The World of Video: School vs. the Real World

Kiarra here, discussing the differences I see between what I’m learning in school and what I’m experiencing from my internship in a video production house.

In school students learn how to operate a professional camera manually. They learn the functions of different things such as Neutral Density Filters, White Balance, Iris, Focus, Audio Controls and etc. Students gain a full understanding of what each function is for and why it’s needed. Students learn multiple camera angles and the protocols for each. They gain a clear understanding of how to record each shot and implement them into a video properly. Students also learn the proper way of recording video and audio for an interview, as well as proper lighting techniques for brightening interview subjects.

film reel art

Students don’t only learn how to record, but they learn how to edit too. For a documentary there needs to be lots of B-roll footage that displays the topic being discussed by the interviewee. The audio from the interviewee needs to continue playing over the b-roll footage displayed. The names and titles of each new interviewee should appear on screen the first time each new interviewee is presented on screen. Students learn that music videos should be fast paced and edited to the rhythm of the song. No clip should be shown on screen longer than two seconds at a time. Sports highlights require lots of cuts. This is so that the viewer can truly grasp what is taking place as if they were live in person at the game themselves. There should be clips of the game, hero shots of scoring players, crowd reactions, coach reactions, team huddles, fans, mascots, player expressions etc. Students also learn how to properly write scripts, and search for actors and actresses to perform in them. Though all of these things are very helpful for continuing a career in video or film production they do not complete the knowledge needed for working in the real world.

When working for a local video production house or a corporate production, all of the techniques previously mentioned are very helpful in trying to keep up with the more experienced videographers. But one thing students have to keep in mind is that they don’t know everything. It’s very important for students to humble themselves, sit back and do what they are told. In the process of following instructions the student will gain more knowledge.
In school, students don’t learn how to deal with angry customers who are not satisfied. They don’t learn how to handle negativity and discouragement from an unhappy customer. They are not instructed on how to keep a business going when business is running slow. They are also not taught how to react when a client does not pay for a project, or pay in full after hard work and numerous hours are given to the clients project.

Landing a Career Out of School

It is important that a graduate in video production remain humble when they land a job in their career. It takes time and experience to troubleshoot why a camera isn’t operating properly, or why the audio is being corrupted, along with why the editing program keeps crashing or giving out. These things are not learned in school, skills in these areas are only gained through on-the-job experience. A business doesn’t want an employee who thinks they know it all. They want a knowledgeable person who is a team player, and is always open to learning more.

camera lens

When it comes to actual Hollywood film making all of the skills and knowledge gained by students in school does not qualify them to work in the professional film industry. In film, audio and video are recorded separately unlike in school. The camera operator is in charge of framing and camera movement solely. There are two camera assistants who control the focus pulling and everything else surrounding the camera. Unlike professional video cameras, most film cameras do not have a zoom option. The camera is moved closer to the subject and away from the subject by way of a dolly track. Film cameras do not give operators the option to fix white balance, which is accomplished through adequate lighting on a recording set. Unlike the average professional video production, film production requires multiple assistants to help with all aspects of the production. A video student is more likely to be hired as a production assistant on a film set than to be hired as a on camera operator. A position as a camera operator can be obtained through close observation and practice. In film it is very important to not only know your craft, but also to master it.

(Kiarra is a 4th year A/V student interning with I’AMedia Productions. You can find her previous blogs here as well.)

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