professional standards and ethics in video production

Professional Standards in Video Production

Any occupation providing services to society typically implements a clear set of standards, beyond common business ethics.

Doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, journalists, law enforcement, and fire fighters; they all have a clear set of standards or best practices to promote professionalism. In its most basic interpretation, it’s about being in service to the public and offering a sense of duty to do good work.

Video and media production services should be no different. Considering the depth of business and preproduction related best practices, from billing practices to acquiring permits, continuity in production, to on-set etiquette and respecting copyright; each should be their own articles. For now, we’ll focus on postproduction.

In the past decade, rapidly evolving technology has made high quality production tools easier to use, while being available at lower price points to more people. Incentivized by free access to instantly publish content around the world via social media, content creation has become the wild west for anyone with a smart phone.

Anyone with a phone can now record, edit, and upload a video. To differentiate professional production services from Social Media “Spielbergs,” following a common set of standards can help elevate content quality, and consumer confidence. In addition, common challenges can be efficiently resolved in the day to day effort to provide quality professional productions.

Production applies many disciplines to create a final project. Understanding and mastering each discipline will elevate the final project.

film crew communicating on location

Technical Standards

With a growing list of technical options; including 1080p, 4k, 8k, HDR, bt2020, and 10-bit, understanding how content will be distributed and viewed becomes essential. From frame sizes and rates, to audio levels, video brightness, and color balance, failure to meet these exacting guidelines can result in productions being rejected. Distorted audio, poor color balance, blown out or crushed video levels; can lead to a miserable viewing experience and lack of confidence in your professional abilities.

Every distribution path has its own set of technical standards. From the most basic guidelines of YouTube or Facebook, to the exhaustive standards of producing for a broadcast television network or subscription streaming service.

Before releasing a completed project for eventual distribution, it should go through a peer review quality check. Having a fresh set of eyes and ears to review:

Legal video levels and accurate color balance

Clean and clear audio with consistent volume levels

Accurate spelling for all text

Accurate placement of graphics

Proper application of brand standards

Consistent tone, style and message

And the overall edit for pacing and accuracy

stunning visuals and use of color

Creative and Design Standards

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and creative style is no different. Understanding how the eye views content and how our minds process images, provides insight for basic design standards.

video editing

Even when dealing with this subjective aspect of production, there are several basic best practices to streamline the creative process and keep everyone speaking the same language.

Additional Best Practices:

Shoot pad on every shot, capture 5 seconds before and after the primary action.

Words are cheap, production is not – Keep scripting clear and concise.

Continuity in framing, position, and shot size.

Don’t let a beautifully shot scene distract or overpower the message.

Never get too attached to any specific element of production, be willing to cut anything.

Only capture and use clean, clear audio.

Use effects only when needed to support tone and style.

The quality of your production is determined by the weakest link in the workflow.

Apply complimentary color harmony utilizing various color wheel styles.

Respect copyright and fair use laws when using third-party images, sound, and b-roll.

The most important rule… it’s ok to break the rules when properly motivated. Developing new creative approaches or styles of production may require breaking one or all rules. In some cases, deliberate effort to break them is essential to elevate impact. However, one can’t break the rules until they know the basics of what they’re breaking.

communicating with the video crew on location

Learning, understanding and abiding by a clear set of technical, creative and design standards will ensure every project created will rise to the highest level, while maintaining consistent best practices from production to production.

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