The Editor's Spin: Event horizon
Posted Jul 13, 2004

EXTERIOR—BORDER TOWN—NIGHT. Tight shot of a pair of hands making careful, last-minute adjustments to a makeshift bomb. A shadowy figure runs to a parked convertible and places the ticking device in its trunk. He looks around to make sure he's unobserved, and runs away. As the camera tracks back from the car, we hear bongos, brassy jazz, and buoyant conversation over the ticking of the bomb. A happy couple hops in the convertible and drives off. The camera tracks the car's movement from high above and descends to a tighter shot on the car and another happy, just-married couple walking briskly past it. The camera tracks them as they walk, pulling back just far enough that we can see the convertible a block away from the second couple, and get a taste for the bright lights and dim pleasures of the town. We hear the couple's conversation over the ticking; the car rolls out of the frame. The moment of truth comes at the 3:20 mark, and with it, the first cut, as we hear—and then see—the explosion. We're four city blocks from the pair of hands and parked convertible, three blocks from where we first saw the second couple. Same scene, same camera, same shot.

Could you pull this off? Could you open the Singleman wedding video this way (without the bomb, of course)? Probably not, unless you've got a massive crane and the sweeping, gallows vision of Orson Welles in his last Hollywood film, Touch of Evil (1958). And why would you want to? Every principle of modern editing argues against holding any shot for more than five seconds. You don't need a never-ending dolly shot with a 70-foot crane to set a scene, even if you're shooting a live event; you've got cutaways for that, and plenty of time (or better, a second camera) before and after the event to soak up all the atmosphere you need. And you've got Premiere or Final Cut to assemble it all as you like—and as your clients, inevitably, expect, based on all the films and music videos and news broadcasts and other event videos they've ever seen. The expectations are clear, and the tools are well-equipped to help you meet them.

Which is all the more reason to defy those expectations. What if the hands in the opening seconds of Welles' endless tracking shot—which opened Touch of Evil—were surreptitiously hanging a "Just Married" sign and stringing tin cans to the convertible's bumper? And what if that endless tracking shot were leading us to the site of the blessed event, capturing the couple's home neighborhood or the sites of their courtship along the way? Of course, you'll still need a crane if you want to get the high shot, and keep in mind the potential costs of so confounding expectations—for the record, Orson Welles never made another studio film after Touch of Evil.

But event video has come a long way since the 1980s, when the videographer couldn't buy respect—he was "the fat, sweaty guy in the tux" (no additional Welles reference needed), as American Videographers Association founder David Robin says. Today, the form is established, the profession esteemed, and the equipment affordable. The field is growing by leaps and bounds, with opportunities for profitable and pioneering work emerging all the time.

So there's your three-minute, 100-foot, tracking-shot introduction to a new moment in the video production and digital studio field, and to the next step for EMedia. Two years ago we refined our focus to explore the tools and techniques of DV and DVD post-production in the digital studio. We're still keeping a close eye on the digital studio, but we're tracking up and back to pull in the production side of digital video, and zooming in on the most exciting and fastest-growing segment of the digital video world: event videography.

Beginning this month, every issue of EMedia will include a special supplement—a magazine-within-a-magazine, if you will—called EventDV. As The Magazine for Event Videographers, EventDV sizes up the business and practice of videography at a critical time—the moment, arguably, where the business has become accessible enough that almost anyone can afford to throw their hat into the ring in the hope that practice will make perfect. What's more, now there are enough successful, talented, and established role models out there that the time has come to assemble them as the columnists and other authoritative voices of EventDV and explore how to do event video right. With monthly columns, how-to's, and business analysis, we'll examine three distinct but overlapping worlds of event video: personal, corporate, and educational. Whether you're breaking into the field, running a studio, or simply adding shooter or editor to your job description, we're writing for and talking to you.

Naturally, the side-by-side worlds of EventDV (production) and EMedia (post) are as interrelated as our event video categories. Just as videographers will take on many different kinds of projects, EventDV and EMedia are inextricably linked. We well remember the era when DVD authors authored DVDs and video editors edited video, and neither strayed onto the others' turf. Those days are behind us. Likewise, if the shooters and editors of the videography world aren't always one and the same, they work closely together. Thanks to the accessibility and compatibility of sophisticated MiniDV and HDV camcorders, powerful PCs and DVD recorders, and versatile software NLEs and DVD authoring tools, the same individual can move fluidly from shooting to editing to authoring and duplicating a disc. In a digital environment, they're only doing what comes naturally.

Much like offering these two magazines between one set of covers. Welcome to EMedia and EventDV. We hope you like what you find.