A Soldier’s Story

Pat Lafferty is an old marine.

He’s also Chief Creative Officer at The Travel Channel.

Pat Younge, President and GM for the Travel Channel has instructed that all 250 employees of the Channel take the 4-day TCA Bootcamp to learn to shoot and cut.

Lafferty came out of the world of advertising, and while he has worked in cable for some time, he had never touched a camera or an edit. He had never made a piece, either as shooter, editor or producer.

Until last week.

This is what he made after only 4 days.

It’s pretty impressive.

We are all video literate to a great degree.  We have spent our lives watching TV and movies. We have an inherent understanding of the grammar.  We know what we want it to look like.

The academy frees creative people, like the Chief Creative Officer, to put on screen  what is in their heads.

And they can do it without cameramen, editors, producers.  Those jobs are the remanant of an era that is rapidly drawing to a close.

And good thing.

Because those people are first, vastly overpaid.

And second, they are technicians. The pieces they are contracted to make are not their idea. They are the idea of someone else. Someone creative. So let’s empower the creative person instead.

It may be that the former technicians also have creative ideas. If so, more power to them. Create away.

Like the Chief Creative Officer did.

As we say on Rosh Hashanna – Mazel Tov.


31 responses to “A Soldier’s Story

  1. Excellent work.

    As you stated – it frees creative people. Ansel Adams was a technician – who was also creative. He was trained as a musician so he brought the technical aspects of formal musical training to visual content creation.

    And he became a legend.

    I just don’t buy this argument by the detractors around needing all the formal training – this piece clearly refutes their position.

    As you said:

    … let’s empower the creative person instead.

    You once again have thought outside the box on this posting Michael – well done.

  2. Very nice!

    Watching this reminded me how you stressed in the TCA academy not to move the camera. “D.M.T.F.C.” or something to that effect; Don’t know why but anticipating where the action will be and holding the still sure makes for a more powerful piece. I’ve gotten lazy in this regard, thanks for the reminder and posting this video.


  3. Getting paid for doing something that wasn’t your own idea?

    Very funny coming from someone who teaches classes to do something that wasn’t his own idea in the first place!

    VJ’s, single individuals producing, shooting, writing, editing, all by themselves have been around for many years.

    Much longer than even Mr. Rosenblum has been around a camera or studio of any kind himself.

    He’d love for people to believe he created the VJ idea.

    He did not.

    It’s always been the option of low budget operations that have little or no money.

    That doesn’t mean they can’t produce good work.

    They just have to work a little harder and take a little longer to get a final product completed.

    Nice first effort for four days of class.

    As they say in the business world.

    What are you going to do next?

    VJ or otherwise, we are all only as good as our last work.

    Some of us are lucky enough to be hired to do this kind of work day after day after day and make a real living.

    Others, well, the do one or two pieces then fade away to do something else to make ends meet.

    Let’s see how many of these our ex-marine does.

    Any bets on what he’ll be doing in a year?

    You can bet it won’t be making a living as a VJ.

  4. So Pat arrives at the newsroom the day after A Soldier’s Story. He smiles happily to himself as he walks to the assignment desk wondering how he will reply to the positive feedback he deserves…

    “Pat thank god you are here! A report came out that people who groom their poodles in New York salons on a Sunday will mostly vote republican. The ND loves it as a story so we need something tonight. I know it’s a Wednesday, we are not in New York and you only have 2 hours but get on it or you are toast.”

    Welcome to the wonderful world of news.

    In case you are wondering the poodle thing was a true assignment for me in London a few US elections ago. I couldn’t have made something like that up as I’m a cameraman and apparently we are not creative.

  5. I can pick up a pen, or a brush, sell my works and no-one will look down on me. I don’t expect to make a living out of it, or I could, either way some people on this site neither to get off their high horses as to what people want to accomplish with their work.
    New technology is going to give you all a swift kick up the arse…. and its about time, the old school TV field got rid of this attitude Ive been doing it professionally therefore I can ride everyone else….tell that to the old paint masters who got jack for their work while alive, yet we pay millions for them now.

  6. Luglio: “tell that to the old paint masters who got jack for their work while alive, yet we pay millions for them now.”

    LOL. So your goal is to be famous and appreciated after you die? LOL

    I’ve got bills to pay and a skill that lets me make money to do just that.

    I didn’t need a four day course to empty my wallet and fill my head with misguided information about life and a career.

    If your goal is notoriety centuries after you are dead, and you are willing to pay Rosenblum for skills that think will help you achieve that goal, then step right up and open your wallet.

    The big question is what are you going to do between now and the time you die?

    How are you paying for your food and a roof over your head?

    Mommy and daddy?

    I recognize not everyone’s goal is to make a living shooting and editing moving images.

    There is nothing wrong with having a hobby.

    Cliff is a fine example of someone who enjoys his VJ hobby without getting upset that he can’t get paid to do it.

    That’s great!

    He’s happy and so is everyone else he works for for free.

    I am not like that.

    I like what I do and I like getting paid to do it.

    To make the money, I have to be much better than the thousands, like Cliff, who will work for free.

    My final product has to have value in the eyes of those willing to pay for it.

    The good news for you, Luglio, is your self admitted goal means you will be dead and never know if your goal of fame and notoriety was ever reached.

    What a waste of a lifetime goal that achieves nothing of real value for yourself.

  7. I’ll keep an open mind. This video is on YouTube. Lets follow the hit counter and see how it compares to similar videos.

  8. Dear $,

    You got passion, I’ll give you that but I wonder if you realize how defensive you come off? Your almost unrelenting negative comments regarding most anything Rosenblume promotes kind of makes me wonder if you are ultimately trying to come to terms with your dying industry.

    I can understand how someone who has grown accustomed to making a “real living” in an industry that is falling apart and changing as fast as technology is coming up with the tools that make the once unobtainable to but only the few, now obtainable to the many.

    Man, the economics of that scenario must really stick in the ol’ craw. Please don’t change a thing and keep putting you thoughts out there, I love it. It’s just going to be interesting to watch how you and others adapt.

    Take care,


  9. These articles add some clarity to what’s going on.




    I found both of these articles today from a daily newsletter from http://www.tvspy.com


  10. $ – a typical response that merits about as much credibility as the republican presidential ticket.

    “Now Go Away or I Will Taunt You a Second Time.”

  11. Of course.

    I must be afraid.

    That’s the only reason I post isn’t it?

    It couldn’t possibly be that, after reading what I write, you have no response except to link to whining blogs and a message board filled with people who are young and unemployed, or never employed in the first place.

    Cliff, once again, can’t help himself.

    The kind of “holding his breath”.

    He does that for a living and continues with his unpaid VJ hobby.

    Good for him!

    It must be nice to live life without having to make money to pay the bills.

    Mommy and daddy must be good for you young kids who don’t have any worries.

    At least until you grow up and find out what I’ve been saying is too true.

    The economy is bad for everyone.

    Not just broadcast television.

    Newspapers are drying up everywhere.

    Their weak VJ attempts prove what I and others have been saying for some time.

    You can teach kids a four day class and charge them silly amounts of money to learn something even the teachers can’t make work in the real world.

    Unless, like them, it’s to open another VJ school and teach even more know-nothings something that will never be more than a hobby for 99.9% of them.

    You can exhale now Cliff.

    Your face is turning blue and your VJ paycheck still hasn’t arrived.

    In fact, it hasn’t even been written.

    Because, as Cliff knows too well, when can’t work for anyone unless it’s for free, there is no paycheck.

    Enjoy that hobby Cliff!

    You must be one lucky guy to have someone else around to pay for your food and put a roof over your head!

    You sure aren’t doing it as a VJ!

  12. Avery I look at the stuff you have up on your website and if I really honestly critiqued it to the same level I work too every day, I feel you would find your self being a bit more than just defensive. I bet you’d get downright pissed off. Nobody likes being told their baby is ugly.
    So how are we supposed to feel that people who don’t have the faintest notion of what we actually do think they can write it off as a dying industry?
    Technology means the auto focus still focuses randomly on the wrong thing. The auto iris still pumps with every light change. There isn’t a button on the camera to help you with framing, that takes a human with some concept of shot composition, golden rule of thirds ring any bells? Look it up, it will help you enormously once you learn what it is.

  13. Man I love this, to be told that I can rely on the folks… give my mums 79 and a battler, cant wait to ask her to help me out, given I now pay for her rest care….I have taught more young people in the TV field from camera through to directors yet I don’t believe I have a right to say where this media is going or what has value….as for what pays the bills in a few years, I dont know either but I bet it wont be doing what $ is now, adapt or die or get out of the way… talk to a software programmer, they know that they have to keep learning new code or someone from the sub continent will put you out of work…smart,quicker, younger and cheaper…and finally I pay my bills by not being blinded but what came before, but what is coming…

  14. Luglio: “yet I don’t believe I have a right to say where this media is going or what has value…”

    Please don’t try and play victim.

    Of course, you certainly have that right and I would never deny you that right.

    But frankly your claims of teaching others anything about the field of television falls apart with one visit to your website.

    Your shrill cry of “adapt or die” needs to be more self directed.

    I’m adapting and surviving just fine as my work appears every day on both the internet and broadcast to a national audience.

    I’m not limited to computer hits as you are.

    The audience I serve, with others, is beyond your comprehension or ability.

    It’s for that very reason I am paid to do what I do and you are not.

    I haven’t stopped learning at all!

    In fact, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is how to spot people who make unfounded claims.

    You are one such individual.

    There is a place for VJ work. It will not be all or nothing as you so dearly wish.

    There will be those, like yourself, who settle for life at McDonalds, and others like myself, who work at a higher level.

    To make claims of only one or the other, deriding those who encourage people to not limit their goals, only shows how frustrated you are with yourself.

    Unable to move up from where you are, for what ever reason.

    Bitterness at ones position in life and work leads to much of what I see here.

    You, like Cliff, are desperate to believe something which, as of yet, is beyond your reach.

    Beyond your abilities.

    That being, full time work doing something you like.

    Yet unable to reach that goal unless it’s working for free.

    All fine and good for those looking for a hobby.

    Not so good when bills come in and what you think you know how to do, doesn’t allow you to make money and you’re forced to do something else that actually offers you a paycheck to survive.

    You may be younger and cheaper, but that sure isn’t working for you.

    You’re too busy, like Cliff, waiting.

    Holding your breath.

    Thinking you know something.

    And like Mr. Rosenblum, making empty claims that just don’t pan out.

    Unless it’s opening a VJ school to teach others how to do something that only leads to yet another school and no where else.

    Keep waiting.

    You’re going to be doing that for quite some time to come.

    Meanwhile, I and others will continue to encourage others not to make the same mistake you have.

    Thinking working at a McDonalds hamburger-flipper level of work, shooting, writing and editing video, is an end-all for career advancement.

  15. $ said:

    You’re too busy, like Cliff, waiting.

    LOL – just keep telling yourself that – you’re the only one who seems to need convincing.

  16. PG,

    I have seen some of your work and I don’t think you are going to have to worry about making a living with a camera.

    My son in-law works in the “industry” at a local TV station. He is a very talented shooter/editor and is passionate about is craft. The problem, as I see it, is that he is oblivious to the fact that TV, as presently constituted, is…, well,… dying.

    My concern for his employment is, admittedly self centered mainly because I don’t want him and his family moving in with me. I put up with his wife for 23 years and that’s all I can handle.

    PG, I don’t know how you should feel about people writing off your industry as dying. If you feel bad that people are saying it, I’m sorry. But maybe if deep down inside you might think that there is some truth to it then don’t feel bad, just adapt.

    The golden rule of thirds huh? I don’t think Rosenblum mentioned anything about that.

    Hey, not to put too sharp a point on it but– here is a little example- What percentage of people have watched the trashing of Sarah Palin on the web as opposed to on TV?


  17. Avery – remember – according to the detractors – the web isn’t important – just as small cameras and accelerated teaching programs are bogus (sarcasm mine).

  18. Wo/Man picks up a camera, they’ve never used before and makes a truly nice piece.

    Wo/man walks into an unkempt garden and finds beauty in it to landscape something extraordinary.

    A Wo/man sits in cafe and dares to dream of writing a book one day.

    All the above may have had training of one kind or another and realised something they’d never thought before: they too can be creative.

    And in the end that film may be worthless to any one else. In actor Tim Roth’s Warzone, it was going to sit on his shelf for only his mates to view.

    But for trying to bat above ones station….I guess why not? 🙂

  19. Hey David
    Nice to hear from you.
    Hope you are going to join us at DNA2009 in Brussels.
    congrats on such a successful career!

  20. Avery mate, I do make living with my camera. For the last 25 years people pay me and in fact fly me around the world because they like the work I do for them.

    People like you telling me my industry is dying is like a homeless man telling me houses are overrated.
    I admit though I do get frustrated at you cheerful stupidity backed up by utter ignorance.

    Was the SNL Live skit shot by a VJ?
    Did one person write it and shoot it and star in it?
    Was it shot with handycams?
    Does the delivery medium really matter to me if I still get paid?

    In fact I get paid my top commercial rates to shoot podcast’s on HD. Instead of dying my craft is actually growing!!!

    Maybe your son-in-law isn’t worried about the industry because he know more about it than you do?

  21. Tipping the proverbial hat to ya.

    Julian Aston had a gathering fortnight ago, bringing together some of the original channel oners.

    Rachel Ellison is now an MBE
    Dimitri Doganis runs a very successful company Raw TV, and was behind that incredible current affairs film Siege of Bethlehem
    and Ravi is a senior producer on GMTV. And there are more…

    So I guess there are quite a few tipped hats. We’ve just located a clean copy of that training day; the old one’s here.

    Don’t look if you’re sensitive about age LOL

    Yep DNA2009 sounds good.

  22. Hey David
    That was FANTASTIC!
    I cannot believe you found that video.
    We are coming to London in November.
    Let’s catch up f2f.
    been a long time, man

  23. Stephen – you are one of the more level headed posters on this blog – I respect the fact you can maintain a sense of civility around what has turned out to be an emotional topic for many. We may not agree completely, but your civility is greatly appreciated – unlike $ who seems to be a troll for the b-rollers.

    Thanks for presenting your POV in a way that is mature 🙂

  24. Dear PG,

    Wow, they fly you around the world huh; and you’ve been doing this for 25 years, that’s impressive. And I’ll bet you can demand top dollar too. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if you don’t pick and choose the jobs you take, depending on your mood at the time of course.

    I am absolutely sick that I have caused you any frustration. But are you sure you are not just feeling a little unappreciated?

    Try the following exercise; it may help with the frustration you experiencing:

    In front of a mirror read the following, oh and be sure to do it with a sour look, nose inclined at least 45 degrees and with the haughtiest Deity like accent as you can muster>>>

    “I am Pencil God! And the stupid, little people have not given me the accolades and the honor that is due to me. How dare the un-anointed speak evil of the industry that I, even my self, have mastered. Let it be known to all who have ears to hear my impeccable audio and eyes to see the marvelous, nay, the wondrous HD image that I alone can craft; let them understand how well I am compensated and that I, by decree, declare that anyone who dare utter or speak of the death of my beloved industry—let them be damned to mediocrity and suffer the scorn of those like me in the industry, yea even the self absorbed. So let it be written, so let it be done”.

    Prima donna.’s like you crack me up.

    But Hey, I hope you enjoy that cruise. Hope you aren’t having any second thoughts, they say the Titanic is unsinkable just like…

    Ga’day Mate

  25. Well done Avery!

    More empty thoughts from someone who, themselves, are so threatened by others who actually do make a living.

    You and Cliff are predictable.

    Wonderful faith in the Internet as the future.

    Something many of the rest of us share with you.

    The difference is some of us are already getting paid a full time paycheck to put our work on the Internet as well as broadcast.

    Enough people watch, and come back to watch more, that it continues to generate income for us.


    Not so lucky.

    Empty words.

    Empty claims.

    Empty hopes that just never seem to arrive.

    Maybe you should join Cliff in his Bluprojekt.

    Aptly named since that is the color of both your faces as you continue to hold your breath for something that just hasn’t happened for either one of you.

    How long has Cliff been around here claiming to know so much about the job and the future?

    How long has Cliff remained unemployed even after all those classes he’s taken.

    How much education does one person need before they can do what they’ve been trained to do and get paid to do it?

    Cliff is never shy to share his many class room experiences, nor his awards he won so very very long ago as a still photographer.

    In Cliff’s case, and yours too, it seems you have two choices.

    Either get more schooling, here from people like myself who know much more than you do about real life and real work, or take more dead-end, quick-fix classes that charge you a couple of grand for four days of training that leave you right where you and Cliff are now.

    As unemployed VJs.

    You both crack me up with your lemming mentality while sitting around without real jobs shooting and editing video, nor real paychecks to back up what you claim to know so well.

    If you really wanted to make yourselves a success, prove what you claim to know, you’d be doing something like getting a job that validates your claims.

    The key question you and Cliff keep avoiding is, why is it no one seems to want to hire you to do anything?

    To some of us here it’s obvious.

    To you?

    I guess it’s a good thing you haven’t given up your day jobs to chase this fantasy VJ dream you both claim to believe in.

    If you really believed it.

    You’d do it.

    But the reality is there every day for all of us to see.

    You can’t.

  26. Watch it man, you are really starting to piss me off! Don’t you ever compare me and Cliff again 🙂
    I got to tell you that I feel so exposed, your powers of deduction are something not to be taken lightly.

    I mean to be able to read a few words written on a blog and then to be able to come up such a compelling life summation.
    It’s obvious that the GREAT and POWERFUL OZ and you have a lot in common. Just mind the curtain that conceals what you truly are–an uninspired Technician, who fears making a move without his superiors’ approval, and resents them because he feels HIS skills are nothing short of greatness and besides they are not worthy to comment on his work.

    Well, maybe I have assumed too much but I though I would give it a shot. I mean I just took your lead and drew some conclusions that make sense to me based on my perceptions regardless if they are base in truth. That’s how you roll isn’t it?

    Anyway, you may be interested to know:

    Because of what I learned at Michaels Academy I now shoot and edit video pretty much every day of the work week.

    I shoot and edit business profiles for online directories and you wouldn’t believe it but the company I do this for sends me a check, weekly and sometimes more frequently than that, for my services.

    Now, a funny thing is happening. Somehow, in spite of my ineptitude, the word is getting out and I am doing more and more work for companies. Heck, just last Thursday an owner of a corporate jet sales facility wants me to produce a little video for each aircraft in his inventory. I told him I would love to but couldn’t start until starting in December, I’m too booked.

    Oh, and I don’t know if you are aware that the economy is kind of in a bad way presently, I mean my perception of you is that your sitting at your desk waiting to be told what to do next and you may not have heard the news about the economy.

    I bring this up because there is a credit crunch and most new business are having a hard time getting credit. Well, it’s a good thing I won’t be needing credit, I can do the cash a carry thing because business is really clipping along. This will come in handy when I order a couple of Sony EX1’s and accessories that will be needed.

    Do you have any experience with the Ex1? I was thinking if you actually do loose that precious job that you seem to cling so desperately too, you could send me your resume and perhaps I could bring you on.

    It’s getting to the point I need a good tech that will do as he/she is instructed.

    Take care,


  27. Good try Avery!

    We have two EX-3s here in my office. We use them if they are the best tool.

    But that’s not all the time.

    Too bad you couldn’t buy the latest model!

    You don’t know what you’re missing!

    That seems to be a constant in your life though!

    Have fun with those on line profiles!

    I’m sure you’re very aware of the state of our economy.

    And still, you can’t find a full time job.

    Maybe someday!

    Take care!

  28. $ – yet you fail again on your condescending FUD.

    What part of Avery explaining he’s paid weekly – if not more – and is booked currently til December don’t you understand? What part of having so much business he needs to bring someone else on isn’t clear enough for you to get?

    Your constant jabs atnot having a JOb is the same regurgitated line you’ve been using for months. Pretty much the same pablum that the Repugs are using – and are losing it big time.

    Sounds to me your jealous of the fact we don’t need JOBS like you do – we’re willing to take chances in securing our own way- on our terms. It appears you don’t have the cajones to go that route. Just because you don’t – doesn’t make what we do any less important.

    And the comment that your camera being better (bigger) than Avery’s (or even mine)?

    Just how adolescent are you?

    “Now Go Away or I Will Taunt You a Second Time.”

  29. “We” Cliff?

    Now you are putting yourself in the same category and level of work as Avery?

    My, my isn’t that a blatant, misleading exaggeration of where you are in your VJ career, sorry, let me be completely accurate, hobby.

    I saw Avery’s work on his web site. Much further along than anything you’ve done. I now see why, even with his smiley face, he was offended when I put him and you in the same sentence.

    You’re just upset, Cliff, because after all these years, and it has been years now, you still find yourself unemployed as a VJ.

    Not a surprise to many of us.

    Enjoy your hobby Cliff!

  30. Avery I’m very glad to hear you are doing well. If you are making money from what Michael taught you then you are something of a rarity… well done.
    I’ve never said there isn’t room in the industry for some VJ’s I just don’t believe my days are numbered because Michael is getting paid to show people where the on/off button is on the handycam. There is a lot of room in the industry and with the internet there is even more.

    Look if you went and sat a basic vehicle familiarization course and thanks to that you managed to get a job delivering pizza, would you look at the NASCAR and formula one drivers and say “what a bunch of stuck up Premier Donnas, all they do is what they are told and drive around a track. Their nothing but overpaid technicians. I’ve got a Vesper so their days are numbered.”
    It would be quite silly. And while I’m not formula one, I am probably more of a rally driver, so I don’t see a VJ on their scooter as a threat in any way.
    I just don’t see why you guys are so keen to limit yourselves?

  31. Hi!
    I made with photoshop animated myspace pictures.
    take a look at them:
    Thanks a lot for your website 🙂 xxoxo

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