Since the 1980s, few industries have gone through quite the level of transformation that video production has. Thanks to technological advances, run-and- gun DSLRs with tiny digital memory cards have replaced the nearly stationary equipment and VHS tapes of yesteryear. And that’s just the camera gear. Everything from the way people shoot and store video to how clients find video service providers has been turned upside down.
For the scoop on where video production has been and where it’s going, we picked the brains of three members of the Crew Connection team. Heidi McLean, a seasoned industry leader with a finger on the pulse of what video service clients and providers are talking about, is Founder and President of Crew Connection. McLean worked in TV news and has witnessed nearly three decades of the industry’s transformation firsthand.
In their respective roles as Project Owner and Manager, Dana Hembroff and Ashley LaRocque have daily contact with both crews and clients looking for crewing services.
Alicia East:What current trends are sparking your interest?
Crew Connection: If 2016’s trends tell us anything about what to expect in the years ahead, one thing seems clear: Online communication is getting closer and closer to being video only. And as the way consumers view video evolves, the industry must evolve with it.
Part of that evolution seems to be showing up in the services clients are looking for. Corporate clients whose bread and butter has long been middle-of- the-road production services have been shifting one direction or the other—toward higher quality and better production value or toward less gear and lower budgets.
The “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign brought phones into the forefront of people’s minds as legitimate gear, even for full-length documentaries. Quickly-consumable YouTube, Vine, or Facebook videos with a short shelf life are likely to be viewed on mobile devices and therefore don’t have to be 4K resolution or better. Service providers in the lower price range need to be Jacks and Jills of all trades.
On the other end of the spectrum, clients are spending more per shoot because they’re understanding more about the kind of gear and look they want. As clients get more savvy, they’re asking for more gear and labor than they have before. When they might’ve booked two cameras for the last shoot, they're now booking four to catch more angles, even for "standard" shoots like corporate interviews and events. From a business standpoint, we’d advise that service providers not try to offer both YouTube and Netflix feature quality. Pick the skills, price point, and niche that you're good at and run in your lane.
AE:What are the downsides to all these technological advances?
CC: One thing that comes along with the ease of use and lower entry point is the above-mentioned shift away from middle-of- the-road services because providers can produce work on cell phones and cheaper gear. Surprisingly, the public is OK with this, likely because of the "YouTube effect." It’s not an upside or a downside as much as just something to be aware of.
On another note, we’ve seen the shift from phones and fax machines to online operations and have observed the benefits and drawbacks of each firsthand.
Probably the biggest benefit from the crewing side is just how easy it’s become to find exactly the gear and crews you want in the location you want. What used to require multiple phone calls and trips to the fax machine can now be done with a few clicks on the computer. The caveat (and it’s a big one) is that technology should complement, not replace, the human touch that goes into booking crews.
AE:What gear do people (clients and crews alike) find interesting at the moment?
CC: The Sony FS7, which we wrote about recently, comes to mind. Drones, which were just becoming popular in 2016, have really taken off this year. They're becoming more standard and are getting added regularly to shoots.
The next big thing is 360 video. It’s just starting to come up regularly in conversation. Projects like Chasing Coral: The VR Experience, which we wrote about here, are on the front edge of the trend. It feels a lot like drones did three or four years ago—people are considering all the potential ways to use it for their needs, but the high price point and lack of complementary software (for editing, etc.) make it cost prohibitive right now. It’s going to take a little more time for 360 video to become affordable and mainstream. Based on our experience, though, it’ll probably happen quicker than we think.
The bottom line
Just as it always is, the video production industry is transforming rapidly. Anyone who wants to transform with it needs to be aware of and in tune with the conversation, which they can do by visiting the Crew Connection blog.
About Crew Connection
Crew Connection puts a world of video service providers and editors at your fingertips. In just a few clicks you can search, chat with, and book vetted crews local to your shoot—all on your own schedule. Rely on Crew Connection’s team of media experts to organize the crews and gear you need for multi-day and multi-location video projects anywhere in the world. Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock if you ever need live assistance. Visit CrewConnection.com, call us at 303-526- 4900, or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.