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Part Time TV Station Tech, should I be paid when I edit from home?

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Imani Wilson
Part Time TV Station Tech, should I be paid when I edit from home?
on Apr 4, 2016 at 2:52:04 pm

good day all (please dont mind my lack of caps as the caps lock on this board is trash)

but i was curious to see if i should ask my employer (a local government township with their own tv station) if i should be paid for editing away from the office? my associate brought up the idea considering i just got chewed for not having backed up footage on our local external hard drives instead of having it on our personal laptops. the issue arises considering they dont want to use cloud storage and truly expect their videos to have at least a 72 hour turn around. we only worked roughly 29.5 hours a week for 4 days and they expect for shooting and editing of multiple segments to be done in these 6-7 hour days. considering may would make a year, they may balk at such a notion now but its becoming more clear that 29 hours in studio is also not including the almost 20 hours editing at home.

if anyone has any industry advice with dealing with a client like this or in a similar capacity id greatly appreciated the advice!


Doctor who is the strangest metaphor about life. Sure we don't technically die and become some new person each day. But every year, something different happens to us, we're the same person but slightly different in time and space.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Part Time TV Station Tech, should I be paid when I edit from home?
on Apr 4, 2016 at 8:57:39 pm

Well, you have three things goin' on here, Mani. The issue of using your own laptops/personal drives can lead to big trouble, if you're doing government work. So you probably got a deserved talking-to on that score.

Second issue: pay for working at home. Look, this can be a complex issue, but regardless of where you do the work, you should be charging for your hours. Time is the central currency we deal with in this business, so don't get "timey-wimey" about unpaid overtime or unpaid work time for work done at home. This could end up as serious tax and legal issues for you and the employers, in the most extreme cases. I get the sense that you kind of drifted into this situation a bit at a time, as it became easier to finish at home whatever wasn't getting done at work. Recent court cases involving cops using office devices to finish up reports from home wound up costing the city governments as unpaid overtime. Get back on the right side of this, however you can. Sit down with the boss and work out the hours and scheduling so you can keep office work on office time, using office gear. It's also unfair to do work on your home system and not charge something for the wear and tear on it. You are better off divorcing personal and office equipment, as much as possible.

If you insist on having the work from home option, consider a setup where you lease your gear to the office as part of your salaried billing, so that in 4 years, they own it, but you operate/access it wherever you need to in the meanwhile. After 4 years, you renew the lease with fresh, faster gear, or sell off the equipment.

Third issue is also involving time. And this one, I think, will help you the most in the long run, Again, I'm only interpreting what I can read in your post, but the way I connect the dots, you're backed up on delivery times because of either long renders or long edits of multi-cam coverage of council meetings or some such. And it's eating up all your storage as well, ergo, you're borrowing drives or wanting to offload to the cloud or whatnot. Please, please, tell me you're not shooting multi-cam and then switching it in post! This kind of job really demands being done in real time, with a live switcher - it not only saves you many hours of time, but many hours worth of drive space and rendering time as well. And time = MONEY. You can find SDI or HDMI basic video switchers as cheap as about $1500, maybe less if you don't mind used gear. If your infrastructure is still standard def, you have even more and cheaper options on used video switchers. I've worked in government video for 30-odd years, I know all about financial restrictions, believe me. You can get them to make the infrastructure investment, if you can demonstrate the savings or cost avoidance benefits.

But you need to make a financial argument that's simple and clear. Here's a rough sketch of one possible method.

If the meetings are three hours long, and you shoot with two cameras, that's six hours' worth of media storage and three hours of final product storage space. If tape-based cameras, that's six hours time, just to ingest the footage into an edit system, then, editing as fast as possible, and I mean, freakishly fast, without a lot of art to it, figure another six hours just to make a three-hour master. Total hours spent that way: 3+6+6=15 hours to get a three-hour master product for air that doesn't look very polished.

Now, if you were able to live-switch the meeting onto one recorder, there is no appreciable edit time, except to add a title sequence on the front and back. Let's be conservative and say that takes you an hour to edit. Three hours to record, plus three more to import the live-switched sub-master, plus one hour edit time, makes for seven hours to get a three-hour master! That's less than half the time compared to the original method. If you bill hourly, that's a 50% cost reduction. If instead of recording to tape, you can record the switcher's live output directly into your edit system, you just saved another three hours!. And you're not losing anything, because you can still be recording iso safety back-ups in the cameras, or to a cheap DVD recorder or data recorder.

Here's another tech setup, common for churches or schools: Cameras feeding DVD recorders instead of using tapes. The recorders cost 100 bucks or so. Blank media is 2 bucks, and you shelve them as permanent archives afterwards - no drive space wasted, and easy to copy with a rapid DVD duplicator. You get 2 to 6 hours recording time per blank DVD. The DVD's are imported into your edit system in faster than real-time, either directly using Adobe Premiere, or using mpeg streamclip to convert the DVDs into pro res files for any other editing system. Ingest will be less than an hour to bring in two, three-hour sources. You could do the same thing in higher def, using BluRay recorders and blur ray media, but that will cost a bit more. But really, you want to get away from fake switching in post altogether. That's the bottleneck in most of these cases I've heard about.

I'm interested to get more details from you though, on the specifics of your tech setup and thew workflow you have today. Hopefully, we can hammer out an affordable, cost and time-efficient flow that works better for you.

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