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Archive for December 18th, 2008

eyeball1…with apologies to indie-film auteur John Sayles.

One thing I freely admit is that I have always had more creativity than technical skill.  In the world of video production, this would apply to lighting and shooting as well as editing.

I have been in video production, off and on, since college.  For many years it was a full time job but, for the past several years, it has been a sideline to the writing.

I think it is a function of the job I had for the bulk of the time: a catch-all video producer for a large manufacturer.  Being part of a two-dude team producing some big training or merchandising video every other week, I acquired a basic set of lighting, shooting and editing skills that always got the job done. But, trust me, they would win no awards.

As a director, producer or interviewer I always felt more than competent.  The only tools required were a brain, an eyeball and a telephone. Anything requiring machinery was a different story.  As a videographer I could compose a fine shot, but which f-stop or lens filter to use? I’ll leave that to the real technicians.  As a gaffer, I could light a mean interview.  For anything wider than a head, shoulders and necktie, better call the professionals.

Editing was where the disconnect was most obvious. In the old days, we had a Grass Valley 300 production switcher. I don’t know where the “300” came from, but it could refer to the number of buttons it had on it…of which I could operate no more than 12.  But, like I said, I always got the job done.

Then came Mac-based non-linear editing.  Being the capital investment proposal-writing supermen we were, we got in on the ground floor. I think the serial number on the back of the processor was 0003 or something.  That technology kept improving, and the capabilities exploded. Then there was AfterEffects and .mpegs and a dozen different codecs for CD-ROM and DVD mastering and live streaming and…

And I said, “You know, what I really want to do is write!”

Which has led to an interesting niche for me…video scriptwriting.  Frankly, as immersed as I have always been in video, I would not have considered it a niche, but it is. Talented writers who bang out websites, blogs and print pieces all day long often have trouble with video scripts.

Video scriptwriting is way more 3-dimensional than a lot of writers are used to. Obviously, you have to think in pictures and, on the left side of the page, you have to be able to describe these pictures for the director.  In industrial how-to video, you have to describe functions in their precise order, and in roughly the same amount of time it takes to perform said function.

I know this sounds elementary, but try it sometime! Or just call me!

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