The awards gala also brought recognition to Lance Gray of PixelPops Design, LLC with the presentation of WEVA's Walter Bennett Service to Industry Award (past winners include EventDV's own Ed Wardyga), and to EventDV contributing editor David Robin of Boulevard Video with the Bob LeBar Vision Award. Videographers newly inducted to the WEVA Hall of Fame in 2005 include Maureen Bacon of Impact Images, Eugene DiFrancesco of Eugene Works, Bob Perl of Perl Video, Phil and Julie Smith of Novtech Video, and John Weppler of Premiere Video Productions. For a complete list of CEA and special awards winners, visit www.weva.com.
The tradeshow opened late Tuesday morning to decent traffic (if a little down from previous years, according to several vendors), with ample room to move and to grow in the new Hilton location. Key vendors onsite included Sony and JVC, both of whom were demo'ing new HDV-capable camcorders (Sony with their familiar mock-wedding booth); Adobe, Apple, and Avid had sizeable booths with ongoing software demos and tutorials, all except Avid highlighting HDV support; and Canopus and Panasonic Broadcast were also emphasizing HD offerings. MacroSystem demo'd two key HD-oriented technologies for its Casablanca line: the HD-V Viewer/Enhancer and Smart Edit 5 HD, due for release this fall. Sony's attention to all things HD at the show included a Blu-ray demo at the booth (presented with the caveat that none of this hi-def DVD stuff is likely to go mainstream in the next couple years) and the HDV Theater. Digital Juice offered demos of the company's StackTracks and Juicer that kept audiences rapt, and promised "new stuff every month for the rest of the year."
WEVA Expo runs three sessions simultaneously throughout each morning and evening of the conference; as with any conference, the sessions themselves can be a mixed bag, but one thing attendees are guaranteed in almost any session is that they're going to see some great video. The sessions that stood out were the ones that combined that video with effective instruction. In that respect, standout sessions I attended included Lance Gray's "The Making of a 3D Photo Montage," which did an outstanding job of conveying dramatic photo fly-through techniques in Adobe After Effects that were on display at the show in the work of Gray's PixelPops as well as Boulevard Video's David Robin and a few others.
Danny Sayson's "Ultimate Wedding Video Makeover" session may have been the standout seminar of the entire show. Sayson's ability to convey his own "handheld steadicam" techniques as the foundation of his engaging cinematic video style is nothing short of remarkable. Sayson was far from the only speaker selling instructional or demo video material at the show, but I'd guess that his DVD is among the best; given the striking preponderance of videographers hawking their demos at WEVA Expo, it's hard to imagine that many don't fall into what EventDV's David Chandler-Gick calls the "vanity" category, with lots of video and very little instruction. Sayson's instructional DVDs contain quite a bit more material than he was able to squeeze into his seminar, which (at one hour) felt about two hours too short. Perhaps the best moment of Sayson's session came when he was explaining how to use objects and even people as foreground when creating richly layered shots. "Use the photographer," he said. "He's already in your shot anyway, right?" (For more on Danny Sayson, see Kyle Oliver's September Studio Time, http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=10317)
In a similar vein, Jeff and Andee Wright's session on "Cinematic Wedding Video" also did an effective job of teaching fluid-camera techniques and their effective use in reveals, shooting through objects, and the like. While acknowledging that a balanced video will include segments where the camera is perfectly still, Jeff said, "Camera movement is the biggest thing that will give drama to what you're putting together." (For more on the Wrights and the cinematic approach they use in their Blue Skies productions, see David Michael Drenk's Studio Time, http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=10510)
Other engaging sessions I attended included Jenny Lehman's on "How to Create an Award-Winning Demo," which was actually much more practical than the name implied: what she was really talking about was how to create a collection of demos that will get you clients, and how to tailor your demo videos to specific jobs or to clients with particular interests, faiths, venues, etc. She also delved into how long demos should be when created for different presentation environments or media, be they streaming (3 minutes), in-studio (10-15 minutes), or bridal shows (short, fast-paced, and looping). "I have a dozen different demos," she said, "and they each have their purpose." She went on to explain the vital importance of demos in getting bookings, given the ways her clients shop for videographers: "When I'm trying to book a job or get an appointment, I'll sell entirely on a demo. About 50 percent of my clients book me without seeing me."
EventDV's newest columnist, Kris Malandruccolo, presented an excellent seminar on "How to Market Yourself Like a Pro on a Shoestring Budget." Before you ever get an appointment to discuss a booking with a client, or get a client to look at your demo to get that appointment, you need to get your name out there. A big part of that, she said, is making contacts, and making yourself known to people who are likely to make contact with your potential clients before they even start shopping for videographers. Part of this is forging relationships with other wedding vendors; Kris' success in this arena is well-documented, given that she's (to my knowledge) the only videographer who has earned the title of Accredited Wedding Vendor from the national Association of Bridal Consultants. She also spoke in detail about getting your message out in relevant magazines (and even mass-market magazines—Kris was the main videographer featured in the February 27 US News & World Report feature on wedding videography), either via advertising or writing. It's hard to argue with the overriding principle of her marketing approach, as noted several times in her presentation: "If you don't ask, the answer is no." (For a complete transcript of this seminar, visit www.elegantvideosbykris.com.)