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Old December 21st, 2009, 03:03 PM   #1
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Newbie Looking for Training

Hey guys, I've been hanging out here on the forum for a while and have made a few posts. I am looking for some comprehensive training to help me get started in the event video industry.

Let me give you some brief info on where exactly I am at in life. I am married and my wife is happy living in this area and with her career locally, so moving somewhere to go to school is not really an option, so online training is where I am leaning.

I have been doing this as a hobby for a while but lack skills needed to really be successful. My equipment consist of a Canon xh-a1, canon vixia hf-s10, iMac 3.0 GHz with 512 dedicated graphics memory, sennheiser G2 wireless, Rode Ngt-2, Glide cam x-10, Final Cut Studio etc.

Perhaps I am a better salesman than videographer because I have a successful local photo studio wanting to partner with me. They see the trend in the industry moving more toward the "fusion" of the two mediums and sees potential in what I could bring to the table. I am currently working there part time, but they are willing to allow me to run my video business out of their store front which is in a very prominent area of the city. I already have several clients lined up including weddings and promo video for local businesses. Now I have to deliver. Also, the local market is basically has very few professional videographers, so I should be able to corner the market if I can produce a quality product. I am going to start by doing wedding films, engagement vids, legacy still documentaries, promo videos and commercials.

I am looking for basic training in cinematography, camera operation, composition, camera operation, editing and so forth. I have signed up for Matt Davis' Coaching Program and plan on attending WEVA's online expo in February. I am looking at the Academy of Arts University's online film program but I don't really know a lot about the school and it is very expensive, $52,000 just for tuition for the MFA. Do I really need University training or can I get sufficient education for what I want to do else where?

You guys know what type of training is essential for success. Sorry for the long post, I hope you guys can see where I am coming from. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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Old December 21st, 2009, 08:18 PM   #2
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I've never really been a big fan of formal training. I suppose it's great for some folks, but I seem to learn a lot faster on my own, and just get a whale of a lot more out of self education.

That said, some of the best education available, is simply reading as much as you can here, from folks that know what they are doing.

I strongly suggest keeping it real simple (at least at first), and focusing on basics:

Learn to shoot steady (which means practice). Practice holding the camera as still as you can while shooting handheld. Learn to move the camera s-l-o-w-l-y. Avoid zippy zooms like the plague - zooming really should be used very judiciously, if at all. Watch professionally produced television and film, and you just won't see a heck of a lot of zooming in and out (or whip pans for that matter). You didn't mention a tripod in your list of gear. If you don't already have one, I suggest you get a decent tripod (like at least a sturdy Bogen with a 501 head, or better), and also suggest you get a decent monopod.

When editing, keep it simple. Fancy transitions are mostly for the birds.

I suggest you get another pro level camcorder. Aside from being useful for getting footage from another angle (even if the camera is just sitting on a tripod unmanned), if you want to shoot weddings and events professionally, you really should have a backup camera that is pro caliber (not a consumer camcorder - even though an S10 can certainly be quite handy for b-roll), just in case your primary cam fails. You can't expect weddings and events to be postponed if your camera fails (which does happen - and you sure as heck don't want to find yourself shooting somebody's wedding soley with a little S10, when they've contracted to pay you good money as a professional videographer). If money is tight, look at getting at least a decent used HDR-FX1. Decent used FX1s are selling for a little under $2K nowadays. (I've got one I've been meaning to sell, that's in close to mint condition, with almost no wear on the heads. You can drop me a note if you are interested in it.) Decent used XH-A1s are selling commonly being sold for a little more. If you are in a good position financially, I'd suggest looking at getting an HMC150.

While it's usually impossible to control lighting at a wedding, or most events, one formal education thing I'd suggest anyway, is getting a copy of this:

DV Enlightenment at DVcreators.net

Even though you can't control lighting at most weddings and events, it's quite useful to understand the basics of lighting.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 05:13 PM   #3
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Hey thanks for the reply. I'm not receiving email notifications from the forum for some reason. I am picking up on the basics from this forum and the information available is great but you have to sift through a lot of fluff to get to the meat in a lot of cases and sometimes is hard to find info targeted at what you are wanting to find out. I'd like to find some systematic walk through training videos that walk through the dos and don't of videography and how to get the most out of my camera.

I current'y have two Bogen 503 heads on bogen sticks that are about eight years old and have seen better days (meaning they really suck). I am planning on buying a FSB-6 in the next month or so and maybe a FSB-4 after that to use with the S-10 and the future 5d or 7d.

It will be a while before I can afford another pro level camcorder, I'll have some work with what I have first to earn the funds to purchase another camera but thats at the top of my list. Thanks for the tip on the lighting training.

Any other advice would be great!
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 05:30 PM   #4
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If the 503 heads are still decent, and it's just the sticks that suck, from what I gathered a few months back, there's some company in China making high quality sticks (that should accommodate a 503 just fine), that are basically good quality knocks offs of name brand stuff, being sold on eBay for a whale of a lot less than the name brands. If I can remember the name of the company, I'll post it. Apparently, they also make good quality knock offs of name brand heads too, for that matter.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 05:35 PM   #5
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Frankly, I think sifting through the junk here, to find what's actually useful to you, is less time consuming than sitting through the useless (or downright erroneous) junk (which is usually a significant portion) in formal training stuff.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 06:01 PM   #6
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What part of the country are you in Chris?
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:39 PM   #7
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I will definitely second Robert's advice on formal education. Fact is that if you already have a good start, and are 100% confident what direction you would like to go, then you really don't need it. It works for some (did for me) but it's different for each individual.

Ask yourself if you would benefit more by spending $20k on tuition, or $10k on equipment - $5k on training/travel - and $5k on advertising.

JS
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Old December 24th, 2009, 12:11 PM   #8
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Hey guys thanks for the replies. Robert, the heads are actually the problem, the sticks are fine and I plan on using them with the heads that I buy in the future. I would be interested in the knock offs that you are referring to, might be worth giving them a try.

I am actually in Roanoke, VA, why? Thanks for the encouragement, I am just feeling slightly overwhelmed as I am starting to book weddings and want to be able to produce the best product possible. I will continue digesting the information on this website as much as possible.

John, your thoughts are right on line with mine. My thoughts are that if I can teach myself then I can save a lot of money and allocate it into equipment and marketing. I am just looking for quality resources to teach my self and give me real jump start.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 11:10 AM   #9
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I ran into this on my search for non-traditional training opportunities, any one have any knowledge of the Von Wedding Films training stuff? Also, can anyone recommend some good training DVDs that cover shooting weddings, cinematography, creative editing etc.? Thanks guys.

Wedding Video by Mark & Trisha Von Lanken | Von Wedding Films.com
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 07:02 PM   #10
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You might look in to some of Walter Graff's seminars and workshops. I've never taken one but he's a great resource. He's based in NY I think. I recall his fees being reasonable.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 07:53 PM   #11
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I don't know how good the Von Lanken's training stuff is, but it might be good. They've been shooting weddings for years. From looking at some of their sample clips, that Mark has posted links to here, it's pretty clear they know what they are doing.

You can learn a lot, just by watching a bunch of the stuff that wedding shooters post links to here, of their own work. Some of the folks posting stuff here, are absolutely first class wedding and event pros.

I asked about your location, because if you lived near a really big city, like NYC or LA, there's a lot of camera user groups in those big cities, and you might find going to a few meetings useful. Maybe there are some good groups in Roanoke. I have no idea. You might see if you can find any there.

Here's another quick tip that comes to mind, that you might find useful. Since you shoot with an XH-A1, I'd suggest you take a look at the thread on A1 custom presets here. There are a lot of them shared here, that were painstakingly developed. There's one called "reality" or something like that, that I've downloaded, and can tell you it's good. There's also others that have been developed specifically for shooting with the A1 in low light situations, that could be quite useful for weddings.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 03:51 AM   #12
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Hello, J. Chris Moore.............

Not sure what the short of that is, but I'm sure you'll let me know in time.

First things first, JCM (if I may be so bold)

- how old are you?

- what's your trade or usual occupation?

- who's bringing in the money at the moment?

- why do want to get into this dogs dinner of a business? (joking, asked and answered, your honour, sort of).

Don't be too worried about fudging any of the above, my entire lifes CV consists of "He didn't?" and "He did what?", from start to, hopefully, finish.


CS
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Old January 8th, 2010, 10:26 AM   #13
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Hey guys, sorry for taking so long to respond to this thread. Robert thanks for the advice. I have checked out the A1 thread. When you say you downloaded the reality preset, do you mean that you downloaded a word document or something with the preset settings listed and then imputed them into the camera manually or is their a way to simply upload presets directly into the camera? Also, I don't know of any camera user groups locally but I am trying to digest as much as is possible from this forum and others. Thanks for your help man, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Chris, let me try to answer your questions. (and yes you may be so bold, lol)

(-how old are you?) I am 25

(- what's your trade or usual occupation?) I am currently working at the photo studio mentioned in my original post, doing sales and design work. Along with learning photography with the intent on becoming an additional shooter for the studio.

(- who's bringing in the money at the moment?) Not sure what you mean by this, but I am married and my wife is a school teacher. I bring in a decent salary as well from my work at the studio. At the moment the studio is not charging me any thing to run my business out of this location. So at the moment there is very little overhead. In fact, I get paid even when I'm editing film.

(- why do want to get into this dogs dinner of a business? (joking, asked and answered, your honour, sort of). It has sort of been a natural transition for me. Like I mentioned above this opportunity has just kinda been dropped in my lap. Its something I enjoy doing and I believe have a natural ability for. I have this opportunity to partner with this photo studio with very little risk on my part. I can keep working here and just do my part of the photo work and make a decent living but the owner and myself see the lines between photo and video blurring very quickly with the way the industry is moving. The owner wants to be ahead of the curve in our area and set the studio apart from our competition by adding video to the services offered. So to make a long story short, we both see video as an opportunity for success depending on how hard I'm willing to work. This is why I am trying to find proper training really devote myself to being successful.

Hope this helps. Feel free to critique, and ask any questions. No reason for me to step blindly if I don't have to. I need all the help I can get because I know I'm a little over my head. But I guess everyone has to start somewhere.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 05:55 PM   #14
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"TrueColor" is what I was thinking of when I said "reality" or something like that (as the name of the preset). Here's a link:

Paolo Ciccone Productions TrueColor for Canon XH A1

Essentially the concept, as I understand it, is to get a neutral image out of the camera, that you can have the most flexibility with in post, to create the look you want, rather than trying to create a look with the camera (and winding up with an image that gives you less leeway in post).
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