Pushing the Envelope

On Wednesday I attended the New Jersey Videographers Association’s meeting which featured two seminars, one by Patrick Moreau, Konrad Czystowski and Casey Warren of Stillmotion in Toronto (Patrick & Konrad) and MIND|Castle Studios in Seattle (Casey), and the other by Chris Jones of Mason Jar Films near Austin Texas. Both were outstanding and both gave me a lot to think about.

Chris gave an excellent seminar on the editing workflow and how to organize the edit for more efficiency. What I learned was that the way things are done now just wastes time. Modern non-linear editing software is designed with the idea that there will be a well organized shot list of scenes and takes. In the film world there is a script. In event videography there isn’t. As a result the standard editing workflow isn’t necessarily the best method for us. In addition to improving our workflow Chris also talked about focusing on the task and how we too often let distractions cut into our editing time. There were some good lessons there.

The Stillmotion/MIND|Castle presentation featured some of the most incredible wedding videography that I have ever seen. As I watched those clips I wondered how could I ever even approach that level of artistry. But that why we (as wedding videographers) were there. Even if we never get to that level, we are still raising the bar on our own work. For myself when I look at what I did last year compared to this, I see a significant change. That is because of people like Patrick, Konrad, Casey and Chris who are willing to share their expertise. Those of us who are willing to put aside what is comfortable and familiar, and are willing to push the envelope are the ones who will excel.

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Audio tips presentation at the November GPVA meeting

I was asked to make a short presentation on indoor wedding videography techniques at the November meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Videographers Association. I chose as my subject, reception audio tips. The presentation was well received and numerous question were asked by the members.  I have posted my notes (more extensive then the talk) here. Also included are tips for ceremony audio. While these will be most beneficial to videographers, they are also informative to clients who would like a good understanding of how we work with audio.

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I am writing this from the annual Wedding and Event Videographer Association Expo in Orlando Florida. For the past few years I have been attending this conference regularly. I am here to learn new things from some of the finest wedding videographers in the world.
This year we are really seeing the shift toward HD. Up to now it seems that the majority of video companies were still not filming in HD. This year more than half are. We made the move to HD a few months ago and I am glad that we did.
I look at the style of some of the top videographers in the business and I realize that what sets them apart is more than just technical excellence, it is that they have a unique vision, one that sets them apart. What I take away from this is that while I can learn much from the masters, our style is still our own and that is what makes Bonnie Blink Productions unique. We cannot be everything to all people. Some couples love our style, others will prefer the work of others. We will continue to define our vision while incorporating the ideas that we get from the best in the business.

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June GPVA Meeting

The June Greater Philadelphia Videographers Association meeting was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King of Prussia, PA. Featured was a panel discussion on freelancing, how to be a freelance videographer, and how to hire freelancers.

Steve Newbert of All Occasion Video showed a portion of his new documentary about the American flag called The Color Bearers, The Story of America’s Flag Passion.

Joe Bradley received a well-deserved award for his service as GPVA treasurer.

After the meeting everyone went to Champps for dinner and discussion.

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April GPVA meeting

The April meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Videographers Association was all about business. George Alford of Pro Video and Photography in New Castle Delaware gave an excellent presentation on making a profit. It certainly made me think about keeping track of all my expenses, and adjusting our rates to maximize profit, while still being affordable. George also had some excellent tips on how to make a videography business stand out from the crowd.

Henry Franz moderated a forum on contracts. There were a number of excellent ideas passed around on how to write a better contract.

To cap of the evening, there was an online chat with John Zale of WEVA. John was in Las Vegas attending the NAB show and updated everyone on some of the new products being introduced there.

After the meeting everyone went to Chili’s for dinner and talk.

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GPVA March meeting

This week’s GPVA meeting featured I Do Stream, a company that markets a live video feed to the Internet. It is an interesting concept, You connect a camera via Firewire to a computer hooked to a broadband Internet connection. I Do Stream provides a way of allowing people anywhere to watch the feed live (or almost live). I don’t know how many wedding videographers will use it. We have enough trouble trying to get audio hookups at churches and reception halls to work without adding Internet connections, but at other more controlled venues live streaming video could be a reliable source of extra income.

GPVA member Joe Donato presented a very informative presentation entitled “How Ballroom Dancing Save My Videography Career”. Besides being a videographer, Joe also teaches ballroom dancing. He showed the audience how to apply dance concepts as a way of getting smoother handheld footage.

To cap of the evening, we had a surprise guest. Ron Dawson of Cinematic Studios in Cupertino CA, spoke via iChat from Las Vegas, where he is attending the WPPI Expo. WPPI is the organization of wedding photographers. Ron explained how he made a shift from wedding videography to corporate by producing videos for professional photographers. Ron is also well known in the blogging community and his talk at the WEVA Expo last summer on blogging is what got me going on this blog.

At the conclusion of the evening many of us headed up the street to Champps where a lively discussion of things video continued until past midnight.

The Next GPVA meeting will be held April 15, 2008 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King Of Prussia, PA. Go to the GPVA website for more information.

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Professional organizations for videographers – Should your videographer be a member?

Most professions have their organizations. Wedding videography is no exception. We currently have two, the Wedding and Event Videographers Association International (WEVA) and the 4Ever Group. Both of these groups represent the interests of the wedding and event videography industry. Both have annual conventions. Many videographers (myself included) belong to both. What they do not require however, is any form of professional certification or licensing. WEVA does offer a certification, but few have obtained it. Anyone who calls him or herself a professional videographer can join.

Does this mean that being a member of these groups says nothing about the professionalism of your videographer. Not necessarily. For one thing, membership dues are high enough that someone who is not making a serious commitment to this business is less likely to join. The other thing is that both organizations put a major effort into education. The 4Ever Group has their convention in January (just concluded), and WEVA has theirs in August (with a second smaller show this month). These are incredible opportunities to learn and to take event video to a higher level. I always say that the couple who’s wedding I am editing right after the WEVA Expo is lucky, for they are the first to get the benefit of all that I have learned there. Like any profession, education never ceases.

Besides WEVA and 4Ever Group there are a number of local organizations. These in my opinion, are even more valuable than the national organizations. For it is here that videographers really exchange ideas and learn from each other. As a group, event videographers are very open. The good ones do not feel threatened by their competition. As a result, ideas flow freely. In Philadelphia our local organization is the Greater Philadelphia Videographers Association (GPVA). It is one of the largest and most active in the United States. GPVA’s membership is also one of the most talented. This year four of our members made the EventDV 25 list of the top 25 event videographers in the world (Dave Williams, Tim Sudall, Glen Elliot, and Darrell Aubert). That raises the bar for all of us. I have learned from all of them, and it makes me better at my own work.

Finally there are the online forums. While these don’t qualify as professional organizations in the classic sense, they are a fantastic source of information. I have learned as much if not more here than from WEVA or GPVA. If your videographer frequents them, they will be ahead of the game. The two main ones are Video University, and WedVidPro.

Does all of this mean that if your videographer is not a member of a professional organization that they are not as good as someone who is? No. There are a lot of excellent videographers who for reasons of their own, do not want to join. The point here is that being an active member of an organization (or online forum) indicates a desire to improve one’s skills and professionalism.

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Back from WEVA

I returned Friday from the WEVA (Wedding and Event Videographers Association) Expo in Las Vegas. As always, I spent most of my time attending seminars (gambling and Vegas shows don’t really appeal to me). This year attendance was up. The show moved back to Bally’s after being at Mandalay Bay last year, and the Hilton the previous year.This was a good move, as Mandalay Bay was not set up well for this type of convention. Too much walking. At Bally’s the conference rooms were right downstairs.

Here are some of the seminars that I attended that I feel will make an impact on our work:

Canon A1 seminar with Rob Neal. A good introduction to the camera that we will probably purchase when we make the move to HD.

Tim Sudall’s excellent seminar called Destination Success. Very inspirational.

Soundtrack Pro with Larry Jordan. One of the best that I was at. I have been wrestling with this audio application from Apple for awhile now. In one hour I learned enough to make it useful.

Blogging For Videographers with Ron and Tasra Dawson. An excellent seminar on improving my blog. Should be a big help here.

Moving Camera Techniques with Mark and Tricia Van Lanken. As always, the Van Lankens put together an informative program on making wedding video more cinematic.

There was also a “mock wedding” where 12 experts demonstrated techniques for getting better ceremony and reception coverage.

Every year local videographers associations compete to produce a 60 second commercial for wedding videography. I am pleased to note that our local orgranization, The Greater Philadelphia Videographers Association, won for the second year in a row.

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The WEVA Expo

Every year in August, videographers from around the world gather in Las Vegas for the Wedding and Event Videographers Association Expo. This year it is being held from Aug 13 to 16. Like any convention in Vegas, there are plenty of distractions, but the main purpose is educational. Last year I attended and learned more in three days than I could do anywhere else.   

So I will be going again this year. I be attending seminars in both the business and technical areas. This is an opportunity to learn new ways to extend the state of the art and to improve our product. I am someone who is never satisfied. I always want to make what I do even better. Here in the Philadelphia area we have some of the finest videographers in the country. Some of them will be presenters at the Expo. The bar keeps getting raised and it is my goal to rise with it.

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