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Don't Let Your Camcorder Scare off Your Customers

        Imagine that you are very reputable videographer who specializes in legal video. You show up at a conference room at one of the town's most prestigious law firms and set up to video tape the deposition of a witness, something you've done many times before. This particular day, however, you've got a brand new video camera-a nicely compact minidv camcorder, instead of that monster AG456 s-vhs camera you had just last week. The image quality is a real step up and the camera is smaller and easier to handle, and the features first rate. It feels really good, and you are sure that your client will appreciate the improved video quality. You client arrives, a young attorney, one that you've never actually met before, but from a firm that you've done work for many times. Large law firms have a lot of attorneys, and this isn't the first time you've seen an unfamiliar face. You introduce yourself and hand him your business card as you always do. The young attorney raises an eyebrow and for a moment doesn't say a word. Then he says, "is that the video camera?"
        "Yes," you say.
        "Get out," he says.
        "Excuse me?"
        "I asked for a professional, not home video. Get out. Now."
        "Oh, the camera. It's small, but it's broadcast quality. I assure you.."         
        "Do I look like an idiot? Get out. Take your home video camera out of here."
        As you're headed out the door, the attorney is dialing his cell phone, and flipping open the yellow pages. He's looking for a "professional" videographer to take your place. You're out on your ear. This is a disaster.
        Although I've asked you to imagine this tale of videographer woe, I didn't make it up. It was related to me by a fellow videographer. This actually happened to him. And what impressed me most about his telling of his tale was how shocked and blindsided he said he was by this incident. He never saw it coming. So, what did he do afterwards? Well, at first, he went back to his old AG456. It looked the part, no doubt about it. It looked like a big studio camera. And he didn't want to take any more chances. But he didn't want to give up his new camcorder either, nor the improved production value that came with it.
        That's when I suggested that he accessorize, that he add outboard video gear that would give his modest looking video camera that professional look. I pointed out that the outboard video gear would also add features that would further help him to achieve professional results, and that he should probably have them anyway. Just keep adding them, I said, until it gets that look. What look? he said. You know, I said, that complicated look. Add xlr adapters, audio meters, zoom controllers, microphone mounts, hotshoe brackets until it looks like an erector set.
        Therein lies the basic rule of the video camera look. Make it look big or make it look technically complicated. Or make it look both. Your video camera should look completely intimidating to any amateur, and it should look unlike any video camera that clients or their friends or relatives own or have seen at the local video store. Customers want to get what they pay for, and for many a customer, a camcorder that looks amateur, is amateur. Never mind the reality.
        In addition, I told him to add context. Set up a light stand, and hang a flag on it, right over the camera to shade the lens, even if it doesn't need it. Stack a few equipment cases around, even if they are empty. Add gear wherever possible.
        Most important, though, I said, add outboard accessories to the video camera. You can do the same thing, of course, and here are some accessory suggestions to help you along. They happen to be accessories that we make here at Sign Video, of course. They're also very useful.

Zoom Commander™


VU-150 Audio Level Meter

lanc zoom controller

xlr audio adapter

audio meter

© 2003 by Garry Hood

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