I spent a morning in a hairnet and a white jumpsuit last week. Oh, and galoshes. And I learned that cheddar can be used as a verb.
Cheddar [ched-er] verb – A process during cheesemaking when blocks of curds are piled on top of each other to expel moisture.
Armed with two Flip Ultra HD cameras and my trusty Canon SLR, I was invited into the Grafton Cheese Company’s production room in Brattleboro, Vermont. Their upcoming marketing campaign is focusing heavily on the cheesemakers, rather than the blocks of chesee themselves, and it was my duty to coax some personality out of Ernie, Tyler, Bruce, Brian and Greg, the 5 cheddar-makers in the middle of a 10-hour shift. I had great fun hanging out with these knowledgeable cheese-issures, and was able to participate in most of the process myself. I must admit, my back was sore after only one round of cheddaring. I have much respect for these guys who manually move about 25,000 pounds of curd every day.
In all, I shot about 2 hours worth of footage. That was the fun part. Now I face the challenge of condensing all that knowledge, all that personality and craftsmanship and pride that goes into handcrafted cheddar, into two 2-minute videos ready for YouTube and Vimeo. Writers know the pain of cutting out good material for the sake of pacing – the same goes for video production. Stephen King sums it up in his book “On Writing”, a look back at 3 decades of writing novels professionally.”Kill your darlings,” King says. Kill your darlings. It’s not fun, sometimes it’s heartbreaking. But you have to kill off some of your best work for the sake of your audience. I got a great interview with Greg, a 2nd generation cheesemaker who was visibly proud of his work as he bounced from vat to vat in the cheese room. But it ran 4 minutes, and I’ll be lucky if I’m able to use 10 seconds of it in my video.
Like it or not, them’s the rules of online marketing. The average Internet surfer’s attention span is like a strobe light on Red Bull. If you’re lucky enough to get your product in front of a potential customer, you’d better be able to hold them long enough to get past the first strobe flash. And if you think people are going to watch an 8-minute video that doesn’t include themselves or Miley Cirus, you’ll be disappointed. Unfortunate but true. I’ve found that there’s a threshold that hovers somewhere between 1 and 3 minutes. Go longer than that and you’ll lose people.
So here I go. Adobe Premier is open, the .mpg’s are imported. Now, to explain to the public in 2 minutes a process that takes 5 men 5 hours.
I think I need a Red Bull.