Filming the President:
All in a Week’s Work for First Videographer Arun Chaudhary
In sneakers and a loosened tie, videographer Arun Chaudhary runs through the West Wing of the White House behind a video camera, documenting the daily activities of President Obama. As the very first “First Videographer,” Chaudhary’s job is to shoot a weekly documentary called “West Wing Week” which is published every Friday on the whitehouse.gov website. The installments are quickly uploaded to Youtube and generally get 20,000 viewers within a short time–mostly, Chaudhary jokes, by White House staff.
Inspired by old newsreels from the forties, and taking some titling techniques from Rocky and Bullwinkle, the first videographer documents mundane, funny and historic moments in the life of the President for the weekly show. By law, everything he shoots, including all outtakes, is saved for inclusion in the presidential library. His favorite scenes are the awkward moments between heads of state, and the chance encounters in hallways.
When we asked about his equipment, Chaudhary is quick to say that the White House does not specifically endorse any camera equipment. “I use a Sony Ex-3 camera with a Sennheiser 416 attached as a shotgun mic,” he says. The editing is done on his laptop, so the whole production is accomplished with minimal equipment.
A former art student, Chaudhary joined Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007. He shadows the president in the White House, and also accompanies him on about two-thirds of his travel days. Other White House photographers joke that you can’t get a shot of Obama without Arun being in the frame. Although presidential video has been produced since the days of Ronald Reagan, there has never before been an official videographer on staff.
To see episodes of West Wing Week, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2011/03/11/west-wing-week-law-school-15-seconds
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