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
Video creation is sometimes a singular business, but video producers are a social lot. Our curiosity about our readers has inspired us to create this new column to introduce you to your fellow video producers.
Interested in telling us about your video producing passion? Send us profile, in 500 words or less, to firstname.lastname@example.org, using “Reader Profile” in the subject line. Please send us useable photos and tell us about your gear. More details here.