Profiles: Berkeley Video’s Jon Schainker

February 1, 2017

Jon Schainker’s interest in video production began as a kid when he spent his days meticulously arranging images for stop-motion film animation. That initial interest grew into a passion which has developed into a 30-year career producing everything from documentaries to sports and news. Today, Jon is the Executive Producer and the Director of Photography for Berkeley Video, UC Berkeley’s in-house professional video production.  The staff at Berkeley Video produce a wide range of services for the campus, from webcasting and live performance recording to fundraising and promotional films for our university. From the planning stages until final delivery, they offer a comprehensive plan for whatever needs a department or organization has. In everything they do, Berkeley Video strives for production quality akin to the reputation and brand of the University of California, Berkeley.

As the field has evolved from crude stop motion film to cutting-edge technology like virtual reality and 360º video, Jon has kept his eye on the evolving nature of video production and a society that is becoming more and more accustomed to communicating in visual format. He points out that “we live in an environment that embraces innovation and pedagogical change within a society that primarily digests its information online.” Berkeley Video takes advantage of this by utilizing the newest tools to deliver content in incredible and breakthrough ways.

When an opportunity came up to partner with University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the UC Regents to record University of California (UC) Regents meetings, Jon and the rest of the Berkeley Video staff jumped at the chance. Collaboration is at the heart of Berkeley Video productions and they pride themselves on work that takes on a level of shared ownership and subsequently shared success. For the Regents meetings, Jon is looking forward to bringing the proceedings at the highest level in a digestible way. This includes taking advantage of the functionality that YouTube allows for chaptering and marking to allow audiences to skip to the parts that interest them the most.  Accessibility is at the forefront of Berkeley Video’s productions and in January the first live-caption of a Regents meeting will be tested. A communicator knows they did their job when the message takes advantage of all aspects of the format. As video goes forward, Jon and the Berkeley Video staff are excited to take on the challenge of the Regents meetings as well as any other project that the campus requires. They have become trusted partners for any challenge that arises, whether it is a promotional film for Lawrence Hall of Science or producing last year’s Winter graduation.

The nature of visual content is rapidly changing and in today’s soundbite culture one can wonder how video—particularly longform video—can survive in the “Vine” age. After all, in the span of a century, we’ve gone from huddling around a radio to get our news and weather to simply opening our phone to check social media for the news and weather in any part of the globe. However, as Jon puts it, as visual content has evolved from film to video to later online, the constant has been storytelling and character. Regardless of the technology being applied, we as humans are hardwired to be compelled by a story worth telling. He sees his job as simply turning a lens on that story, which seems to be working. Until humans are no longer drawn to interesting stories, he says, storytellers will find ways to communicate with audiences.

Berkeley Video began producing UC Regents meetings in January 2017.