Career advice

Your choices are to:

1. Learn the trade by the seat of your pants. The process takes a long time, mistakes may be expensive, and there tend to be gaping holes in your knowledge. It is fun, though. Many of the commercial TV stations in small markets hire novices and train them for free.

2. Take courses in a college or attend workshops like "Sony School." College is a slow process (generally 16 weeks per course), costs about $800 per course, gives you the opportunity to experience equipment without having to buy it yourself, and often gives a good foundation of the basics. Some academics are too far removed from the real world of videography to offer truly useful information, while others are very knowledgeable. Workshops generally cost $1000-$5000 per week, teach subjects faster than their academic counterparts, and employ instructors who are current practitioners in their fields (they can teach "real world" video).

3. Read a book on the subject. The process takes about a week, costs about $100, and depending on the book, can cover the topics you really need to know. Three advantages to books: The investment is small, the commitment is low (should you change your mind after exploring the subject), and you have a handy reference in your hand that you can use later. Disadvantage: There's no one to answer your questions.

Best of all worlds: Read a book. Afterward, take courses or workshops. This way, your expenses rise as your commitment rises. Also, what you hear in the courses or workshops will make more sense because you've had some introduction to the subject.

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