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Thinking of investing in kit and joining you - should I?

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Nick Perry
Thinking of investing in kit and joining you - should I?
on Jun 18, 2012 at 8:52:57 pm

Hi All – I’d like a bit of advice please. I work in the corporate video/live events industry (in London, UK). I started off pretty much being a one man band in the past going out and doing camera/lighting/audio and then editing corporate/low budget stuff by myself. Lately I moved more into editing and creating graphics (after effects etc) and finished up doing an MA in editing (Film/TV) last year. I’ve also got bags of experience crewing (camera/vt/powerpoint/keynote operator) on site at awards and conferences.

Most of the low budget stuff I am given to edit has dire sound. Most of the stuff I was getting on the MA had such bad sound to the point that I was fed up as an editor trying to “fix” something that should have been done properly in the first place. In the end I ended up insisting that I went on location and recorded the audio myself. I got myself a decent Marantz (PMD661) recorder (the mixers/recorders from university were a little abused shall we say) but stayed with the uni provided microphone and boom. I think the stuff I recorded was very good (it was all usable/didn’t distort/didn’t have the familiar hum/buzz I was getting so used to!) but more to the point I actually enjoyed being on sound.

I’ve a keen interest in all aspects of tv/film but think news/current affairs is probably closest to what i already have experience in. I’ve got about £6k I could spare and think that’s enough to invest in a basic but decent/professional "run&gun" kit (proper mixer/hd recorder – a couple of decent shotguns and lavs). I’d have no problem wiring/operating the kit and know what professional should sound like! Happy to hire before I buy as well.

I appreciate I’m green as anything and that there is a big learning curve, but I’m willing to put in the hours/get some student or low budget work to start with. I’ve chatted with two professional location sound recordists (just in passing) and have an acquaintance that works in tv news as a producer and they all seem to sing from the same hymn sheet, (backed up my experience to date), which is that there are some very decent location sound recordists out there, but when compared to camera ops/dop’s etc, there is a bit of a shortage. That quite a lot are on set as sound recordists/boom operators because the want to be on the camera but can’t get on it. So I guess their heart isn’t really in it?

Does this match up to anyone else’s experience? Is having decent kit/attitude, a little experience but acknowledgement that I’ve lots to learn enough, or will I be annoying some other editor somewhere else and fail to ever get rebooked? Is £350 day rate inc kit reasonable? Is there actually any work out there? Thanks in advance.

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Brian Reynolds
Re: Thinking of investing in kit and joining you - should I?
on Jun 19, 2012 at 9:16:16 am

A basic sort of setup I would regard as a 3-4 channel mixer, a couple of radio mics, short shot gun mic with wind protection, a boom pole and break away mixer to camera cable.

I have a similar setup (without going into brands) it does nicely for most jobs.

As for what to charge... work out a per hr rate x 10hr day + hire of a kit (even if you own it) + consumables / travel = charge rate.
It's hard to give exact figures due to world wide wage variations, but it will give you a guide.

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