Refreshed and recharged after spending a week among some of the best and brightest in this industry, I'm leaning toward "The question is moot." Spend an hour listening to Brett Culp talk about "Connecting with an Affluent Generation" or watching the crack comedy team of John Goolsby and son Chip sell a wedding video package to a real, live bride and groom before a real, live audience, and you'll see what I mean. Culp made some great points about how to make client presentations, starting with his admission that when potential clients come to his studio, he makes no presentation at all: "We talk about their wedding for 45 minutes, then they ask to see some video. And 30 seconds in they say, ‘Who should we use as a florist?' I stopped being offended when they started writing checks." Another thing Culp emphasized was the importance of creating a demo that's not only great, but widely seen as well. "You need to show it to twice as many people as you think you should to achieve your goal."
Other highlights of the conference program included an informative recap of the World Record Wedding Event (with the WRW couple and many key participants on hand) and a series of Spanish-only sessions from rising stars such as Luis Ponce and After Effects expert Javier Villarreal that point to new horizons for this industry. Ponce's "Wedding and Events in the Hispanic Market" session revealed the writing on the wall as well as anything.
In a similar vein, Hal Slifer's "Ethnic Events" seminar provided valuable insight on the traditions, customs, and relevant terminology of several types of events, ranging from Orthodox Jewish weddings and bar mitzvahs to Greek Orthodox and Hindi weddings. He had an unenviable slot in the schedule, facing off Thursday morning against the ever-popular "Battle of the Videographers," but Slifer held his ground and rewarded those who attended his session with valuable tips on details that might otherwise get lost in translation. Slifer is currently at work on an expanded discussion on the "Ethnic Events" theme for the December issue of EventDV. Don't touch that dial.
Working back through the week, timeshift-style, the two-day tradeshow (Tuesday and Wednesday) was a mixed bag. Sony and B & H maintained their typical sizeable presences, and if you wanted a hands-on look at a Sony or JVC HDV camera, you had your pick and could even make an appointment to have one all to yourself for a few minutes. The old maxim of "hear about it at NAB in April, see it/try it/buy it at WEVA in August" held true for a few products, such as the new HD-capable DDR from Shining Technology and the long-awaited EDIUS 4 from Grass Valley (née Canopus), although EDIUS 4 did ship earlier this summer. Avid, Adobe, and Apple had solid training and demo teams on hand, while WEVA Expo mainstay Digital Juice was notable in its absence. The exhibit hall was smaller than in years past, and one vendor who described the show-floor buzz as "screaming" at previous WEVA Expos found this year's model relatively sedate. Of course, small- and mid-size trade shows in the digital video industry are sagging across the board, so WEVA is hardly alone in declining exhibit-hall fortunes. With the ongoing consolidation in the vendor pool, and more commerce moving online, exhibit space becomes an ever-tougher sell.
Tuesday night brought the WEVA After Dark party, including a one-night-only appearance by the WEVA All-Star Band, ably led by time- and tempo-shifting drummer David Robin. Another Tuesday night highlight was the Local Association Production Shoot-Out, which pitted representatives of various local associations against each other in a commercial shoot- and edit-off, with the Philadelphia contingent walking away with the top prize. The association battle was a nice bit of innovation on WEVA's part, and welcome recognition of the importance of local associations in the sustenance and growth of this industry.
At Monday night's Awards gala, which ushered such luminaries as Mark and Trisha Von Lanken, Kathy and Al Ritondo, Mike Nelson, and Eric Cosh into the WEVA Hall of Fame, WEVA also announced several key association initiatives. First is the Zoom music licensing program, a work-in-progress worth watching closely as the catalog of songs grows, the licensing costs and constraints become clearer, and other parallel industry initiatives evolve. The night also brought the global launch of WEVA's partnership with content rights management solution provider ImageSpan to connect videographers with national advertisers who need local content to augment (or fill in) their "doughnut"-style ads. We'll be discussing this project more in-depth with WEVA and ImageSpan in a future article.
Finally, we saw the first-borne fruit of WEVA's collaboration with CMP (publishers of DV, Videography, and other video industry pubs), The Wedding & Event Video Resource Guide. It's great to see WEVA back in print. After all, there's room for all of us at this party—whatever our communication medium of choice—and if we keep that in mind, the party can only grow.