Stepping into Video

We are used to watching multi-million dollar productions, which are slick and for the most part engaging, so can we easily adapt to watching less than perfect productions by untrained but enthusiastic individuals? The answer is clearly yes given the success of YouTube; we can accept imperfect technical quality providing the subject is engaging.

I have learned a lot about video in the past year and discovered you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to get good video. My new Fujifilm X-T2 – an excellent stills camera – does a pretty fine job. But good video doesn’t cut it without great sound and even the best sound and video is useless if content is boring or poorly presented. That requires direction and editing – skills I am learning bit by bit.

When I started, I needed a subject to cut my video production teeth on. I remembered an old friend who is a bit of a technical wizard and a collector of vintage high-voltage equipment, capable of producing bolts of lightening and deafening concussions, drama and excitement. Then there is the man himself, Garry Garbutt, a character somewhat out of his time and one who likes to inspire and educate. Garry belongs to a dying breed of hands-on engineers who can actually take apart a machine, figure out its intricacies, and fix it when it goes wrong; he would also be the first to admit that we are fast approaching the point where we will be unable to fix anything other than the simplest devices. Indeed, we already throw away malfunctioning modules and replace them with new ones or just toss out the whole machine and buy a new, improved version.

Garry is a natural showman and didn’t need a lot of convincing when I asked if we could make a series of short videos demonstrating some of the interesting vintage equipment that fills his workshop. If you would like to see how the Crookes Tube lead to the discovery of the electron, X-rays and ultimately modern electronics, Garry can show you. Perhaps the huge arcs fired from Tesla coils Garry built will inspire you. We had plenty of challenges and lots of fun making these less that perfect videos. Check them out on Vimeo;


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