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Continuing Education: Watson Videography's Tutorial and Sampler Pack
Posted Jul 15, 2005 - October 1999 [Volume 8, Issue 10] Issue Print Version     Page 1of 1

When looking at the collected works and training materials of in-the-trenches, real-world event videographers, I've found that there are, generally speaking, two flavors of such compilations.

There's the Vanity and the Instructional.

The Vanity is actually a collection of finished product, usually award-winning material presented without much fluff or fanfare. A commentary track providing insight from the producer is a plus, but not always utilized. This is a big mistake, in my book.

The Instructional is just that: a hands-on demonstration of technique or style, with instruction on how to do it yourself.

Watson Videography's Tutorial and Sampler Pack combines both approaches in a two-disc set. Unfortunately, for various reasons, this pack doesn't quite hit the mark in either respect.

The Tutorial DVD, subtitled, "Secrets to Creating Emotionally Stunning Videos," appears to be nothing more than a repurposed PowerPoint-style presentation (say that three times fast) from one of Chris Watson's speaking engagements (which, in their own right, are some of the best I've seen, which is one thing that makes the deficiencies of this DVD such a surprise to me).

Information is presented as informative CG followed by examples, both of the finished shot and how it was achieved in many cases. This is all delivered over a music bed, without voiceover and with very little incidental audio. It's the lack of VO that I find disturbing.

In all fairness, this lack of commentary may be a blessing in disguise: Not having the VO forces the viewer to pay more attention to the text onscreen. And the pacing is just fast enough to make you pay attention all the more. Maybe that makes for better retention of the information presented.

The information and techniques shared here are all rock-solid and very insightful. For example, do you know what sort of shot creates a sense of intimacy, and tells the viewer, pay attention to this? You will in less than one minute of watching this disc.

Here you also find the answers to such key questions as, "What's a natural framing device, and how (and why) should you use one?" and "How do I know what the scripted and unscripted events of a wedding are, and how do I capture them?"

Like I said, this is good, solid information, just not presented the way I would like. The chapter "Keys to Great Editing" should be required viewing for every newbie videographer with examples of what to do following what not to do.

Disc 2 is the Sampler. This is, by far, the most difficult review I have had to write. The Sampler contains ten clips (bridal elegance, pre-ceremony, vows, highlights, etc.), a full wedding production, award-winning material (demo, highlights, etc.), and much more.

Some parts I loved. Other parts, not so much. As a producer, I look at some of the material here and I'm thinking like a producer who has his own style and methodology. There are shots and even complete sequences where I find myself saying, "ugh . . . I'd never use that."

For example, my policy is to never, ever, show a studio camera in a shot. If a guest videotaping is seen, fine, but I never want to see one of my cameras or camera ops in a shot. For me, it breaks the flow of the story being told. I equate this to going to see a Spielberg movie and catching a glimpse of the camera and crew in a mirror—it immediately yanks the viewers out of the story and tells them they are watching movie.

Now, that's my style, and it doesn't mean that any other style is right or wrong. That said, I'm not going to go any further on the Sampler except to say there are some definite gems in there.

Watson Videography, www.dynamovideo.com

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