How much should a promotional video cost? Part 4 (conclusion)

In our previous three posts on promotional video production, we captured some interior and exterior images in Johannesburg on a cell phone and a professional camera and created mock-up presentations of hospitality/real estate promotional scenarios. In this post, we will do direct, side-to-side comparisons of the two cameras and, without getting too technical about the subject, to point out the differences.

But first, what is the point of doing this? Well, the free market isn’t merely the best mechanism ever devised to provide people with what they want; it is also the best mechanism ever devised to provide people with what they don’t want.

Once upon a time a Nobel Prize winning economist had a cat called Lightning. Lightning appeared to like his cat food, a rather pricey brand which claimed to be better than anything else.

However, the Nobel Prize winning economist thought, what if he has been fooled into thinking this cat food is better than anything else - when it isn't? The labels on the cans said things like ‘roast beef paté’; things that we would see in a restaurant. So he reasoned, if they say that, it must be something like that. He tried tasting it, and it tasted pretty much like other cat food brands. And the moral of this tale, he says, is that he had been "phished for a phool" - or manipulated into buying something.

Now, the economist in question, Robert Shiller and his fellow Nobel laureate George Akerlof, have written Phishing for Phools, about how the sellers of cat food and thousands of other products and services "phish" us into buying things we do not want or need. "Of course they do it," he says. "If you had a cat food company you wouldn't say 'Dried Dead Fish' on the label...we live in a constructed world that's filled with deception like this."

So, the question we asked ourselves, looking at the ratio of rhetoric to achievement of video production companies which which is dangerously high, aren't corporates "phished for fools"?

So, we decided to do our own "cat food" experiment by filming some stuff on the cheapest and most commonly available technologies, cell phones.

For the purposes of this post, which is aimed at a general and not a technical audience, we decided to focus on dynamic range, something that all screen makers are focusing on and something that you might actually buy soon.

High dynamic range (HDR) basically means that TVs can show millions more shades of colour and a wider dynamic range - added shades of brightness in between black and white - letting more detail be shown.

This image shows the difference in rendering high contrast areas - professional camera on the left:

If you look at the image taken on the professional camera on the left, you will see a much smoother transition from the extreme high lights to the darker part of the image. Same thing here:

In lower contrast pictures, as per this example, the difference is much less dramatic:

However, you can manipulate the images shot on professional cameras in post production. allowing you to bring more detail and better graduation in the darker areas of an image as is shown here:

It is clear that there are definite and distinctive differences in how professional cameras render images, with those shot on a professional camera much better. However, a successful video boils down to more than an impressive army of technicians with high end gear. It is an combination of technical, narrative (verbal and visual) and aesthetic (composition, proportion, figure to ground) elements. A video shot an a mobile phone, despite it's technical "inferiority" can "outperform"a high end video by a substantial margin if you get all the elements right, as in this example here which clocked around a million views on Youtube:

And if you are interested in learning more about how businesses and people are "phooling" us, watch professor Shiller here:

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