Behind the Scenes Ė A Producer's Perspective by Karen Landey
Being a video producer requires the ultimate in creativity, patience and sheer will.  Even with the most up-to-date equipment, there always seems to be some kind of challenge in every shoot.  This is especially true when you are out in the field doing the taping instead of set up in a studio, although you are not safe from challenges there, either.

To be able to do a good quality video production, the two most important aspects of video production, besides good quality video equipment, are lighting and a tripod.

For the best video picture quality, good lighting is required to give you good contrast and detail.  Shooting outside where you are working with available sunlight can present its own challenges if you need to have your subject facing the sun, without them squinting.  Reflectors and other equipment can be used, but if you think creatively, you donít need to buy a lot of expensive stuff. 

Indoor lighting situations are by far the most challenging to deal with.  You can buy cheap aluminum scoop lights at the hardware store for around $10 and then put your own light bulbs into them.  Using several of them pointed at the ceiling for more ambient lighting helps a lot.  There are also key, fill and back lights that you want to use for the most professional lighting possible.  There are books that you can buy or check out from the library that give you instruction in how to set up studio and outdoor lighting. 

Other than a 30-second commercial where shaky and jerky camera movements are used for some edgy message, people donít want to watch a long video segment where the picture is constantly moving around on them.  It is not only distracting, but in my opinion, the first tip-off of a poor quality production.  Having a tripod is required equipment for good solid shots of your subject matter.   I have used a cheap photography tripod that didnít move without jerking, so I made sure I cut between shots to get nice steady shots.  A good fluid-head or fluid motion tripod is essential for zoom shots where you need to adjust your pan and tilt.

Once you have your video, you have to decide how you want people to see it.  Do you want to be able to edit your video on your computer?  Do you want to copy it to a videotape or burn it onto a DVD?  Answering these questions will help you decide how to deliver your movie to your audience.  

There are many video editing solutions available ranging from the very simple to the professional programs. 

If you are using a non-digital camcorder and want to edit the footage on your computer, your options for editing would have to include some way for you to transfer your footage into a digital format so that you can download it to your computer.  Any digital video camera store can help you sort out your options and you would be well advised to spend some time in the library and at the bookstore studying reviews for different editing systems and solutions. 

If you are using a digital video camera, you have more options for editing and burning a DVD.  For example, on my iMac, there is an iMovie program where I can make edits and add music to my video then transfer it over to iDVD where I can then burn a DVD.  This software is standard on the iMac and shipped with the computer.  Along the way there is an option to download it back to my video camera to make a videotape from it. 

I use Final Cut Pro, the Apple professional software bundle that also includes DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack Pro and Motion, a graphics program.  I found that with the featyres I wanted to include on my DVDís, I had to go beyond iDVD to a professional standard. 

Your best and easiest resource for searching for information on products and techniques is the web.  With your web browser, search for digital video production to start your search for information.  Two websites that I like are Videomaker at and 2-Pop at 


For information on products, magazines will offer more up-to-date information than books since new products are always reaching the market.  You can check out the selection of magazines at your local bookstore, magazine stand or library.  

For good basic resources on video production techniques, check out your library or the video production section of your bookstore where you will see the most recently published books on the subject.  These books offer good, solid and time-tested production techniques that donít get out of date as quickly as info on products do. 

Video production can be a very challenging medium to work in but also one of the most amazing and rewarding in terms of possibilities.  With a little research, you can learn how to buy the best digital video equipment for your purposes and how to maximize its use.

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