Here We Are
Thanks for Janis Lonnquist's wonderful article "Women Behind the Camcorder" in your May 1995 issue.
I have had a passion for videomaking since I first picked up a video camera in 1983. And yet, the public doesn't want to accept me--a woman--as a videomaker. When I am videotaping a wedding, someone invariably approaches and asks if a) I am employed by the photographer, or b) if I am married to the photographer, or c) am I a friend of the family? I have done at least 200 weddings and I have had only one person ask me for my card. I have had to give away my service to get people to pay attention to my service.
Where are we? We are out here. We are struggling. We work hard to please our clients.
I don't have a chip on my shoulder but I do have a tremendous amount of pride in what I have accomplished against all odds. I started my business in 1988 when I was 56 years old.
One of the videomakers in town called to say he would be willing to take my equipment from me when
I retire. Dream on, my friend!
It seems to me that most of the reasons Janis Lonnquist cites for the lack of women videomakers are internal ones rather than external.
As a professional camerawoman for 15 years, I've shot for magazine shows, PBS documentaries, MTV, international news and corporate clients. In my experience, the problem is with those who do the hiring, not the other way around. For years, clients have told me that I "don't look like a camera person." It's meant as a backhanded compliment; "you look too feminine" or something like that. What they really mean is that "you don't look like a man," and most people think of camerapeople as being cameramen.
The stereotype is hard to break down, and this is something that women in this field have to deal with
all of the time.
Women videomakers have been around a long time. I, for instance, began my video career after being trained as a still and motion picture photographer by the Air Force in 1953. This was in the days of early black and white television and the exclusive use of 16mm black and white film cameras.
I worked in TV for 20 years as a news stringer, covering hurricanes and explosions, natural and manmade disasters, fires and human interest stories. I was accredited as a TV news bureau chief and a network stringer through the Gemini/Apollo launch periods at Cape Canaveral.
It is a woman's footage of attacking police dogs and fire hoses knocking down Blacks that has become a graphic part of our history of human rights. I shot it, along with two other photographers, Charles Glass and the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.
The film equipment was heavy, with a single 100-foot reel Bell and Howell or Bolex 16mm camera weighing in at 18 pounds, plus lenses, plus tripods. Single-system sound cameras, Arriflex or Auricon, weighed much more. Camcorders, when they came along, were wonderful.
Today's smaller, smarter camcorders are ideal for a woman's use, and while a woman's creativity is often overlooked because of emphasis on their primary role as childbearer and family anchor, the information age offers wonderful opportunities for anyone--no matter what gender.
Forest Hills, New York
Not Just One of Those Kids
My name is Grant Nishanian and I go to the Hommocks School in Larchmont, New York. I am thirteen years old and know a lot about video production--don't think that I am just one of those kids with his little camera making home movies. I'm the youngest volunteer at the LMC-TV public access center in my community. I take media classes in school and, in my words, we have junk. We have tube cameras and Betamax equipment. Half of it doesn't work either.
I really love your magazine. It is really good. I have subscribed to Videomaker for three years now. I was at the Videomaker Expo the last two years in a row.
Larchmont, New York
X-Y Miking Notes
I found Doug Polk's article on stereo recording in the June issue of Videomaker very informative.
If I might add a comment; in recording with crossed X-Y miking, it is important to note that the microphone on the right must be connected to the left channel, and vice-versa. Otherwise, the audio will be reversed on playback--people on the right side of the stage will sound like they're coming from the left, etc.
Also, a simple yoke is available to mount both microphones on a single stand. This is less cluttered than
having two microphones and two stands blocking your view.
Perspective and Depth of Field
As an amateur videomaker, I find your magazine very informative and helpful in many ways. I especially enjoy reading Jim Stinson's articles because he talks to me and not over my head as so many other technical writers do. However, I feel I must take him to task for perpetuating a myth in his "Shot Language" article (March 1995).
In this article, he states that different lenses give different "perspectives." As a professional photographer of many, many years and teacher of basic photography in the military, I have always taught that perspective is the relationship of various objects to each other as observed by the camera eye. This relationship does not change when a different focal length is used. By changing the lens, one is only changing the field of view, not the perspective.
This can be easily demonstrated by viewing a scene at wide angle and carefully comparing the relative
size of various objects to each other from close up to far away, then changing the lens (or zooming to
telephoto) and again comparing the relationship of the objects. The perspective has not changed, only the
field of view.
Maj. R.H. Jacquot
No address given
Mr. Jacquot is absolutely correct--from a still photographer's point of view. The apparent relationship of objects in a still frame will not change with the focal length of the lens. Nonetheless, an object moving toward or away from a video camera will appear to cover a greater distance in wide angle than in telephoto.
Because video deals in moving images, perspective to a videomaker is not only the apparent relationship of objects as observed by the camera eye, but also the total apparent depth of the picture.