What Makes a Good
Video a Good Video?
ot that long ago, video was a far cruder, much simpler medium. At home, people had more fingers than television channels, and, for those making their own movies, consumer-level video came in two varieties: bad and
worse. Maybe that’s a bit unfair, but the quality lagged far behind commercial productions.
Clunky cameras that captured low-resolution video were no match for the broadcast-quality content found on television. And the quality of television was inferior to the look of a feature film. Not sure about that last one? Just watch a music video from the early days of MTV, circa 1982.
Since that time, technology has evolved to the point where you can now watch thousands of channels and where most anyone who wants to has the ability to make a broadcast-quality movie that can be seen by potentially a global audience. Consumer-level cameras not only come close to broadcast quality but can also even rival it. That means your YouTube video can look truly professional. Of course, can is the operative word here.
Clearly, technological advancements have allowed online video to change the rules of consumer-level moviemaking. Yet because of the relative adolescence of online video, there’s some confusion about what makes a good video. Understandably,
that criterion depends on the particular genre of video. For example, a music video has a different set of standards than an instructional video on techniques for giv- ing your date a goodnight kiss. And that differs significantly from the standards you’d apply to a video showing your cat chasing a red dot. Though diverse in con- tent, there are still some fundamentals that every video should adhere to.
But what fundamentals are we talking about here? What makes a good video, in other words? Given the nature of human taste, coming up with clear criteria for defining a good video may be a fool’s errand, so it might be better to concentrate on avoiding those factors that make a video nearly unwatchable. As a video pro- ducer, that makes your job relatively easy. Just eliminate the negatives — such as shaky camera work, distorted audio, or bad exposure — while providing enter- taining content.
It sounds easy, but you’re right to suspect that it may be a little more complex than that, due in part to some false conceptions that folks still hold about online videos. Some people still believe that an online video, or one destined for YouTube in this case, doesn’t require the same quality as any other production destined for broadcast. That’s simply no longer true. The way things have shaken out, more and more viewers are watching content online rather than on broadcast TV, and they are demanding better and better quality. This demand means that, with more people watching video on sharing sites like YouTube, the bar continues to rise when it comes to production value and content.
We talk a bit more about fundamentals later in this chapter, but right now we want to take a look at the most fundamental one out there — your choice for cap- turing video.