Patrick Kuske is a professional videographer that puts people’s special moments in their lives in storage. With more than 16 years of event video production, Patrick has developed the knowledge and skill to be a very successful producer in his field. He has worked for local, national and international news outlets and has produced a wide variety of custom video services for corporate, governmental and non-profit customers. He owns and directs a company, Patrick Kuske Productions (PKP), whose projects range from corporate training and promotional videos to corporate events and other functions. He is able to take something from an idea and develop it into a script, film it, direct the actors, edit the hours of footage into a concise and effective piece that has flash and a professional appearance. His day takes him to exciting places, meeting new people, and constantly learning new things. By placing memories, training information, promotional materials and news events on a readable medium, Patrick promotes the spread of information and emotions on a daily basis worldwide. Memories fade over time but a video allows you to experience your precious moments time and again. To understand what it takes to get into this exciting profession, let’s ask Patrick about his career.
AK: How did you get into the video production business? Did you always want to get into this field?
PK: My senior year in college I interned at a television station and fell in love with videography. I spent every free moment I had at the station even though I wasn’t getting paid for what I was doing. That internship set the tone for the rest of my career. It solidified in my mind what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The reporters at the station taught me a lot about being a professional in news and they actually helped me get my first full time job. I was told that I was hired because of the glowing recommendations that I received from the people I had interned for.
AK: Can you describe for us what steps are involved in a typical shoot you might perform for a client?
PK: First we talk about the scope of the work. What time frame are we dealing with and what kind of equipment are we going to need to finish the project? Sometimes I get scripts and will make notes on the shots that I’ll need or questions that I have. Most of the time the event dictates the script. I always arrive early and I have back ups for my back ups. If the client says they want one microphone I will normally bring three. If I get a reporter or producer I will let them take the lead and follow them, but giving them ideas that I think will make the project better. Once the event is over I’ll let the client know what we’ve shot and how I think the project is progressing. I will edit the footage together and give the client a “rough cut”. “Rough cut” just means that there aren’t any special effects or dissolves put in. This is to give them an idea of what I have and the pacing of the piece. After getting their feedback I will fine tune the piece by adding things like music, graphics, motion effects and transitions. I will show them the video again to get their feedback and make changes, if any. Once I have the client’s final approval I will make a master copy of the project and then put it into whatever format they need. Some clients want it for web use so I will convert it for them. Others need a DVD or broadcast quality tape version.
AK: What are the different things you must think about depending on the type of video you are taking – weddings, corporate training, promotional videos, weddings, corporate events?
PK: The first thing I think about is equipment. Depending on the event, I will use totally different equipment. If I’m shooting a corporate event or wedding, I will be more stationary and will bring a power supply for the camera, a heavier tripod, and audio adapters to plug into their sound board. If I’m shooting a news event or doing a lot of interviews, I will bring a lighter tripod, a lot of camera batteries and wireless microphones that I can place in different locations. The main thing I think about in every shoot is what the client wants out of the shoot. If the client wants to show happy people at the event, you better have many shots of happy people. If the client wants selected people in the video, then you better do your homework and know who they are, when they are going to arrive, and get a lot of video of them.
AK: What skills are necessary to become a successful videographer?
PK: Communication is key! You need to know what your client wants and how to get it. Sometimes what the client wants is impossible to get. If they want happy people in their video and everyone is serious, then you need to talk to them early in the process. They might want to change the focus of the project or may want to do something else.
AK: Can you describe what some important differences there are between professional videographers? For instance, can you describe the meaning of broadcast quality and wireless microphones?
PK: There are a lot of people out there that think they’re a professional videographer if they have a video camera. I think it comes with years of work in the industry and all the right equipment. Even then you need to choose the professional that best fits your project. “Broadcast quality” generally means equipment that most TV stations use. Broadcast quality cameras normally have three chips and are normally about 2/3-inch in size. The size and number of the chips in a camera dictates clarity and how well the camera shoots in low level light. Consumer cameras are relatively inexpensive. My broadcast quality camera costs more than my car. Wireless microphones are very important. Instead of being tethered to a microphone or a sound board you can plug in a wireless and roam anywhere in the area depending on the quality of the microphone.
AK: What is important when picking a storage medium for your videos to make sure your stored material will stay safe over many years?
PK: I have backups for my backups. I keep the shoot tapes, I keep a DVD of the end product, and I also keep an extra hard drive of edited material from the more important programs. Hard drives are relatively inexpensive these days.
AK: What is the hardest part of a videographer’s job?
PK: Figuring out what to charge! All the video work comes naturally to me and I think about it all the time. When someone comes up to me and asks me how much I would charge for a project, it is like pulling teeth. Some people think that there are artistically-minded people and business-minded people. I am definitely artistically-minded and I have to force myself to do the business side.
AK: What funny story has happened to you when you’ve been shooting a story?
PK: I was working for “The Late Show” with David Letterman at the NBA All Star Game. They had hired Ellen DeGeneres as a reporter and I was her videographer. She is such a brilliantly funny person that I had a hard time keeping the camera steady because I was laughing so hard.
AK: Can you give us two video clips that will contrast some styles? Tell us what the differences are so we can see what you mean by watching the videos.
PK: This first video is one that I produced to showcase an event. There wasn’t a script at the beginning and I didn’t have a reporter or use voiceovers. I just wanted to capture the feel of the event and showcase the wacky people involved. This video was picked up by a travel website in Europe and had 10,000 views in the first week. The next year the event had a huge increase in foreign visitors.
This next video was produced to showcase an organization. There was a lot of pre-planning involved. I wrote the script before shooting started and every shot was planned out.
AK: Who has been a mentor to you in your career and what have they done to make a difference?
PK: I have many mentors. I believe that to stay ahead in my business you have to continue to take classes and seminars on your craft. I keep in touch with a lot of the teachers that I’ve had and I continually talk to other videographers. The most important mentor that I had came early in my career. His name was Don Clark and he was an Anchor/Reporter. He was an incredibly grounded person and taught me that to be a good interviewer, or even a good person, that you had to really listen to what is being said instead of thinking about the next question.
Patrick Kuske has given us new insight into his job of “capturing memories.” To see more of Mr. Kuske’s work, you can go to his company’s website at: http://www.patrickkuske.com/?page_id=8