In 2003, Martin Rhodes knew the world of video production was significantly changing. With the improvements in digital video recording technology, there was an influx of quality, low-budget films, commercials, TV shows and shorts. Rhodes saw that the creators of many of these high-quality productions were not getting the recognition they deserved and thus created the DV Awards, an international competition awarding video producers of all kinds for excellence in digital video recording and editing.
Now in its seventh year, the Spring 2009 contest marks the 14th time the biannual awards will be given in the event’s many different categories, from commercials to music videos to animated shorts.
With the deadline for video submission for the Spring 2009 contest quickly approaching, MM was able to speak with Rhodes to find out more about the awards and digital video possibilities as a whole.
Mark Hurley (MM): What was it that inspired you to begin giving awards for excellence in digital video production?
Martin Rhodes (MR): Several years ago while working at a post-production facility, I started to notice an increasing number of people coming to us with these new little tapes called “MiniDV.” Usually they needed them converted to a more accepted format such as Beta SP or DigiBeta. At first I viewed this format and all who used it as second-class citizens. ‘Those little tapes are just the next version of Hi8,’ I thought. But I started to notice that the quality was really pretty good. Sure it had a few limitations, but with a decent camera and lens and the right lighting, the images were nothing to apologize for. And as desktop (and laptop) editors came into play, the playing field between the big production companies and the one-man bands started to get a lot more level. I knew that this would create an explosion of independent producers and small production companies. This inspired me to create the DV Awards, to serve this emerging market.
MM: You have been giving the DV Awards since 2003. As contestants have become more familiar with digital video, what changes in the quality of the submitted videos have you seen over the course of the past six years?
MR: The quality of work has been nothing short of remarkable; it continues to improve each session. It’s been both technical- and content-driven. I think in our first competition, about half of the entries were submitted on VHS, now of course nothing is. But the content is really the thing that sticks in my mind. Our last few sessions have really been full of crisp, clean, tight and creative works.
MM: You are currently receiving videos for your upcoming Spring 2009 Awards. What exactly is it that judges are looking for in a submitted video that makes it stand out from the rest?
MR: Storytelling never goes out of style. Whether it’s a 30-second spot or a 90-minute feature, if we haven’t “gotten” the story, you’ve missed the mark.
MM: What trends have you seen in digital video and what do you predict we will see in the future of digital video?
MR: Reality TV doesn’t seem to be slowing down. (Perhaps fueled by the low cost of the DV formats!) I think documentaries are becoming a much more accepted and popular format, but I don’t think they’ll exist as they have in the past. The traditional documentary usually tells about a story that has already happened. Reality TV is really just a documentary telling a story as it happens. Audiences have now accepted this, so I think it’s really become the standard. From the technical end, it shouldn’t be long before our cameras are uploading footage back to the edit suite moments after it’s shot. But then again, I thought reality TV would be dead by now.