Thursday, 22 November 2012

How I Started Making Videos

My boss went to film school, so when he decided that his company needed to look into in-house video production for product videos, he knew what he was getting into. While he was planning an entry to the world of online how-to videos I had no idea what was going on. I was going nuts on mat leave, bored and lonely. I was also concerned about the future because although I was technically on maternity leave, I did not have a job to return to.

A former co-worker told me she was leaving the company just as they were getting ready to start a new, kind of crazy project. She asked to meet me and told me about what was going on and what the project might be. I told her I was interested and that I would love to come back to work ASAP!!! (as long as I could find child-care). So, she relayed my thoughts to the bosses, we scheduled a meeting and I came in, looking like a new mom, haggard and frazzled.

They asked me about my experience with video production. None, other than what I’ve absorbed through osmosis from my father and growing up around a news studio.

They asked me about my experience with photography.

Minimal portrait taking for a chain studio. I had a vague understanding of 3-point lighting and NO idea how to properly use a camera. Again, I’d picked stuff up through being around amateur photographers, former professional photographers, and former news camera operators but I had never had more than a passing run-down of camera technology, let alone composition, technique, focus-pulling, etc... They asked me if I was interested in learning.

Hell yes. I love a challenge.

Good enough, they said.

I was fortunate enough to have an understanding of where to start and to have bosses willing to hire pros to teach me. We recruited a producer, a director of photography and an editor to show me the ropes. I had a week with the producer, two days with the DOP and two days with the editor. They tried to cram 4 years of film school into that brief time.

That was 3 years ago.

If you go back and look at our early efforts it is quite obvious that we had no idea what we were doing. I was still getting the hang of the camera, afraid to change any settings lest I did something I could not un-do. My “talent” - although a great teacher and an expert in his field- had never been on camera before. He was stiff and formal, obviously self-conscious and just as afraid as I was.

We are still learning ever day. Luckily, I am no longer afraid of my camera. I have read and re-read the manual so many times, trying to figure out how to get the most out of it. The pros we hired gave me a starting point. They gave me enough information to pick up the camera to shoot and sit down to edit the resulting footage. The main thing I needed to start producing our videos was the confidence to learn.

We started with nothing more than a goal. We wanted to make videos instructing customers how to properly install 500 of our top-selling parts. We knew how to provide the instructions. We had a clear idea of what we wanted to show customers so all we had to do was shoot it.

Video production takes time. I am constantly learning. I continue to read books, I am still taking courses and attending workshops but the most important thing I do is I shoot. I keep shooting videos, I keep editing, I keep writing scripts and I keep experimenting with my camera. Practice will never make me perfect, but it will make me better.

Get a camera, start shooting, read the manual, prepare for terrible footage, learn.

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