Thursday, February 25, 2021

Video & film editing fun, plus expert takes from a CBC editor with Wallaceburg ties

By Dave Babbitt – Special to the Sydenham Current

Since Dan White coerced me into this Arts Column gig about a year and a half ago, I’ve been pretty much a one-trick pony.

Music is what I know, and music is largely what I’ve written about.

Not having my head buried in the sand however, I am aware of the fact that the Arts encompasses far more than just music and I’m determined to branch out a bit more.

This week, I want to delve into an Art form that I know a little about, but at the most amateur of levels and that is video and film editing.

After explaining a bit of what an amateur like myself does, I’ll talk to a real expert in the field.

I’ve been interested in video editing since my father bought our first video camera decades ago.

For budding amateur editors like myself, professional editing gear in the 80’s was out of reach in terms of cost.

My editing in the early years was very crude and was done simply by slaving two VCR machines together to copy from tape to tape and titling was done by using Letraset rub-on lettering on a piece of paper that I then videotaped.

Fast forward to today, and both hardware and amazing software is readily available at almost everyone’s fingertips.

The filming and editing capabilities found on today’s smartphones and tablets can produce stunning videos.

With a modest investment, one can acquire even more capable cameras and software that will take one into the prosumer market and enter the realm of professional filming and editing.

Much like photography, I find two distinct aspects to videography.

First, there are the technical aspects of operating the hardware and software and secondly, the artistic aspects.

In some cases, the two aspects overlap.

The technical aspects can involve a lot of work while I find the artistic aspects fun as the creative juices are allowed to flow.

As our bands are dead in the water, over the course of this COVID crisis, I’ve turned to making many videos of my own as a creative outlet.

I’ve had the opportunity to be creative as well as learn many new editing techniques.

Between my own one-man a cappella quartets, and our Wallaceburg Brass Quintet videos (mostly Directed by Dan White) I’ve had a lot of artistic fun.

I’ve been posting these videos on my Facebook page but if anyone who isn’t a Facebook person wants to watch any of them, send me a request (e-mail address below) and I’ll send you a link to them.

They are just fun, but the artistic decisions in creating each one are many.

As my efforts are amateurish at best, I thought it best to turn to an expert in the field, my good friend Mike Primeau.

Many in town will know of Mike from his days here in the ‘Burg as a superb drummer and organizer of the two Great Big Music Gig’s in the early 2000’s, but there is FAR more to Mike than music.

For those who don’t know Mike, let’s just say that he has a creative mind that very few could ever hope to keep up with.

In some ways, it’s a shame that he didn’t pursue a path in film because I have zero doubt that he could have been in the upper echelons of Hollywood directors.

His creativity is that good.

Mike had a choice of going down a film path or an editing path.

He decided to go the route of a professional video editor as becoming successful in film making is always a long, difficult road and he wasn’t really passionate about it, something that would eventually take a toll if he pursued that route.

In asking Mike why he chose this path he told me that even as a child, he and his friends would play hallway hockey, record themselves with play-by-play and even commercials.

He immersed himself in his music, becoming a fantastic drummer but his interest in videography, particularly the artistic aspects of it were always just beneath the surface.

Mike was in the computer game in its infancy and became very much a computer whiz.

After high school, he ended up teaching computer classes in Chatham but as he told me, “I wasn’t happy living in Chatham teaching people how to use Microsoft end-user software”, something he could see people weren’t going to need by the time he was in his 40’s.

So, he decided to go for it, and pursue his long-held interest in videography and editing.

Mike ended up in the Advanced Film and Television post-grad program at Sheridan College.

His skills were already such that he skipped the line and was accepted into the program without the normal prerequisite program.

His major focus was editing with a minor focus on producing.

He felt that editing would provide the best path to a steady paycheck and allow him to pursue his artistic goals beyond the workplace.

I had the opportunity to attend the year-end program at Sheridan where Mike and his classmates presented their year long-in-the-making documentary projects.

The projects were absolutely stunning and Mike’s doc revolved around the importance, and need for music programs in schools.

He could already foresee at that time what eventually happened right here in Wallaceburg and Blenheim with the axing of the music programs.

He was passionate about the importance of music education and his documentary was top-shelf.

After graduation, Mike produced the second of two Great Big Music Gig’s and this time brought along a bevy of his Sheridan classmates with enough skills and gear to film a Hollywood blockbuster!

They had dolly tracks, camera booms and professional recording equipment to film everything on-stage, back-stage and during the entire set-up and tear-down process.

From this, Mike produced another phenomenal documentary that incorporated many of the performances but was once again, aimed at driving home the importance of music education with proceeds targeted for an after-school instrumental music program for kids.

For political reasons, we couldn’t get that program up and running, but the funds were set aside and became seed money for the creation of our successful Wallaceburg Concert Bands.

Upon graduation, Mike was hired by the CBC as an editor where he remains to this day.

One of his very first assignments was working on the crew of Hockey Night in Canada.

What a privilege it was to instantly step into the production crew of the CBC’s flagship show, and the longest running sports show in the world!

I’ll carry on about my interview with Mike in my next column when I’ll explain some of the things he has done with his skills, what he’s doing now, and where the ‘Art’ comes in.

Comments always encouraged:

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