I suppose I should tell you why I have decided to devote some time to learning proper video technique. The reason is pretty simple actually. It is because it is becoming increasingly apparent these days that video is an expected part of every website, presentation or promotion. And not just any video- high quality, professionally shot with professional audio. So if I want to continue to do book projects and promote myself professionally video is a necessary piece of the process.

Back to the gas station. When last I blogged I was off to a local gas station to try to shoot a short 30 to 60 second promotional piece. We had already done a video of an interview of a long time customer (Bob) using two cameras and three mics so we had a story line to follow. Basically, we were trying to illustrate the interview.

As easy as that sounds the madness is in the details. Just the act of pulling up to the pump was shot five different ways: with a camera behind the driver for a point of view shot, with a camera hanging out the left side passenger window on a counter-balancing steadying device, with a camera magnetically attached to the left side of the car behind the front tire, with a wide angle lens in front of the car that moved to the right as the car pulled up to the pump, and with a fisheye lens in front of the car that made it look like the car was about to drive right off the screen.

All those shots we used for maybe 8 seconds of video.

Then we needed shots of Bob rolling down the window to talk to the attendant- one shot from inside the car, one shot from outside in front and one shot from looking over the shoulder of the attendant. Did I mention shots of handing and also of taking the credit card? Of opening the fuel door? Of taking out the gas cap, of picking up the nozzle, of placing the nozzle in the gas tank, of taking out the nozzle from the gas tank? Of washing the windows (from inside and out) of the attendant walking to and away from the car and on and on and on? Oy, this stuff is hard!!

We did all this shooting in 25 minutes with lots of redos, comic errors, horrendous shots, people walking into the shot, cameras appearing out of nowhere, misfocusing and the uncomfortable cutting of important appendages. We also included just pieces of appendages that were equally uncomfortable. Oy, this stuff is hard!!

The result, expertly edited by Bob, was a truly and quite remarkably mediocre video. I am being kind actually. It was bad. But it was our bad and our first bad so that made it…well, still bad.

We are going back tomorrow to shoot in the garage. Bob is sending what we did to them tonight. I’m figuring by then we will be greeted by a swarm of flying wrenches. How many shots of that do you think we will need?