Anyone can make video film, right? Why do we need professionals?

Anyone can cook, right?

Anyone can cook, right?

I really enjoyed the Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille (2007), which won the year’s best animated feature film Oscar award and deserved it.

Here’s the plot summary from IMDB: Remy is a young rat in the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol is dead. When he makes an unusual alliance with a restaurant’s new garbage boy, the culinary and personal adventures begin despite Remy’s family’s skepticism and the rat-hating world of humans. Read full synopsis on IMDB

The movie opens with a TV show featuring Chef Auguste Gusteau, owner of the best restaurant in Paris, talking about his bestselling cookbook, which proudly bears his mantra “Anyone Can Cook!”

Well, that’s heretical to the fine artistes of gourmet. But it’s revived the age old debate between fully-trained professionals and new-entrant amateurs, and inspired some interesting discussions online. One blogger thought: “Remy the rat is a perfect metaphor for the non-expert Web 2.0 knowledge maker. He has no credentials and must prove himself through his actual knowledge and application of knowledge rather than through credentials.”

He added: “What’s the moral of the story? Even without being an acknowledged expert on a topic, if you work hard to express your ideas in clever ways, you too can be respected for what you know.”

I’ve only just read these views, but they resonate with what I felt when I watched the movie in late 2007. The story certainly reminded me of a heated debate in my own field of moving images: can anybody and everybody make video, now that the tech barriers and costs have come down? If this is the case, what’s the point of having highly trained, better paid professionals who do it for a living?

I shan’t try to resolve that debate here. But here’s an interesting take on the debate from the Onion News Network. They report: YouTube is offering a cash prize to the first user to upload a video with a shred of originality or artistic merit.

8 Responses to “Anyone can make video film, right? Why do we need professionals?”

  1. Saskia Says:

    You might be interested in this:
    “Steal this footage: Steal this film team makes raw footage available for remixing” ( )
    “Steal this Film II Footage” ( )

  2. Thomas Says:

    Hi Nalaka,

    Can anyone make video film? Yes, if their heart is in the right place! Check out this site –

    I hope you find it encouraging!


  3. Nalaka Gunawardene Says:

    Thanks to both Saskia and Thomas for their comments. Let me continue the analogy from Ratatouille.

    As Chef Auguste Gusteau believed, anyone can cook — indeed, everyone should be able to make a basic meal. Most ingredients used for cooking are widely available in supermarkets. Cooking recipes and how-to guides are also easily found, in books, on TV and now, also online.

    But then why do we have gourmet chefs and fancy restaurants where they serve, and why do people – even those who can cook reasonably well – patronise these places? Because there’s a difference in the final output (as Chef Gusteau might say, Vive la Différence!).

    Ditto with making videos. The digital revolution has made it easier for anyone to acquire the skills and tools for creating their own videos, and indeed any modern man or woman should be able to make a reasonably good video. I hope it will soon become as commonplace a skill as using a phone or a bank teller machine. But there is still a place and niche for professionally made video films – the equivalent of gourmet cooking at fancy restaurants! When we recognise there’s a place for skilled amateurs AND super-skilled professionals, both can coexist.

    To take an extreme example, Disney or Pixar won’t be put out of business by thousands of enthusiasts tinkering with animation software in their basements. In fact, the next generation of professional animators may well emerge from such experimentation at home.

  4. Saskia Says:

    mmm I think your right, however I think it essentially boils down to talent and innovation (rather than professional/amateurs). I think in certain areas technology has started to erode the professional/amateur divide, for example in electronic music. Its now possible for amateurs to get light weight software for next to nothing which allows them to produce certain music at a quality on their laptop that is comparable to that achieved by a full on studio a couple of years ago.
    There will always be a place for Pixar or Disney, simply because they can raise the capital needed for bigger projects, but amateurs will certainly give them a run for their money in the future.
    I guess a major point of Ratatouille is that talent and innovation should be given a chance, regardless of where it emerges. The digital revolution (or whatever is going on with YouTube) does a lot to facilitate an environment where talent and innovation is given a chance regardless of such things as qualifications, nationality or income.

  5. Angilee Says:

    This makes me want to see Ratatouille! But my two cents are this: anyone can make a video, but most of them are terrible.
    Particularly at the post-production side (cameras are getting easier to use), it takes skill and artistry to tell a story well in video. And time — a lot more time than most people realize.

  6. Ayesha Says:

    As an Indian woman, I am heir to a vast culinary tradition that feeds more than a billion of us everyday. But how many of us who cook everyday can aspire to the chef grade? Another analogy comes from cricket. We have little boys and girls (and even men who never grew up) playing cricket in all corners of India every day of the year. But only a handful of these make it to state or national level teams. that requires a talent, skill and dedication that ordinary cricket lovers and players don’t have. I think its the same with making videos.

  7. Thomas Says:

    Hi Nalaka,
    Just a note to say that a Chef friend of mine who saw the movie Ratatouille, sees a similarity in Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano is a genius to poetry as Ratatouille is a genius to food. Both characters are a genius in their respective fields, producing excellent works of art behind the scenes whilst others take the credit.

    Perhaps the above analogy could be applied to the genius of the mystery original creator of Ozzy Ozone whilst the UNEP et al take the credit.

    I find it peculiar to say the least that Anne Fenner of the UNEP has not kept her promise to reveal the identity of the true creator of Ozzy Ozone. Surely, there is a simple answer to this simple question. Why do the UNEP not want us to know who is the original creator of Ozzy Ozone?
    Can you think of a good reason?

  8. Nalaka Gunawardene Says:

    Thomas, I admire your dogged quest for this evasive truth! Frankly, I’m unable to explain – or even guess – why it should be so hard for anyone to discern the original creator of an original, innovative piece of work that Ozzy Ozone really is. It sometimes happens in the world of animation that a team of artists works on a single character – as is the case with some of Walt Disney’s iconic ones – but even then, it’s possible to trace back who was involved and pay credit where it is due.

    In this instance, there’s a government involved (Barbados) and an inter-governmental agency (UNEP) that seeks to be the environmental conscience of the world. All I can say is: for the latter to succeed in its mission, it needs to act with a conscience!

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