Film Production vs. Video Production
What is the difference between film production and video production? The standard answer used to be: filmmakers use actual film, while video production is entirely digital. However, this is no longer true as the majority of Hollywood films are now recorded digitally i.e. without the use of actual film—especially because the post-production editing increasingly requires computer graphics and animation.
Now, the answer is more nuanced and connected to the filmmaker’s talent and cinematographic vision. Here are three things that differentiate Film Production and Video Production:
- Filmmakers or Film Producers are studied in the art of making motion pictures. This may not mean they are always making movies, but it does mean they’re trained in cinematography which is the science and art of motion-photography and the intricate attention to capturing light and electromagnetic radiation, sometimes electronically by means of an image sensor, and other times chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as film stock. Conversely, video producers are often heard saying “we’ll fix it in post-production” because their main focus is getting lots of footage with the hopes that there are enough “moments” to craft a compelling message in their editing software. This is not a knock on video production and may actually be more of a critique on the client who wants it done fast and cheap. But, as the adage says “you can have two-out-of-the-three: fast, cheap or great.” Summary of first distinction: film production aims at greatness in every frame, whereas video production tries predominantly to get the final product right.
- Filmmakers are storytellers, while video producers are document-ers. The famous video producer GaryVee is prolific for his content marketing—he captures everything and has his teams edit later. He knows that the quality of the video production is less important for his audience than the mass communication of constant daily video content. 99% of his video production is raw and unscripted and simply documents what is happening in real-time. On the whole, video production is an approach to storytelling that simply captures what is, rather than unearthing what is unseen. The filmmaker wrestles with this kind of production because it is casual—and though important—does not see beyond the moment because it is easily consumed and discarded. Rather, the filmmaker sees a story in every frame and desires to make a production that will stand the test of time. The time and attention to detail of a filmmaker is an obsession and often produces something more akin to artwork. And within this work-of-art is always a multi-layered story being peeled like an onion from shot to shot.
- Film Production takes a team, whereas video production can be a solo effort. Film producers know that they cannot accomplish the mass scope of planning, storyboarding, casting, location scouting, lighting, filming, directing, and the post-production process of color grading, sound design and final retouching alone. More often than not if you’re working with a Filmmaker, you’re also working with their team members at various points along the journey. Though the Filmmaker may hold the big picture of the client’s vision, film production cannot be accomplished without a team of professional equals who are in-sync. Conversely, video production is more often the power of mass production and sees the larger vision as delivering the product, seeing the feedback from the distribution of the video as the most important metric of its success—the more feedback, the more a video producer can determine what video content is of highest value to the consumer.
So what if you want both? Let's say you’re a person entrusted with choosing a film or video production company for yourself or your business—and you want a filmmaker’s attention to story, cinematographic expertise, and a production team of heavy hitters PLUS expediency, ability to document and multiple videos for ongoing feedback from the market place. How do you choose?
Bottom Line: decide by the filmmaker’s body of work.
There are few filmmakers today who understand the intersection of film production and video production, but you’ll know it when you see it because—even if it’s just video documentation—you’ll feel captured, like at the movies. Let your gut guide your choice as you view their work, then get on the phone and interview the filmmaker’s influences, education, training and personal vision. Whether it’s a 15-second spot or a feature film, you’ll be happy because you found a rare gem in the modern landscape of Atlanta production companies.
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