OK, Admit it. If you are a professional videographer or photographer – and you have kids, you have done it. Somehow, someway – another parent or coach or whoever, finds out what you do for a living …and you are asked the loaded question, “Hey, would you mind shooting this for us? We’d really appreciate it!” …and you find yourself behind the camera for the respective sport, activity, school play – whatever it may be. Well, believe it or not, this happened to us…yes, the owners of a crew booking agency, got lumped into the fray of video professionals – right along with you. But we might have taken it a little too far.
It started out simple enough. Our girls were competitive figure skaters from a very young age. We had always avoided buying the professional videos, because, duh, we could do it better! In fact, we did do it with a little more flair…shooting not only the event – but adding little fancy touches creating keepsakes of the moment, using our simple to use edit software. The girls would show their skating friends their awesome DVD’s and wouldn’t you know it, word spread among the parents. Soon, David was asked to be the official videographer for the next big skating competition our club was hosting. It had begun, and little did I know that the Pandora’s Box of video had been opened.
Before long, he was shopping for a shiny new Sony broadcast HD camera, and installing Adobe Premiere Pro. He was now shooting every competition, recital and show for every skating club in Arizona…then Utah…it was almost a full-time job! He started pouring through B&H catalogs looking for the latest and greatest gear that could make things easier in the non-stop pace of a multi-day, 12-15 hour a day competition, in the coldest of environments. He would customize the camera, our laptops, monitors, even sourced a special chair that was portable, the right height and could swivel to keep up with the speed skating of the elite. He was purchasing hard drives in bulk to store the amount of footage (in high definition, of course!) shot..not to mention I wanted everything backed up to tape. (Do you blame me? Digital media was new and we had precious memories I didn’t want to risk losing to a file error.) He would talk to our Crew Company DP’s, getting advice on settings for sports and poor lighting in an arena. Whatever issue he ran into, he had help along the way.
Soon, after fully giving in to this new role: the question asked at the end of the activity was, would you like that on a DVD or a Blu-ray?
They stopped skating. Yet, he kept shooting.
Above: David shooting a recent skating competition on a Sony Z7U – even though our girls haven’t skated in over 3 years…
Our youngest daughter started performing in theater groups around Phoenix…both girls became heavily involved with music performance groups. In the meantime, word spread to activities and groups we were never personally involved with! So you can see where this is going…it happened again and again. Did you know that quality theater and dance production requires multiple cameras? 🙂 So he “had” to buy a 2nd camera – a Sony Z7U, and (GASP) teach me how to run it. At the time, this camera was the latest and greatest of it’s kind on the market. Our young thespian then started doing even larger scale productions in bigger theaters.
He needed height–something mountable but better quality (at the time) than a GoPro. So he bought a 3rd digital camera, that was smaller. A consumer Sony HDV to mount on balconies. He acquired C-Stands, sandbags, better tripods, a beautiful Sennheiser Mic System and an audio mixer to control the audio feed coming into his cameras from the house. THIS WAS GETTING OUT OF CONTROL!
Above: Our newly minted balcony camera gets full-stage view of a large theater production. (Note: Neither of our kids were in this show…)
Above: David shooting a how-to segment for YouTube for a theater company our daughter was a part of. (note: That is not our daughter in the shot.)
We were juggling enough activities, that our children were no longer a part of.
Then our oldest daughter became a member of the Desert Vista High School Thunder Marching Band, which, for the past 4 years, has been the Division 1 Arizona State Champions. It turns out that top bands need quality video playback for teaching to achieve this excellence.
It was at this point I began to re-evaluate my husband’s sanity. He again, welcomed attention to his “hobby” by posting some close-up videos of the marching on the band’s share site, during our daughter’s freshman year in the program. He caught the eye of the Band’s Video Chair (another parent with a passion/hobby for video).
My husband had finally found his true soul-mate. I was out. Fine, I never liked running a camera anyway. For 2 seasons, the two of them spent their evenings on top of the press box during practice, games and competitions shooting their respective angles and depths – capturing the entire season. At one point, another parent approached them and said, isn’t this all a little TOO MUCH? This was the night, they had 3 Go-Pros on the field (some mounted on the student’s heads), Mics soaring above the pit ensemble, 3 cameras mounted at various angles on the press box along with each of them manning a camera. I was honestly wondering when the 30′ jib was being delivered. There was even talk of bringing in a drone…or two. Let my eye-rolling begin here.
Above: ASU Band Day October, 2013…capturing a few angles and audio from above. 5 Cameras were used that day to shoot one marching band performance.
Above: The Panasonic Lumix GH4 4K camera, with a Sony consumer camera attached for a 2nd view, from the press box to record the half-time band performance in October, 2014. Not pictured is a 3rd camera, the Sony Z7U to get close-ups. All footage will be put on an end of year video for families, edited down from around 20-30 hours of footage shot during the season.
This year, he is the new volunteer Video Chairman for the Band. His video soul-mate retired, I mean…his youngest son graduated. After 6 years and 2 kids, he was out. Free.
Then it happened. David did it. Still fresh in his chairman role during pre-season, he said “4K” to the band director. <sigh>
The research had already been done online, it was a done deal (in his mind). He excitedly showed me these great videos online that users of this DSLR camera had posted – OK, I admit, some of the videos were pretty impressive. One looked like 6 cameras had shot this sequence, but it was just edited to look that way-it was all one angle, one camera. The footage was flawless.
He made a pilgrimage to B&H while our daughter was doing a musical in NYC over the summer. He held the Panasonic Lumix GH4 in his hands-I mean seriously, it was like he was holding our first born for the very first time. Delicate, afraid to drop it. I rolled my eyes, again. There was nothing I could do to stop the credit card from coming out of his wallet. But then I heard the angels sing, “This camera is on back-order.” He sank. Gosh – he looked so defeated I kind of felt bad for the guy. I mean he took this hobby to a whole new level and always wanted the latest and greatest gear – at least in MY budget. And he was shot down.
Two months later…it arrived at our door. Along with 3 lenses, a zoom control adapter and a box full of items that only he knows what they are for. So, did you know that most people, due to their limited download speeds, can’t PLAY 4K successfully online where all of these band videos are shared? I digress, technology will catch up with, well, technology. At least he is happy, hobby in financial check by yours truly, since compared to other 4K capable cameras, this one is a bargain. After all, what is one more Pelican case I have to trip over in the living room?
I do love the joy he has for offering his skills so parents can relax and enjoy seeing their kids with their eyes, rather than through a viewfinder or monitor. At the same time, I think about us – and the other professionals who also just want to enjoy their kids without the hassle, or the gear. And WHY is it, when our kids quit a sport or activity – we are still there, shooting away for others. Is it a passion or guilt to be there for our fellow parents?
He still goes back to their old middle school to shoot concerts for the director there. He has shot singing performances, award ceremonies, all for parents who can’t attend – whom he doesn’t even know, just because he too is a parent and he gets it.
How about you? How far have YOU gone when asked that question: “Hey would you mind shooting this for us? We’d really appreciate it!”