Video creation is sometimes a singular business, but video producers are a social lot who work and play in many areas of video production and love to share their stories. This column introduces you to your fellow video producers.
Name: Russ Fairley
Cameras: Sony NEX-FS100U, Sony HXR-NX5U (2), Sony PMW-EX1, Canon EOS Rebel T2i, - if we need more we rent them
Editing System: 12-core Mac Pro with (wait for it) 64GB of RAM (2), i7 MacBook Air, various MacBook Pros
Editing Programs: Adobe CS5.5 Master Collection, Avid Media Composer 6.
Lighting: Westcott Spiderlite TD5s, Kino Flo Diva-Lite 400 (2), some smaller Lowels
Audio Gear: Sennheiser ew 100-ENG G3 lavaliers and e 835 among other handheld mics, various booms
Support Gear: Manfrotto Fig Rig, tripods with 501HDV heads, and 701HDV heads
My start in video came as a surprise to everybody, particularly me. I always loved video, even as the kid who absconded with my parents' camera to shoot epic murder mysteries with some friends. Unfortunately, the camera and tapes were stolen so we never got to see our masterpiece, but it was a great future lesson about protecting gear and client footage.
When it came time for me to choose a career, video didn't occur to me. The tech bubble was inflating, so I became a Web developer, and a decent one; I won awards, but I wasn't passionate about it. Luckily, the company I worked for in the mid-2000s, a business-to-business magazine, had a special assignment for me: escort the senior editor to a show in Kentucky and create two six-minute videos, reporting on the news of the show. Work was kind enough to buy me a MacBook and a JVC Everio GZ-HD7U a couple of days before our trip and wished me luck. I spent a day figuring out how to get iMovie and the Everio to get along, then I had to figure out how to edit, shoot, light, frame, and manage some audio. Needless to say, my first attempt at professional video consisted of an insane 44 straight hours of totally inefficient shooting and editing to post two rough six-minute videos.
Energized by this new-found skill, I took on many new video projects. In an effort to improve these projects I came across Adobe After Effects. Impressed by it's power but in need of peers, I appealed to Adobe to let me start After Effects Toronto, my own motion graphics user group. The group helped out immensely, and now does the same for others. The goal is for there to be a resource for young editors and motion graphic designers who were in the same spot I was in.
Shortly after starting the user group I began doing freelance motion graphics, but found more work by embracing editing and shooting as well. I used Videomaker magazine to learn about new products, techniques to make my rough shots look professional, and to help me feel like I was doing the right thing at the right time. Were it not for Videomaker, I would have had a very hard time staying confident that video was the way to go!
That freelance work finally allowed me to leave my day job and run my production company full-time, creating videos for the medical, financial, real estate and publishing industries, with new clients from different industries finding us all the time. Our attention to detail, attitude and unique pricing models help us hang on to them. I never would have thought just a few years ago that I would leave the Web development world to run my own successful company, and your company gave me the confidence to do it. I owe a lot to Videomaker!
Russ Fairley - Quit My Day Job for Video!