Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Video Assist

A big part of professional filmmaking- especially when clients are on the set- is the video assist set up. Video assist (invented by Jerry Lewis so he could be in the films he directed) taps into the optical system of your film camera and allows you to run a video feed to TV monitor or a series of monitors. On many larger shoots you create a video village, a little area just off the set often shrouded in black to cut down on the glare, for the clients and executives to watch what you are shooting. It is at the same time ridiculous- they could just look up and see it with their own eyes- and mandatory. Video assist is de rigeur.

When I first started I thought video assist was an indulgence. In fact I thought it was a sign of sloppiness. Once when asked if I wanted video assist I said , "No thank you I have an imagination." I quickly changed my mind when I had clients breathing down my neck. Not only can you see what you are shooting, live, but you can roll back the video assist tape and check what you just shot. My imagination is pretty good, but not that good. In addition it is a giant safety blanket for those trust-challenged clients, who really like to belt and suspender everything.

My biggest lesson about the benefits of video assist came from Jim's wife Kim. Before she was a nurse she worked in the film business as a video assist person. As such she spent a lot of time in the video village with the clients. The information she learned- not only about the shoot, but about office politics and agency worries was invaluable. Often Kim would come up to Jim or me and tell us something the client was worried about, BUT was afraid to tell us. Sometimes is was something mundane like there wasn't enough lime flavored bubbly water and other times it was pretty critical. Once Kim told me the client wanted me to consult with them more. After she told me I made it a point to check with them after every take and to spend more time with them.

It was a valuable lesson. Not only did I learn something about my own dealings with clients, but I learned that they don't always tell you what's on their mind. Thanks to Kim's eavesdropping we were able to make the client more comfortable and they called us often for more jobs.


1 comment:

Wonder Woman said...

It's great to have some one around who can put people at ease and really listen to what others have to say. Kim sounds like just that type of person. I bet she's a great nurse too!