Meet the Experts: Tom

Meet the Experts: Tom

Whether you're a small business or a large corporation, video production has become an integral part of an effective digital marketing strategy. Video is a great way to tell your audience about a product or service and social media and search engines love this type of content. We've interviewed one of our expert trainers in videography, Tom Mavro-Michaelis, and asked him to provide us with more insights about filming and the video industry. Tom is a creative and logical communicator who loves creative and video production and has been training for Media Training for almost 10 years.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in filming and editing?

I did a multimedia degree and the video production component was the bit that interested me the most. Initially, I wanted to get a job in television but couldn't afford to move to London and do what I wanted to do. I ended up in technical support on digital video editing systems. After a couple of jobs, I ended up in London and started working for a company. Ultimately, I was made redundant and set up myself as a freelancer doing training in video production.

If you could go back, what career would you pursue today?

If I could go back I would consider a career as a Colourist or Colour Grader for the film.

Tell me how you got into freelancing and how this changed your career.

As mentioned before, I worked for a company for four and a half years and then they axed the department I was working for. Eventually, I was made redundant with no warning. Rather than going and working for somebody else, I  decided to set up as a freelancer doing training in video production. In the previous job, I spent a lot of time demonstrating products and teaching people about the products, so I was already used to doing that type of work and decided to do training on my own.

What advice would you give to freelancers today?

Be flexible in what you want to do.  You can get more work if you're capable of doing more than one thing. Have multiple skills that you can apply within an area. The final advice would be that you get work through people you know and people who like you. So, make sure you're personable, get on with people, and do a good job. If people like your work then you'll get more jobs. 

You're known to be a professional videographer. What's your favourite part of the video production process and why?

My favourite part is editing and colour grading because I quite like the mental challenge of video editing as well as the undo option. If you don't get it right you can redo bits of it as opposed to filming where you have to get it perfect from the first time around.

Tell me about a time when your footage didn't turn out as you hoped. What did you learn? How did you fix that?

You're always learning how to do things and learn from your mistakes. One example when things went wrong was during one of the shoots. I was shooting with two cameras simultaneously. The lighting conditions had natural light coming in through a skylight and it was a very sunny and cloudy day. The lighting was constantly changing while the cameras that were pointing at slightly different places eventually had different lightings. I had a massive colour balance issue that was the lighting change which was also different for both cameras. I spent ages correcting the exposure and the colour balance. Next time I would set up the cameras to an Auto white balance and an Auto exposure, which would give more consistency. 

Tell me about the companies you've worked with and your process for securing those collaborations. 

I've worked with a lot of companies and was doing internal training for large broadcasters. There was one time when I secured the collaboration via somebody whom I  met. I had done some individual training for them. They liked my work and asked me to come back and do internal training for the whole company. Based on previous work I've done for a key person in the organisation, things expanded from there. 

What advice would you give to freelance videographers today?

Take a range of work and don't limit yourself to certain types of jobs. Take as much work and meet as many people as you can. Potentially, you'll be able to specialise in what you want to do a bit further down the line. Having a bag of contacts will help you get a consistent amount of work.

Tell me about some of the most exciting projects you've ever worked on.

I haven't worked on too many exciting projects but one that I found interesting was a live ghost-haunting show. They had a big studio and OB elements to it. The people who appeared in front of the camera were very interesting characters as well. 

What makes a perfect visual story?

A perfect visual story would depend on the genre whether it's drama or factual, long or short. But I would make sure that it's not too long, it's to the point, it gets the message across, and tells the story you're trying to tell concisely. It has an introduction, a middle, and a conclusion. It keeps viewers' attention both visually and in terms of the message of the story that's being told.  

How do you receive criticism/feedback for some of your work? What is your process for making changes?

First, we'll hope it's constructive criticism. I will take on board what they're saying because at the end of the day you're trying to deliver what the client wants. If changes are needed, I will make the changes based on people's feedback. If I think what they're asking for is to the detriment of the work I would raise that and say that the change won't make any improvement.  Then we can talk through the work and if they still want to go ahead with the change, then I will make the change.

Why did you become a trainer at Media Training?

When I started doing freelance training, Media Training was already one of the companies I was aware of.  I came across them via my previous role and they were based across from the place I used to live.  So, I went to have a chat with them and managed to get booked as a trainer. 

What is it like to be a trainer at Media Training?

It's great to be a trainer at Media Training. It's a fantastic company and they have really high standards in terms of training that they deliver. They have lovely premises and a nice clientele.

What courses do you teach?

I teach a range of courses mainly video production-based. I do Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Apple Motion, DaVinci Resolve,  Keynote, camera training skills.

If a delegate attends one of your courses, how will this benefit their career?

We always hope that any course that they attend will benefit their career, especially within the creative industry. It will give them extra skills and knowledge that will help them with their work or give additional skills to use and move to a different area.

How do you deal with someone who doesn't feel comfortable on camera?

It's quite a common issue when you're filming, especially when filming interviews. Generally, I try to make them feel as comfortable as possible. I've got a few techniques: as we're setting up I explain what's going on, trying to have a chat, trying to have a report, trying to work out what's the best way to interact with the person interviewed. For example, do I have to be serious or have a joke with them, trying to be as encouraging as possible and funny? I explain to people the benefits of doing video because if we're not happy with something we can just do it again until we get it right. I'm also trying to make them sound as good as possible, which means I'm going to use only the best bits that they talk about and pick the scenes where they look the best way.

Do you think the video production industry is going in the right direction?

I don't know what the right direction means but I hope it does. What's happening within the video production industry is that it has become very broad in terms of people who create video content. Whereas fifty years ago, it was mainly television or corporate video that people were creating content for. These days, everyone wants video content because of social media which is a massive area for video. As a result, it's become cheaper to produce while the outlets have become greater too. In terms of work and early money, there are more opportunities within video production than ever before.

What trends in video editing do you predict for the future?

Initially, we will see a continuation of the trend where video production is more widespread and ubiquitous. I think the hardware needed to produce video will become cheaper or become higher quality without the cost going up. It means it will become more and more accessible for people to produce high-quality video content. I also think that the expectations of good quality content on all levels will get greater than it's now. Traditional outlets for content like television broadcast will become less while streaming video on demand will get more prevalent.

If you're interested in booking one of our video or editing courses and being taught by one of our brilliant experts like Tom, we'd be more than happy to assist you based on personal or company requirements.

by Tom Mavro-Michaelis | 27 Sep 23

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