Zimbabwe's Evolution in Video Productions


Video capturing and editing trends, as a wave, have made countless twists and turns since their inception, bringing amazing developments to coast and posing limitless chances of continuity. A century ago, American Engineer Philo Taylor Famsworth devised the television camera, an image dissector, which converted the captured image into an electrical image.

After his landmark invention, began a whole series of developments and improvements that have culminated to the digitalized era of today. Zimbabwe, has not been left behind in the move.

TechnoMag shared an afternoon with a local pioneer in the field of video productions, Willy Memper, the Managing Director of Video Promotions Africa (Pvt) Ltd, who has been in the business since 1974, and his wife and co-director, Gabriele. In case you need clarity, 1974 is the year most Zimbabweans didn’t have the slightest idea what a camera was, let alone know its operations!

By Phinias Shonayi

Mrs Memper
Video Promotions is one nut that has been able to evolve with the world in video and still remain at the top of the industry locally. From VHS, Betamax, U-matic, Low-band, High-band and BT Cam till this digital phase, they’ve surely seen and gone through all the formats!

Since 1982, the company has specialized in:
– TV Productions
– Documentaries and Tourist videos
– Corporate Videos and TV Adverts
– Functions and Conferences, etc
– Training and Educational material

Many big productions with the biggest names in both local and international television and a vast number of clients over the years have helped the company to be the force that has been for so long, while many have fallen short in the same period.

Video Promotions have hosted a Cookery Show that aired on English Sky TV and Africa Magic on the DStv.

Some of the company’s productions we have viewed on Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) include:
– The CBZ A- Academy hosted by Gary Thompson
– Breaking New Ground with Patricia Mabviko
– The Believers’ Broadcast, which came on at 05.30hrs every morning for 2 straight years.

The Patriotic Willy Memper worked at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation for 8years. He held the Head of Production post alongside Honourable Webster Shamu who was the Head of Television at the time. That was when family time was prime time in our homes, when we would laugh, learn and get inspired together, eyes glued to our TV screens, capturing moments and quotes in our minds we couldn’t wait to share with our friends the next morning! Aaah, that was a great life indeed, and that was great broadcasting as well.

But the Journalistic and Media multi-award winner, Willy Memper says, “I have all that stuff in my head, the ideas and skill to turn around local television to what it was and better. I am also open to consultancy” The time spent with him in his studio did nothing to contradict this notion as well, and in my mind-eye I already saw the great TV programs with his signature, shows that the masses of Zimbabwe can once again gladly pay their licenses for.

Video Promotions bought Zimbabwe’s first linear production system in the late 1980s for 17,000 pounds. In those early days, editing was done in analogue format from one machine to another, picture by picture.

“Technology has made things easier (in that anyone with a camera, computer and tutorials can now do it) but not necessarily faster” Willy highlighted.

While editing in as little as ten minutes is now possible, most of today’s “self-made” video producers cannot handle great contracts and struggle to stick to targets. This has affected the big media houses in that the production budgets for tenders have gone extremely low and mediocre products are getting released daily.
However, some of the major clients in local business still return to Video Promotions for reliable services, among them:

– Econet Wireless, Unilever and Zimplats for TV adverts and events
– African Sun, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority for tourism and national wildlife documentaries and shows.
– CocaCola
– Save the Child
– Advertising agencies also partner with them for video.

The company’s equipment has also evolved with the times, from VHS to mini dv tapes and dvd, acquiring the latest digital video and still cameras, tape-to-digital convertors, vision mixers, Macbook Pro machines and a whole lot of other equipment.

For five years now, Video Promotions has helped develop local skill by training University students on attachment in:
– Video filming and editing,
– Sound engineering,
– Audio mastering,
– Post production which definitely is in line with the government’s ZimASSET blueprint.

Willy manages Video Promotions together with his wife, Gabriele, who also handles the Finances and Administration.

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