Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A dim bulb

For the last few days, we have had, as a house guest, a videographer who is partnering with my wife to produce an educational video. Times have certainly changed. No more thick black cables snaking from a diesel generator on the street, through the front door. No more high-candlepower lamps heating the place up. I’m sure network production still involves crews of assistants, but our houseguest works alone—set design, lighting, wardrobe, makeup, camera work, and editing.

In her day job, Ivy works for a video production company in Beijing. About twenty-five people turn out three half-hour programs a week. The twenty-five people include writers, production people, and on-camera talent. That’s a pretty efficient operation, it seems to me.

But here she is, visiting the US, working with borrowed and rented equipment, shuttling from my wife’s office, for the candid footage, to our living room, for the more formal interview footage.

My wife, who can speak extemporaneously and cogently for hours on end, on her feet, is now constrained to working from a script and in a seated position (no jokes about the location of her brain, please). Even though she wrote her own script, she finds it hard to relax and speak naturally to the camera. And I can’t say I would do any better under the circumstance. This discomfort is hard to overcome for a lot of people. The CEO of a company I worked for, a man who had majored in broadcast journalism in college and had worked in radio as a younger man, was another natural and comfortable speaker in front of a group. He, too, had a lot of trouble taping a promotional video, especially using a TelePrompter.

If you are an author whose book starts to attract attention, you might find yourself doing a series of radio interviews comfortably enough and then receive that first invitation to be interviewed on television. Easy enough, you think. But what you should take away from this is that it’s a good idea for your first few television interviews to be on small, local programs that get broadcast at four o’clock Sunday morning. Save the Today show for after you’ve warmed to the cool medium.

Oh, about the title of this post: Ivy is shooting the living room interview after dark, to avoid unwanted sunlight. She has her own out-of-frame lights to get the level she wants; but there is also a lamp beside my wife that is in the frame. Ivy asked me last night if I had a twenty-watt bulb for it (no, but we improvised). As I said, today’s cameras are remarkably different from television cameras of yesteryear.


Dave said...

I first became aware of your blog on Publishers-l

A dim bulb caught my eye:) I have a blog:

Dimbulb Associates is an collection of individuals taking a holistic "New Age" approach to finding the best solution to hardware and software needs -- a parody of high-tech equipment suppliers. Our moto: Complex solutions to simple problems

Enjoyed my visit to your blog.
Dave Mainwaring

Dick Margulis said...

Thanks for stopping by, Dave.