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Re: Large (for us) Production coming up, could use some advice!

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Mark Suszko
Re: Large (for us) Production coming up, could use some advice!
on Mar 25, 2019 at 10:04:27 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Mar 25, 2019 at 10:11:36 pm

You don't detail what kind of shoot this will be: sit-down talk show, full-stage TED talk type thing, a speech, a panel discussion, acted-out skits, dance, whatever. That makes a huge difference, so let us know.

I agree renting the grip truck will solve whatever problems might come up, like, backlighting from big windows, or, a need for follow-spots, putting up trees or overhead pipe grids or trusses, etc. Some grip trucks come with dollies or jibs for maybe an extra charge. Does your show need those? What about power? Cables?

If this is something that needs a quick editing turn-around, you might want to consider renting what's called a "Fly-Away" package: That's a portable modular complete TV system of cameras, live switcher and effects/ graphics, plus recorders and all the hardware to support the shoot, just add director and operators... You roll it in, hook everything up, live-switch to a recorder as it happens, ( you also have iso recordings from the most important angles so you have the raw stuff needed to fix any live mistakes), and then your final editing, if any, is reduced to a few small details. This is where your accounting wiz needs to figure, does the cost of the fly-away package outweigh the speed of deliverables and cost of the extended editing time later, if you instead just shoot everything as iso's and do a fake multicam "live" edit in post? Well, you also have to figure if you have someone on the team who can live-direct... that's a singular skill not everyone is good at.

In terms of overall rent vs. buy policy, my opinion has always been that if you're for sure gonna use it more than 5-10 times, it's cheaper to own it than rent it. In that category I put tripods and pan heads, mics, basic lighting gear; the "evergreen" stuff that gets used on every shoot, and holds its resale value well. I have a light kit that's been in use nearly 30 years: divide it's high initial cost into all that time, and it cost pennies. Cameras come and go but a quality tripod and pan head will outlast them all. Trendy stuff like drones, jibs, sliders - I'd rather just rent those specifically as needed; you don't want them sitting on a shelf 90 percent of the time, just depreciating.

The thing about pro video rentals is, the longer the rental, the cheaper the rates. That empty day in-between the two shoot days is a killer. It depends on the particular rental operation, but if you rent for a week they usually give you at least one of those days free. I don't know if they'll discount you a bit for a three- day rental, versus the costs of two, single-day rentals. It's worth it to ask.

If you have a lot of uncertainty about specific models and brands and types, you're doing something new and untried, something like a pilot for a show that might not continue after one or two episodes, and don't have a definitive long-term workflow figured out, then rentals or leases are better than owning stuff that may turn out to be unsuitable, or rapidly obsolete. Switch to a lease, or own it outright, once you've had some experience and really know what you want and how long you'll be using it. Assume the electronic stuff depreciates over 4 years and will need to be replaced at that point. That's why I'm big on renting or leasing the cameras, unless they literally go out working and paying for themselves every day, every week. You can always have the latest and greatest camera when it's a rental. The trade-off is a lack of spontaneity because you have to book ahead. Some would say that's just being disciplined, and that having the camera on-hand 24/7 to be "spontaneous" doesn't pay in the long run. That's a pretty subjective thing, but I personally don't mind having to plan things out in advance a bit. It depends if you clients are the kind that want you ready to go on 30 minutes' notice, or are they more like; "how does June look for you?"

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