Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Video producers should help clients, not shame them.

I'm Not Bruce: Clients don't understand Container Formats

Everyone seems pretty excited about this article, but maybe I'm missing something. I was hoping I would click over and have one of my most recurring questions from clients solved when I read this headline at studio daily:

The Best File Format Analogy Yet

I was a bit disappointed. Here was the crux of Bruce's biscuit:
.mov, .mkv, .avi and others are containers which mean they're like sandwiches, I tell clients. ... Not all sandwiches are good, and asking me for "a quicktime" or "an mov" or "an avi" is like asking me for "a sandwich on white bread". You've specified that you want a sandwich (video file), with white bread (container format) but you have yet to tell me what kind of sandwich you want (codec).
A decent start on the way to saying, "I need more information," and possibly an analogy one can follow. But the next paragraph doesn't cut it for kindness and client relations:
This seems to be the only way to get through to some clients. "You're ordering a sandwich with white bread but I don't know what kind of sandwich you want. PB&J? Mustard and Lettuce? Cheese and Anchovies?" "What do you recommend?" is usually their response. I dunno. What kind of sandwich does the thingy that you're going to play it on ask for? In the manual. Yes, that one, the one you didn't read.
The question of how to deliver files for a variety of uses isn't going to change anytime soon. And discussing a sandwich analogy might aid our clients in understanding that we need more information, but it's not going to explain what that information is. Personally, I love a good PB&J or Italian hoagie, and it really depends on my mood. But my edit team has developed a nice set of standard compression settings to output an interim QuickTime that we can deliver to YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Are we creating a different kind of deliverable? Well, we should know enough about what we're creating to ask the right questions. People at sandwich shops know what ingredients they can and can't offer, we should be similarly aware when helping our clients.

If you are a producer and are waiting to find out about delivery requirements until the end of the job, you are doing something very wrong. Don't you produce with final delivery in mind? Wouldn't you shoot more closeups for mobile delivery only vs. a big screen? Our clients are experts at their chosen profession, and it is our job to be the experts in ours. As a Director and Producer, I don't always have those exact tech answers but I have the people on my team who do.

Here's my favorite saying that I use with my clients when the format, codec, and streaming rate questions come up. "Let's have your geeks talk to my geeks." Our clients know they want good results, and when we work with them and not against them they trust us to ask the right questions and help direct them to answers they don't know.

And if you're someone's client and feel like you are being chastised for not knowing enough about video production and web delivery technical specifications, don't feel bad. They change so fast its exciting for professionals to keep up. I just hope you find a professional who helps you and not shames you. 


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eco-Libris blog: WWF is presenting a new unprintable PDF format to save trees

Eco-Libris blog: WWF is presenting a new unprintable PDF format to save trees

A cool concept, but some items still need to be printed. As long as there's a choice.