In Defense Of ‘Good Enough’

For many people in the TV and video industry good enough is a dirty word. It suggests a lack of care or investment. I think good enough should be embraced. Knowing what is good enough for the work you’re doing allows you to invest time and money in the places that will benefit the most.

When embarking on a new project you should establish just what is good enough for that project – in terms of camera, lighting, sound, codec, editing resources. There is a sweet spot for these things that varies from project to project. If you’re making a web series to be distributed on YouTube then a Canon 5D, inexpensive lights and microphones are all good enough for the job.

Making those decisions about what’s good enough is important and it lets you spend your money (and time) wisely. Shooting 5K raw on a pimped out EPIC camera will cost more, take longer and not deliver a whole lot more value to your finished product – it’s way more than good enough. In choosing to over spec something like that you’re also taking resources from other aspects of your project that perhaps aren’t quite good enough.

We can critique DSLR cameras endlessly (and I have) – they have bad ergonomics, limited shooting time, problems with rolling shutter and moire, poor audio, and so on, but when it comes down to it they are very often good enough and that’s an important thing to consider.

In post-production I think good enough is possibly even more important. Usually there is finite time (thanks to a deadline) and/or budget with which to accomplish post-production, so knowing what’s good enough there is important to ensuring that everything can be completed within the time and budget available. If the opening titles aren’t quite as you’d imagined but are good enough then it’s probably a good idea to move on. If you manage to get everything good enough within the time and budget then you can always go back and make things better. However, if you’ve got one thing perfect and nothing else finished then you haven’t got a product.

If budget and time aren’t an issue – you’re doing it yourself on your own gear – then good enough is still important. If you can’t accept that your work is good enough to call ‘finished’ at some point then it will simply drag on forever, and more often than not, I think, over-editing a video kills it. Again, a finished project that’s good enough is better than a unfinished one.

Don’t think of good enough as settling for something inferior or imperfect, think of it as striking a perfect balance.