Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Professional Videographer In You.

What is in a name? We define ourselves and our tools by the names we give them. We classify things based on our perception of them. Take video editors for instance. Often you will hear or read about a "Professional" Non linear Editor. Some editors get placed into a Pro or Consumer category not by their merits but by how they are marketed.
I define "Professional" as someone who creates something for sell, profit or greater recognition. The same can be said for their tools. If you create a slick movie, documentary or other video that is popular and profitable using Windows Movie Maker™ then you are justified in calling WMM your "professional" editor. Yes you are because you are a professional and the tool is what you used to become a professional, therefore the tool is a professional tool. It is an extension of you. Without it you could not create anything. Nor could you have reached the lofty position of Professional.
There are a ton of video editors on the market. A select few have been given the term "Professional." Almost all of them are capable of producing a visually stimulating and informative or entertaining video. Yet they all have been classified as either Consumer, Prosumer or Professional. Usually based on their price tag, not their capabilities.
This is nonsense.
There are consumer editors that have the power to help you make the next big production of all time, and other 'professional' NLE's that frankly are a major pain to simply edit cuts.
So who defines if your NLE is "Pro" or not?
You do!
If you can take IMac™ or Windows Movie Maker™ and make a great video then you have succeeded. You are a Professional.
The same can be said about cameras. Some are "Pro" and some are considered cheap consumer camcorders. A Professional camera shouldn't be defined by it's bells and whistles.
The bottom line is this, you determine if you are a professional. You do this by evaluating your talent, skill and creativity.
A master carpenter can take a basic hand saw and hammer and build a house. Or he may use a nail gun and skill saw. It doesn't matter what tools he uses because the talent, creativity and skill needed to build a house is in him, not the tools.
A cheap $200 camcorder in the hands of a talented and knowledgeable videographer is far more likely to render great videos than the most expensive camera in the hands of an amateur.
Many aspiring videographers believe they cannot produce great video because they are stuck with cheap equipment. This is malarkey!
Will your camcorder record a decent image? Will your editor cut your footage together? If so then you have all you need to make great videos. Perhaps what you are lacking isn't better equipment but a better impression of yourself ?
In 2005 I produced a no-budget documentary called "Swamp Apes." I shot it with a $199.00 Samsung™ HI8mm camcorder from Kmart™ that I already owned. I edited it with a low budget consumer NLE off the shelf. Is it the greatest documentary of all time? No. Did it get my point across? Yes. Was it profitable? Yes. Is it still selling? Yes.
Could I have done it better with all new equipment? No.
Sure I could have made it look better technically but the subject and content would be the same and I didn't need flashy bells and whistles to accomplish that production. I had an idea and the will to make it happen. I got creative and made the elements I needed to illustrate concepts and ideas.
Am I some sort of guru because of this? No. I didn't do anything you couldn't do!
Too often we get bogged down in the idea we cannot accomplish something without that new and exciting piece of equipment we want so badly. The truth is you CAN produce profitable and entertaining videos with the stuff you have. You don't need the latest and greatest gadget, you need confidence and self esteem!
Confidence and your creativity and talent will get you much further than all of the sweet and pretty toys on the market.
Yes it is always fun to get a new toy and then apply it's abilities to your next production and move up to a new level. But you still have to stand on your own skill to make it happen. The toy will not do it by itself. You have to step up.
So you define what is professional or not by what you can do with it. Who cares if the industry thinks you are playing with a less than stellar consumer product.
After Katrina, Spike Lee went to New Orleans and shot a documentary about the effects of the storm on the residents there. He shot it with consumer and prosumer camcorders. He sold it to HBO™! I doubt it ever entered his mind that he couldn't do it. Spike Lee is a professional, not because he is famous or rich, but because he has talent and skills and plenty of creativity.
And because he believes in himself.
Steven Speilberg started out making 8mm movies in the family garage. He directed a few episodes of TV shows like Night Stalker and later made American Graffiti. Then he took a chance on a little low budget film. Jaws had an almost worthless mechanical shark, a horrid shooting schedule, ran over budget and starred some no name actors.
Where is Speilberg now?
If you can make great video with the camera and editor you currently are comfortable and skilled with, and you believe in your talent and creativity then nothing is preventing you from succeeding. Nothing. Your first step toward achievement and success is believing that you and your equipment are indeed professional. If you believe this, then it and you are.
If you believe in yourself then you have already succeeded.
You are a professional.
J.

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