5 busy filmmakers/videographers share how the growth of high quality low cost consumer cameras and smartphones are disrupting the industry’s job market in exclusive interviews with Renée Ward.
There’s no doubt that the proliferation of low cost high quality cameras and smartphones in the hands of just about anybody can produce HD videos suitable for distribution for all to see worldwide. Yes, you can now record, edit and upload instantly a high quality video with only a smartphone. “Amateurs” are now making big money online armed with just their smartphone.
Non-movie video production is a booming business. And, it is poised to grow exponentially in 2016.
Has video production become a commodity? If so, is this a good thing? How has this impacted the job market? Read on as industry pros share their perspectives. Bios follow. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.
1. Evin Charles Anderson says,
With the increase of video and image quality for consumer electronics, there is still a great need for professionals behind the camera. People realize they can film HD or even 4K on a phone but some understand that there is a bigger process involved besides filming it while other people don’t want to take the time investment needed to do their own video.
One of the largest changes to video services, due to the improving quality of consumer electronics, is the pricing of services. The price of video services has dropped drastically since the early 1990’s; a great benefit to clients though it makes the market far more competitive.
Overall, the cost may be going down and quality going up, but having a professional that can combine production work with great storytelling, is still greatly needed.
P.S. Speaking on connecting tech with storytelling, we debuted a free short film online for Black Friday that was all filmed on the new LG V10 Mobile Phone. It is our goal to actually show the importance of the above statement!
2. Tim Ryan says,
The video market has changed drastically due to the lowered barriers to entry. There is certainly a lot more competition and those who are just starting out are willing to undercut the entire industry and work for below poverty line rates just to build their portfolio and make connections. This creates a lack of value understanding in the industry. That, coupled with the short lifespan of social media it creates an industry where value isn’t there.
However, when video is done right and distribution methods are thoughtfully planned ahead of time, video can be the most engaging, ROI positive medium for advertising available today.
Now that smart phones can shoot and edit video in 4K, people believe that video can be done by anyone, anywhere without much thought. However, just because you have a typewriter, it does not make you a Hemingway.
Even with the readily available cameras, editing and publishing platforms (on a smartphone), strategy is still the most important.
Company videos should be carefully planned and executed and the professionals are still the best at this.
3. George Spyros says,
While I wouldn’t exactly call the DSLRs and small HD cameras that range from around a $1000 to $3000 with or without a lens “consumer cameras,” there’s no doubt that these have caused a shift in the job market. More people who formerly hadn’t been shooters have begun to shoot therefore pushing the videographers they used to higher to drum up work elsewhere, as well as making that undertaking even more difficult due to saturating the market here in New York City and LA. I’m one of the former, having been mainly a Producer/Director/Editor, or “Preditor” to use the early 2000’s term.
The lower technical barrier and access to cheaper equipment to learn on and to own myself, has lead me, someone who never set out intentionally to become a DP, to get requested more and more as a shooter due to my eye for composition, taste, and sense of style. I’ve gone from editing nationally broadcast commercials to shooting them. However, that’s the high end stuff the rates for which remain consistent while there is downward pressure on rates for the sub-ten-thousand dollar jobs.
I hear all the time shooters saying they are being asked to work for lower and lower rates.
Another downside is that a good percentage of the people making up the glut of shooters are not good cinematographers. Not just from a technical standpoint, but because they don’t have the eye or ability to make creative decisions on the spot. A lot of this lower budget videography requires being able to make the image very aesthetic on-the-fly responding to the existing light or by using limited gear. Low end videography used to follow the TV news look: interlaced video feel, not very creative compositions, camera shooting from the shoulder, lots of close-ups, etc. It was called ENG or Electronic News Gathering. As the name implies, you weren’t really required to create the image, rather you were just “gathering” some shots. Since the advent of the game-changing Panasonic DVX 100 with its film look video, through HD camera with 35mm lens adapters and ultimately Canon DSLR cameras with removable prime lenses, this type of production resembles something more akin to making pretty, short little films, or perhaps EFP (Electronic Field Product).
Another dimension is ad agencies and corporate organizations creating in-house media departments in an attempt to do all work in house. Perhaps someone is wearing many hats in the videography from time to time. However, agencies still hire me because their full time people still don’t have the creative and technical skills to pull it off.
In 2008, seeing all this coming, and becoming tired of carrying big gear to small shoots, I began exploring developing a camera and experimented by interviewing Mark Wahlberg using a Nokia feature phone with an LED light strapped on with gaffers tape. At the time the iPhone couldn’t do video yet, but since the advent of the App Store I began developing the ultimate video-making app Filmakr. The app has been used to shoot promo materials for Bentley and VH1, the latter of which hired me to come in and shoot with Filmakr on my iPhone 6S+. As we’re rolling out the app and more and more professionals have begun shooting with it, I’m particularly aware of journalists embracing smartphone video-making. They call it “mojo” short for Mobile Journalism. This is one of the early, main areas where the job landscape is undergoing a radical change.
Publishers and news agencies are firing camera people choosing instead to give iPhones directly to the journalists who are expected to do the reporting and video-making soup-to-nuts.
4. Patrick G. Walsh says,
The biggest shift I have seen personally is how big companies are moving away from expensive spots and instead looking for authentic ways to connect with their audience. This is being done through a couple different means. For example, creative briefs are coming through with terms like “iPhone look.” Some brands are even crowdsourcing content for commercial spots, especially since the devices in people’s hands are shooting now in 4k. The other biggest shift these new devices have caused is small businesses now having the ability to generate their own video content that is desperately needed for websites and social platforms. Even recently, a new app called VidMob launched to pair professional video editors with people looking to get quality videos from the content on their smartphones and GoPros.
What this shift is ultimately triggering in the job marketplace though is the need as a filmmaker and videographer to be a multi-disciplinary talent. It also means that we need to be savvy about storytelling on social platforms, like Instagram, because we are all now competing in an inspiring, diverse universe where people who can overcome the cost of a cell phone, now have an ability to tell their own story, take control of their narrative, and more.
5. Tim McSpadden says,
Supply (people with the latest camera) exceeds demand (people offering gainful employment).
Yes, the means of production have been democratized and yes that means now the intimates can run the asylum – or run for President. It reminds me when affordable personal computers came out and how everyone became a screenwriter. Why not? All you had to do was fill a blank screen with text. Simple right? Anyone could do it. What’s talent got to do with anything, anyway? Well, everything it turned out. Decades later the wannabes became the social media haters and trolls we all love today. They’re slowly surrendering and it will be years before your local “cinematographer” throws in the towel or realize they’ll make more money and have less drama by working at their local fast food joint.
So don’t quit your day job. Make your movie with that cool new camera of yours on the side, “a la carte.” Create something that says something about our human existence and roll the dice on breaking out of the independent filmmaking ghetto. Somebody has to win the lottery someday; it might as well be you!
Evin Charles Anderson
Evin is a professional actor, director, writer and CEO of Waverley Knobs, a video and visual media brand company in Boston, MA with over 10 years of experience both behind and in front of the camera. Company Website: WaverleyKnobs.com
Tim is Founder and Director at TAR Productions, a video production company made up of innovators, storytellers and professionals who push the boundaries of what’s possible in branded entertainment, commercials, documentaries and animation. They are leaders in 4K production and aerial cinematography. Company Website: http://tarproductions.com
George is a DGA Director. Bennet Miller signed his guild card. George was 1st AC on Bennet’s student film (literally film in a changing bag) starring Phil Hoffman (aka Philip Seymour Hoffman) and then-actor-now-screenwriter William Wheeler (Ghost in the Shell, Ray Donovan). George was the editor of the first commercial Directed by Phil Morrison who went on to direct the most recent “campaign of the decade” I’m a Mac/PC. George “discovered” Vince Vaughn by putting him in his NYU film when he was 16 years old. We’re pretty sure it was his first time on film. George has written and directed one feature film shot in Super-16mm on Aatons. George founded his production company Big City Pictures, Inc. in NYC where he lives. Bigcitypix has been hired by the mcgarrybowen agency for numerous projects. Company Website: http://www.bigcitypix.com
Patrick is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a degree in Film Production, Patrick started in the industry as a creative assistant to Director/Creative Director Kyle Cooper. He has directed commercials for Nissan, Volkswagen, YP.com, T-Mobile, Experian, CheapTickets.com, Lifetime Movie Network and the American Lung Association. Today, he focuses on work in commercials, photography / mobile photography and new media. Patrick G. Walsh, Filmmaker and Photographer: http://www.patrickgwalsh.com/
Tim is Writer/Director/Producer of the award winning movie “Love a la Carte,” now playing on iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, Google Play & for FREE on Amazon Prime. Previously an Emmy award winning Creative Services writer/producer/director/editor for TV stations all across the USA.