Back in December, a film crew came to my school to film some footage for use in an internal promotional video aimed at potential new Japanese staff recruits. There was a similar video for us foreign teachers when I had my AEON interview in Chicago last spring. I think they chose our school because we have a lot of kid students, and because we’re a small school. One of the other schools they shot for the video was the Ikebukuro school, which must just be massive. So, in contrast, we are the smaller, homey school. Or something.

Now, I am no video professional, and my skills and knowledge are mostly self-taught. However, I learned a thing or two working at IUSTV for 4 years, and think I can at least successfully lead a field shoot when need be. That brings me to the film crew that was taping my school back a in December. It was a three-man team; camera, director/leader, and a boom/gopher guy. I knew there were a lot of things I saw them doing that I thought didn’t look right, but I never said anything. Several reasons for this: I was working and maybe busy, I didn’t want to be a jerk, and most importantly, I care enough to complain about it later but not enough to help out. So I let them go about their business knowing the footage would look awful.

And guess what!? I was right!

We got the raw footage on DVD to watch, and while some of it was viewable, a lot of it looked preeeeeeetty bad. Specifically, the interviews they did looked terrible. Where to begin? Let’s see…OK. First, there was not a tripod in sight the entire day. For footage of kids running around and even some of the in-class shots, this works, but for the interviews it was noticeably bad. They also chose some really bad locations to do 2 of the interviews, one of which had my manager wearing white standing in front of a bunch of predominantly white posters. As if her blending in with the wall wasn’t bad enough, the cameraman also for some reason thought it would be good to kneel down a bit while the interviewee was standing up. Oh and yes, I almost forgot, they only used lighting for this interview (not on the other two), but they only had 1 light! There was a very noticeable shadow behind her. It looks absolutely awful. The result was that it looked like they were interviewing a giant who was telling scary stories at a campfire. It would have looked better without their crap light kit; the others looked somewhat decent with just the halogen ceiling lights.

Oh, and their footage all looked at a strange frame rate, maybe 24fps. I don’t know why this project would require that, but I have a feeling they have no clue either. Maybe they just encoded it weird when giving us the raw footage.

So yeah, I just wanted to complain. I guess there are really bad video crews out here in Japan. Maybe I should just start a freelance production business like that out here, but do it right.