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Finding Videographers

Tracey Conway

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I'm seeking input from speakers who have arranged (with good results!) to have their presentation videotaped for future demo reels and Web site clips, and were presenting far from their home base. When you don't have local connections and recommendations, how have you gone about finding quality professionals that are economically reasonable?

-- Elizabeth Freedman

Here's what I have done: Call up a local university and speak with the AV guy. In one situation, I paid him for his services, which was very affordable. Another time, he referred me to a local videographer in town with whom he had done quite a bit of work. You could also get a referral directly from the conference center or hotel where you will be speaking. The advantage there is that you have a professional who is familiar with your specific venue.

-- Joel Blackwell

I have many times used videographers I hired over the phone. I search Yahoo's yellow pages for wedding videographers who often have nothing much to do during the week and use inexpensive but adequate digital equipment. You have to coach them carefully to a speaker's needs, but I've never had a bad experience and you can often get them for $100-$200 dollars and bring the tape back to your usual editor.

-- Laura Michaud

I got a great idea from a speaker friend Paul Montelongo. When going into a new town, he Google searches videographers. He then emails them and tells them the date and time of the event, his taping requirements (i.e., digital, etc), and budget (you can go ridiculously low -- like $500). He then waits to see if any reply. Some may get back to you and say you are way too low in your estimates, but then there may be others who do weddings and might be free during the week.

-- Susan Luke

I've had numerous BAD experiences in trying to get good video clips and they always came with high recommendations from the meeting planner for the event. Finally, I did what should have been blatantly obvious for anyone who's been a part of NSA for more than 5 minutes. I asked my NSA buddies. Specifically, I called or emailed NSA CSPs who lived in the location where I was to present. Bingo -- got multiple recommendations and after contacting several on the list and talking with them about my specific needs, budget, etc, I made my choice and was extremely happy with the result.

-- Jenny Herrick

When I was hired to do an out-of-state keynote, I told the contact person that I was contemplating having my presentation videotaped. She referred me to the manager of the facility where I would be speaking. He and I discussed all the details such as did I want one or two camera operators, which is the biggest expense.

Pick a date, place and time to your advantage and then work with the meeting planner to make the arrangements for you.

-- Jean Gatz

I first check with the closest NSA chapter to that city and ask if anyone in the chapter has used a professional they would recommend. I also ask my local videographer and my local duplicator. They know people all over the country who do what they do.

Then if I still don't have a good referral, I go to the Web and search for videographers in that city. I call and talk to the person in charge. I can tell by the rapport we've established on the phone, plus asking for a sample of their work, if we might be a good match. I've only gotten poor quality one time, and should have followed my gut, but didn't -- and ended up with lighting very distracting to the audience and to me -- and poor sound quality. I paid them half of the fee, as they admitted they tried to fix the problem and couldn't. It didn't cost me much because they were cheap -- that should have been a red flag -- but I usually get good prices and top-quality work. I bring the master home with me and have my editor put the tape together.

-- Jim Canterucci

For a recent event in a far-away city's convention center, I asked the convention center for recommendations. I then found that the company doing the staging for my client also did videotaping. We had to ensure that the videotaping invoices didn't get mixed up with the client invoices but with proper communication it worked great. This also avoided two different vendors tripping over each other.

-- Larry Mersereau

I discovered this by accident: Find a company that works with churches. They're used to following the minister and getting audience shots. If you can find one that does work for a televangelist, you're golden!

-- Mel Schlesinger

I have had great results by talking with the coordinator of the group that I am speaking to. Based on whether this is a freebie, reduced-fee or full-fee engaagement, I will ask them to procure a professional videographer for me. This has worked wonderfully.

-- Lawrence Taylor

I wondered if self-filming tips would help? It helps that I film (video) professionally and have several prosumer camcorders and a non-linear editing system. But with a relatively cheap tripod, digital camcorder and external mic, you can do it yourself.

Tripod: Nice to have one that you can level, meaning the camera remains flat no matter which direction you turn the camera.

Digital camera: There are single chip and 3-chip cameras. Single chips are better for low light and 3-chips give better resolution (and cost more). Make sure the tapes you use will not run out during your talk.

Camera Lens: The closer the camera to you, the better the image. Depending on a number of factors you might want to get a wide-angle adaptor, say if you walk around a lot or want to include yourself and images on a screen.

Lighting: Would recommend using the camera's auto white balance. If the room is going to be dark, think about bringing along a small podium lamp. I regularly give underwater video presentations so I try to position myself between the camera and the screen (at least I show up as a silhouette).

Mics: You can use the mic on the camera which risks a lot of audience imput. You can get a cheap "lav" -- the mic clips to clothing and runs all the way to the camera (tripping potential). Lastly, use a wireless mic -- you wear transmitter and camera has receiver (a little more expensive, but allows freedom to move about).

Editing: You or a professional or someone with a nonlinear editing system.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions