Al Ritondo's friends always told him he had a great voice, and he'd even put together a demo tape in the hopes of someday landing a radio gig. But, he's been kind of busy for the last 20 years, along with his wife Kathy, shooting and producing event videos for their Personal Touch Video in Brooklyn.
But when he read an AOL news story about podcasting earlier this year, Al figured this was his opportunity to bring together two of his passions and share knowledge with other videographers. In April, the Ritondos launched www.WedVidTalk.com, the first podcast site devoted to wedding and event video. About once a week, Kathy and Al, co-founders of New York Professional Videographers, sit down and explore topics with other videographers, then deliver them as podcasts via the Web site.
In spite of what the name implies, you don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast; any MP3 player will do. If you download free podcasting software like iPodder or Doppler, you can subscribe to podcasts the same way you would to RSS feeds. When a new podcast is available from one of the "stations" to which you subscribe, the software automatically downloads it and loads it on your player. Of course, you could simply listen to it on your computer—the Ritondos offer direct links on their site for playback that bypass the podcasting software altogether—but that means you'll miss out on one of podcasting's signal strengths.
"I've learned a tremendous amount about podcasting from listening to podcasts in my car," says Al, while Kathy adds that listening to and learning from a podcast is something that can be done easily while working in the edit bay, while you're digitizing or rendering footage.
In fact, even as active educators who've presented dozens of seminars and workshops over the years, the Ritondos realized that some of the best things they've learned have come from more informal gatherings. "I'd be at a convention, having a conversation in the hallway with another videographer, and the next thing I knew, there'd be a whole group of people standing there, chiming in with their thoughts," says Al.
"Unlike a lot of businesses, most videographers don't have that ‘water cooler' where they chat with colleagues on a daily basis," adds Kathy. "The local associations take up some of the slack, but a lot of areas don't have local associations."
With that in mind, the Ritondos have taken advantage of podcasting's "anyone-can-do-it" ethos and combined it with their technical know-how (and the $5,000 worth of audio equipment they already had in their basement studio) to produce shows that are at once invitingly informal and exceedingly professional, complete with a fully produced opening segment that introduces each show. They'll tackle anything that might be of interest to both seasoned pros and neophytes. Recent topics include the challenges and joys of working as a husband/wife team, testing wireless mics, and a walkthrough of a typical sales presentation with a prospective client. The fact that podcasts aren't limited in their length—some might be ten minutes, some might be an hour—means that the Ritondos can go with the flow of any given conversation and see where it takes them and their listeners.
Some of what they cover will be very basic, says Kathy, while some topics—like a recent show devoted to HD—might be too advanced for novices. "We want to be all things to all videographers," she says, "without shying away from introducing people to the industry."
There's no video on the WedVidTalk.com site, and while that might seem at odds with the very nature of the business, Al doesn't see it that way. "About half, maybe up to 80%, of what one could learn about videography, one could learn without videotape. But we're able to put video on the site if we decide that's something we have to do."
Adding video is just part of what the Ritondos have up their sleeves for the future. Kathy says that "part two" of WedVidTalk.com will be a "getting married" site targeted at brides and grooms, but with plenty of interest for videographers, too. "We want to get a sense of what the whole arc of the wedding video experience is, from the time people get married until ten years later when they're looking for the DVD. When I mention that to videographers, they can't wait to be a part of that."