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COMMENT Cautionary notes from GTC Member number 001 by Dick Hibberd, GTC President R ecently I was invited to be on the panel of judges charged with selecting the winners of the 2014 ‘Bill Vinten GTC University Awards’. This was just the second year of this excellent scheme and, if the submissions from universities increase annually pro rata, then we will soon have a major logistics problem in simply viewing and judging all the entrants – but that will be a great problem to have. the ‘artist’, but if we are to achieve the largest audience possible for our artistic endeavour, then we must first consider who our audience might be, and what the ‘story’ is that we are trying to tell them. For us ‘film-makers’, we want to tell our story to as many people as possible and, in order to achieve this, we must first decide whom we wish to view this story and how best to make the product to appeal to them. To do this we must decide what format to use, what style to shoot in, and the treatment or rendition of the final product. It was both a privilege and an honour to be just a part of the broad spectrum of experience and expertise selected to be on the judging panel. It was also hugely rewarding to see the great promise demonstrated across so many genres. But the experience also got me thinking about how styles have changed since the “Golden Age?” of television production of 40 years ago, around the time that I (and a group of other cameramen) got together to form the Guild. Further, we must never lose sight of the fact that what we want to achieve will be an illusion of reality. We must contrive to make this illusion as realistic as possible so that our audience becomes totally immersed in the picture before them, so much so that they suspend belief of what is actually physically around them and begin to respond involuntarily and sympathetically to that which they see on the screen. In those days, the primary aim was always to draw the viewers into what was happening on their TV screens in front of them, to immerse them in the action. Today’s style tends often towards just presenting events that happen in front of the camera – often recorded on a DSLR or ‘locked- off’ video camera – with the action happening within the frame in a – to me – altogether more detached way. There is nothing actually wrong with this; it is a perfectly valid and often beautiful way of shooting. The only thing is that, as a ‘judge’, I am trying to judge camera expertise and was looking out for examples of that dynamism, often achieved by camera movement, that truly draws the viewer in. Sadly, I don’t see much of this these days, although I am glad to say it does crop up now and then. To explain my dilemma as a judge, indulge me a little, and read on. A complicating factor is that today the viewing event can be so varied in terms of device, environment and timing, that it becomes increasingly hard to know how best to ‘capture’ the audience. Gone are the days when you can assume they will be watching on a (probably badly set-up) TV in the corner of their living room – they may just as likely be watching on a tiny iPhone or Tablet while travelling, or at the other extreme viewing in the comfort of a theatre on a huge screen. How to tell a story Photographers, film-makers, painter/artists: we are all ‘story tellers’. This means there is something we just have to share with others. Sometimes it is an ‘expression’, which can never really mean much to anyone other than 44 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 101 MAY 2015 So, perhaps it is now much harder and more demanding to create the necessary illusion/deception to ensnare our audience into the ‘reality’ of the small screen – but this just means we need to try even harder and become even more expert at the task. Evolving styles Video style tends to evolve in line with the production equipment currently available, and today with cameras, editing and lighting equipment all being highly portable, and costing a fraction of that 40 years ago, it is hardly surprising that production styles have changed.