We’ve learned a great deal about making video by producing The Videomaker TV Show. Our company has always possessed the video expertise to publish a monthly magazine on making video. But producing a TV show that airs on the nation’s largest cable TV network every few weeks has broadened both our perspective and our areas of expertise. It’s one thing to teach videomaking; it’s another to produce a series for broadcast.

Bumper Magic

We’ve learned lots. For example, this is the first time you’ve ever seen the word “bumper” in Videomaker magazine. Our magazine-style show features three or more segments; bumpers are those segues from one segment to another. About ten seconds long, these bumpers are similar to the transitions disc jockeys perform between songs on the radio.

There’s a trick to the art of bumping, known as “tag, set and warm.”

First, the host “tags” the segment that just ended, saying something like “Gee, that was a great segment on Topic 1.”

Then the host “sets” up the segment that will follow the next segment, saying something like, “Later in our show, we’ll explore the intricacies of Topic 3.”

Finally, the host “warms” up the audience for the very next segment, saying, “But first, let’s move on to Topic 2.”

We’d seen this technique all the time on TV, but we never paid attention to it before we began making our own TV show.

Nor did we fully understand the importance of music before we began working on the show. A little background music behind the voice-overs and a good opening theme are pre-requisites for a professional look and feel.

We also learned to keep shooting ratios to a minimum. We’re still working on this one; our editing time will greatly decrease as we master this trick.

Editing En Masse

Editing the copy for Videomaker magazine is a collaborative effort. Each editor edits each manuscript on line and passes it along to the next editor on our local area network (LAN). An average of four people edit each article; each “set of eyes” contributes to the creative process. The end result is a well-written magazine.

We’re trying to apply this collaborative editing method to the making of the TV show as well. Digital video will be an indispensable tool in this effort. Now we often use a time line editor; we’ll move soon to random access.

Without digital or nonlinear editing, each editor must view a segment and note what to change. Then that editor must re-edit the entire video, to minimize the loss of resolution caused by added generations.

With nonlinear editing, editors can make changes to the video as they watch each segment. When they finish, they can pass on the segment to the next editor in the editing loop. There’s only one problem. Most LANs can’t handle digital video; it requires too much bandwidth.

One option: editors take turns at the editing station or “edit bay.” But we’re creatures of habit; we prefer to edit right from our own desks, as we do the magazine.

So we’re pioneering a method of collaborative editing that includes operating the edit bay from our desks by using standard A/B switches and very long keyboard and VGA monitor cables.

Sell It

We’ve also learned a lot about marketing video. We quickly realized that it’s very different from marketing magazines. We sell the show on VHS tape. But we don’t make as many copies as we do of the magazine; each videotape costs six times more than each issue of the magazine.

To reduce costs, we experimented. Rather than mailing the show to your house in a plastic cassette, we decided to send just the video signal to your VCR via the USA Network. This way, you can record it yourself for a dramatic discount.

Originally, we kept the broadcast date and time a secret– which we sold to subscribers who could then set their VCRs to record it for them. A novel idea, but an unprofitable one. Now we publish the broadcast date and time of each show in the magazine’s table of contents–free for all readers.

The Videomaker TV Show now airs every six weeks. By the time you read this it might be monthly, or even weekly–and on another network. You’ll notice that the show is aimed more at beginners; this is because most of our viewers just “happen” upon the show while channel surfing. So far TV schedules will not include the show in their listings.

On the Job Training

Most importantly, we’ve learned that making video regularly is a requirement for any company publishing a videomaking magazine.

Besides, it’s fun.

Matthew York is the Editor/Publisher of Videomaker magazine.

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