Guest Blogger: Changing Times in Video Production

Brian Wardyga is a trusted name in digital media education. With a background in audio/visual production he took his expertise to the classroom where he has taught at numerous schools and has been able to build up a program and turn it into a truly interesting and hands on experience for students. Brian acknowledges the times have changed significantly since he was a college student, and the abilities new technology has brought on has enabled him to learn not only as a teacher but a lifelong student of  production.

I continue to find it unbelievable how quickly times have changed in the field of video production.  Just sixteen years ago when I was an undergraduate student, we were shooting on S-VHS tapes and editing deck to deck with an analog controller.  Editing tape to tape meant losing a generation of video quality, losing some amplitude, and possibly picking up additional hiss in your audio.  Student camcorders back then cost around $10,000 and the combined hardware required to edit with effects also ran well into the thousands.

Brian Wardyga with Ice Cube 1992

Today, a comparable High Definition digital camcorder can be purchased for under $2,000.  For that same amount, one can buy a high end workstation and professional editing software that allows more control, better effects, and higher quality than we could have ever imagined back in the mid-nineties.  There is next to no generation loss when editing digital content, and instead of dumping back to a $15 tape, we’re authoring to higher quality DVDs that cost less than a buck.

In addition to saving serious money, video professionals are also saving space.  To do what can be done on a workstation today, a video editor in the nineties would need two video tape recorders, two monitors, two speakers, an analog remote controller, and a special effects video mixer.  All of this equipment took up space, which would most commonly use up a large closet or an entire room for a comfortable edit suite.  Even when I went on for my Master’s degree at Boston University, the new Avid workstations were housed in three or four small closets.  These edit suites were in high demand by students, and just like in the analog days, we had to sign up for blocks of time to use the equipment.

Edit suites haven’t gone away, but they certainly aren’t as required as they were back in the analog days.  They now basically exist for the high end professional who wants to view his or her work on High Definition screens and hear his or her sound through monitoring speakers.  They are also used by many colleges and universities for their “wow” factor.  Dimly lit rooms with dual screen workstations, large Hi Def program monitors, sexy speakers, and a sleek new audio board can work wonders on attracting the potential high school senior looking for an exciting college major in video production.

Here at Lasell College, students work in a computer lab with 15 Avid workstations running Media Composer.  All they’re required to bring to class is a pair of headphones.  There are no more lines of students waiting at the door to cram into three or four small editing closets.  The classroom is now the oyster, where the instructor can walk around and work with the entire class—instead of just with two or three students crammed into a tiny booth.  And with the dawn of the ultra small Flip camcorders and the Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera, the technology continues to get smaller and more affordable.

So what does it all mean for video production students?  I believe that students can only benefit from the affordability of present day video production tools.  Today, many students can purchase their own video cameras and editing software for their laptops.  I admit that I’m a bit jealous.  Where I would have to commute to college for many miles and spend my weekends locked away in an edit booth, students today can now work off of their laptops, from their bedrooms, and in their pajamas.

Brian is currently a communications Professor at Lasell College. You can utilize his services by visiting wardyga.com.

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