Similar to the work of a unit videographer, a band videographer is a freelance cameraperson who is hired to capture footage of live performances on behalf of the artist or band for the purposes of promotion.
The process of securing a gig begins in an initial meeting, where the videographer makes a bid on the project that details a specific fee or hourly rate for a particular project, like one performance or three weeks of touring. When the client agrees, the two parties enter into a temporary contract for services. At this time, the specific responsibilities of the videographer are outlined. In addition to recording live shows, this person may also be tasked with editing the video, applying after effects, inserting title cards, editing sound, and submitting to the members of the band to approve drafts as well as the final cut. In a separate design meeting, the videographer will seek the band’s input on how they would like to be portrayed, the style, and mood of the video. The musical style of the group will greatly affect the finished product, so the videographer is interested in listening to the band’s material and obtaining copies of their set lists for each performance.
The band videographer will be given backstage access and should communicate with the venue manager and concert producer to secure permission for video recording. During the performance, he or she uses a handheld digital video camera with onboard audio package to capture as many angles and perspectives of the performance as possible; this is called coverage. The more material shot, the more options and freedom the videographer will have in the editing process, which is typically done using Final Cut or similar non-linear editing software. While the band rocks out, the cameraperson should take care to capture personality shots of each member of the group; that’s footage of one member at a time displaying his or her individuality, like a soulful guitar solo or lead singer wailing. The videographer also wants to capture the vibe of the show, the energy of the room. After the performance, this person will have a specified amount of time to turn around the complete video. Again, during editing and finishing, the band may request to see rough cuts and suggest changes.
Skills & Education
A college degree in film and television production or digital video production is not a requirement for taping local bands in dive bars, but to advance your career to working with major recording artists, formal training is required. The band videographer should be proficient in the use of several formats of digital cameras, as well as Mac and PC editing software. Use of audio editing tools like Pro Tools, Final Cut, or similar applications is also necessary. This career demands that the individual be familiar with the concepts of color, light, and techniques of framing a shot, so study of still photography and fine art is also beneficial. Of course, you are expected to provide your own gear for gigs, so do your research and invest in a camera, editing software, and audio/lighting package.
What to Expect
Contracts will vary greatly by client, but many videographers have standard forms, which they offer to all clients, then make small changes as necessary. You can find examples of these through several sources online. One mistake some rookies make is not allowing enough time to deliver quality editing. Do not be afraid to take your time. It is better to be on deadline than to turn in a quick job that is substandard. As for payment, it is common to require half of the total fee upfront, and half upon delivery of the final edit. In addition, you should carefully consider (and research) your copyright options. Some bands may be content with allowing you to own any future reproduction rights, while others will insist that the band must own all material once delivered. To start your freelance career, you can contact local bands in your area to offer your services. They may ask that you do a couple of free gigs to prove your chops, but if you prove yourself, word of mouth will spread quickly. Just make sure to bill your work out at a price that is equal to your experience.
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