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How Do People In The Industry Receive Training?

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Recently I attended the ITTP (Institute of Training in Television Production) conference at Pinewood which was very interesting but got me thinking about how people in the industry get training.

Obviously there are lots of colleges, universities and film schools, teaching in the main film & television production, but it seems no one is teaching how to do some of the basics.

What are the basics?

Let's take an example of a multi-camera shoot; could be a conference at Excel, a sports event or a broadcast show. Lots of skills are needed at such an event; cameras, racking, cabling, vision mixing, sound, directing and so on. In all those jobs there is an element of basic skills. What wire goes where? How do you rig and operate the talkback? How do you rig a 90x lens, etc., etc. I doubt if anyone coming out of colleges, having done a media course, knows a lot about any of that and you could say why should they.

The question is how do they learn? Much discussion at the conference was, of course, about that very subject. However, if we take the example I have just mentioned, the multi-camera shoot, I would bet that just about everyone on such a job was a freelance. They may well have had training, be it some time ago, by the BBC or another broadcaster but those days have long since passed.

Just about all production companies doing such a job want to employ experienced people. They do not employee trainees or, as far as I know, have a training programme. I believe some of the larger OB companies do train people but that is about it.

In the world of feature films it was a little different. Controlled by the unions, you couldn't get a job unless you had a 'ticket' and you couldn't get a ticket unless you had a job. To some degree that worked; if a production wanted a clapper boy they asked if any union member was available. If they weren't, then you were in as a trainee. Clapper boy – focus puller – cameraman. Or cable basher – rigger – sparks – lighting director. Well, that was the theory! What happens today, I have no idea.

The next problem is the ever changing world of video. Taking the multi-camera scenario, just as one has learnt about Triax, it changes to Fibre. Got the hang of HDSDI, well that's now IP. Got the hang of vision mixing, well now add streaming.

New technology has made some things easier, camera exposure for example. On film you had about half a stop either way for correct exposure and of course no preview screen. Lighting now tends to be large LED soft boxes, so that is a little easier, and in the case of shooting RAW, lighting (and exposure) is done in post!

So the problem is what should a person entering the industry be trained in? With new camera/capture technology, then computer science maybe, or certainly some form of digital technology. This for some should not be a problem. Young people today have been raised in a digital world. Want to know about your phone/iPad? Ask a 14-year-old!

In my day we worked on cars most weekends so gained a 'mechanical' knowledge set, which served us well when equipment was a matter of simple electrics and moving parts.

So no answer really but we are not alone. Almost all industries have the same problem. The world is changing fast, we just have to keep up. Mind you we have been saying that ever since valves changed to transistors, no propellers on aircraft, and an apple a day meant...

This article is also available to read at BFV online here, page 52.

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