This month, I have a number of things on my mind. Some of them are ideas that would take more space than I have here to explore fully, and others are too short to fill a column on their own. Maybe you'll find a nugget or two in this random collection.
- More and more videographers are going over to the "dark side"—photography. Almost everyone I've talked to who's done this is delighted with the shorter hours and higher pay. But I'd discourage them from totally giving up on video. It won't be too many more years before a still frame from a video camera will have enough resolution to be blown up into a beautiful 8x10 or larger image. At that point, many of us will be selling still images from our 1080p60 video. So don't let those video skills rust away.
- Clients who have big-screen HDTVs usually have hi-fi surround sound audio systems to go with them. We need to pay more attention to audio than ever. Mixing for both surround sound and for stereo (or even mono) isn't that hard in most NLEs and audio editors, but you might have to pay more attention to your studio's sound setup.
- One piece of equipment I really want—a wireless microphone with a built-in MP3 recorder for backup—is in production, but the only one available (Zaxcom TRX-900, $1,650 for the base model transmitter) is far too expensive. Azden, are you listening?
- I'm also waiting for the pocket-sized device that'll be my planner, address book, thumb drive, phone, portable audio/video playback device, and GPS navigator. Under $500, please, and web access for less than $25 per month.
- HD video raises the requirements for computing power more than I'd realized. I thought my new computer with its dual-core Athlon 64 FX-2 processor would be able to handle the job, but now I'm looking forward to the Intel quad-core processors, due out in November. Like it or not, we're repeating the early days of DV, when editing systems routinely contained both software and some form of hardware acceleration.
- Any new communications medium will eventually carry advertising. YouTube is an example of a new web-based form of video communication. I just found out this week that people are starting to create commercials to be shown there. While we can moan about how ads insinuate themselves everywhere, there's an opportunity there as well. Somebody has to create the ads; why shouldn't it be us?
- When shooting video of children, get the camera down to their eye level. Turn the LCD screen around so they can see themselves on camera. You'll be amazed at how these two things will make kids relax in front of the lens.
- Competition benefits us all in many ways. The advent of a second national videographers' association (not to mention this magazine!) seems to have spurred WEVA to correct some of the things its members had complained about for a long time. Having other videographers in your local market gives you great opportunities to share referrals, and resources to call on if you should suddenly need a replacement shooter. And as with WEVA and the 4EVER Group, your competition provides a constant spur to improve your own product and marketing.
- All this shall pass away. St. Paul's words are more true than ever in today's world of throwaway electronics, planned obsolescence, and rapid product development cycles. It's not your camera or your computer or your software that's important. How you treat people is far more important to your success, and your own happiness, than your gear. When I'm dead, I'd rather be remembered as a friend than as the guy who had the most toys.
- Your kit should include a few rubber bands, spare batteries, gaffers tape, a multipurpose tool like a Leatherman, and a small flashlight. It should also contain some aspirin, antihistamine, a shoelace, and a few safety pins. Anything can fail on a shoot, including the seam of your trousers.
- Don't keep spare batteries in a pocket with other items. Loose change can short the battery and set your pants on fire. • Don't keep used tapes in your camera bag. A stolen camera can be replaced. Stolen footage can't.
- Specialization is for insects. Robert A. Heinlein's character Lazarus Long was on to something here. They say that the average person today will have five different careers in their lifetime. So far in my life, I have been a retail salesman, an engineer, a manager, a teacher, a military officer, a government bureaucrat, a writer, and a videographer, and I hope I haven't used up my quota. Everything you learn and do goes into the hopper to fuel your creative engine . . . so go out and try something new!
- Maybe your "something new" is 3D animation. There's not a lot of call for this in event video, save for the occasional title, background, or effect. And the time required to learn and to use a full-featured 3D application like LightWave or Maya is formidable. On the other hand, animation is a whole sub-world of the video universe. Within that world, you create everything and make all the decisions about how it looks and acts. Plus there's a growing demand for skilled animators. If the video thing doesn't work for you, maybe there's a job at Pixar in your future.
Doug Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org), co-columnist for The Main Event, has been producing event videos since the days of analog tape, and is a moderator of the wedding and event forums at Video University and Creative COW. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife, Judy, and a variable number of children and dogs.