Nine Affordable Approaches to Video Training

We must be exposed to the video production environment in order to absorb and learn to get videography jobs. A formal education can be expensive, but learning how to produce great video doesn’t have to be.

Lucky us, there are many paths toward learning video production. Many of these paths don’t require hours and days in a classroom, spending money we don’t have on tuition, books and materials. A classroom education serves its purpose, creating contacts, avenues of opportunity, even amenities for those of us who truly excel. There are alternative resources for video enthusiasts who want to learn but are economically challenged. Following these nine affordable paths to great video production training can help you fulfill your dream of landing that videographer job.

9. Watch and Learn

How many videos do you view a week? Five? Convert entertainment to education by watching to learn rather than for fun. Stop to assess what you see. How was that technique done? Why was it done? Sure, you need to know what you’re looking for and what it is you want to learn. Anyone wanting to get it about video production work can almost learn through osmosis — watching videos. You need to view special features that often present the making of and behind-the-scenes segments. That’ll teach you something. Home video in the form of DVDs and Blu-rays with special features offer great learning opportunities.

Combine your weekly entertainment with a focus on learning — it’s a budgetary no-brainer. Turn money spent into an investment by paying attention to more than the story.

Research classic films. Search the Internet for all-time great movies, documentaries or shows. Read about what made them classics or exceptional productions, then watch — and learn — with an eye for why they’re studied. This is part of the curriculum at many video production schools, a study you can conduct on your own.

8. YouTube

If you want to learn about video: the best or worst approaches to production, how to find the right equipment and use it, what to light or mic, etc., go no further than this ubiquitous video website. Just about anything you want to learn regarding video production, equipment or how to break the rules can be found on YouTube. Use discretion. There’s also plenty of bad information. The good stuff will rise to the top though.

Search YouTube for “how to produce great video” and get pages of listings —  from Nine Rules for Creating Video to Film Riot – Make Movie Rain Without Getting Wet and Video Production Fundamentals. There’s more, much more. You’ll need to narrow your search to the specifics you want to learn. Look to how-to videos for just about anything, from storyboarding to making an explosion.

The Internet is a font of information and how-to videos. Video production segments are often short and sweet, offering you insight to a single skill or more polished techniques.
The Internet is a font of information and how-to videos. Video production segments are often short and sweet, offering you insight to a single skill or more polished techniques.
7. Affordable Online Training

Maybe your’s is a low budget rather than no budget situation. Stay at your computer. Search online video production training sites. Vimeo Video School offers a Video 101 series for video enthusiasts that may be new to making videos or veterans who want a basics refresher. There is plenty of instruction at both skimming beginner levels and deeper advanced levels.

Some companies produce downloadable training series for video production and equipment or offer courses on DVD. Popular,, offers online training in many areas. There are more than 570 tutorials on video production there, available on a monthly or annual fee. Many tutorials feature free segments and the site offers a free trial period. Another low-cost online video tutorial site is Production 101, offering iPad Textbooks for $3. Subjects cover editing, shooting, sound, lighting, camera, lens selection and more.

Virtually any topical search gets you professional-level instruction at a fraction of the cost of a formal education. Not many come with certificates of completion to add to your résumé, but the knowledge you gain can take you far.

6. Working for the Government

You can learn a lot by working for the other guy. It isn’t always a classy educational environment, nor one that pays while you learn. These government-supported positions come with some challenges and specific requirements and provide you with on-the-fly experience. Of the learn-by-experience environments, public access jobs will require that you are sure your job description is understood.

Join a local public access TV Program … check for the one nearest to you for potential to use get involved in video production that is meaningful for your community. One such example is Massachusetts’ PACTV, which provides training, facilities and more for a minimal annual fee. Another example, is Boxford Cable Access Television Corporation, Inc., which we featured in the July 2013 issue. BCATv has a well-organized setup to train students covering their local community from sporting events to city hall meetings. BCATv sends each location producer out with a pre-planned gear kit they call "Studios in a Bag," which typically consist of camcorder with remote zoom, tripod, mics, headsets, audio mixers and the appropriate cables to connect all the gear in a nice carrying bag or equipment case.  For better or worse, these programs, will provide you with experience, which goes both ways: teaching you what not to do and teaching you what you need to know.

There are excellent community access programs while some are less-developed. Even if you end up in a situation in which you don’t receive formal instruction, you still need to practice taking initiative – an essential skill for any videography. You’ll consistently need to assess and evaluate what you want to learn.

5. Volunteer to Help with a Local Indie Project

You can learn a lot by volunteering to work with a local indie project. Indie producers look for help through classified ads, community newsletters, via flyers, craigslist, YouTube pitches, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Another good place to check is LinkedIn, a networking site for professionals. Depending on how you search this professional site and how you connect there, volunteer – or even paid – videography jobs can be found.

There’s a danger of becoming one of many gofers doing simple menial tasks without ever getting exposed to the real production. Overcome that by showing a genuine interest in the project, a desire to learn more than how to fetch a cup of java and be a team player. Let people know you’re serious about learning.

If your area of the world is a location for ongoing video or movie production, try getting inside by doing a walk-on. Go where the action is but be careful not to get in the way. Find out who – probably a producer – to talk to about working on the production as a volunteer.

4. Adult Education Classes

Community center and community college adult education works. Many offer evening and weekend video courses. Classes are often available for a minimal fee. Visit the facility website and check the adult course options. You may discover one that has a media education center where you can get hands-on experience and training in a class environment and possibly as a volunteer.

Adult education programs focus on many of the programs used in video production, offering other options for expanding your video knowledge. Although most classes aren’t held at video production schools or cinematography schools, they still contribute to your overall video learning experience.

Workshops like this one offered from Videomaker not only teach you video production skills, but also give you a chance for some hands-on experience with gear you might only see in catalogs.
Workshops like this one offered from Videomaker not only teach you video production skills, but also give you a chance for some hands-on experience with gear you might only see in catalogs.
3. Let Your Employer Pay for It

Depending on your line of work, your employer may have a need for someone with video production skills. Parlay your video interests into a win-win by offering to provide Web or other video-related work in exchange for your employer paying tuition. Sometimes, in order to learn, we have to create our own videography jobs. Here at Videomaker, many of our workshop attendees are people who work in one field at their business and are thrust into being the video producer, too. For many, their company pays for their workshop expenses or they can write them off as continuing education expenses if they work in the educational field.

Someone we know worked for an area hospital as volunteer director. She wanted to learn to produce video and her hospital had the need for volunteer orientation video, public service and promotional video for cablecast. She talked the hospital CEO into buying the essential equipment for producing basic in-house video and convinced him to pay her tuition for courses that helped her learn what she needed to know.

Determine if such a need or resource represents a value to your company, make your pitch and learn what you need to know about making video, with your boss footing the bill.

2. Buy Used Equipment and Experiment

Invest in the basic used equipment you need, then go hands-on and learn by your mistakes. Shoot. Experiment. Assess. Learn. Find resources detailing videographer job description and do the things with your rig that help you fill in your educational blanks.

Keep in mind that your purpose is to learn, not earn — yet. Don’t offer production work you’re not sure you can provide. Shoot video. Review the results. Evaluate what you capture, go out and do it again. Edit video. Review the results. Evaluate and show to trusted friends or family members. Be critical of what works and why, then try again, improving as you go along. Faster. Better. Be more creative. Sure, it’s a cliché but experience is often the best teacher.

Share your work with others; join video forums and submit your work. Accept criticism and suggestions. Go out and do it again and again, until you become more confident in your abilities and improve your production skills.

An investment in used equipment is usually something you’ll be tempted to budget even if you were pursuing a formal education in video production. Creating video with that equipment as a learning experience offers valuable hands-on time … something you don’t always get in the classroom. Also, that classroom certificate isn’t always a guarantee you’ll find videographer jobs, any more than taking the initiative on your own might produce.

1. Videomaker to the Rescue

Videomaker’s articles, videos, forums and news offer a vast library of instructional, how-to, training, online seminars and more from free to affordable, as well as monthly articles covering virtually every aspect of video production.

The forums and website not only provide almost immediate response to help, save me posts but an abundance of archived articles and news topics covering all aspects of video production, and a bounty of tutorials. There are eight how to categories on the site, covering the business, post-production, production, technology, distribution, pre-production and more.

With all the avenues of knowledge offered by Videomaker comes information about videographer jobs, details regarding what to expect in a videographer job description, even video production schools and cinematography schools. And check out those Videomaker workshops! Hands-on training in a small group can give you much more exposure to the gear and techniques in one weekend than you might gain in a full semester of higher education.

Self-taught Success

Follow any of these paths to learn about video production, how to use the equipment and what it takes to do it right. Identify your learning needs, define your goals and self-education will take you where you want to go. The power in knowledge starts with these resources and the learning experience doesn’t have to be an expensive lesson.

Contributing editor Earl Chessher is a full-time professional video producer, writer and published author.


Simple Basic Training: Do a How-To Video

Want to practice your shooting, framing, lighting, audio acquisition, production skills, narrative and editing techniques? Start with straight cuts, use cutaways. Do it with a simple Three-minute how-to video.

Plan It

Decide what you want to produce. Develop a shot sheet and script. Keep it simple. Complex how-to productions can become too involved, overwhelming and bring disappointment. Keep it short — three minutes or so is long enough to show how to change a flat tire, boil an egg or create a cleaning solution using natural ingredients.


When you’ve determined your possible cutaways and the narrative, generate your equipment list: camera, tripod, lights, mics. Remember to keep it simple. It’s a learning experience, not a major production.


Get your footage to a workstation. Evaluate scenes. Pick what works and what doesn’t. Lay down your narrative track and cut your scenes to it. What’s missing? Do you need some pickup shots — shots that were missed, overlooked or that didn’t turn out during initial videotaping? Get them or figure out how to make a decent production without them.


What did I do right? What did I do wrong? How are the audio levels? Exposure? Color? Did I forget to white balance? Again, keep it simple, but pay attention to each element of your production. Determine what you might do if you did it again, what you might keep and what needs more attention. Then do it again.


A really hoopy frood.

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