‘Run ‘n Gun Videography’ — Amazon reviews

Run 'n Gun Videography


Some newsy stuff.

The video review of the Sony PXW X70 completed its journey from page 26 on a Google search to the number 1 video spot in just under 2 1/2 months. Still annoyed by the couple of sound faults in that video but strangely in just under 17,000 views to date, no one has complained. That’s good because that was a 26 hour upload on a tenuous internet connection.

Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide has now been out 5 weeks, with 125 copies sold. New territory for me. Not sure how that rates. Here are the reviews so far:


This book is an amazing find! It is one of those rare gems 5 Feb. 2015

By WisePurchaserPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book is an amazing find! It is one of those rare gems that occasionally crosses one’s path, if at all. I say this because the author has distilled a wide assortment of complex issues related to videography into one easy-to-understand source. The author, Joe Caneen, is a veteran videographer with years of industry experience – 30 years and counting, in fact. Yet, unlike many seasoned authorities of this caliber who usually get locked into trade convention or spout out-of-reach techno jargon, Mr. Caneen is refreshingly unpretentious and accessible. So, if you are a beginner videographer who values a didactic approach that fuses intellect with common-sense, that balances artistic technique with practicality, then the good spirits of fate have led you to the right place. Read this text! Learn the many nuggets of wisdom contained within! And you will most assuredly thank me later.

By Kenneth Mullinge

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I’ve just finished reading Joe’s book and I have to say I found it very enjoyable and easy to read. He points out a number of things that I found very useful, the single main point which he makes (and I will not describe here) was more than worth the cost of the book alone. Definitely buy this book if you are interested in becoming a better videographer.

Kenny M

5.0 out of 5 stars

A no-nonsense book stuffed full of very good advice and tips 16 Jan. 2015

By J. J. Robertson

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A no-nonsense book stuffed full of very good advice and tips. Joe Caneen really knows his trade and gets straight to the point with his writing. I wish I’d read this book years ago instead of learning the hard way by making lots of mistakes!

5.0 out of 5 stars

The most inspiring video teacher I have found! 6 Jan. 2015

By Justin OpinionPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I have waited patiently… oh who am I kidding, I’ve never been patient about anything! But I’ve waited for this book to be finished because – well, because I had no choice. But Joe (The Video Whisperer) was kind enough to share snippets of the text on his blog site during the process, and that helped.

Let me preface (what, preface has to be at the top?), okay then let me just say that I have not read the full finished work as yet and am reviewing it anyway. I don’t normally do that – but want to give full disclosure to it. I do feel qualified to offer you my opinion now because I have read so much of it already, and am familiar with the work of this expert craftsman. Joe, from what I’ve learned over time, has spent a career behind the camera in many types of productions. The kind of work where you get one chance to get it right, and that’s it. And even if you can take a second try at it – it comes at a high cost. You don’t have a long and rewarding career if you don’t excel at meeting those objectives.

Good quality cameras are readily available now on nearly every budget level. But if you want to get beyond “point it that way and hit the red button” skill level, you need advice and insight. And The Video Whisperer is the best I’ve found. In part, I freely admit, because I just like him. His personality and easy communication style are very relaxing and familiar. And I find that with that relaxed feeling, my mind is much more receptive to the information being given.

I make videos on YouTube – mostly about the shooting sports and guns in general, so I was not only not offended by the many gun references, I enjoy them. If you are of a different opinion on that topic, don’t fret – the book really is about cameras and how to use them. The analogies are just too easy, and I think quite entertaining. I mention that I make videos because my point is that I fumble at it, and I struggle with it. The improvements I have made have come largely from the inspiration and information from The Video Whisperer – whom I discovered accidentally by watching his review of a Sony camera (that I ultimately purchased and use). The quality of his work in that review left my jaw on the table, and I’ve been hooked since.

If you have a passion, just an interest, or simply a need to learn more and improve your skills with video cameras, I can’t recommend this book enough. What I think you will receive from it above all is INSPIRATION!

5.0 out of 5 stars

This Should be a Required Text for Video and Film Students!! 18 Jan. 2015

By M. RajaPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I am not a videographer or a photographer, but do need some help in taking nice pictures of my orchids. Years ago, Joe had given me some basic suggestions about photography and, having internalized them, I have often found myself using those basic techniques even when taking pictures with my iPhone camera. This book, thus, provides a whole wealth of practical and conceptual explanations that would be useful for all those who enjoy filming or hope to launch a professional career as cameramen/women or as film-makers.

I found it especially refreshing that the author first provides the fundamental and core concepts about larger practices (Read Chapter 2 as a great example of this) and then builds on that: this is what we do in our literary studies classes, where we encourage our students to learn the basics first and after that performing complex tasks becomes easier. It seems Joe has given his audience a kind of how-to-book that explains, beyond technique, the how and why aspects of the craft of videography!

This book will be highly useful to all those studying film or film production at college level and I, for one, am certainly going to recommend it as a possible text to the film department at my university!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars

Concrete advice for solo videographers 22 Jan. 2015

By MatthewPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Great read on fundamentals and advanced techniques of a solo videographer’s world. Easy to read and filled with practical info on lots of topics: gear choice, marketing yourself and your videos, interview tips, editing, what to charge for your services…. Written very conversational and witty, this book kinda feels like sitting down with a trusted mentor sharing his wisdom.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Brilliant book from an authentic working professional explaining the concepts and mechanics of invisible camerawork 11 Jan. 2015

By Miklos NemethPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Absolutely worth every penny. The book has general “life philosophy/wisdom” as well as videography/cinematography/photography (concepts) sections, and specific detailed technical chapters, too. The main advantage of reading a book like this is that it comes from the pen of an authentic/original source, a professional videographer who has been earning his family’s bread for decades on videography. On a couple of videography forums I found a number of excellent comments, but I wanted a book that you can read from page one to the end covering practically every aspects of videography.

4.0 out of 5 stars

Good honest book about videography with tips earnt with experience. 12 Jan. 2015

By cheekysaffer

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I am one of those people who watched the Sony NX30 camera reviews on YouTube a while ago looking for a new camera.

The first thing I noticed when watching the video was that Joe seems very sincere and it was obvious that he has years of experience in the video and film industry. I am just starting up my video production company and it was very assuring to hear that you don’t need to have a really expensive camera to be professional. Although I did spend £4k on a second hand one which I wanted….

I visit thevideowhisperer YouTube channel from time to time and this is how I learned that Joe has now written a book on the subject of videography.

I just bought this today and finished it tonight. Its a good honest book that really strips down the whole professional videography subject into core chapters. Its filled with really good advice that you can tell was earned in the field.

As I don’t have any professional paid experience yet, I was looking for this kind of book. Anything that can help me produce better quality videos for my future clients and possibly help to prevent me making silly mistakes is worth the asking price of this book.

As someone who is about to leave an engineering career to do what I always wanted to do, its good to find that extra little inspiration from a real professional in the game.

A good easy read, highly recommended for people who are thinking of going pro.


Run ‘N Gun Videography, sneak preview

Almost done with the ebook “Run ‘N Gun Videography–the Sole Shooter’s Survival Guide”.  Looks like it will be about 42,000 words in about 25 chapters. A few weeks ago I published the introduction here.

I won’t publish all the chapters on the blog, but here’s Chapter 1 (first draft) for your perusal:


Chapter 1   Run ’N Gun

What does that mean anyway?

Funny enough, if you look this up you’ll find it’s a term used in the video gaming industry. As the name implies, it’s a rather brash and unconsidered approach to winning—sort of an AK47 approach to getting somewhere.

Speaking of guns, I’ve shot the AK47 and I must say it’s a gun that’s meant to be shot on full automatic in a spraying motion because it’s not very useful in single shot mode for hitting a target. The bloody thing is so nasty in its kickback that once you’ve fired it, you have no idea where the bullet just went–and you don’t care either because your ears are ringing so bad. (The US AR15 is much better on that score).

But I digress.

I doubt any of this is what anyone in the field of videography means when using the term.

For the purposes of this book, however, I thought I’d better define what I mean by the term, lest anyone start off with the wrong idea.

Since I have a gun theme going (for a bit of fun), it’s not an AK47 or AR15 approach either. More like a 38 police special (short barreled pistol) and you have to be pretty good to hit anything with that.

Let me couch it this way:

After years of working in the regimented, scripted approach to film and video production with production crews (nothing wrong with that), I became a video documentary director/cameraman. That meant I traveled around with a small team—usually one other person and sometimes two—to shoot short documentaries of people or events around the world. Because there was little time allotted for each production, and each production had a looming, unalterable deadline, it was necessary to develop a shooting style that was very direct and economical without compromising on quality. This also extended to kit, which I’ll detail in a later chapter. In short, I had to be quick on my feet and quick of wit while being as thorough as possible.

Despite the fact that these productions had scripted narration to be added later, my job was to produce material that would stand on its own without the need for narration. What dictated the content for me was the material obtained in the interviews I did with key people on the ground.

I learned some very important things early on about interviews. While this will also be the subject of a detailed chapter, it bears mentioning now that the most important thing I learned was that everyone has a story. Getting them to tell it is the trick. Part of the trick is to be willing to find out what the story is. And to do that you pretty much have to knock out of your head whatever you think the story might be (forget about the stupid interview questions) and just start engaging in normal human conversation.

Once you’ve go the story you have some idea of the B roll (relevant and related shots) you need to shoot so that the interview and/or greater story can be edited.

And that’s all there is to it basically.

It applies to documentaries, biographies and corporate videos alike.

Knowing what to shoot, how to see it and doing it quickly, professionally and thoroughly is “run ’n gun”.

By definition, “run ’n gun” will never be perfect. You’re bound to make mistakes. You’re bound to get home and find a shot out-of-focus or with any of an almost infinite number of potential technical flaws. But if you “shoot the hell out of it” in the process, and to the best of your ability, you will walk away with editable video footage that will achieve whatever its intended purpose was.

I always make the time to light important interviews and obtain the best sound possible. That doesn’t mean one could necessarily tell that the shots were lit because, in my case, I tend to employ “atmospheric lighting” which appears to be natural. But it looks a hell of a lot better than the “real world” looked.

On the other hand, it’s not always possible to light an interview, particularly “vox pox” (latin for “voice of the people” and meaning the “man-on the-street type interview). But in these cases one still tries to get the best possible lighting and camera angle possible.

Sound recording is another vital element. Using an on-camera mic (and the resultant high ambient sound levels) is the mark of an amateur. Close, present-sounding audio recording for any type of interview is vital – a fact which apparently many videographers do not give adequate importance to.

That said, there are unexpected circumstances when something is happening that simply can’t be stopped to allow proper microphone placement, so you’d be daft to not record it anyway with your on-camera mic. If the content turns out to be precious, the value of the content will over-ride the technical flaws.

And so it goes. It’s a constant exercise of judgment while seeking to obtain the best technical quality in the process under varying circumstances.

It takes practice.

It takes experience.

You have to be willing to learn from your mistakes.

You have to be pretty good to pull it off.

And that’s what I mean by “run ’n gun”




Brainstorm: one split second

Write script: 15 minutes

Shoot video: 30 minutes of ghastliness, 20 minutes of hiccups, 15 minutes of giggles, 15 minutes of magic and two stars are born

Edit video: 4 hours

Result: Priceless

The Secret to Interviews

I’ve done perhaps a thousand interviews in a dozen different languages over the years. This is what I finally learned after the first few hundred:

The secret to interviews is getting people to talk about what they want to talk about, not what you think they should talk about.

But how to do know what they want to talk about?

You don’t.  You just don’t.

So you start off with what you think they should talk about. It goes without saying that you will have done your homework and have some idea of the content or marketing message you are after.

Just don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in the brilliance of your own questions. And don’t assume that you know what the ideal response should be, regardless of what the marketing people think.

Your questions are meant to be a good guess at what might get them going at what they want to talk about. And presumably you’re talking to them because they have some intimate knowledge of the subject at hand.

So start chatting. Keep it real. Keep it light and conversational.

And watch their eyes.

When those eyes light up, you’ve just found the entrance to the subject of what they like to talk about.

Listen to what they say. Really listen. Really be interested. Acknowledge what they’re saying by smiling or nodding or whatever is appropriate. Don’t cut them off.

When they seem to be finished, ask them more about what they just said. Better still, ask them something specific about something that they seem particularly interested in or emotive about. You don’t even have to ask a new question. Simply commenting on, agreeing with or otherwise acknowledging  some aspect just mentioned will be enough to get them to continue talking about it.

And let them talk.

Just keep doing that.

And if you screw it up and they seem to get more and more introverted and less and less communicative, realize that you’re the one that screwed it up, not them. That’s right. You screwed it up not them.  Whether you were too interested in yourself, your own questions, or the color of the windows curtains, you did it.

You can talk to anyone about anything that THEY are interested in.

When you find those topics, all their inhibitions disappear–so long as you do your part by listening, acknowledging and not cutting them off.

When you’re humble enough to realize that you’re the one that introverted them and got them to stop talking, there is still an out.  I’ve done it many times to miraculous results.  It goes something like this:

“Forget about everything I just said or asked. Forget about what you think you should say or what the company thinks you should say or what you think I want to hear.  What is it about this subject that interests YOU the most? What about it are you most passionate about? Go ahead, let your hair down.”

Sometimes after 30 minutes of interview, I’ve gotten the greatest percentage of my editable narrative after making that statement alone.

Click here for Part Two: The Secret to Interviews, Part 2

Comment on Corporate and Business Videos

Back in the early days of TV advertising and print media in the last century, it was enough to say

“Acme is the best”. And people would buy because you said so.

Then, when enough people were saying “we’re the best” Madison Avenue (New York) stepped in with the new age of “hype”

And apparently, in the 21st Century, “hype” is still alive and well.

But wasn’t it decades ago that the general public started ignoring it and started to realize when they were hearing “well scripted” advertising dialogue?

Then humor entered into the arena, and that worked well (and is still working well) with well known and established businesses whose products and services are already known. This then, was a matter of keeping the brand in the public’s mind. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But what about small businesses or corporations that aren’t well known or are brand new?

What will make the public listen to you?



For the last year I’ve been advising clients to not bother writing scripts or hiring professional actors or presenters.

I have a different approach.

I learned after doing about 1000 interviews with people all over the world in from all walks of life from the very bottom to the very top that all people are passionate about something. If you get them talking about what they want to talk about, they light up inevitably and invariably. And even with a video camera in their face, suddenly all their inhibitions and introversions disappear.

Conversely, if you try to get them to say some pre-conceived idea you’ve got–or try to coax them to say certain things–or try to get them to read a script, they get all wobbly and introverted and you wind up with hash. And some marketing or video companies will pass that off to you and expect you to applaud it as a professional marketing piece.

I’m sure you’ve seen this sort of result in various business videos you’ve seen. It’s either slick hype, or amateur school play time, and neither are very effective.

My approach in the production of a 3 minute business web video is to interview the person or persons involved. The interview is an informal chat, a conversation about the topic or topics we are meant to be promoting. It doesn’t matter what is said. “Ums” and “ahhs” don’t matter. Dead-end questions are dropped. Questions that raise the interest and emotional tone of the interviewee are expanded upon. I keep mental notes as to what material obtained will be useful in the eventual video and I generally know when I have enough such material. The interviews might be a cumulative 20 minutes or more for each person (if more than one). There might be as much as an hour’s material to distill down to 2 to 4 minutes.

After the interviews, I now know what other footage needs to be shot to cover what the person or persons were talking about and I shoot it.

I then go through all the material and isolate all the “usable bits”.

Next I put it into a logical order (which may not be the order it was obtained in) to give a suitable beginning, middle and end of the video.

Finally I edit it down to the desired length and that gives me the “narrative” for the video…in other words, the SCRIPT.

Part of that process is removing all the “umms” and “ahhs” (as much as possible) and any irrelevant parts. It’s not that saying “umm” or “ahh” is bad. It’s human. But as an example, in one recent 3 minute video I seamlessly cut out 38 “ums”. That wasn’t all of them, but enough to make the person come off very well indeed while still being human.

So finally, when this narrative is all together in a cohesive string, if you were to look at it on the editing timeline, it would look like the person has been “sliced and diced”.

So all those slices and dices are then covered up with the relevant shots of what it is that the person is talking about–which of course forwards the message of what he’s talking about.

The editing job is to keep it on point to forward the marketing message you wanted in the first place.

And you wind up with a piece that is sincere, even passionate, and with no trace of hype.

You wind up with a piece that’s believable.

Like this one:

“How To” Videos

I was recently re-reading my Web Video page on my site (www.video-whisperer.com) and thought I’d better test something I said in there, namely: If you search for “how to bake a brownie”, you will find some videos on that subject on Page 1 of your search–even if they are “home grown” YouTube videos by a baking enthusiast who has no idea his video comes up on page one of a Google search.

So I searched for “how to bake a brownie”. Sure enough, there were two videos that came up right on top.

Then I decided to arbitrarily search for a number of other “how to” topics, and without much thought typed in each of the following:

how to fix a car engine

how to fly a plane

how to wash a car

And, getting a little bit more obscure….

how to choose a clarinet reed

(and something I was interested in…)

how to convert AIFF to MP3.

(I could go on….!)

In each case there were videos that came up on page one of the search.

It wasn’t really a big surprise. And that is part of the power of video content on the internet these days. There practically isn’t anything that you can’t find a step-by-step instructional video on and watch for FREE. And, more importantly, a HUGE number of people use the internet to answer their questions about a near infinite number of topics, and are specifically searching for VIDEOS. It goes without saying that the search engines “know” this too and that’s why videos are offered up high in the results.

The point, however, is that “How To” is the key phrase. When someone wants to know “how to”, they are most likely looking for a VIDEO, and certainly, whether they were looking for video content or not, it’s going to be served up as a top choice!

Now think about how your business can use this.

Let’s say you sell electrical supplies. Or modeling clay. Or Vitamins…. And let’s say you create a YouTube site that has a whole bunch of “How To” videos covering the topics of electrical wiring, sculpting with clay, health regimens, etc. And right across the bottom of the screen of this informative video (one of many) is your website address…

This is not to say that you can’t also have these videos embedded on your site itself.

I don’t think I have to paint this picture any further.

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