DIY or professional video

OK – so you need a video – but who is going to make it?

Back in the 1990’s there was a trend for larger companies to set up their own in-house video production units, but most of these didn’t survive.  They weren’t cost effective and didn’t yield the best results creatively and technically.

So if your organization isn’t big enough to sustain its own professional video producers you have two options:

  • You make a DIY video in-house – using amateur or semi-professional staff e.g. a grateful media student, the web guy who dabbles in video on the side
  • You commission proven professional video producers


 In-house DIY video production – The Pros and Cons


The pros

1. In-house knowledge – You know everything about your organisation’s offering inside out, so you don’t have to spend time explaining it to outside professionals

2. Cost – The face value cost is cheaper

3. Spontaneity – You can sometimes be more spontaneous – capturing in-house events as they arise

4. Creative Challenge – It can be an interesting challenge for someone on your team and it will make a change from their usual work


The cons

1. Equipment – To create in-house video you will need to invest in some filming equipment and editing software. OK – the cost of decent cameras and software is now fairly reasonable, but unless you are going to use it continuously, would you be able to justify the cost of keeping all the kit up to date as media technology changes rapidly?

Up and down the country, we are aware of expensive, but out of date, video equipment languishing in office cupboards, which has hardly been used, because the staff never managed to find the time to master it properly.

2. Time – like doing up houses and government IT projects, producing a video will take a lot more time than you ever anticipated, even more so where staff don’t already have the skills required.

Do you really want your team, committed to hands on involvement in a project that is likely to prove a major demand on their time? And what would be the hidden cost of that time?

3. Ideas and Experience – Even if you have some in-house staff who show a good deal of flair and enthusiasm, it’s unlikely they have the wealth of experience and ideas that established video producers will have gathered over the course of dozens – even hundreds – of projects for numerous clients. An experienced video production company will have seen inside a vast array of businesses and have learned valuable tried and tested lessons about what works and what doesn’t – all of which they will bring to your project.

4. Video Quality and Brand – It’s true that high quality production isn’t always strictly necessary, if your budget is tight, but there are times when a high quality film is essential and anything less will damage your brand. The trick is to know when this is the case.


When DIY video can work for your brand

If the head of department is climbing into a bath of cold baked beans or shaving his head for charity, the humorous, behind the scenes feel of such an event can be captured well in a DIY video and your audience will accept the less than professional results in the spirit of grass-roots charitable enthusiasm.

Likewise, if you sell a low-end commodity or you’re happy to show that you are a fledgling start-up company, then DIY video can do the job fine.


When DIY video isn’t enough

Trust and reliability

If keeping a high level of trust between you and your audience is important to you, then you need to think seriously about ensuring the ‘production values’ (the industry term for quality) of your video are high.

This is key where a ‘duty of care’ is central, such as in the medical, safety, child-care or security sectors.

Likewise, if your customers need to have complete confidence in the reliability and supply of your product or service – again – high production values are crucial.


a promotional video about a dental practice that has shaky out of focus camera work, poor lighting that makes the surgery look gloomy and interviews that sound like they’ve been recorded in a cold bathroom. What would you think of this Dentist ?

Then imagine another who has a video that is beautifully lit, making the surgery look bright and fresh, steady and sharply focused video images, suggesting a calm, precise approach to the work and interviews capturing the words of the staff with clean, warm tones.

Which dentist would you choose?


Emotional Engagement

One of the big differences between DIY and professional video is that professional video can evoke a wider range of emotions than video produced with low production values.

Amateur video is fine for conveying an everyday cheeriness – typical of thousands of home made YouTube explainer videos – but what if you need to convey a sense of outstanding professionalism, warm and responsible caring, robust reliability or inspiring excitement – how far could a DIY video capture these ideas and emotions?

Skilful lighting, camera work, sound recording and editing, all result in the ability to produce a film that can conjure up a wide range of emotions.


But I just want them to take in factual information…


A huge amount of psychological research confirms the fact that people make decisions as a result of their emotions, far more than their rational thinking. They are often not aware that this is what actually happens and very reluctant to acknowledge it despite the evidence – but nevertheless it’s true.

This means that when you aim to influence your audience through video, more often than not, you will need to think carefully about the emotions you want your audience to feel, as well as the explicit messages you want them to receive.

Yes… you might want them to take in the information about the features and benefits of your product or service, but your audience won’t remember or care about your messages if they don’t really believe what you say.

To make your audience believe your information, they need to be engaged emotionally and professional video is almost always better at achieving this.


Are you low-end or high-end?

Being sure about where you sit in your market in terms of the low-end to high-end spectrum is key in deciding whether you could go down the DIY video route.

Clearly, the production values of your video must at least match where you are on this spectrum; so even if you are offering a mid or high-end product or service, if your production values are low, it just won’t look or sound like it in your video. Despite your testimonials, voice-over or interviews, claiming your product or service is good quality –  your viewers won’t be convinced.

A cheap product might be fairly represented in a cheap video, but a better quality product will be let down by a low cost video.

The human brain needs tangible visual evidence to really believe anything  – so if you say you run a beautiful luxurious hotel, every image needs to be stunning. If your manufacturing company produces a high quality product, you will need sharply focused images captured on a superior camera to convey the precise engineering and good quality materials that you use; or if your staff provide an excellent service, they will need to be shown in their best light – literally and metaphorically – with smooth sound recordings and assured editing.

In the end – it takes an accomplished film to convey an accomplished organisation.


But hang on…. this doesn’t have to be strictly an ‘either or’ choice

Just as we don’t have clothes for every occasion, the same can be said of video production. Among friends and in informal situations, I like to wear my ‘scruffs’ and that’s fine – in fact it shows my friends that they are part of my inner circle – family almost – and signals to them that I am in an off-duty mood.

On the other hand, if it’s a special occasion, or I’m being introduced to other professionals for the first time, or I just want to do visitors the honour of showing that I’ve made an effort to host them graciously, I will get out my smarter gear.

Likewise, there is no reason why you shouldn’t mix the methods by which you acquire your videos using in-house DIY for some occasions and splashing out on professional video production on others.

For example, you might go for a ‘wow factor’ brand leader on your website home page, but use DIY videos a couple of layers down, on pages where you might expect your audience to be further along the customer journey or already involved with you in some way.

A good video production company will be adaptable to your needs and happy to help you think strategically about dovetailing the use of both professional and DIY video – so don’t feel you have to make a clear cut choice.


And finally…

…just as you probably wouldn’t wear that favourite cosy jumper that your sister knitted for you, out on a first date or at a job interview, a homepage is probably not the place for your DIY video either…