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Jeffrey Gould
Potential New Client...
on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:33:51 am

Hi, I had an inquiry from a potential new client...but I'm thinking the job might be out of my league. The client wants an hour exercise video for DVD distribution and sent me a detailed info sheet with what she wanted including the words "Lighting and Camera Angles are critical". Even though I've been in business over 16 years and have produced various successful projects, I'm wondering if I should bring in some outside talent.

I was considering hiring a Jib Operator and a Lighting Director, with me directing and possibly a 2nd locked down camera. Even though I'm very adept with lighting, I'm not sure I have enough equipment to light up a gym correctly. My questions are: Do I tell the client that I'm outsourcing these services? Do I include their fees into my proposal? and lastly: am I doing the client a disservice by not directing them to a larger studio that can handle all of their needs without outsourcing?

Of course, they could go with someone else, but in case they sign with me, I was looking for any insight on how to best handle this. I meet with them this week. Thanks



Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 11, 2008 at 3:29:58 pm

Not at all, it is smart business to bring in whatever extra gear and help each job requires, and bill for it. While you should not advertise to the client which parts are all yours, neither should you be ashamed to bring to the job all the talents and appropriate gear it requires, this is the job of a good producer.

You probaly don't keep a full-time makeup artist on your payroll either, but you would not be ashamed to bring in a freelance makeup artist to make the exercise demonstrator look good, so why be ashamed of adding any other contractual staff?


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 11, 2008 at 3:50:15 pm

As I was typing this last night, I said to myself "I hope Mark replies". Thank you Mark. I guess after being a one man band for so many years, it's a little intimidating to bring "outsiders" in: will they make a good impression on client?, will they be easy to work with or be overly headstrong with their ideas? Up to this point, I have been doing my own make up...that is just to remove shine.

I've always believed in hiring people who have stronger talents in certain areas...because in the end, it just makes you look better. I do this all the time with graphics and 3D animations, but haven't so far with production.

I have two tech questions regarding this potential project:

1) I have a high end DVCAM WSL 450 camera, is DVCAM quality suitable for marketing a DVD? and 2) I noticed on exercise informercials that some use a wireless Lav, but most must use a shotgun as there is no sign of a mic under their tight outfits. Can you get quality sound with the mic being so far away from the Talent? Since this is an exercise video, the host will be constantly moving, which yields the possibility of the mic rubbing on her clothes. Thanks for any input and thank you for your first reply.



Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 11, 2008 at 4:20:37 pm

The mic question is an interesting one. For aesthetic reasons as well as practical ones, a wireless may not work here if there is a lot of contorting or jarring movement, for reasons you stated. A shotgun brings it's own issues: boom shadow in your "vital" lighting comes to mind. But it will work great as long as a competent person is pointing it and you're not just hanging it off the camera.

Maybe the best compromise is a guy with a pistol grip shotgun feeding your camera via wireless, so you can move independently. He might as well feed a second recorder of some type, hanging off his own body, as a backup to the wireless.


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 12, 2008 at 1:32:21 am

We did an aerobics video some years ago and its funny to see the reviews on the web! Some here: http://www.videofitness.com/reviews/pappas-is.php Poor production value, poor audio, and the list went on and on. Although we got hammered, she auditioned for the Buns Of Steel series! Doh! She said the only difference was that we had about 50 fewer on the crew, I was organized and methodical and we were much more enjoyable to work with. At least I have that. My first suggestion is to make sure you want to work with them first.

We shot it with 2 sony 637s lots of lites, a fairly good wireless, a jib... took 15 hours start to finish in a dance studio (no real set). We were production, she was responsible for everything else. Shot the easy stuff (ie least amount of sweat) first and worked up to the intense stuff last. First mistake was she brought audio on cassette not CD - beware synching issues later. Wouldn't spring for the good headset wireless specifically for this purpose, wouldn't do it at night so we had strange lighting issues from the many windows... the list goes on - things we warned her about and didn't have control over. All in all it was pretty simple I thought, 1 day shoot, 2 person crew; 1 day post (A/B roll in early 90s) for about $4,000 for the 60-minute video. I'd charge triple that now and produce the same thing. Biggest change is I would take TOTAL CONTROL OF ALL ASPECTS or I'd walk away.

They may be asking for "critical angles" etc, but they may not have a clue and that's just what someone else suggested.

There's about 50 trillion workout videos available and marketing one is tougher now than ever. I don't know the top new names, but we competed with the Denise Austin and Jane Fonda types - TOUGH! It was sold in 3 nationally-distributed catalogs. Your budget will be the lowest cost item. Apparantly the Sony Buns of Steel had a budget of $500,000 US. I guess I bid a little light.

So what does all this mean... have your client show you the exact video they want you to produce. Trust me, they have one in mind and can show this to you. You're not going to re-invent the wheel, just put your client in the setting they show you. Once you have this, you can easily develop a budget.

I sure hope I didn't come off cynical. This was just my experience, and it was a really great one. Oh, and I don't suggest working for a percentage of sales.

Peace,
Steve

checkout some mics here http://www.fitnessav.ca/SearchResults.asp?Cat=5&Click=2&gclid=CMPZ6cvFvZECF...


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 12, 2008 at 2:22:59 am

Cynical...no!, incredible info...yes! There are many lessons in your post. I did see the review site last night. I agree with you about wanting to work with the client. I'd rather walk away, then walk into a nightmare. I've fired a few clients, one recently as last year and he begged me to stay on...from there on, I was in control.

I was actually hoping it could be shot MOS, at least no music, and add the music later. It has to be difficult to balance the music with the talent. Not sure what the instructor/host has in mind...hope to meet her this week.

Are those cameras DVCAM or Beta? Is DVCAM acceptable? Since I only own one, I would have to rent another. Did you constantly move the jib and have the other camera on a tripod or handheld? This client says "only 1 camera is needed", but I disagree if only for insurance. This is going to be done in a Gym, hope they have high ceilings.

Thank you for the priceless info and the links.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 12, 2008 at 3:27:22 am

[Jeffrey Gould] "I was actually hoping it could be shot MOS, at least no music, and add the music later. It has to be difficult to balance the music with the talent"

We had the music playing just loud enough for them to do the routines, then added it in later in post.

[Jeffrey Gould] "Are those cameras DVCAM or Beta? Is DVCAM acceptable?"

We shot on BetaSP, but with good lighting, I think the DVCam would be acceptable. Whatever you shoot, have a GOOD monitor to a/b your cameras and make sure you set them up the same.

[Jeffrey Gould] "Since I only own one, I would have to rent another."

I know we all like to make money with what we own, but don't hesitate to rent 2 cams as the project requires and budget for it.


[Jeffrey Gould] "Did you constantly move the jib and have the other camera on a tripod or handheld?"

The jib was small thing on a Panther dolly, maybe 8 feet off the floor tops. I ran that one since I knew the shots I could get. Nowhere close to flying over the whole set. This shot was only cut to when she was doing one-on-one commenting. The 2nd guy had a tripod-mounted front on shot that rarely panned to make sure instructor never went out of frame.

Feed the mic receiver into a mixer with a compressor, also run a shotgun for any comments made by the others (they always cheesiliy chime in "ooooh, feel the burn!" or "looking good Mary, feelin' good Marcia!") then run the outputs split to each camera so each has heaset mic on ch 1, shot on ch 2. You'll need a distribution amp for that.

Go with your instinct. One cam probably won't do what she wants and I don't know how you'd possibly shoot film-style with one camera - again ask to see a similar DVD of what she has in mind and show her how 2 or more cameras are used.

Make sure the lights in the gym don't buzz or flicker, you may want to turn them off. Audio could be a nighmare even with a close-up mic, plan to hang packing blankets everywhere out of site to soak up reflections.

Steve


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Michael Hancock
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 12, 2008 at 3:47:10 pm

[Jeffrey Gould] "I was considering hiring a Jib Operator and a Lighting Director, with me directing and possibly a 2nd locked down camera. Even though I'm very adept with lighting, I'm not sure I have enough equipment to light up a gym correctly. My questions are: Do I tell the client that I'm outsourcing these services? Do I include their fees into my proposal? and lastly: am I doing the client a disservice by not directing them to a larger studio that can handle all of their needs without outsourcing?"

Absolutely hire anyone who will make this project as good as the budget allows. We have our own lighting kit for small projects, but when we're doing bigger projects we always rent more lights, and a specialist to set them. Same this with a Jib--rent the jib and the operator. It's all built into the budget, and we explain to the client that we're hiring the best in town to assist with the project so we can stay focused on getting the right shots and telling the best story possible. So far, no one has complained or had a problem with it.

Regarding directing them to a larger studio--I wouldn't, unless you're so overwhelmed with work you just can't take the job, or you feel the project really is out of your skillset. After all, the larger studio may still rent/hire specialists for the same shoot, so just hire the larger studio to help instead of giving them all the business.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

Michael.



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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 12, 2008 at 3:54:03 pm

Well put, great advice...thank you Michael. I think I tend to doubt my abilities, then I see what others have done and I realize I could blow it away. It's just that some of the exercise infomercials on TV are done really well. Great sets, great lighting, great moving shots and great audio, so it's a bit intimidating. I agree...hire the best to support my services. I already went online and found LD's and Jib Operators.

I'm going to follow Steve's advice and try to get a feel from the client as to their personalities, needs and nightmare factor :-). In case anyone wants to check out my work, here's the link: http://www.actionmedia.tv go to projects page. Thanks for the great replies, I'll keep you posted.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mike Cohen
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 13, 2008 at 12:19:00 am

I would reinterate what the others have said - know what you are getting into, and use whatever talent you need.

If you will handle post, then act as producer and budget for 2 matching cameras with operators, and audio person, a lighting person (could be part of a for hire 2 camera crew). Check out the location with the client - possibly before you even bid - make sure the client understands what they are getting into.

You don't want it to look like a video shot in a high school gym, basketball hoops, bleachers and lunch tables in the background.

You might build into your proposal a rehearsal, where the talent goes through their routine, and you shoot this with 1 camera, so you can try out different angles, and then review the tape with the client. Planning, planning, planning.

Let us know how it goes.

Mike Cohen




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Steve Kownacki
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 13, 2008 at 12:42:23 pm

[Mike Cohen] "You might build into your proposal a rehearsal, where the talent goes through their routine, and you shoot this with 1 camera, so you can try out different angles, and then review the tape with the client. Planning, planning, planning."

ooooo! Excellent suggestion! I do remember now going and watching a couple of classes to see how she interacted and what the students did. I'm doing this tomorrow in prep for a demonstration video for a furniture refinisher; if nothing else, will let the client know first hand whether they can perform on camera or not. Helps immensly in establishing a budget and answers their most famous question "It's only a 30-minute video, how long could it possilbly take? An hour?"

Don't forget to get location rights and releases and model releases; you may also need to pay for additional security/school babysitter when you are there too. Cameras in schools are crazy anymore - don't assume your client is handling any logistics, spell it out and bill for it.

Cheers,
Steve


Steve

Being rich has nothing to do with wealth.


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 13, 2008 at 2:37:30 pm

Great suggestion about rehearsal...you're right, things are never what the client presents. I'm not sure where everyone got the idea that I'd be shooting in a school gymnasium, it will be shot at one of those "trendy gyms" in a yuppy neighborhood, so it probably already has the "look". I'm definitely more comfortable after the input here and hopefully it helped others as well. Thank you.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mike Cohen
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 13, 2008 at 4:52:55 pm

I once did this with a new surgical procedure. The hernia mesh is inserted through a small incision and the surgeon's finger spreads out the mesh by touch. Impossible to shoot.
We did a dry run with a local surgeon, to figure out the best angle and the use of a laparoscope to get the inside shots, before flying out to Seattle to shoot with the inventor of the product.
Time well spent, and good customer service. If it is a good contract, you may add the camera rehearsal as a value added service, since it benefits you as much as the client.

Mike



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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 13, 2008 at 6:09:54 pm

I like the value added element of the rehearsal...win/win. Medical videos are my forte, I could do them 7 days a week. It's interesting and you get to learn at the same time. Up until now, I have been digital photography as my value added/perk for new clients. I take a digital still of whatever video scenario we are capturing at high res for print work/ads/website.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mike Cohen
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 13, 2008 at 6:28:02 pm

Jeff

I watched the videos on your website. This exercise video seems right up your alley. I wouldn't worry if it looks good or not, you know what you're doing. Those slight jib/dolly moves are a nice touch in the other videos and the lighting is right.

Mike




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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 13, 2008 at 6:45:57 pm

Thanks Mike, I appreciate the comments. Even though we're a 1.5 man production company(part time production assistant), we try to add production value with lighting/Gels and camera movement using a jib or dolly tracks. I find that the slightest movement, separates you from the amateurs, so does a hairlight for that matter. A great way to learn is to watch TV and see how the big guys do it, shows like Dateline have great lighting for interviews.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Gav Bott
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 14, 2008 at 1:01:16 am


I think that you need to remember how much knowledge you have about production - and then do the usual comparision of what you could do Vs what the budget will stand.

You know a whole tonne of stuff more than the client does about the production and shoot process.

The client saying "great camera angles and lighting" means almost nothing apart from "I want to look good". So you work out how good you can make them look for the money available, booking a sesion to watch some of their favorite work-out vids might be a very handy way to get an angle on what they actually think is "good".

As for hiring in freelancers - of course, do it, and you run the show - if the budget will hadle it then go Prod / Dir and let others cam op while you sit with the monitor checking the shots and directing the show.



The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 14, 2008 at 1:50:10 am

Thanks Gav...good points. A peer once told me "you can't be cameraman and a director, they both will suffer. In most cases I can pull it off, but I think this is a case where I need to hire a cameraman. This way I can standback and see the whole "picture", which would probably give me a jump on the editing. Usually when I start a video, it's already done in my head, I'm sure everyone who posted here feels the same way or has the same vision.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mike Cohen
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:09:25 pm

one other thing to keep in the back of your mind.

How can I say this in a politically correct way...when shooting people wearing leotards or tightly fitting athletic wear, with hot lights going for hours, watch your shots to make sure you are not revealing any unflattering anatomical details which may be the result of sweating. Was that subtle enough?!

Mike



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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:13:40 pm

Subtle, informative...and the laugh I needed. Thanks

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:19:29 pm

Just heard from "potential new client", have an appointment to meet them next Thursday. She wants a quote without me seeing the room, it's in a pilates studio. 24ft X 24ft with mirrors on left and right walls and small windows in the back which I would have to gel with ND. I told her that I'm selective about which clients I choose to work with. Didn't want her to think she had the upper hand, but it's true, I won't work with someone who doesn't respect me as a professional and doesn't communicate I'll keep you posted.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:42:44 pm

Skip the ND, block it and any other windows completely. Can't see the room before the bid? Add a contingency for that - explain that you have requirements for electrical, ceiling height, ventillation, ambient internal and external noise, equipment staging, food/craft (I NEVER work without food), etc. And that the facility will essentially be shut down while you are doing this, so there's lost revenue for somebody.
Steve


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:49:58 pm

You're good! I told her that I really needed to see the room first. I have a feeling that she didn't secure it yet and doesn't want to bring me in. She seems a little guarded. I'm printing out your post, so I can go over it when we meet. Thanks Steve.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:56:03 pm

That's what we're here for!

Steve


Steve

Being rich has nothing to do with wealth.


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 16, 2008 at 3:38:06 pm

A lot of info has been covered here, but I'm still unsure about the quality of DVCAM for a DVD that is going to be marketed. My camera is just about the best DVCAM out there...just wonder if it's not enough. Anyone have experience with this? Thanks

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 16, 2008 at 6:24:59 pm

Weeeellll.... Judging from your posts, you plan on doing this right. So while I feel DVCam may be adequate, you'd still need to rent another one. So with all the budget items we've covered here, you might as well rent 2 great cameras as the rest of the process of crew, lighting, audio, directing, staging, post, etc will remain unchanged. I'd still use older broadcast BetaSP (not the DXC stuff) over DVCam (they can be rented cheap around my area) or move to HDV for acquisition and do your final downconvert to SD when you edits done. I'm still a fan of a full-size camera and good glass when you have to move the camera, maybe its just me, but I get smoother results.

I'd say you have to look at the competition, if the production value of her DIRECT competitors can be matched with DVC then do it, but if for just a few bucks more (camera rentals) you can surpass expectations, then she sells more and you are a hero.

Don't forget to let here know that the production cost is a small part of the whole project - hey, maybe you should ask to see her business plan! - there will still be cost for package design, marketing, printing, duping, marketing, and did I mention marketing? Sure the 10 she sells to her friends & family will give her a warm fuzzy but what about the other 2,000 or so @ $20 she needs to sell to break even.

Ask her to send you web links for the videos she likes that have rave reviews. You can do some research and find out some estimated budgets on them. Like I mentioned earlier, we did it on the cheap for a now price of about $15,000 - this got her an interview where Sony put $500,000 into the Buns Of Steel video.

Anything worth having requires hard effort - she needs to understand that. Oh, and money.

As I recall she had sponsors too, but just for clothing the steps and something else. Cheap stuff, no cash. Anymore, just like you picking clients, sponsors only want to be associated with winners.

And that's my thoughts for the day, time to walk the dog.




Steve

Being rich has nothing to do with wealth.


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George Socka
Re: Potential New Client...
on Feb 18, 2008 at 9:06:28 pm

After it is compresssed to DVD at say 5 mbps, the difference between DVcam at 25 mbps and whatever you are going to capture BetaSP into will be irrelevant.

Now a $750 DV camera will likely have poorer glass than even a UVW100, but that is a given anyway.

And you know that there is no difference between DV and DVcam except for Sony marketing speak.

George Socka
BeachDigital
http://www.beachdigital.com


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