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What is PRO?
  • We all live in a world surrounded by the term PRO.

    But what does the word Professional even mean today?

    You will read on lots of forums that this word means:

    • A person that makes their living by doing that activity

    However as a videographer myself, I find that this is very misleading on more than one level:

    What I understand this word to mean from discussion with other people:

    • Does that job every day, and strives to better themselves in that one activity
    • Specialises in that one activity (DOP, Sound Recordist, camera person etc)
    • Buys "Professional gear" and knows how to use it

    Dictionary definition:

    • Engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as an amateur. "a professional boxer"

    Yet: Professional Gear is:

    • With a few exceptions very well build
    • Forgiving in situations of misuse (think about overexposing an Alexa v's GH4/5 or using an audio recorder without analog limiters)
    • Allows higher quality capture of source material
    • Follows loose industry professional standards (think of SDI, PL-Mount etc)
    • Expensive

    However in the life of a videographer, there is no possible way to be Professional at all the activities that encompass that job.

    As a videographer you need to have an understanding of:

    • Lighting (Key lighting, Fill lighting, Negative Fill etc)
    • Camera setup
    • Lens selection
    • Shot framing
    • Audio recording
    • (in my case I also do Music & SFX)
    • Data wrangling
    • Video Editing
    • Color Grading (even fundamentals)
    • Video Encoding

    Sure a person could possibly be a Professional Videographer. But that same person does not do Video Editing every day. Nor Lighting every day. They may do it twice a week or so.

    Getting back to Professional gear, it looks like Professional gear is actually easier to use, as it will be more robust, and more forgiving of on-set mistakes. (which do happen).

    I think that this word Professional should be phased out, and possibly something else used.

    Think of it like this, if you are a Baker, you don't call yourself a Professional Baker.

  • 4 Replies sorted by
  • This kind of 'us against them" amateur vs. professional discussion is utter B.S. I am a professional. Full stop. I get paid for my full-time video work. I am an amateur musician. I don't get paid very often for my part-time music work.

    Gear is gear. Some gear is more appropriate than other gear for certain applications. Specialisation has NOTHING to do with professionalism.

    "However in the life of a videographer, there is no possible way to be Professional at all the activities that encompass that job."


    It only depends on how much time you spend learning all the skills. I am an example of a specialist who has learned and adapted to new skills for over 35 years. Now I design storyboards, scripts, light, shoot, do sound recording, data wrangle, IT manage, edit, do compositing & effects, colour grade (advanced) write music, audio mix and deliver multiple formats for delivery to TV, cinema and billboard advertising.

    Being a professional is about being engaged and paid as a professional.

    Maybe we should do away with the use of "Amateur" or "Hobbyist" or "Videographer" as they are equally misleading words in the English language.

  • @caveport I think you missed my point. There is only one you, and one me. We can't do "all" these things every day. I have had discussions with many professionals that only consider a person a professional if they do that activity every day.

    Sometimes we are working on storyboard, and sometimes filming, and sometimes editing. But not everything every day.

    Actually my point was exactly what you mentioned. There is no "us against them" :-)

    Ironically however I think there are many people that do believe that specialisation = professional.

    I'm not trying to say we are Amereurs. Rather I am saying that due to current technological and financial trends video makers are having to broaden their specialisation, and in so redefining what it is to be a video maker.

  • I really do not care what "other professionals" think a pro is defined as. Even Hollywood pro's don't do the same thing every day, that's just misinformation. Everything every day? NO Everything every week? YES!

    Most specialists I work with have better skills in their non-specialist areas than most "Videographers" I know.

    Don't get too hung up on words. The word professional is not going away soon....

  • @caveport great discussion. I wasn't intending to create polarisation, rather a discussion about this new area many of us find ourselves in.

    Film / video has always been about technology. And that technology is changing rapidly.

    What that means is its now possible for a small team- or even a solo operator to gather content which is almost indistinguishable from a high end setup.

    I understand that there will be many "caveats", but that can happen on any budget or any production.

    Personally I think this is a good thing, as it means people like you, and many others on this forum know more skills, and are able to really get into the medium, and understand what they want to achieve.

    In many ways moving image has turned into poetry, capable of being produced by one person, with a single vision.

    I'm not saying that working in teams is bad. I have a team and love working with them. (I can't quite master doing everything yet). But it is exciting that such small productions can exist.