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Thread: Learning the ropes videography?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Kings Lynn. UK

    Default Learning the ropes videography?

    Perhaps to some of you a silly question, but to me bit more serious as I would like to be producing quality 'how to do' type DVDs by the start of next year.

    I looked at the local full time college courses for media and wondered if it was worth signing up. The course can be upto 2 years and is a BTEC in media studies TV and Film.... The course applicants are 16 years old compared to myself already 43 yrs and worldly wise.

    However the lecturer I talked to briefly said it was what i need saying I could be good enough to film weddings after the course... Errrrmm,..... okay suppose that could be an option ...

    I have currently have 2 trains of thought

    1. attend the course and learn so I can provide a professional touch to my videos

    2. OR,...just concentate on the videos and hope they improve with experience.

    Any advice on this subject from those who are experts?...

  2. Default

    Last edited by bigben654321; 07-13-2010 at 08:49 PM.

  3. #3


    I back Big Ben. Do the course but keep filming your own stuff throughout, keep showing the tutors what your doing and interacting with them as much as possible to really make the most of your money and maximise your learning opportunities.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Quote Originally Posted by TFV View Post
    BTEC in media studies TV and Film
    Alarm bells are ringing.......

    I haven't studied and am just a hobbyist, so I may be totally wrong here but ...

    We occasionally get films posted by people taking media studies courses. As they are studying the subject, they tend to get harsher criticism than, say, my films. (One of the great things about this forum is that if contributors know your level they will tend to criticise at an appropriate level)

    More often than not, the work they are producing at university is not up to the standard of amateurs (and certainly not up to the standard of what you've produced, TRV)

    Usually the recipients take their criticism graciously on board and accept they have much to learn but on one occasion we had someone who got very defensive. I'll see if I can dig out the thread ...but for now the relevant point is that he claimed "Media Studies" is not about giving you the skills to make films and videos, it's about understanding films and videos. In other words it gives you the skills required to be a film critic, or maybe some useful knowledge if you are going into advertising.

    I would have taken that with a pinch of salt as sour grapes, apart from the fact that many others backed up this claim. And now I've seen it myself - my stepson has just finished his A level in Film Studies, and whilst a few of them did make films as part of the course, this wasn't to teach them how to make films, it was to help them understand films.

    Now, I'm not saying that the course you are looking at falls into this category, and if what the tutor said is true then it clearly doesn't, but I just thought I'd warn you that you need to be absolutely clear what skills the course aims to help you develop.

    Incidentally, you might find out whether the tutor actually makes any films and get a look at them.

  5. Default

    Indeed, especially as you are committing a long period of time to do this course.

    One other option might be to explore around find any professional company or independent video maker and "volunteer" to come work with them.

    Many of the people you ask will most likely say no to you but if you get one chap who says "yes, come help me shoot this wedding video" you will have the chance to work alongside a professional even though you will be performing meaningless tasks. (carry the gear, do this do that)

    Remember this is an extremely competitive industry and any on the job experience you can get is worth gold-dust in the eyes of any potential employer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    Wot Tim said is right.

    There is a world of difference between a Film school and Media Studies. My agent doesn't take any "Media Studies" students on their books anymore as they've had so many bad experiences. On my last production, which finished last week, we went through three "media studies" gophers all of whom could recite the end credits of Peter Greenaway's films by heart but were bloody useless when it came to anything practical. Most of them honestly believed that they could do a better job than anyone else on the team and it was all a bit under their worth to hump gear around! They all kept trying to tell Betty (my wonderful camera assistant with a decade of experience) how to do her job, instead of doing what they're supposed to, namely fetching and carrying at her request. One actually spent most of his time on his first day, giving the director advice. He didn't have a second day.

    So, Media Studies are interesting and give an insight into general principles but are not a basis for working in film, television or videography.

    For example... Today, Betty (my all-time-favourite assistant) is prepping the gear for the next project whilst I am playing on the internet. I have 100% faith in her although she has never done "Media Studies". She did study for a while at a film school though. Her diary is full, her rates are high and she is a joy to work with. The three stooges I spent the last three weeks with are no doubt telling their media studies mates that the television drama world has no idea how to make films!

    As a film school graduate myself (although we're talking 'bout thirty years ago) I really, wholeheartedly recommend it if you're young. You learn so much which is useful and "learning by doing" is a bad way to learn the basics of any craft, in my opinion. However, at 43 it's a massive investment in time and money to go to a full time Film School and, unless you're seriously considering a career in Television or Movie production, I wouldn't recommend it financially. It certainly isn't essential if you're going to start a videography business.

    I would suggest getting in contact with the IOV (Institute of Videography) and seeing what courses they have available. Have a visit to trade shows such as "Broadcast Live" and go to as many of the free seminars as you can (there are "lighting on location" seminars given by a particularly brilliant cameraman...!!!). If you get a chance in September go to IBC in Amsterdam where there is also a great selection of free seminars. If you can find a local videographer willing to take you on as an assistant, go for it. Although they will realise that you just want to learn enough to become their competition and might be reluctant to take you on!

    Whatever you do, don't assume media studies will give you any technical training or provide practical insight into running a production company. Have a look at the CV of the teacher and ask "does this person have the practical experience to teach me?".

  7. #7


    I would say its more about researching what it is you wish to study.
    I personally looked for about a year, underwent initial training for total newbies with a couple of two day sponsored company courses, then went back into uni after meeting with the course leaders and tutors twice. I chose a course which was distinctly practical based with an emphasis on work experience.
    In keeping regular communication with the tutors and continuing with my own mini projects throughout I have now completed work experience with a major television production company in my area, worked on two features, assisted a local record company with their videos regularly, worked on many shorts with a local drama production unit and have a decent list of contacts I utilise from time to time.
    I was very aware that in order for a course to offer work experience the tutors will and did have contacts in the media industry for me to utilise.

    Many students do come out of these courses with no concept of the real world and ultimately won't get the jobs. A lot of my fellow students spent their time sat in classes and believing that would be sufficient enough to get work, which is just silly. As long as your keen, educate and prepare yourself as to what to expect, college can be productive.

    I will say that the term 'media studies' does not go down well in the profesional community, as already indicated. Colleges and universities have a plethora of course titles some of which are just media studies in disguise, again, research. Some courses are modular which allow you to choose the disciplines you train in such as 'video production' to 'european film theory', its possible to get a lot out of these courses as long as you are wise with your choices.

    If all of this has confused you or you just aren't sure then take some time to decide and apply next year should you so wish. In the meantime you can have a go at teaching yourself.

  8. Default

    And post videos up here and let us tear your videos to pieces with what you must/cannot do in the future.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Kings Lynn. UK


    Quote Originally Posted by bigben654321 View Post
    And post videos up here and let us tear your videos to pieces with what you must/cannot do in the future.
    Well knock yerself out,....I have 63 videos on youtube at the moment under the name of Land Rover tools Land Rover technical and trailerfitters toolbox. Lots of wobbly camera stand shots and poor voice overs done at 4am in our works van during the winter whilst on babysitting duties for sugar transport....

    WOW,.............. anyway thanks for the detailed responses,...

    Anyway to the subject at hand. I went into their studio that they have at college, it has quite a bit of equipment, and excuse me here for being ignorant at this stage the cameras on wheeled tripods had rings of LEDs around the lenses and I did ask what this was for, apparently its for green screening with a grey curtain screen. I also looked at their editing room and I was impressed with that, banks of MAC computers with adobe premier programs to boot,...great better than the lap top I use that refuses to accept HD imaging in the corel editing suite.

    Got to admit when I got to the open day i was impressed but on interview day we were shown some of the stuff done by the college,...being critical here done by 16 year olds only just learning to use a camera that is what their productions looked like....except the interviews which actually were very good in my mind.

    I was told I could learn presentation skills to beef up my lacking confidence, editing lighting learning how to work to a schedule and forming script ideas.

    What I would admit is I learn quick and have a tendancy to utilize the resources around me for my own aims...yes being a mechanic I use our workshop and supplies in my spare time for my own ends so if practicable I aim to squeeze anything I can out of it. They also have outside broadcast camera

    Right, working with someone in the industry,.... there is a guy close to where I live who is covering topics related to Land Rovers but in the adventure areas like travelling overland to Morrocco rather than my " in depth maintenance and repairs from a skilled fitter",.

    I chatted with him and wanted to get some general advice on video making. I dicussed briefly my ideas....he then took them on board and used some of them for his own DVD. first lesson learned there. Not surprising to learn he also works as a writer for a big Land Rover magazine, who I'd approached earlier about getting some sort of sponsorship...well the magazine have badly copied my idea and are doing follow ups of their articles filmed by that guy for youtube.....

    At my age I am unsure if I would actually ever get a job wheilding a camera around for the BBC. bit daunting actually, the new knowledge needed but I am looking for a complete change in life ( truck fitting is hard on ones health) so the DVD ideas I have if successful would last quite a few years.

    The next step is to actually film and release a good DVD and ween all myself off youtube where everything is given free. I bet you guys are going to say its not a good thing to gauge potential customers from youtube responses but I have now a good idea who and where the ones who want to watch repair tips on videos are...

    What else is available at sensible prices where I could learn and work on what I am doing presently???
    Last edited by TFV; 06-23-2010 at 03:28 PM. Reason: post video link

  10. #10


    Just to mirror what has already been said, I took a media studies GNVQ (very similar to BTEC) as my college course straight out of school. It was good for what it was, a grounding in understanding media, and although it was hands on and we learned film-making techniques. It was a lot more of theory than practical, there were even numerous modules on radio, print media and journalism (which I'm guessing you don't want to do).

    I enjoyed the course, but have learned a lot more in the years since while I've been making my own videos.

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