The wedding and event video industry has had a handful of "were you there?" occurences over the years—pivotal moments that happened relatively quickly in the presence of relatively few, but grew into legend over subsequent years with many more people eventually claiming they had been there than could possibly have fit in the room where the actual events occurred. One such moment happened at the world premiere of Graham Fenton's first wedding-day music video in 2001; another took place on January 11, 2007, during Joshua Smith's "Close Your Eyes and Open Your Mind!" seminar at the 4EVER Group's Video 07 convention in Jacksonville, Florida. The 20-year-old first-time presenter cued up a piece of music, and asked his audience to close their eyes and summon whatever images the music brought to mind, explaining that this is more or less how he works. Then he played the video he'd set to that music, with captivating images and striking colors that pretty well exceeded anything his audience might have imagined. The only sound that interrupted the awed hush that followed was a room full of industry veterans collectively retrieving their jaws from the floor.
(Photos by David Chandler-Gick, a deveraux film, for the 4EVER Group)
In a week of peaks, as the conference wound down that Thursday afternoon, this was the moment when the world—or our corner of it—tilted just enough to bring the buzz to a crescendo. And a great buzz it was, beginning with the now-famous Day with Randy Stubbs, and Monday night's Artistic Achievement Awards banquet, which doubled the attendance of last year's event and further cemented the rising-star status of Jason Magbanua, who garnered eight awards (in absentia) including Best in Show. Magbanua was also named to the 2006 EventDV 25, which was presented at the Monday night banquet, and included 13 new honorees in addition to 12 videographers who have been counted among the 25 hottest and most influential in the business for two years running.
Tuesday brought the trade show, with Newtek, Adobe, Grass Valley, and JVC highlighting the exhibit hall, and provocative panel discussions on timeshifting and HD, with Land O'Lakes, Florida-based VH Video reporting from the vanguard of the HD production world as perhaps the first company to shoot and deliver event video in HD resolution on HD disc.
Another sign of the times came Tuesday morning in Jan Ozer's seminar, "Dare to Stream"—on producing and encoding video for streaming—in which EventDV's own Ozer declared that any video you intend to deliver electronically should be encoded in two formats: one streaming format (WMV, Flash, or QuickTime, no surprise) and one iPod format. But perhaps it was Tasra Dawson, partner of EventDV contributing editor Ron Dawson in Cinematic Studios who captured the zeitgeist best in her Tuesday morning session, "Build Your Business with Blogging." Suffice to say she was in high demand the rest of the week by attendees who (for better or worse) will doubtless be launching blogs on event video sites around the country in the months to come.
Other highlights of the 4EVER Group's second annual convention, which brought dramatically increased attendance (roughly 30%) to a less "destination"-type location than last year's show in Disneyworld (although the venue itself was good, and well-situated within Jacksonville itself), included two lively "Live Edit" sessions, provided by Elysium Productions' Julie Hill (replete with margaritas) and EventDV 25 honoree Chris Watson. In many sessions, such as Jeff Wright's "Creating Short Form Wedding Movies in a Cinematic Style," the focus was on artistry, and with good reason; as Wright explained, whether you're capturing the moment or tactfully staging it, "the focus is on making the bride and groom look good," and few videographers are better at it than he is.
Shawn Lam, by contrast, kicked off his session on "Dance Recital Strategies" with an and-now-for-something-completely-different disclaimer--"Many of you consider yourselves creative artists first, and business owners second. I'm a business owner first"--and proceeded to put business first in his presentation. Of course, he also explained much of the artistry that makes him such a successful business owner, or at least his knowledge of how to frame a dance shot (always show feet and leave jump-room), when to go wide and when to go medium and follow; why to shoot 16:9; and how to cut multicam in Premiere Pro.
Another emergent theme of Video 07 (besides ample and invaluable opportunities for videographers to network with their peers) was the 4EVER Group's plans for 2007. This is in some ways a different organization from the one that put on Video 06 in Orlando last year. In mid-2006 they launched the 4EVER Group Videographers Network, and have added benefits like E & O insurance and credit card merchant status for their affiliates; they've also added committees and committee leaders to delegate some of the workload and extend the efforts of directors Tim Ryan and Steve Wernick. Among the key announcements of this year's show are the organization's plans vis a vis local associations, culminating in a local association film festival due to happen later this year.
As Tim Ryan explained it to me, the first step is to build a library of videos that local associations can draw from; the idea is for all local associations, no matter how small (and some are inordinately small), "to have content for their meetings. For example, if LIVA has five competitions per year, with fifteen videos emerging as winners, we'll make those winners shared. Local associations who want to show them at their meetings can call the 4EVER Group, and we'll send them." The first exchange, he says, has already begun—the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW-PVA) and Long Island (LIVA) associations now have videos in the library, and are in the process of swapping them now.
The film festival will grow out of this exchange. Out of the 15 categories included in the 4EVER Group's Artistic Achievement Awards, 11 are eligible for the local association film festival. Between now and July 31, 2007, local associations will screen videos produced by members in those 11 categories, and choose one video to represent that association, with each association deciding on its how how to select the winner. The associations will then submit their selections to the 4EVER Group, which will author a DVD and send it back to the associations, each of which will vote for its top three selections (not including its own), and when the votes are tallied, the winning video will be played at Video 08.
The 4EVER Group's local association committee will be instrumental in facilitating the competition and the work with the local groups to bring it off. "None of this would be possible without the committee," Ryan said. "The committee members will choose regional representatives, and each association will keep in contact with their reps to keep them aware of the programs going on, keep them active, and keep them working on their libraries."
The 4EVER Group is also providing a CD-based Resource Kit to help get associations off the ground, including sample by-laws, competition rules, and more. The 4EVER Group directors' barnstorming local association outreach tour will also continue in 2007—in fact, 96 hours after the close of Video 07, I'm pretty sure they're back on the road already.