15 hours work to make a 7 minute vlog

Today I released a short 7 minute video about the different things I’m working on professionally. The idea of the video is to get feedback and to prioritise my effort based on how much potential people see in the different projects I do. The video, titled “help me choose my new job” is partly lead generation and partly market research.

The vlogs that I usually make take about 4 hours to produce. The process goes like this:

  • I start with a rough cut: selecting what video material will make the edit and what not
  • then I move on to the fine cut: defining the rhythm of the video and placing the exact cuts and transitions
  • next I edit in the B-roll footage: hiding transitions, illustration the surroundings
  • text: I add lower thirds and pancartes over the video
  • sound: levels and compression/eq of the main soundtrack is adjusted, mostly to make the speech more intelligible
  • music: I add a music track under the parts that don’t contain narrative and add background music under some other parts

But today’s video was different. In a vlog, I don’t plan beforehand what is going to be said. But this time, I had a bunch of messages that I wanted to put in the video scenario. So I had to think how to arrange them. In short: I had to create a storyboard. As a visual style, I wanted to go with me explaining things in front of a whiteboard. But since writing on a whiteboard takes time, I feared the video would be too lengthy. So I decided to do the writing off-camera and editing in the newly written parts with freehand masking of the video clips on top of each other. I soon realised that this required planning.

I ended up writing a full script where I knew beforehand what was going to be said in each of the 22 scenes that I had planned. Then I had to think how to get continuity of the visuals on the whiteboard, so I also planned out the writing.  To make the video a bit more professional, I recorded the sound on a separate recorder (a Zoom H1 in my pocket connected to a lavalier mic). To make the recording less chaotic, I made a list of which scenes had to be shot in what order. During recording, I could then strike things of the shot list.

The result turned out exactly like planned (expect for 1 scene where I forgot to record the external audio), but it took 17 hours in total. A rough breakdown of the time spent:

  • 3 hours: brainstorming the video concept
  • 2 hours: storyboarding
  • 2 hours: script writing
  • 1 hour: rehearsing the positions and text
  • 1 hour: recording the footage
  • 1 hour: selecting what takes to use from the rushes
  • 2 hours: editing the footage
  • 1 hour: making the animated masks to combine 2 scenes
  • 2 hours: adding text, audio tweaks and music

Total time budget: 15 hours.

This is the first time that I’ve spend so much time on a video. It amounts to 2 hours/minute of video created, which I assume is a reasonable rate. My expectation is that with more experience, the result will be of higher quality, but the time spent will not go down a lot. I guess it’s just the nature of the medium: if you want to produce a decent video, you have to put in the work.

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