Vantage Point: Plugging Into the Video Network
Posted Jun 1, 2008

This year started out with a bang (a Big Bang, if you will) for Vantage Point Productions, the studio I run with my husband, Steve. But the actual catalyst was more of a snap—a snap that led to a chain reaction of galactic proportions.

It all started one fateful day when Steve and I were filming a wedding at the beach. Other than sand in my eyes—and shoes—and a hideous case of wind-blown beach hair, the day was going quite well. That is, until the first dance, when the handle of Steve’s Panasonic DVC80 snapped right off. He caught the camera before it hit the ground and we managed through the rest of the evening.

Since the camera was 4 years old and had 1,250 hours on it, we decided not to have it repaired. It was now time to go HD. Here’s where the Expanding Equipment Theory comes into effect. This theory states that for every one piece of equipment you buy, you will need three more. We needed two HD cameras, which actually means four cameras (two as backups), two new mics and lights, batteries, two new cases, HD monitors, and the supernova: two new editing computers to handle the HD footage.

We got through this nightmare of purchasing decisions and implementation because of one thing: our connections with other videographers. We network religiously in a number of ways. Consequently, we knew where to go for advice, and who we could depend on for reliable services.

For starters, there’s an amazing network of extremely talented video and film producers just a keypad away, who actually enjoy sharing their knowledge. Forums can be an absolutely invaluable resource. Two excellent forums where we network are Video University (VideoUniversity.com), and WedFACT (WedFACT.net).

Many folks read forums and glean lots of wisdom, but if you’re not participating, you’re only reaping a portion of the rewards. Ask and ye shall receive. But, it’s wise to introduce yourself to the community before asking for help. Then be prepared to receive a lot of overwhelming and sometimes contradictory answers and advice. Here’s where the work comes in; to benefit from a forum community (or any community, for that matter), you must invest enough time in it to discern who really knows what they’re talking about and whose knowledge is applicable to your work. Fortunately, these forums are a very enjoyable place to hang out, so much so that the real danger is not that you won’t log enough time there to benefit from them, but rather, that you’ll hang out there too much instead of attending to business!

Local associations are another way to stay current and connected. In the U.S. there are hotbeds of video talent that are directly related to participation in a local association. This is not an accident. Belonging to a network of videographers who share tips, knowledge, and ideas is a win/win situation for all participants.

By building relationships based on trust and respect, you can be confident that other videographers will have your back in an emergency. You will also have colleagues whom you can refer when you’re booked and who will give you referrals in return.

In our local association, Professional Videographers Network (www.pvn.org) we have bought, sold, rented, and borrowed equipment; found shooters; given and received referrals; been inspired; experienced new video products; and made lasting friendships.

Through networking within our industry, we found Brian Morris of 2nd Mile Productions at Video University. He designed a beautiful custom web theater for us that is simple to manage and provides our clients with a means of watching and sharing their films online in style.

Through Video University we also found George Loch of Prologue Media, whom we contracted to design our new brand. He is currently creating a production logo for us. It will be the first we’ve had since 1989 when we scrapped the animated flying balls we got from a news studio in Mexico. It seemed like a good idea at the time—then again, so did the mullet.

It was at a convention that we connected with Tony Hale of The DV Shop, whom we ultimately relied upon to build our new editing systems. Conventions, such as those put on by WEVA and The 4EVER Group, are a veritable cluster of knowledge. The seminars are loaded with information, of course, but just chatting with attendees can prove to be a gold mine. Roaming within the confines of the conventions you’ll find tried-and-true veteran knowledge, neoteric knowledge, and the fresh perspective of the newly initiated.

Be outgoing and hook up with these comrades; you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn, especially if you’re willing to listen. I love to listen, but I also love to talk. At a recent seminar presented by LaDonna Moore-Aiken, I got a flood of ideas. Some of the insight she provided was new to me, even though we talk occasionally. Why was that? Must be because I’d been spending more time talking than listening!

I’ve never met a person from whom I couldn’t learn at least one thing. Being successful and creative requires learning all you can, and then choosing what information to retain and what to discard. Continue your education through networking and surround yourself with a strong network of industry friends who add to your business well-being. Ahhh, well-being … it’s a beautiful thing.

Laura Moses (info at vppvideo.com) is half of Vantage Point Productions of San Dimas, CA. She and her husband, Steve, are winners of multiple international awards and were selected to the 2006 and 2007 EventDV 25.