Company links great masters of music with hi-tech video Conductors use service to analyze their work

May 22, 1992|By Michael R. Driscoll | Michael R. Driscoll,Staff Writer

There may never be a classical music equivalent of MTV, even on public access, but Jerry and Luisa Winters seem to put together the next best thing.

Their company, Musical Pac- Rat Inc., is a videotape service on West Street in Annapolis that brings a touch of the classics to a wide range of video services, from tape duplication to video documentation of musical performances.

So far as the Winterses know, theirs is the only video recording service to combine the great masters of music with the latest in video and computer technology.

"There are plenty of other videographers," said Jerry Winters, 32, from someone who "just goes out with a camcorder and does weddings to Take One, the only other company who compares in size with us. They do a lot of commercials for cable television."

Most of their business is what Luisa Winters, 27, describes as archival or documentary filming, which clients use to analyze their work. She says music students find videotapes a useful training tool.

"They look at their stage manner, or to see if the instrument position is correct. It's useful for people to see where they were musically, in order to know where they are going."

Videos are especially handy for conductors and performers, who mail audition tapes of themselves to various orchestras.

The company, which shares a building with the Annapolitan Shop, is a highly concentrated and sophisticated operation, capable of computer animation, editing and voice-overs. In some cases, the Winterses not only create the visuals, but perform the music tracks themselves.

Luisa Winters said she and her husband try to create more than a simple visual record.

"We try to emulate, with video, what is being said with the music. It's not just set up the camera and let it shoot. If there's a solo, we try to feature that.

The Winterses found their particular niche about two years ago at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, where they were both studying.

Luisa Winters was studying the violin. Originally from the Dominican Republic, at 14 she was the youngest person ever to play with that country's symphony.

Jerry Winters, an Annapolitan and former saxophone player for the U.S. Navy Band in Norfolk, with a background in electronics, was on a video internship in Peabody's arts recording program.

As their relationship grew, so did their recognition of a need they could fill by combining their talents. They honed their video skills informally, until a fellow student asked them if they could tape her degree recital.

"Not only that," replied Jerry Winters, "I can do it in hi-fi stereo. And from there, it just snowballed. Now we are under contract with Peabody to do their degree recitals."

They began working out of their home, but as the demand grew, they found it necessary late last year to expand.

Their musical clients range from the Gettysburg, Columbia and Annapolis symphony orchestras to musicians from such colleges and universities as Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Goucher and Towson. And they've created cable commercials for several businesses, including the Annapolitan Shop and Chris' Charcoal Pit.

One of their most difficult projects was a nine-minute promotional film that, thanks to computer animation, has taken months to complete.

"You can work for hours just to get 30 seconds of usable tape," Luisa said.

Within the next five years, the Winterses hope to build themselves up into what Jerry Winters calls a "medium- to large-size production facility, where clients can come and shoot all types of projects, from car dealers to political spots or larger shows, and afterward take advantage of some of the amenities that Annapolis has to offer, like the boating and the fine restaurants."

Not all the potential client interest has to do with classical music, or even making videos.

"People have thought that we are either a videotape rental company, like movies, or even some type of repair service. They are surprised to find out that we produce videos, and not only that, fine arts videos," Jerry Winters said.

"Videographically speaking, I think we are one of Annapolis' best kept secrets," he lamented.

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