March 20, 2012 Leave a comment
So maybe the term “failure” is a little extreme. I’ve gotten plenty of compliments on the videos below.
I suspect those people were just being polite.
Still, “mistakes” might be a better word. These videos are full of them. But I hate to put out crap work, so to me, these mistake-laden pieces are failures.
But that’s how I learn. I don’t have the patience for tutorials. I rarely read instruction manuals. I prefer to explore, experiment, see what works and what doesn’t. I also emulate things I’ve seen and heard until I develop my own style. Put simply, I plunge in, screw it all up, and try to do it better the next time.
Over years of working in radio, I think I’ve become a pretty good audio producer. I’ve learned the recording and editing techniques, and maybe even come up with a few of my own. I know how to write for the ear and how to construct narratives that work for the medium. But over the past few months I’ve been dabbling in video production, which is a whole different animal.
Last week my coworkers from the digital team at Big Frog 104 asked me to shoot video for an acoustic concert the station was putting on. I thought, “How hard could it be?” So my friend Vicky and I scrapped together some gear—just consumer stuff, nothing fancy—and plunged right in.
The show was what Nashville folks call a “guitar pull.” A few artists take the stage together and go down the line playing songs one at a time. We’d booked some of country’s young up-and-comers: Dustin Lynch, James Wesley, and Gloriana.
Here’s Gloriana playing “Carolina Rose.”
There are obvious technical problems in the video: poor picture and audio quality, questionable framing, shaky camera work. We did little to coordinate our shots. There was no real plan. I discovered that “fixing it in post” is not easy. The editing is bad. I love storytelling in all its forms, so I really wanted to include Tom Gossin’s set up: the backstory about the band’s formation, the announcement of his engagement to “Rose.” But the story seems to drag the piece down. And the pace of the performance itself is off. Some of my shot choices don’t even make sense.
I decided to tackle another song and try to do it better.
On Gloriana’s cover of “Amie” I skipped Gossin’s introductory story and went straight to the music. I tried to tighten it up and incorporate more editing techniques (zooms, pans, crops—which in some cases created new problems) in the hopes of making the piece more visually interesting. To me, it’s still a failure, but I think it’s an improvement on “Carolina Rose.” It also forced me to explore the editing software, to experiment and try things I hadn’t tried before, to screw it up and go back and try again. That’s how I learn.
I also learn by soliciting criticism and advice.