Training in the video industry


Bob Butler TV-Bay Magazine
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by Bob Butler
Issue 95 - November 2014

I have read quite a lot recently about training in the 'Video' industry. Whilst it is true that as a hire company we at Broadcast Services are often surprised at the lack of knowledge about equipment, we can understand it to a point, due to the ever changing digital world.

Not so long ago there were only a couple of camera formats, Digi Beta and SP, and then the disc cameras which were very like Digi Beta's. At that time the cameramen (and women) all were well trained, often ex BBC, and understood not only cameras but everything that went with them.

We then had the digital revolution and everything changed. Lots of different cameras and operating systems and at the same time lots of new younger operators. They understood the 'digital' world having been bought up with computers but sometimes not so well versed in everything else.

They have maybe attended a college or university course in media but that does not seem to have covered equipment operation. As I said there are now so many different cameras out there, Sony seem to launch a new one every two months, that it is understandable, to an extent. However we are surprised that so often people do not understand the basics.

As a hire company we try to be helpful and explain any bits people may not understand, however this can be difficult when they start by asking "What is HDSDI?" or in a recent case "I'm not getting a picture out of my vision mixer" Does your camera have HDSDI out we asked "Yes it does" Has the mixer got HDSDI in? "Well it's marked Y -pR -pB which one should I use?

Or someone who did not want to pay for the tripod as it was 'very floppy' They thought that the bowl clamp was what you used for pan & tilt! Now they are extreme examples but do illustrate the lack of knowledge out there.

I was very lucky in working with people who took the trouble to teach me things, although they expected me to ask questions. On one occasion I asked if I might shoot some stuff on a 16mm ARRI as a second camera, as we had it with us. Later I was told that they had only bought the camera along to see if I would ask to use it!

We have had work experience people in for a few days, who if you don't ask them to do something will happily sit and read a magazine or play on their iPhone. (I'm now sounding like a grumpy old man, but you get my point)

Of course corporate film units are a thing of the past, so where can people get training? Well there are some medium to large production companies who do on the job' training' and some of the hire companies ,Visual Impact and Promotion for example, offer training days. What is the answer? Well you could encourage colleges to offer better/different training but with already too many media courses, that may not be practical. Or ask the industry to work with colleges to offer courses; which is what Graham Reed (cameraman extraordinaire) is doing with ITTP (Institute of Training in Television Production) professionals handing their skills on, maybe that is the way forward, it is certainly an excellent start.

I don't think there is a 'one answer fits all' but for sure something does need to be done or a lot of skills will be lost forever.

There will be a second meeting of minds on 27th January at Pinewood where industry will meet with educational leaders at the ITTP Conference so if you are interested in the future then take a look and maybe pop along.

www.ittp.org.uk


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Contributing Author Bob Butler

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