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Editor’s View: Content Conundrum

As perhaps you’ve noticed, this is an amazing, interesting, challenging, perplexing, and possibly frustrating time to be involved in video content creation. There are more channels and venues than ever for video distribution, and this proliferation has led to an ever-increasing, verging on fevered demand for video to populate these outlets.

As a video professional, you might be producing what we would have previously considered “alternative content”: a series (for Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram), brand video, museum installation video, mobile advertising campaign, or a film or show developed and distributed exclusively online. In theory, this means more opportunities, right?

Well, yes and no. There is a frequent (misguided) assumption that because video is everywhere, everyone can create video. While it’s true that virtually everyone has access to the tools to make virtually any video content, everyone most definitely does not have the skill and experience to do so.

The material that generates interest isn’t produced by newly hatched, “what do you mean, depth of field?” would-be filmmakers. I was researching the production of Tangerine, a narrative feature shot with Apple iPhones, thinking it was the work of exactly that kind of first-timer … but it was actually shot by a professional cinematographer, Radium Cheung, HKSC, who’s done films and TV shows and currently works as a cinematographer and camera operator on The Americans. The reason the film looks so beautiful is that Cheung developed techniques for working within the constraints of the iPhone’s capabilities, not because he was lucky with an experiment.

Conversely, I can see how many professionals would be wary of new video creation opportunities—either considering them “amateur hour” or “something [presumably ridiculous] the kids are doing.” But the “kids” are now so familiar with video that they’ve learned the value of direction, cinematography, editing, sound … everything we consider vital in content creation.

I guess what I’m saying is to keep an open mind, keep an eye out and watch this space. I’m as interested in seeing the ways video is engaging audiences as you are.