By Nicole Arias
Our video producer, Andrew has been behind the camera doing what he loves since childhood. He has used his passion and talents in a variety of settings, for all kinds of different projects which, lucky for us, has made him a very versatile video producer. Andrew is an essential part of our team, with a great eye and sense of humor. I recently talked to him about his role as a video producer and got some tips for new producers starting out in the industry. Check out our 10 questions with Andrew Robinson.
What made you decide to become a video producer?
I don't think there was one specific moment. I started when I was about 6 years old. I picked up one of those old VHS cameras that my parents had and just started playing around with it. I found out later you could put the footage into a computer, and by editing it, change the chronological order of things. So, if I wanted to record something from one moment, I could edit that together with something from a completely different moment in time. Things could be non-linear and I thought that was really cool.
What do you like about storytelling?
I think the one big thing I like about storytelling is being able to shape and change people's perceptions about a particular issue or topic. I can take different perspectives and together with what I observe and what I see, I can deliver audiences a whole new viewpoint on something — a new spin on it.
What gets you excited about a project? Do you ever have a moment of, “This is what I do this for!”? And if so, when does that kind of feeling come about?
Really it's when I'm on set and I get to see firsthand the plan I put together during pre-production come to fruition. I just get energized from that. But also in post production I see what I gathered in the field and I get to manipulate it and put it all together to tell a story. For me, during that part of the process, I feel that same energy being revitalized. And then the BEST feeling out of all of them is when the client sees the video and they just absolutely love it. Especially when we’ve been able to show them a new point of view, shed light on something, or deliver new information.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite projects you've worked on/are currently working on?
I think my favorite assignment so far was to film in Haiti for a nonprofit based out of DC. I went with them for a week and embedded myself with their team to document some of the medical work they did in Haiti. It was a really eye-opening experience because there's a lot of poverty. Nothing I'd ever seen before. There was no electricity, no running water, — nothing. So I had to navigate those sorts of challenges while filming and remove myself from the modern luxuries that I have when working in the U.S. As a videographer, you can often feel like an observer, separated from the experiences of your subject. But on that assignment I felt very connected with the people there.
And another favorite project I would say, is doing the neighborhood highlights I’ve been working on lately. I’ve been going into DC’s wonderful neighborhoods to capture art and design elements that our team loves as designers. I've lived in the District for almost 14 years now collectively, but I hadn't really seen a whole lot of the art side of DC. So being able to go back into these places I know and look at them from a different perspective is really cool.
What are three things you can’t do without as a videographer? Whether it’s a piece of tech, an approach, maybe a helpful hack you’ve discovered…
Honestly, it boils down to the gear. I can't do without a 50 mm, 18 and 35 mm lens. I use the 18 and 35 basically on every single shoot, because they are the most versatile. You can really get different looks and different feelings from those two focal lengths. The team at Seaberry often describes my shooting style as dreamy and I can achieve that effect, and also a more standard look, by using just those two lenses. And then a third thing I can't do without is a dolly because I have so much gear!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
This is going to sound so cliché haha, but honestly I get my inspiration from Netflix and other streaming services. I don't really watch mainstream stuff. I enjoy looking at films from France for instance or Italy and seeing what filmmakers there are doing and thinking about. Then I try to figure out how I can reverse engineer what they’ve done and do it myself. I just really enjoy that process of working backwards to try and figure out what someone else has done.
What are your favorite types of videos to make? And what excites you about making those?
I like making profiles. Showcasing a person, who they are, what they do and why they do it is so interesting. But I also love making timelapses because they are a combination of photography and videography. I actually got started in photography before I got into videography, and timelapses combine both mediums. With timelapses, I get to make a stationary shot more dynamic by figuring out compositionally how a series of photos are going to look interesting as a video.
What are some of the most important skills for a video producer to have?
I'd say time management and organization are key — outside of technical stuff. Because if you are bouncing between a whole lot of projects at once and you're not organized, you're going to feel overwhelmed and drowned by everything. But when things are organized you get a clear picture of where things stand. You are able to plan ahead, so come shoot time or editing, you’re being proactive in crafting your story instead of reactive.
What are your thoughts on the future of the video industry and your profession? Where do you think things are headed?
I think about this everyday. When I was in school they taught you, if you're a videographer you need to know how to edit or if you're an editor then you need to learn how to shoot and that was the case years ago. Now it's standard that if you're a shooter you know how to edit. Going forward it's going to be much more important to not only know how to shoot and edit but also how social media platforms work and the different algorithms that play into those. And then in terms of the types of videos that will be appealing, I'd say that the future lies in being able to understand buyers' psychology and what they want, and providing videos that deliver that in an entertaining and educational way.
What advice or tips would you give video producers who are just starting out?
Gear does matter to an extent, but if you are someone just starting out, don’t get caught up in it. It can be easy to focus too much on what gear you have, believing that the gear will make the story. It doesn’t. You have to craft a story. You have to tell a story. In this day and age you can shoot something on your phone and have a huge impact. Yes, you want your video to look good, don’t get me wrong. But you also want it to say something. If the story is amazing, people are going to be engaged.