Collaboration is a very natural human activity. Most of us seek others’ ideas, opinions and capabilities in an effort to make things better. Yet when it comes to marketing, video production is often conducted in a vacuum. It can end up being the last step in a lengthy and painstaking process, where outsiders (previously uninvolved in the project) suddenly become instrumental in creating the final product. But imagine the synergistic benefits of bringing the production team into the loop much earlier so that they actually own the vision before making it reality. The resulting difference can be dramatic. We talked to John Hunter, Luckie’s Senior Editor/Director of Photography, about all things video, including his take on in-house production – and the immeasurable value of collaboration.
What are some of the ways that clients directly benefit from Luckie’s in-house production capabilities?
We’re not an outside vendor who may only see or care about the small part of a campaign that they worked on. We see the big picture. As an in-house team, we are fully vested in every aspect of a production and/or campaign. We understand the needs of our clients because we know our clients and work directly with the creative and account teams daily. That not only helps us avoid major and costly mistakes; it also enables us to understand many of the nuances that can make or break the way a message is delivered. And it’s usually all the little things – sometimes minutia – that you take into account on a shoot or in post-production that make a really big difference in the finished product and how it’s received by the audience.
“We understand the needs of our clients because we know our clients and work directly with the creative and account teams daily.”
What about the spirit of collaboration between creative and production inside an agency – how does it work at Luckie, and do you feel more invested in the strategic process from beginning to end?
I think as relationships between creative teams and in-house production teams strengthen over time, there is a level of trust developed that allows for a very comfortable process. We know what to expect from each other. Everyone’s creative contributions are both welcomed and relied upon, which definitely makes you feel more invested. Collaboration is almost always beneficial. Even if it means respectfully agreeing to discard various ideas, at least you know you’ve considered certain options. That part of the process is very healthy and can sometimes actually help people come together and rally around the better solution.
Do you ever bring in outside talent to partner on a production?
We do indeed – everything from freelance crew members on larger productions to graphic effects artists for specialized animation or compositing work to audio mixing and color correction in post. Every job is different and may require something special. Teamwork makes the dream work.
“Teamwork makes the dream work.”
What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen in video production in recent years, and how have those changes affected the process and the end product?
We are in the content business now and that means being able to keep up and produce timely content that is relevant and digestible across multiple viewing platforms. With that in mind, we have to take a lot more into account prior to production – and in a lot less time. Video is not nearly as compartmentalized as it used to be; it’s now just one more form of communication that everybody uses in the digital world we live in. So we have to be quick, efficient and adaptable to help our clients optimize their use of video in all kinds of contexts.
What do you foresee as the next big thing in video production, and how far away is it?
Well, VR [virtual reality] and 360° video are already here, but those are certainly the most unexplored venues for video content and storytelling. I’ll be excited to see how the media platforms develop because that’s what will attract or repel viewers, brands and advertisers.
It’s a little unusual to be equally adept at shooting and editing. Which came first for you, how do the two skills compare in terms of storytelling and how did you get started in the business of video production?
Well, I should mention that both of my parents are photographers by trade. Thanks to their influence, shooting came first, but barely. I began shooting maybe a year or two after Apple began including programs like iMovie on all of its Macs. It was a natural progression, since I had that as a starting block to learn on. As far as storytelling goes, shooting and editing are two completely different worlds that have an equally important role in how a story is shaped. They work best together when both are considered and planned well ahead of time with the overall goal in mind.
As for how I got started in commercial production, I was studying music business at Middle Tennessee State University in 2004. I decided to invest in a more professional camera once my hobby had turned into a passion. I then met a music producer named Billy Block on a plane to New York, where a friend and I were going for spring break. Billy was travelling there with his band to record an album. He noticed our camera equipment and, after a great conversation, we exchanged contact info. A couple of weeks later he called and began hiring us to film and document recording sessions he was producing for various artists in Nashville. It was an amazing time, and we were around a lot of very talented and creative people. I’m thankful to have found myself in a similar situation here at Luckie!
What have been some of the most memorable production projects (for any reason) that you’ve worked on, and why?
From when I was working as a freelancer, I would have to say that shooting documentary footage for a musical group out of Nashville called The Black Mozart was very special. The group was created by Roy “Futureman” Wooten of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. I met so many incredible people through that experience, and we traveled all over – as far as India!
Out of all the work I’ve done at Luckie, I would have to say the time-lapse video content I shot for Brasfield & Gorrie’s website redesign has been one of my personal favorite projects.
It was both a challenge and opportunity to create something visually stimulating in the world of construction, while also being functional for the website’s wonderful design. Rock climbing is also a longtime hobby of mine, so spending four days perched on the edge of Atlanta skyscrapers was a lot of fun for me!
“The Luckie 7” is an interview series in which we sit down with people at Luckie to talk about areas of expertise and what it means to be part of a human experience agency. Want more from #LuckieHumans? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.