In the latest installment of the Meet a MaRSian series, Casey interviews Jeff Beardall, Senior Producer with the MaRS Media group.
What do you do at MaRS?
My role here at MaRS is senior producer for MaRS Media, a video production business unit located within MaRS. It includes the MaRS Studio (a 600-square-foot broadcast studio) and editing suites in the back, enabling us to provide video production services to both internal stakeholders and external clients.
Fundamentally, my job is to oversee the creative and technical aspects of what we do here. It could be as simple as “I think blue would work better than orange” or “Oh my goodness this camera needs fixing, let’s find out how to fix it” or “We have clients coming in who have a laundry list of requirements and we have to figure out how to fulfill what they need technically and creatively.” We can do anything from simple event coverage to creating a promotional video, and all points in between.
For instance, a startup may have a great product and realize that they need to market it through video. They’ll come to us and we’ll have a creative consultation meeting. We’ll decide if the fit is good and if the relationship will work, and if we get green-lighted to help them, then we’ll take care of all aspects of the production and filming of the video. We’ll help with the storyboard and scripting, the editing, the final delivery and often the deployment of the video. So we kind of take it from end to end with most of our clients.
One of the other things that I do here, as regular readers of “Meet a MaRSian” will know, is still photography, another growing part of what we do here at MaRS Media.
Aside from your video and photography work at MaRS, you are also a photographer in your life outside of MaRS. Why do you take photos?
I love the technical aspect of photography. I always have. For me, there’s also a big esthetic aspect to it: to present something in a unique way, maybe in a way you haven’t seen before. I realize as I get older—I don’t know how to say this without sounding mawkish—I really want to document my life. I have tens of thousands of photographs. I can look back to photos I took 15 or 20 years ago and remember that photo and the feelings around it and the place where I was in my life, physically, geographically.
From your perspective, what distinguishes good photography from bad photography?
That’s a hard target to shoot. I like photography that has strong composition and technical excellence, but even those can take a back seat to the relevance or importance or decisiveness in the photograph. I think back to the Vietnam War—there was a lot of decisive photography that came from that era. Hubert van Es, who died a few years ago, took a photo of the evacuation of Saigon showing one of the final helicopters leaving and people on a ladder climbing up. Technically it’s not so good, compositionally it’s OK, but the moment that it defines is so incredibly powerful.
What is significant about visual media for the average person?
I think humans crave visual input. You just have to look at a magazine article without photographs, or read only the text. When you put photos in it, the impact, the richness of experience and potentially the retention of the information itself is increased by having this visual content.
There’s a connectedness and power to visuals that I think affects people very strongly, and I try to capture this in my work. Whether through photography or video, either in the MaRS Media studio or outside of MaRS, I always try to imagine what would resonate best with people.