Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Videographer as Chef or Cook (With Video)

I feel as though I'm a caring parent, giving life to this child - a video story - that I want to nurture, groom, and prepare for the big world. But at some point, the passion I pour into the project simply must be finished and set free, to let it stand on the perch to release it into the wilds of public view, and let that baby fly. Every once in a while, I latch onto editing a shoot, wanting everything to be perfect if it went much better than expected. The sound was captured well; the subjects expressed themselves; the moments captured on film sang; and everything mixed together like a recipe, filled with the perfect ingredients.

When that happens, your choice is whether to prepare the project as a cook, or a chef. The grocery store is your assignment location, so let's pretend that it's a target-rich environment: You feel as though you're shopping at the trendiest spot, with various qualities of cuts, produce and dairy products. You can grab the top-shelf items, or pick the basic stuff that's ten for a buck, depending on how you approach the subject. The interviews, B-roll and audio become your ingredients, and your recording equipment is the grocery cart. While not being too picky, get enough for your dish, and get some extra stuff so that you won't have to return; the store might be closed by that time!

Returning to the kitchen (your workstation), your tools for measuring the ingredients come from your own instincts. Do you want it to be short, or extended? Bland, or spicy? If you've done a thorough job, you'll have enough to create a few different styles of videos, but always remember that it's a blank canvas. Other than basic editing and continuity skills, your imagination dictates how the project will shape up. If your way of shooting and editing doesn't agree with someone else, keep in mind that not everyone enjoys lobster with drawn butter.

With that in mind, the video I've finally finished was created at Stemmer House, on Caves Road in Owings Mills, MD. The backbone of the clip is the amazing insight by gardener Barbara Holdridge, who has taken care of the grounds over the past 34 years. Experiencing her passion lit my fire, and I was determined to create the most compelling video that I could, as a tribute to her love of the soil. That, and a short ballad that she sang, patiently waiting for me to set up my gear. Ms. Holdridge talked thoroughly about her joy in getting her hands into the soil, so that if we ever would like to create a different type of video, it can be done with no sweat about lack of footage. Please enjoy it half as much as I did, photographing and editing the piece.

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