Videoguys "Post Chat" with Gordon Burkell of Art of the Guillotine

What does Art of the Guillotine and Videoguys.com have in common? They both recognize the need for information, techniques, tips & tricks for Editors. Art of the Guillotine online community, blog and #POSTCHAT are invaluable resources to thousands and the Videoguys blog, social media and, of course, online store is an excellent source for editors who are ready to make an educated purchase.

In this discussion, Gordon Burkell, Founder, Art of the Guillotine and Gary Bettan, President, Videoguys.com introduce themselves and discuss the future of editing.

We enjoy participating in #POSTCHAT so we'd like to offer a special 5% Off coupon code to everyone else who participates. Just enter #POSTCHAT5 at checkout and get 5% off your next order!

THE INTRODUCTIONS

Art of the Guillotine (AOTG)

GORDON BURKELL: The start of Art of the Guillotine (AOTG) stems from guest talks I used to give at the local universities. I would present a talk and would reference many things from the theoretical underpinnings and techniques of editing all the way to technical knowledge. At the end of the lectures students would ask if there was a website they could visit for further resources and information related to what I had discussed but I could never think of a single site that I would suggest that would cover these topics. So I started a handwritten list of a multitude of sites on different editing topics, made copies and handed that out to the students.

Before long that list became too long to print so I threw together an HTML list online, that's really when it became Art of the Guillotine. That HTML list grew out of hand fast and my friend Richard asked if he could come on board and do PHP and Javascript for the site ultimately making it more interesting and digestible. Typing http://www.artoftheguillotine.com/ became a pain in the butt so we tracked down aotg.com and bought it about a year ago, so much easier to type! We've been growing from there just adding things we like and including things asked for by our users. We get a lot of email telling us what users want and we would love to add it all but it is still just Richard and myself coding at nights. So, if you’re wondering why you haven't seen an update with your suggestion, it's coming! Of course if you have suggestions you can just email info@aotg.com.

Videoguys.com

GARY BETTAN: Videoguys.com is a family business started in 1980 as The Electronic Mailbox. We took out postage size ads in the back of Video & Video Review magazines selling consumer electronics accessories. I came into the family business from Philips Magnavox Color TV Product Planning in 1988. I was always a tech geek. Over my first five years I started dabbling with computer based video products - initially titlers and graphics.

In 1993 at the Consumer Electronics show we happened to stumble upon a company called Fast Electronics and their product, the Screen Machine. This was a dual ISA card solution that allowed you to add graphics, mix video, capture it at 320x240 to your hard drive, and edit with fledgling software called Adobe Premiere. They were shocked and impressed that we understood what it could do s they sent me a demo board to check out. I purchased a ZEOS Pentium 90 tower (with floating point error) and spent an entire weekend getting it to work. It was a nightmare, but once I completed it, I was amazed by what I could do.

At the same time, the world wide web was starting to happen. I participated on Compuserve forums and in the rec.video.desktop news group. A couple of years later I launched our website, which eventually became Videoguys.com. We called it Videoguys because my email address was videoguy@cris.com (note this is no longer an active email account) and folks would start their post with “videoguy” or “Hey, videoguys.” By that time I was also very active on the DV-L and our vendors’ support forums.

From that point on, we were selling capture cards from companies like Miro, Truevision, Radius, Matrox, Canopus, DPS, and others. With each new card I would install them myself in an off the shelf computer (Microns, Gateways and Dells), then post step by step instructions on how to do it on our website. For some of our initial articles I would actually post a copy of my Dell receipt. We created an entire on-line tech support section of our website loaded with tech tips, how to articles and guides to optimizing Windows for NLE. I backed up our articles with our 30 day satisfaction guarantee. If you bought a capture card from Videoguys we would give you free tech support and a 30 day satisfaction guarantee to get it up and going.

Then, in 2004, I had this idea. I challenged myself and my tech team to research and build a computer that could run all our Windows based NLE products for $1,000. We weren't able to build the machine for under $1,000, but our initial DIY article was a huge hit. Our DIY articles have become one of the cornerstones of our website. We are up to DIY9 now and I take great pride in the fact that our DIY systems are used as a reference not only for video editors, but throughout the global on line tech community.

THE COMMUNITIES

GARY BETTAN, VIDEOGUYS: You’ve really jumped on social media and twitter. One of my favorite twitter activities is #POSTCHAT. It’s a virtual meetup of Post professionals and editors every Wed night on Twitter. Tell us more about POSTCHAT and what live meetups you’ve done and have planned.

GORDON BURKELL, AOTG: This goes back to what I was saying before, many people email us and Jesse (@dr0id) was one of them, he wanted to have an online twitter discussion group but didn't know where to begin. He asked if we wanted to be involved and I said of course and Tej (@tejbabra), our tech blogger was all over it. I seriously think that Tej has a separate screen just for twitter.

Post Chat

From there we added the section to the site postchat.aotg.com and have been working to create fun discussion topics each week. The live meet ups came about because I just really like to meet the users in person so I suggested in January that we start organizing pub nights around where we are during events. It started last year when my wife,

The Cutting Room Podcast

Lauren (Cutting Room cuttingroom.aotg.com Co-Host), came with me to L.A. and we decided to host a pubnight / coffee time. It went great! We had 50 people show up to a tiny pub near Universal Studios and we drank, chatted, and gave away some great prizes.

From there it's grown. We did one recently in Las Vegas, Toronto, and at Edit Fest in New York. We hope to continue this and have them grow and we are talking about doing one in Montreal soon as well as for Edit Fest LA once again.

We do have other suggestions from our users for communal events or social media but they are all tentative and in the works. We did add a Facebook group for Post Chat to continue to have the conversation after the Twitter chat and that groups growing fast!

We also have the capabilities to do live streaming now and were testing streaming panels, talks and Postchat pub nights but the technology requires multiple people with cameras and switchers so we are only going to do special occasions live.

Richard and I do have a new TOP SECRET system we are adding hopefully in the fall and select users will be called on to play with it with the hope that in January 2013 we can go live with the beta version. As I mentioned before, Richard and I do this at night and he's balancing his AOTG work with wedding planning as he is getting married this September. Maybe we'll stream his wedding live!

The balancing act is certainly something we’ve gotten used to and is accepted by our users because we have a strong community that contributes as well but for you, as a reseller, I would think this is a much bigger challenge.

The importance of immediacy in the world now, especially in film, has almost become daunting. Yet when I met you at NAB and when I have been communicating with you via phone and email get the sense that Videoguys is a family. You even have a family portrait in your about us section! How with a medium size company do you maintain the feel of 24 hour access without around the clock employees answering phones?

GARY BETTAN, VIDEOGUYS: We are a family business! It started with my parents and now my two brothers and I run the place. We love spending time with our families, coaching our kids sports teams, going to their events, and being a part of our community. That is a core belief of our company. Everyone we hire knows this. If they need to leave early to coach little league or come in late because their kids have a doctor’s appointment, that is 100% OK. We want them to spend time with their families. We believe that one of the reasons our customer service and support is so good is because of the way we treat our employees. They appreciate it, and because they value it, they don't take advantage of it. It can make things crazy around here sometimes when we are caught short handed, but everyone chips in and we get the job done.

While we are only open Mon - Friday, 9-5PM ET, the internet never closes. Our website has a wealth of information on it and, thanks to blogging, there are always new articles and posts. While our company has grown tremendously over the years, I am still our lead tech support and product specialist. I'm also the face/voice of Videoguys. I write the bulk of the articles and I make the blog posts, I'm the guy on the Creative COW, DV Info.net or POSTCHAT. I'm on the web and forums and on line communities at all hours of the day and night.

GORDON BURKELL, AOTG: How has Social Media helped you with this?

GARY BETTAN, VIDEOGUYS: We were using the internet as a marketing vehicle and a way to build our brand and reputation long before anyone ever heard the words "social media." As I mentioned earlier in this interview, I go back to the old Compuserve forums. So, from my point of view, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the world has finally caught up to us, so now we have to take it to the next level. One of the ways we are doing this is by partnering with folks like Art of the Guillotine and participating regularly on #POSTCHAT. By giving to the on line post community, we get back. There are so many great bloggers out there. Folks like Oliver Peters, Richard Harrington, Scott Simmons, Shane Ross and AOTG Tej Barber. (with apologies to the many that I did not include on this list). I try to support these guys whenever I can. In addition to blogging their articles, I make sure to promote them on Twitter & Facebook. That's what social media is really all about - community. There is great strength in building and supporting a community that will also build and support your brand. I think we do that really well, and I'll keep on improving upon it.

VIDEO EDITING

GARY BETTAN, VIDEOGUYS: Gordon, can you share with us any video/film projects you are currently working on? What format was the footage shot in and what is your post production workflow?

GORDON BURKELL, AOTG: It’s been several months since I cut something as teaching and AOTG have really exploded. The project I was approached to work on most recently was shot DSLR and since I was brought on late in the game they had already started in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 (this was just after it was released). We used Adobe Bridge to organize the footage and Plural Eyes for some of the Audio Sync Problems.

I get brought in on a lot of weird workflows. Back in 2004, I was on a doc that required working with archival footage that was on U-Matic tapes. Tracking a deck down was a pain! The only place that still had one was a local university that hadn’t used it since the 80’s. Once we had the deck the new problem was connecting it to the computers to get the highest quality image from such a poor quality tape. After that the project went very smoothly and the archival footage was well worth the trouble. It's always a great idea to find out what you local universities and colleges have on hand, they tend to have older equipment and can save you some extra research time on those rarer decks you have to find when you are on a time crunch!

GARY BETTAN, VIDEOGUYS: As a teacher, how has the events of the past year or so effected how and what you teach your students about video editing, post production and the tools of the trade?

GORDON BURKELL, AOTG: Like most departments I believe our film department was caught in a very odd position. As an editor I'm adaptable, you throw me any NLE and I'll cut, my goal is the best story, the NLE is a tool and should be almost invisible to the team. The producer or director shouldn't worry about the technology; they should worry about story, character, etc. So I make sure to know the tools and tell the story with them.

But for schools it is a different story. They have a large amount of students coming through the doors, 80 students per year at four years, approximately 320 students, some might not continue to graduation, dropout or fail. The school has to take time to discuss the best options for their students figure out how that particular option will work with the various other department’s sound, camera, even the department for new media. Then all the instructors sit in a room and discuss what the best options are, remove the obvious poor choices. The final 2-3 software options are then sent to a panel of industry experts. So for my university it involved myself, the President and Vice President of the Canadian Cinema Editors, a doc Editor and a feature/TV Editor.

So really it takes time.

As an instructor I have merely upped my game, I now come in with my laptop loaded with Adobe, Avid and FCP, (sorry no X, I cut docs and need to pull off tape constantly and since in the initial release FCPX there was no support I've decided to wait). I sit down and teach them FCP (what the school is currently moving away from). I then ask the students who want to become professional editors to stay behind while the others edit. I hand out FCP to Avid and FCP to Adobe notes and do a quick run through. I show them where to download the trials and encourage them to try it and ask me anything over the trial period. I give them my personal email and tell them to get in touch or let me know when they’re editing so I can keep an eye on my email for any issues they might encounter.

To turn the question around, as a reseller how do you maintain a collegial relationship with your audience, how do you maintain the sense of a one on one relationship via the web?

GARY BETTAN, VIDEOGUYS: While we refer to ourselves in our tag line as "The Video Editing and Production Experts", our mission has always been to offer the very best customer service and support in our industry. When you offer free tech support and a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, you have to stand behind your products. We do and we always have. Fortunately today things are much different. When we published our first DIY Guide it was “plug & pray” and most products required several tech calls to get going. Now, more than a decade and a half later, products work much better but folks still need pre-sales support - especially with so many HD formats, CODECs and workflows. We use the gear we sell, and we listen to our customers. We understand their pain points and we communicate them back to our vendors.

I think it also helps that in addition to promoting and selling our products on the web, we are out there supporting them. Even with editors who didn't purchase from us. I actively participate in any and all support forums, list serves, user groups, and I have been doing that for over 15 years. We have strong relationships with the product managers, engineers, marketing and sales teams for our vendors. We consistently support the publishers in our industry with magazine advertisements, web banners and joint marketing efforts. But most important is the relationships we have built with our customers throughout the years. We bend over backward to try and fix issues and problems that our customers run into, even when it wasn't our fault. When we do make mistakes, we do our best to rectify them as quickly as possible. It is our deep commitment to the satisfaction and success of our customers that has allowed us to thrive in this very competitive business. When you purchase from Videoguys, you get the same, if not better, level of customer support as a local dealer.

Thanks Gordon! We appreciate your time and enjoy participating in #POSTCHAT so we'd like to offer a special 5% Off coupon code to everyone else who participates. Just enter #POSTCHAT5 at checkout and get 5% off your next order!

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