Like the rest of us, the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live was thrown a major curveball by the COVID-19 virus. Though the show was scheduled to return from hiatus March 28, New York’s March 24 executive order completely shut down production for several weeks.
And, much like the rest of us, SNL was forced to adapt to this new ‘normal’ as quickly as possible, resulting in the heroic, if comedically uneven, “SNL At Home” episode that aired April 11th. Shot primarily using Zoom video conferencing software, the episode turned cast members into their own ‘one man band’, the results of which could only be described as a mixed bag that left audiences wondering if the show could be pulled off without an actual live audience.
Fast forward two weeks later and it’s clear that, yes just like the rest of us, the team at SNL is starting to get their new normal figured out. The result is an episode of significantly improved production value that at once felt cohesive and entertaining while still maintaining a modicum of the spontaneity that has made SNL a fan favorite for the last 45 years (oh, and the many, many guest appearances didn’t hurt, either).
Sitting at home (because where else would I be?) Saturday night watching the new episode, I found myself rooting for the whole SNL team, repeating time and again throughout the episode, “These guys are really getting this figured out!” And, not going to lie, as a video production company, SNL’s win feels like a win for us all, proving yet again why good video production matters.
It can be easy to forget how production value can make or break a project, or how smart editing paired with fun graphics and animation can add visual interest and maintain the right flow of information for audiences. SNL just proved how much editing, graphics, animation, and audio really matter. One of the best sketches of the night, the always affable Kenan Thompson’s long-running “What Up With That” provided a playful balance between low and high production that entertains while simultaneously letting the audience in on the joke of what the cast has to work with, mainly their own kitchens and living rooms.
These are great lessons for all of us as we forge ahead into the great unknown of a post COVID world. No doubt video will play an important role for many businesses as they strive to connect with and engage their own audiences, whether that includes WFH employees or sales prospects. Production matters! It may even make the difference between meeting your business goals and failure to impress.