In a small, dark closet of a production facility there sits a young man or woman who is well into hour 325 of Jersey Shore. This person is not the president of The Situation’s fan club, but a video logger whose job it is to watch and annotate the months’ worth of fist-pumping and binge-drinking recorded in order to produce a 13-episode season.
The staff of video loggers may be split into a day shift and night shift, working around the clock to log the hundreds of hours of footage gathered by field production crews on reality television programs, documentaries, news stories, and other unscripted shoots. Logging includes watching the entire recorded content and making meticulous notes in a logging software program that contains information on date, time, subject, conversation topics, cast or persons in the shot, location, and other metadata that aids the editor or other post-production crew in quickly locating a particular shot in a haystack of video. Logging is also necessary for archiving and compliance with FCC regulations governing television broadcast stations and subscription services.
Depending on the specific responsibilities associated with the position, the video logger could be tasked with transcribing footage with the aid of video transcription software, or with conducting inventory of all gathered video. In some cases, the video logger may act as an in-house librarian or archivist of the cache of tapes and DVDs. In all circumstances, this person is responsible to the editor and post-production supervisor for the accurate and timely logging of video footage, and the proper storage and labeling of the video.
Skills & Education
A college degree in film and television production is encouraged, though not a requirement. The video logger should be knowledgeable about multiple video formats, including DVD, HD-DVD, and MP4, and at least familiar with older formats such as Betamax, VHS, U-matic and half-inch. Some experience with linear and nonlinear editing is valuable. Most employers will train new employees on necessary software, but experience with programs such as Avid Interplay Assist or InqScribe is helpful. You must learn the production company’s system for labeling, their file management system, and the meta keywords that are most frequently used. A typing speed of at least 50 words per minute is expected. A video logger must have a healthy attention span, be detail-oriented, and have a knack for identifying key plot points and story lines.
What to Expect
This is an entry-level position that may be offered as an internship, temporary employment, or permanent position, depending on the needs of the production company or television station. It is the standard first step toward a career in film and television post-production and work as an assistant editor. Freelance work as a video logger for a small, independent production may require you to provide your own laptop computer and software, in which case you should be paid an equipment rental fee in addition to your salary for the duration of the project. Employment opportunities are available with production companies that specialize in reality television, documentaries, and local or national broadcast and new stations.
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