Good equipment does not a good videographer make

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    • #44437

      Hi Kids –

      Not looking for answers, just venting.

      I’m doing the editing/post for a repeat client – Each time in the past, they have sent MiniDV tapes for me to use – different videographers for both. First one was awful, zooms constantly, firehose style, bad exposure and to boot they turned an on camera light on and off in the middle of every shot. Second one was much better in every aspect. In each case I did a good job – the client loved it (although I did mention the problems with the first video guy). When they approached me to do a third and fourth I said sure, thinking the source would be decent.

      I got the files this week – Vid guy used a Panny HVX200 in 720p recording to a portable HD – I figured this would be easy – nice camera equated in my mind to good source. After fighting with the drive to read the files (it was formatted on a Mac and I’m a PC kinda guy) I found out I couldn’t edit the MXF files – had to do with the DVCPRO HD codec on a PC – and the Quicktime files were also encoded with the same codec. So I purchase some software (Raylight Ultra – does and amazing job) and convert the 200 clips to AVI.

      Then the other shoe drops – Firehose style again, constant zooming, bad audio (really horrible), no continuity of shots – really willy nilly video, bad exposure (very underexposed – looks like they used an ND filter indoors without lighting). I will be lucky to get five minutes of usable footage out of over two hours of clips.

      How do I tell my client, who paid a good price for this videographer, that the video source sucks!

      I guess I’m just gonna have to do a miracle (again).

      Ok – Vent over, but it just goes to prove, even if you have good equipment, you still gotta learn some basic techniques before posing as a pro.


    • #186109

      Birdcat, thanksfor sharing your venting with us. There is a lot of things in this to remind us what not to do. This also reminds me of some advice that has been given on these forums a number of times. When new videomakers are looking for initial equipment to buy, some of the experienced posters have suggested getting good used equipment to start and as experience and talent grows upgrading to better stuff.

    • #186110


      Whenever I run into ‘Ship High In Transit’ like that it’s roll tape and show the client what they’re in for time. I let them know that it may be possible to get something useable out of what was shot, but it will take time and cost more to do. Also, I recommend that if they hired a person who shoots so badly to not do so again or this will keep happening whether they work with me or not.

      As you, me and many of the pros who hang around here have said ad nauseum, “No matter what you have, ya’ still gotta’ know what you’re doing.” Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse as more people who have lost jobs are looking to ‘cash in on easy work’.

      You sir have the right to vent. Payment for your time will prove to be a soothing balm.

    • #186111

      I ran into that with a so-called “professional” event video services provider/company who wanted to pay me $225 flat fee for a wedding production of less than two hours finished length. I agreed, telling the owner that this was a “get acquainted” project and we’d take it from there, maybe, but that there was no way I was going to commit to a flat fee of $225 unless the current project was pristine, well at least darn near perfect audio/video.

      Pretty much what you described and I gave them the best miracles I could come up with. He was excited and said he’d LOVE to continue working with me as his “go to” editor. I asked him if I could critique the shooting and make some suggestions that might help save HIM money, an ME time in the editing, and he said “sure”. So I did.

      I was blunt and brutally honest in my assessments, but tried to convey the points with as much professional decorum as possible. I also advised that I WOULD NOT be willing to edit another project if it was of the same level of (lack of) quality as the “trial” one, and that he was to consider my BOTTOM rate $350, provided the quality was good enough that I didn’t have to spend HOURS correcting or trying to correct issues with the audio or footage.

      Never heard another word. Found out later, from a mutual acquaintance, that my client WAS the shooter and just getting started by piggy-backing his established photographer dad’s client roster. Maybe he’s better now πŸ˜‰

    • #186112
      AvatarMoab Man

      If I were your client I would want you to tell me straight up that my videographer is worthless and why. He’s probably unaware since he is happy with the end product you show him thus thinking the videographer is doing his job well. And if this plays into it… explain his cost to you would be less when you have less work to do.

      Finally, suggest someone that does the job right.

    • #186113
      AvatarMoab Man

      ps. As someone learning, I love to read the rants of professionals to know what not to do.

    • #186114

      invite that guy over for dinner and a game of clue. Then kill him in the dining room with a candlestick holder….


      yeah you may want to mention to your employer that his videographer is going to cost him more money, and add a list of pointers that will cut down on your editing time and leave it up to the customer to decide what to do about the shooter. Your job is to cut what they give you….at the end of the day, you aren’t really obligated to tell the business man how to hire, nor the videographer how to shoot….. but it isn’t unreasonable for the guy paying the bill to ask you to justify your cost, and you should have a very well thought out answer for him when it happens.

    • #186115

      Hahah, funny story, Earl.

      “How do I tell my client, who paid a good price for this videographer, that the video source sucks!”

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in this position. When I was in college taking any job I could get, I swear this one producer would hire people just because they have an HVX.

      Eventually (when I got a real job) I snapped and tried to emphasize that a talented shooter doesn’t just point his camera in the general direction of the action.It is the shooter’s job togather what the editor needsto put together a video that the viewer will comprehend. That means gathering steadywide shots, medium shots, close ups, and cut aways of every little ‘scene’ or ‘event’ that takes place throughout the day if you’re shooting ENG style (controlled shoots don’t usually suffer from this poor shooting you’ve described).

      Honestly, producers who can’t get this in their head (and don’t bother to learn the technical side of video, by the way) should just be blown off. Don’t work with them. Tell them you’re booked and don’t have time for their work. I’m sympathetic to the fact that you need money. But in the long run, if you’re not working at an hourly rate or half-day/full-day rate, you’ll lose money because you’re spending an absurd amount of time working on these projects that don’t pay off anyway. At least if you don’t take these crappy projects, you can take the time to look for good clients.

      We should have a Rants forum on Videomaker.

    • #186116

      oh wonderful. gotta love how this forum still has this html problem…

    • #186117

      What HTML problem Rob πŸ˜‰ Sorry, havin’ fun with you. It’s taken care of … this time πŸ˜‰

    • #186118

      What if the other videographer is YOURS? Working for a client, I was
      given an intern to run one of my other cameras. The guy had 4 years of
      school behind him, and I must admit his panning, tracking, super slow
      zooms that you barely noticed were better than I could do.

      first shoot went pretty well. Then came the 2nd shoot. I came home,
      downloaded my footage to my computer, and opened it up in horror. He
      was the main center camera for a TV shoot, and ALL the actors skin tones
      were over 100IRE. Almost completely flat. It took me nearly 3 hours
      of moving sliders and flipping switches in effects to try and salvage it
      and finally I found something, I don’t know how, but it at least was
      usable. It definitely had a unique look though, but could not match my
      other cameras.

      I confronted him before the next shoot,
      and he shrugged his shoulders and claimed he didn’t want to disrupt how I
      set it up. Really? You didn’t notice that everyone on stage was of
      the paranormal type and didn’t think to do anything about it?

    • #186119

      How true RobGrauert, about lack of basic know-how. There is no easy way to good quality video, and background knowledge, including how to set ‘preferences’, tweak compression systems to best effect. and indeed what systems can be relied upon to deliver ‘what’, is vital. Besides which, a nodding acquaintance with ‘Virtualdub’, compositing, shot-logging and other skills won’t go amiss either. Six months ago, I quit the video club I had belonged to for the previous three years, due to exactly the video incompetence which most posters have described above. Their monthly competition was, to put it charitably, diabolical, and the footage screened, an insult to those expected to sit down, view it, and put it into a ‘pecking-order’. In a club which prided itself that ‘competition-improves the breed’ my three years of membership had seen it’s productsget steadily worse, not better. I cringedat the prospect of them sending exchange programmes overseas, due to the much higher standard of the programmes from Australia, South Africa and other sources, wehad seen.Yet, I made myself hugely unpopular by pointing that out, because in their smug, and uninformed complacency, they thought they were doing ‘great-things’, and still do, for that matter. I didn’t have the heart to point out that what I had said was mild, compared with my appraisal of my own efforts, upon completion. Unless we adopt an analytical approach and regard our own efforts with a detached objectivity, I don’t feel that we have earned the right to sit in judgements over the efforts of others. If we are going to set up for ourselves, external references, we might be well-advised to abandon the cultural incestuousness which applied in this group, and look to more ‘global’ influences, for benchmarks, I feel.

      Mostmembers of that club, have years more ofvideo experience than I do, but while they ponderwhich camcorder button to press, and half of them cannot produce anything worthwhile from their editing equipment,(many of which are an expensive, dedicated-computer based system called a ‘Casablanca’), because they have not taken the trouble to master it’s ideosyncracies. Meanwhile I haveheard so much talk about the fact that ‘this-or-that’camcorder, new onto the market, will ‘do-it-all’ for you, now. The word I would use, in private, at that revelationis an expletive, and I won’t use it here. As an ex artist and tutor, I am acutely aware that what turns a ‘good’ video, into ‘great’ video relies upon,an adequate camcorder and other equipment. The missing aspects, and especially securing visual impact, uses many tricks from the artists’ stock-in-trade, ‘hard-against-soft’, differential focus,overlapping planes, effective use of ‘thirds’, good compositional balance (almost as a reflex), juxtaposition of complementary colours and so-on. What you need to add to the ‘mix’ is some colour grading skills, adjustments of contrasts to secure evenness across your entire production, and matching to the correct colour-format, since the rapid uptake of 16:9 LCD and similar television equipment has made the screen images into a ‘whole different ball-game’. As for my ex ‘button-pushers’, most of whom remain friends, there would be no point in sitting them down in front of my own best stuff, (and I’m re-working some of the ‘worst’ of it currently), because they wouldn’t be able to see the difference,and so, I have spared myself the ‘aggro’. (And please note, I haven’t even mentioned their audio yet).

      And, just in case youhave the ‘wrong-impression’, I will go far out-of-my-way, to assist anyone who has first made a genuine attempt to rectify the matter for him/herself. As for the rest of the ‘dead-wood’, who needs it?

      Ian Smith,

      Dunedin, New Zealand.

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