I’m going to open up a little here and be brutally honest, even if it hurts me. Here goes – equipment failure happens. Human error happens. And though we try our very best at every project, sometimes mistakes happen. I think that’s true of every person at every kind of job though. We, as human beings, are not perfect. BUT – what really separates the “boys from the men” and the “girls from the women” is what you do AFTER the mistake. How do you handle it? I had my first stab at that last week.
Now, I’m not saying that as a Colorado video professional, I haven’t made any business mistakes in the last 18 years – in shooting, in editing, in customer service, in marketing, in paperwork…I’m fairly sure I’ve made mistakes in every aspect of running this business, but they were always small and easily fixed. Not this one. This one was TOUGH.
A few months ago, this really adorable couple, Isaac and Kelsey, hired us to capture their Greeley, CO wedding on video. They just wanted the basic package – no frills, no music video, not even the full day of coverage. To save money (which is totally understandable), but still have good coverage of their day, they chose the package that covers just 2 hours, which – for them - meant the ceremony followed by toasts and cake cutting with 2 cameras and 2 mics. We arrived on the day of the wedding with plenty of time, set up was fine and the ceremony and toasts went smoothly. We brought the footage back after the event and began capturing it to the computer. That’s when equipment failure combined with human error and tried to give me a heart attack in the process.
If you don’t know, when you take a memory card out of a camera – any camera – and begin uploading it to your computer, that’s an automated process which can take a few minutes or a few hours depending on the amount of footage on the stick and the speed of your computer. Knowing that, we usually begin the capture process and then leave to go do something else – lunch or check on the kids, or laundry…anything where you can leave the computer to do its job. Most days the computer does its job correctly and everyone is happy. Not this day. This day the computer decided to only import a quarter of the footage on one of the cards. ONLY A QUARTER! Then human error jumped in and made it worse – we didn’t check the folder to make sure all the footage was there. We blindly assumed that the computer did its job.
Now, the other thing you might not be aware of is that we reuse these memory cards quite frequently. Once we have captured the footage, the card is formatted and reused on the next job. The other added key to this story is the fact that most video professionals have a “que” – a line of projects they are currently in the process of editing. We edit each project in the order by which they came to us, unless it’s a rush job – those are interesting, but that’s another story for another time. So, though we shot this wedding on Sept 29th, we didn’t get to edit that project until the last week of November. That’s when I started crying.
I opened up the folders and imported them into my editing program. I looked through all of the folders to find the ceremony, which I was going to edit first. George’s footage was all there – good. My footage folder seemed a little light, though – there was plenty of pre-ceremony footage (which I always try to get some of, even if there will be no music video), but the ceremony was missing from my footage…so were the toasts and cake cutting. I’m pretty sure my face lost all color as I explained this disastrous turn of events to George. More crying.
Like I said – it’s not a question of whether or not you’ll make a mistake at work or in life, it’s what you do AFTER that mistake that makes you a woman or a little girl. I’m a woman. So…after all the crying, George and I talked options and came up with a solution – we would come clean to the couple, offering 3 things: our sincerest apologies, half their money back, and a nice highlight music video (which you can see above). The couple was gracious enough to be understanding and forgiving. We delivered their files both online and in person.
Am I happy with my work? No. Not really. It’s not bad, but it’s not my best. So, why am I showing this to you or telling you any of this? Because it’s honesty. Too many times, our internet personas are these perfect, plastic versions of ourselves – a version that always has obedient children, always has a clean house, always goes on the best vacations, always produces the most amazing work, and NEVER makes mistakes. I call BS. So, let’s be honest with each other. I screwed up…but I did my best to make it right. And that’s all I can do. And it’s all you can do. So, put on your big girl panties with me – we make mistakes and that’s acceptable. You’ll be hard on yourself, as you should, but only for a moment. Don’t let it turn into worry or anxiety which, as God’s Word tells us, produces nothing. But instead, give that worry to God and choose to use this mistake as a lesson learned…not a pity party. Man up…or woman up…you got this!