Name: Ron Covell
Cameras: Sony HVR Z5U
Editing Platform: Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Canopus Imaginate
Microphones: Samson UHF Micro 32
Other Gear: HP Pavilion 600 Computer, Sony DVCAM tape deck (for backup), Coby TV (used for a monitor, and for DVD testing), Bogen tripod and fluid head, Photoflex softboxes, Lowell Tota-lights, Prompter People teleprompter, VariZoom remote lens controller, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Encore
I decided to make training videos in 1993, focusing on the metalworking and welding market. I was already well known in the field from of a series of award-winning cars and motorcycles I had built, and I thought there was a market for how-to videos. I had always been interested in filmmaking, but hadn’t tried it before.
Not knowing where to begin, I picked up a copy of Videomaker magazine, and the reviews helped me select a Sony Hi-8 camera. I dived in and produced my first video, Shaping Aluminum with Hand Tools. Man, was that a learning experience! I had to learn about scripting, framing, lighting, editing, and audio (my $49 home-electronics store wireless mic picked up interference from everything!) I was the presenter (which was a huge learning experience in itself), and I had a friend run the camera while I went through the demonstrations.
Editing systems were extremely expensive back then, so I hired a professional editor, but I was in the studio, ‘calling the shots’ every minute. This was extremely cumbersome back in the days of tape-based editing, and since the clock was running’, it wasn’t cost-effective to do much experimentation, or to tweak the nuances the way I wanted. I quickly learned how important audio is – my ‘starter’ mic just wasn’t cutting it, so my first new piece of gear was a good-quality mic.
Following the success of my first title, I shot two more videos, and these were edited in a brand-new, non-linear studio and the writing was on the wall – I had to have my own editing system, and non-linear editing opened up a new galaxy of possibilities. I bit the bullet’ and bought a brand-new computer with Canopus non-linear editing software. Finally, I had control of the whole process! I could fine-tune the timing of each edit, try different transitions, mix, ‘cut and paste’, and remove elements in the soundtrack; I was in heaven!
Around 2000, I upgraded to a digital camera, the Canon XL1. That camera has shot some of my best projects – it’s a real workhorse, and the image quality is superb. I moved to Adobe Premiere Pro around 2004, and upgraded to CS4 last year, which does everything I want, and more. With each new project, I get a little deeper into the menus, and I often surprise myself with what I can do.
I recently upgraded to a Sony HVR Z5U camera to get the 16/9 aspect ratio and HD capability. I’m still learning everything this delightful camera can do. The 20x zoom range is amazing, and the built-in ND filters have proven indispensable for my welding sequences (which are extremely difficult to shoot).
I have read Videomaker magazine faithfully since 1993, and it’s been a tremendous help with how-to articles and product reviews! In addition to learning the technical side of filmmaking, I’ve become a much more polished presenter, and I’ve learned a lot about marketing. At first I sold the DVDs only on my website, but now I have a network of dealers, and with 26 titles so far, we have sold untold thousands worldwide!
Many people say that my DVDs are the best in this market, and I intend to keep getting better!
Ron Covell – Metal Working Artist, Video Training Producer
Sidebar: About This Series
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