, jotted a few notes about what to say, hit record, and started talking.

Looking at the video now, I really wish I would have looked in the mirror first and pulled that little white piece of lint off my hat. But I didn’t. No coffee yet, either.

Now I should mention that I have professional video equipment and professional video experience. But I wanted to try shooting from this phone because I hadn’t yet. I wanted to try this makeshift greenscreen & borrowed lighting setup because I hadn’t yet. I wanted to do a video promo for my conference slot because I hadn’t tried doing one yet. Plus ATD had sent out a message to all their speakers asking them to make a quick video (less than 1 in 12 responded).

So, feeling very silly, I talked to the camera on my phone. I messed up and said everything wrong. I did it a second time. Then a third, and fourth.

I would have done it again, but by this time (about 15-minutes into the effort) my girlfriend was awake and wondering what I was doing. Upon responding with “avoiding real work” I realized that I really should start in on the paying work that I was procrastinating.

Later that day, I took a break for lunch. While eating, I reviewed the footage on my phone and selected take #2 as the least painful. Then I shared it via Dropbox to my laptop, clicked “Save Image As…” on a dozen or so images from the conference website, fired up Final Cut Pro X and dropped everything in. Finishing my lunch while it imported, of course.

Noticing the 30-minutes before my next conference call, first I worked the audio. Ouch! Using the built-in microphone the headphones I’m wearing (which were plugged into the phone/camera) was a bad idea. Mostly salvageable, but I won’t do that again. I laid in some background audio and EQ’d it to somewhat mask the mess.

Next, I did the chroma key thing. That’s tech-talk for how you de-green a greenscreen. It had been a few years since I’d done this myself in this program, and it didn’t really work. I made some adjustments. I looked at the clock. 10min left? Eh, good enough.

Editing. I wanted to do it, really. I should chop that bit, the pause there is totally awkward. I didn’t mean to say that. Can I pull this bit in from another take? With 9-minutes to a hard stop, no I can’t. Trim start & end, call it good.

Next, I placed the images nabbed from the ATD website, completely ignoring the file resolutions. Time the spacing, follow the words. This in front, that behind. Too many, lose a few. Now scroll ’em. Okay. Throw in a few templated effects and a transition or two. Add the hashtag and…DING!

Out of time.

As I was getting on my call, I hit the export button. It published to my desktop and privately to my YouTube channel.

Video length: 48-seconds
Total elapsed development time:  < 1-hour
Total expenditures: $0

Later, I nervously squirmed on the couch while I reviewed the video with my girlfriend. I called a buddy about making the transparency better so that you can’t see that pesky green outline on my left ear.

“Not fixable, dude” he said. “Reshoot or let it go.”

So I resisted the urge to let this spill any further into my evening and hit send. I also posted the video on my Facebook wall asking if any of my friends had any feedback for me. Yeah…maybe that Facebook move wasn’t such a good idea.

But it’s done. Don’t think about it. Try not to think about it. Stop thinking about it. It’s fine.

About a week later, I finally succeeded in not thinking about it. Then someone on LinkedIn kindly sent me a message congratulating me on my video.

Wait, which video? Oh, that video (gulp!). Yup, there it is on the… ATD… conference… website… Don’t think about it. Try not to think about it. Stop thinking about it. It’s fine.

So, how did you like the video?

Did you feel as uncomfortable watching it as I do?

Right. That’s the point. My opinions and embarrassments don’t actually matter at all to your experience.

No, this is not my best work, not by a long shot. I can barely stand to watch the darn thing! But the truth is that it took me about as long to write, edit, & publish this very post as it did that video. And hundreds more people have already watched that silly little video than will ever read this humble blog post.

Remember this story the next time you’re thinking about making a video.

…And go do it anyway.

Whaddya think?

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