Are you familiar with the term “frequently asked questions?” Well, it’s a bit more Internet jargon we all need to swallow. When you first join “newsgroups” or “visit” “sites” you should first find their lists of “frequently asked questions”–FAQs as they are affectionately called. These provide answers to the most frequently asked questions pertaining to the subject at hand. The people who make these lists would like us to believe that they’re trying to save beginners (called “newbies”) time. After all, newbies can get answers to their basic questions right away. The real reason for FAQs, however, is that the long-timers get sick of answering the same questions over and over again.

The Videomaker World Wide Web site has its own list of FAQs. It covers questions everyone asks about videomaking. It’s a good place to “visit” if you’re on the web and just getting started in videomaking.

But it’s lacking somehow. It answers questions about videomaking all right, but it doesn’t address those about the videomakers themselves. Doesn’t seem right; sorta misses the human element.

Well, are we going to sit here and talk about it or go out and do something about it? Right. We’re going to go out and talk about it. So here are answers for some of the Questions Most Frequently Asked About Videomakers.

Why do videomakers spend more time talking about their equipment than about what they do with it?

Typical newbie question. You’ll understand when you try to find the right camera or compatible equipment. When you do, you’ll discover that it takes groupthink to figure out how to get an item to work, and extensive networking to figure out which pieces work with others. When someone actually gets a system working, he greets the phenomenon as he would a small miracle–and pours stories of his technical victories into the ears and mailboxes of every videomaker within reach.

Videomakers use up all their energy sympathizing with the technical failures and rejoicing with the technical miracles. No one has the energy left to ask, “So what did you produce?” They’ve turned themselves from artists into engineers trying to make their brushes hold paint. They’re exhausted. This is not the way they would have wanted it. This may come as a shock: videomakers don’t really like talking about equipment.

Why don’t videomakers forget all the gear and go back to writing letters? Wouldn’t they save themselves lots of money and headaches?

If you had a chance to see the letters we get, you wouldn’t ask the first question. Let’s just say videomakers communicate better visually. The answer to the second question is “yes,” but it’s misleading. Unlike John Denver, videomakers are happy only when they are poor and their brains hurt–oh, and when their eyes freeze into a squint.

When a videomaker goes on a vacation, does he really go on a vacation?

We’ve asked this question before, but like all true zen koans, it doesn’t have only one true answer. The latest answer: the videomaker’s camcorder goes on vacation. The question for you, grasshopper, is this: “Is the camcorder other than the videomaker? Can we separate the dance from the dancer?”

What do videomakers enjoy doing most with their spare time?

Canasta.

Why don’t you get that thing out of my face?

Videomakers have a historian’s concern that future generations perceive us as we really were; curlers, house robes and all.

Why do videomakers spend so much time editing?

Spending hours in dark rooms staring at glowing screens keeps their heads hurting, and the editing equipment keeps them poor.

Do we hurt videomakers’ feelings when we criticize their tapes?

Nah. They thrive on criticism; just makes their work better. They also thrive on capturing their critics in compromising positions on tape.

Do videomakers enjoy showing their tapes to their friends?

“Got some time? The last one’s got this really cool effect that makes everyone look like Doris Day. Don’t know what to do with that yet, but you’ll sorta get the idea when you see it…”

Do their friends enjoy seeing the tapes?

That question’s for another FAQ; this one’s only about videomakers.

Why would a nice person become a videomaker?

We’ve read of cases where not-so-nice people slipped mysterious pills into the beers of nice people. After that the latter were found running to the fronts of crowds looking for “action.” It’s a short step from there to videomaking.

More common: a nice person welcomes a newborn child and buys a camcorder within a week.

When will you put that thing down, and leave me alone?

Huh? Must be a rhetorical question.

This is fun; care to join in? Here’s one for you:

How many videomakers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Send us your answers. We’ll publish the best ones.

Stephen Muratore is Videomaker‘s Editor in Chief.

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