The first thing you notice when you begin browsing through the revised Complete Course is how well Naumann has improved the look of the course. The design is cleaner and more attractive now, and the organization is more transparent. Familiar material (with some useful updates) on funeral video pricing, the nature of the funeral industry, and how to build relationships with funeral directors is here, and it’s presented more attractively than before.
Naumann also added new articles, including a review of NewTek SpeedEDIT from Wedding & Event Videography Resource Guide and info on other useful tools such as Morpheus Photo Morpher. Perhaps most valuable of all for this quick-turn business, which usually requires videographers to scan dozens of photographs on short notice and tighter deadlines, is a new review of Kodak’s s1220 Photo Scanning System. Naumann also endorses two software products from Ulead: PhotoImpact X3, which Corel, the company that acquired Ulead, has continued to develop, and the late, lamented DVD Workshop, which Corel has kicked to the curb. Another discontinued (but well worth tracking down) product recommended here is the image pan-and-zoom tool Canopus Imaginate.
In addition to the print content, the Course includes four discs: the two-DVD Business Everlasting tutorial, which is similar (if not identical) to what I’ve seen in previous editions and provides the definitive guide to the funeral video biz; a “bonus material” CD, recently consolidated from two CDs, that includes such new content as sample buyout content from 3lb Universe and Travel Wisconsin and royalty-free music from DeWolfe Music.
The final disc in the set is a new DVD that features a 2008 WEVA CEA Gold-winning memorial tribute video by Frogman Productions’ Philip Hinkle. Hinkle also provides some terrific accompanying print content. In his section, How to Create an Award-Winning Memorial Video, Hinkle talks about ways to approach memorial videos for high-profile clients. He looks at how to shoot the events and the overlapping of skills and techniques used in documenting weddings and funerals with a more cinematic approach.
While weddings and funerals are, in some ways, events that would seem to require dramatically different approaches—in the case of funerals, eschewing the sort of “eye candy” shots that are commonplace in wedding films—Hinkle writes, “I know all this sounds like you are sensationalizing and cashing in on a person’s death. In fact you are creating a historical memento for the family that shows how much this person meant to others and the depth their influence made.”
It’s a fine line, to be sure, and Alan Naumann’s Complete Course does a thorough and admirable job of teaching videographers how to stay on the right side of that line while building a business in the funeral realm and using it to create profitable and meaningful work.
Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV.