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jim brodie
Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 4, 2010 at 12:29:02 am

Hi folks,

I was asked this week for a quote on a long (in duration) project and was wondering what would be a reasonable amount of time required for this. The talk would be recorded on a single camera and edited into six 1.5 hour messages with no cutaways.

The material would be authored to six Standard DVD disks with 5 section chapters for each. It seems fairly straightforward. If we were to add an additional camera on the shoot I might add another 2 days of editing.

Here is the time I'm thinking it may take:

2.5 days shooting in XDCam HD (prep and production)
5 days of editing (probably 3 days of loading and rendering alone)
4 days to author and burn the six disks & QC.

Do these assumptions seem reasonable? I welcome your thoughts.

Cheers,

Jim


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Noah Kadner
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 4, 2010 at 1:28:54 am

With zero input from the client and assuming some assistant level help along the way- sure. I'd maybe pad the post time more if you see it going otherwise.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Lawrence Serven
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:29:37 pm

How is your project working out? Did you win the work?


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jim brodie
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 4, 2010 at 5:19:57 pm

Hi Lawrence,

No I haven't sent the bid in yet. I was waiting to get a little feedback from peers like yourself. I've been in business for many years but have never bid on this kind of thing before. I just wanted to make sure I'm not making any wrong assumptions on how long this would take to do. I can't afford to underestimate on this one.

Cheers,

Jim



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Nick Griffin
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 4, 2010 at 6:38:14 pm

Jim-

First of all, no cutaways for "six 1.5 hour shows"??? Has this concept been drawn up by a client with no TV or video experience whatsoever or someone who's ego is so large that they assume just looking at them for NINE HOURS would be tolerable for any audience not already secured by handcuffs and leg-irons? I've been approached before on something like this and it was by an "educator" who quickly lost interest when an actual price was attached to carrying out his idea. Perhaps this is a similar situation.

Assuming this is a one camera show, you would have to shoot it multiple times from different angles to give you decent edit points. This would also require a fair amount of consistency from take to take to keep from backing you into a corner with several un-makeable edits. Unless you're working with a real pro, achieving consistency and continuity requires another crew member whose primary job is watching the little details and making sure that the same things are said take to take. Two and a half days may be enough for all of this if you are very lucky and very efficient. But I wouldn't commit to that schedule until you saw how long the first one or two took.

If you are still editing in Media 100 and were able to use a second camera, the multi-clip functionality could speed things up considerably, but you are likely to still need a few pick-up shots apart from the A & B camera just to make things look decent.

The edit time seems reasonable, again if you are very efficient and if the material is well organized and delivered cleanly. If any of these three are not optimal you're going to need more edit time.

The DVD authoring seems OK, assuming you're doing fairly straightforward stuff.

Any way you can play this safe and have your prospective client fund a "pilot" so both of you can get a true feel for what this will look like and how long it will realistically take?

My two cents: if you feel at risk of under-bidding this, don't. It's better to not have this job and be available for something with easier/better specs.


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Noah Kadner
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 5, 2010 at 12:34:17 am

Yeah I mean- is this a play? Can the client do 1.5 hours at a single take with no mistakes? If not, you'll need a second camera at least to cover over that. Or would you cut to his powerpoint then?

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Martin Curtis
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 5, 2010 at 6:42:13 am

You've allowed 2.5 days for shooting. Is the guy going to talk to the camera for 5 hours on each day?

Also, is there a need to shoot in HD? It's going down to SD and if it's just a talking head then I'm not sure if you'll see a difference in quality shooting in SD.

Finally, if it was me, I'd find a way to just capture straight to a computer or even DVD, as well as having tape. That will cut down on capture time.

[nick griffin] "Has this concept been drawn up by a client with no TV or video experience whatsoever or someone who's ego is so large that they assume just looking at them for NINE HOURS would be tolerable for any audience not already secured by handcuffs and leg-irons?"
What he said...

Talking for 10 hours? That could be delivered on audio tape. This is the kind of thing I talk people out of all the time (hey, I'm government...). Lord of the Rings didn't go that long.


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Cory Petkovsek
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 5, 2010 at 12:13:54 pm

I think your time frame is reasonable. However since you haven't bid a project like this before, I assume you haven't done a project like this before. In which case adding 30% for poor estimation is always a good bet.

Cutaways aren't necessary for a lecture DVD. You're not making TV shows. If these are seminar recordings where the guy is speaking on stage maybe drawing or showing visuals of what he is saying the DVD viewer will get the same experience as an audience member.

Cory

--
Cory Petkovsek
Corporate Video


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Nick Griffin
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 5, 2010 at 4:27:30 pm

[Cory Petkovsek] "the DVD viewer will get the same experience as an audience member."

Respectfully, Cory, I disagree. An in-person lecturer has the benefit of eye contact and, as such more of a connection to the recipient. A lecturer via video does not. As corporate producers even though we are not making "entertainment," we should be making content which retains viewers, keeps them awake and succeeds at relaying information. A single camera view for 90 continuous minutes -- especially in this age of shortening attention spans -- is far less likely to accomplish these objectives. (IMHO.)


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Martin Curtis
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 6, 2010 at 8:07:27 am

My (limited) experience is that live presentations are quite padded, either intentionally (because someone has X amount of time to fill) or unintentionally (with ummms, ahhhs or badly prepared material). A live audience will tolerate this because they can look around, zone in and out etc. Sometimes people are there because they have to be. At many presentations, it's what happens after that's important - meeting and greeting, schmoozing and lunching. Someone watching a padded presentation on DVD will simply switch it off. It has to be focussed and on message; every word must be chosen for the information it will convey. This does vary with the motivation of the person watching the material.

One way we keep people watching is to have a nice location, cutaways, pics, videos, dot points. The ultimate (for us) is to hire an actor to present the thing because gawdnose, most doctors have trouble stringing a sentence together that anyone else not in the club can understand.


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jim brodie
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 6, 2010 at 12:27:03 pm

Hi folks,

Thank you for all your valuable advice and insight! Today, I submitted three budgets with detailed assumptions. I will likely discuss the options with my client today and report back to our group the results. Rather than lose a job these days I sometimes offer an option a, b or c budgets. Nonetheless, my clients are fully briefed on what to expect for their money; I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by low balling or giving them a package price just to get the job. I gave up on that 20 years ago.

Cheers,

Jim



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Noah Kadner
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 6, 2010 at 4:22:42 pm

Does the client ever pick the "A" quote? Assuming that's the most expensive of course...

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 6, 2010 at 4:42:54 pm

[Noah Kadner] "Does the client ever pick the "A" quote?"

Noah, you know better. The vast majority pick the "C" quote and then expect the features they clearly understood when you were discussing the features contained in the "A" quote. That's when the real selling begins.


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jim brodie
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 6, 2010 at 5:17:02 pm

Its all a question of the relationship of trust you have with your client. Its an opportunity to determine if this is a relationship you want to develop or let fall by the wayside. I have always kept my budgets transparent and warned client's up front that if the project goes over the contracted length or more days are required than originally budgeted than they will be billed extra. I deal with them in a way I would like to be dealt with and it has worked.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 6, 2010 at 5:25:08 pm

Boy, you nailed that one Nick. You present them the three bears options and they always wind up wanting to pay the price of the cheapest option while retaining the features of the grandest one.

I've done long boring lectures plenty of times, single cam and 2-cam and fake 2-cam. Here are my opinions.

1 Content and audience: if the source of the content is compelling enough, the production values can be poor and it will still be eaten up by the audience. I could watch Jessica Alba read the phone book for hours,(even silently) for example. More practically, I would sit in rapt attention to Walter Murch standing at a podium for three hours, even with a bad shot, as long as I could hear him clearly. But if you want my attention for 1.5 hours of information about dung beetles, for example, or something less interesting like a deep dive into heavy math, you've lost me, even if you did shoot it in 3-d with Jim Cameron directing it. So, the very first question is not *can* we do this, but *should* we do this? Is there a real audience for this information in this format? Is there a better way to communicate this information to the intended audience?


2 Formatting: My hell is people that stand in front of a camera reading off powerpoint slides to an audience that can read just fine by themselves, and calling it a "video". That's not a video. That is radio, with pictures. What I'm getting at is, maybe this guy is a good lecturer, maybe not. The format of a presentation given in an auditorium is not necesarily or even usually the best format in which to present something for TV viewing. The audience viewing process, expectations and experience is very different in those two environments, and you're not leveraging the full power of your medium if you don't take that into consideration. Single-camera for 90 minutes without a cutaway is hard to watch under any circumstances, generally. Depends on the lecturer, content, and the talent, obviously, but man, you are not making it easy on yourself here.


Generaly, when clients ask me to tape an existing presentation, I advise they re-write it specifically for video, to shorten it, to add visuals and effects that help make the points, reduce redundancies, make the data more easily navigable, to tighten things up generally. I find most powerpoint-based lectures that run an hour live can really be re-written and boiled down to 20 minutes on tape, if you know what you're doing.

Now, they don't always take my advice for one reason or another, one good reason being that re-writing the presentation to customize it takes time they don't have, and that it is WORK, the kind of work they are not usually experienced in, and having me do that work for them costs money they don't have. They often just hope for the best and have me do it the way they are already comfortable with it. If I'm lucky, I can tighten it up a bit in the edit afterwards, jazz it up with graphics and effects and etc as appropriate, but this is far from the optimal way of approaching such projects.


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jim brodie
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 6, 2010 at 5:11:45 pm

Yes, they do, many times.



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Bill Davis
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 7, 2010 at 10:20:47 pm

Much wisdom in this thread.

During the years I was the main videographer for the National Speakers Association, I did a LOT of convention work like this.

I'll just say a couple of things.

This business is VERY tricky. Not the kind of tricky that involves dishonesty - but rather tricky because there are so many competing levels of justification for making this kind of video in the first place.

Most often, these programs are a mixture of pure profit motive and ego stroking. The conference management wants to take advantage of extending profit on their event. They know that a certain number of the presenters will create a "Buzz" and that attendees will want to take home a copy. Some presentations will also "bomb" and FAIL to attract the same interest. (There's even a small market in people who sign up for the conference - go to VEGAS instead (or the like) and wish to get the conference tapes so that they can CLAIM that they were in attendance!)

That puts pressure on the producer to get the tapes out FAST. As time goes by and the power of the presentations fade into memory - so does demand for the discs/tapes/whatever.

As to production, the EASIEST thing to promise is simply "wall to wall" coverage with no editing. And yes, that's generally a poor product. (Except for the Vegas runners who don't really care - they'll just listen to the soundtrack while they drive to work and fast forward if they hit a patch where the audience gets lost in 10 minutes of passing out notes or doing an activity.)

To really edit a TIGHT program takes a LOT of work. I'd estimate that a 1.5 hour program will take at LEAST 6-8 hours to processs properly. 1.5 digitation, 2-3 hours stop and go editing. 1.5 encode. 1.5 master, label, etc. Equipment can compress time on many of those steps, but often less than you think. Some steps (rendering) can be done overnight, but others require you to BE THERE to finish a process or actively engage the next process.

I think your time estimates are pretty short of reality. But that's a guess. What I CAN tell you is that the client will have NO IDEA of the time it takes you. They will always think that 1.5 hours of tape means it will take 1/5 hours to record and TEN minutes for everything in POST. (Really, that's what they'll think. The typical client has NO IDEA WHATSOEVER of the process - and if you asked them to stay and watch the first step, they'll IMMEDIATELY come up with an excuse to leave the edit suite after no more than 2 hours with their eyes glazed over and complaining of imaginary meetings with people so high up in the company that they simply can't be ignored.)

Your only choice here, is A) how much do you need the work. B) how much pain can you tolerate. And C) How much do you like and/or respect the clients.

Nobody I've EVER met that's done this type of work wishes they could do MORE of it. It's usually the kind of work you do when you're younger and move on from. But perhaps that's just me.

YMMV.



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Nick Griffin
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 7, 2010 at 10:48:31 pm

[Bill Davis] "Nobody I've EVER met that's done this type of work wishes they could do MORE of it. It's usually the kind of work you do when you're younger and move on from. But perhaps that's just me."


No, Bill. It's not just you. You have hit the nail on the head with this post, especially this last paragraph.


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Cory Petkovsek
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 8, 2010 at 10:30:55 am

[Nick Griffin] "Respectfully, Cory, I disagree. An in-person lecturer has the benefit of eye contact and, as such more of a connection to the recipient. A lecturer via video does not. As corporate producers even though we are not making "entertainment," we should be making content which retains viewers, keeps them awake and succeeds at relaying information. A single camera view for 90 continuous minutes -- especially in this age of shortening attention spans -- is far less likely to accomplish these objectives. (IMHO.)"

Obviously Nick. My point as stated is that the cutaways are not necessary. You are free to chose to only work with clients who want lecture DVDs produced with them in. For some clients production value is not relevant, such things are a luxury, and the end user will purchase the DVDs for the value of the content regardless of if the production value is high class or cell phone.

I'm positive you already know this so I don't know why you would even bring up my point to nitpick it. The op specifically stated "no cutaways" in bold and underline.

You said, "we should be making content which retains viewers, keeps them awake and succeeds at relaying information" and for the most part I agree. However I'm in business first and a content creator second. Necessities (and you mentioned objectives) are therefore defined by my client and budget, not by my philosophy.

Cory

--
Cory Petkovsek
Corporate Video


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Nick Griffin
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 8, 2010 at 4:29:59 pm

[Cory Petkovsek] " Necessities (and you mentioned objectives) are therefore defined by my client and budget, not by my philosophy."

In business we are defined by the work we do, what we bring to the party that the next guy doesn't. In this case moving the client towards a better end product rather than blindly accept the specifications as given.


[Cory Petkovsek] "I'm positive you already know this so I don't know why you would even bring up my point to nitpick it."

Cory, dude! No nitpick intended, just a discussion of making a better product than what was initially described. Try the de-caf next time.


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Noah Kadner
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 9, 2010 at 12:04:46 am

a- it's corporate video not philosophy, no job is ever exactly perfection. b- this is a tough economy and not everyone can afford to risk a job by rocking the boat. Cut the guy some slack. Get the gig first and firm up the stuff that's iffy later.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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jim brodie
Re: Budgeting a 10 hour lecture series of six DVDs
on Dec 9, 2010 at 12:38:47 am

Hi folks,

Keep the cards and letters coming. The discussion has been fascinating.
The client is still eager to do the project but is on the road all this week. I hope to discuss the three options today or tomorrow and report the results. I agree that as a professional you want to do your best for your client and if he wants to do it on the "real" cheap I'll wish him well and move on. I think its important for everyone to realize that the distinction maybe that they only want this for internal archival purposes to train other employees. If it is for sales or promotional purposes then a one camera, no cutaway route is a bad choice that I need to convince my client to avoid. He is intelligent and successful so I'd like to assume he'll understand. I'll find out soon.

Cheers,

Jim



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Bill Davis
Budgeting - Slippery slope to Craig's List Unsustainability - DVDs
on Dec 9, 2010 at 1:47:13 am

This is morphing into a good philosophical "how cheap is OK thread." Which I personally welcome.

The more experienced folks here keep pushing FOR higher standards and AGAINST "just get it done and get by" work. And there's a reason for that.

It's also true that the practitioners struggling to just keep their heads out of the water want to be able to satisfy their customers who are clearly sensitive about cost issues.

But I've got to say that it's not just COST or COMPETITIVE ISSUES any longer. It's about a headlong rush to TOTALLY devalue video production work overall.

For proof, here's a little chuckle I saw on one of my rare glances at Craigs List at local video jobs...

ACTUAL CRAIGS LIST POST TODAY>>>
Small Company needs Video Production Intern and Video Spokesmodel

Freelancers Needed: Proactive duo capable of working independently to produce and deliver a high quality video clip for our employment website.
Production intern
*Shoot, edit, and upload video/web clip to our employment website.
*Should have access to studio, production equipment, tools and resources
Video Spokesmodel
* To work collaboratively with above producer to appear in web clip
* Must have strong verbal, public presentation and communication s
Location: Phoenix
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Compensation: $150 each

So congrats to all of us. Our overall work WITH EQUIPMENT is now valued at the marketplace at EXACTLY the same rate as a Standup Talent who might show up, work 30 minutes and LEAVE - however, we must now PROVIDE A PACKAGE THAT INCLUDES THE TALENT as well as our gear - in order to EARN this precious $150 "internship" fee!

Aren't we LUCKY to be in the video production business in these times!

Too much, is sometimes TOO MUCH.

The ONLY way to keep our industry alive is to all become rational voices that will HOLD LINES regarding wha'ts reasonable and what's LAUGHABLE.

As long as some bend - EVERYONE must bend, but there's a difference between bending and breaking - and right now, this industry is breaking down.

Sucks, but there it is.



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Noah Kadner
Re: Budgeting - Slippery slope to Craig's List Unsustainability - DVDs
on Dec 9, 2010 at 2:18:23 am

I'm all about standards and so far haven't ever had to resort to Craigslist. Just saying it is what it is sometimes. Lots of "PROS" in L.A. struggling to survive these days. Just sayin'....

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Budgeting - Slippery slope to Craig's List Unsustainability - DVDs
on Dec 10, 2010 at 3:30:02 am

Quoting:
"maybe that they only want this for internal archival purposes to train other employees."

This sentence raises my hackles as a writer/producer. It reminds me of a common line of thinking that is utterly wrong but common. I'm not beating up on you for saying it. I'm trying to make a wider point, and your statement gave me a foot in the door for that. So don't take this too personally.

Why is it that employees are not worth the same effort as outside customers in a video? That's what the sentence implies. That if the audience is mandated to watch something, you don't really need to go to the effort of making the video watchable or even effective. What you get from work like that is the ability to check a box on a piece of paper somewhere that says the information was communicated... and some federally-funded things require video proof that the money was spent on something related to the grant. So the video proves the training was given... but was it, really? No, your audience retained as much of that information as you would when you see the on-screen user agreement that nobody reads and just clicks "accept". That's too-often what these kind of videos become. As I see it, that's a failure at the job we're hired to do. If all you do is that kind of work, there's no point in being in this line of work. The clients can stick a flip camera on a tripod and do that kind of junk themselves.

Training employees should take the same amount of dedicated effort as any other commercial production. Because anything less is actually more expensive than doing a good job, the first time. Think that through: training that wasn't absorbed and integrated by the staff means the point of the training was missed. Whether that point was reducing waste by using a new procedure, or raising productivity with a new method, or solving a human relations problem with new directives, there was a reason to make the effort to teach the workers something they need to know. Reason enough to spend dollars on it. That expenditure was an investment, one that expects a result. If you do a "half-fast" job of that, the losses in productivity or etc. will continue, while the organization goes ahead under the assumption that the training was effective and everybody is working under the new information. And that assumption could turn out to be a costly error. When the bosses find out the staff is still not "getting it", they will have to pay to do it over again, and they may also ask themselves the question of why you are assigned this duty, if it couldn't be executed right the first time?

Or they will look at the poor results of the half-hearted effort and assume that video is just not the tool for this job. That very well may be, by the way, but for the moment, assuming that's not the case, the logical conclusion that follows, in the management thinking, is that having a video department is a waste and they might as well dissolve it.

Our job is, or should be, much more than being quiet order-takers. We are a resource to be consulted, we can warn of mistakes before they happen, we can save our clients money and wasted time, we can advise clients what our expertise knows is a better way to solve their communication problem. Now, they can still decide not to take the advice, that's is their choice, but it is irresponsible of us not to give it.

If you are doing anything less than this for clients, you are putting your long-term job in jeopardy, because ultimately, as a simple order-filler doing a minimal effort, you are making yourself irrelevant to the process, a *thing* that can be commoditized and underbid. Video, and especially training video, is already suffering from too much of this mentality, by people that really don't grasp the power of the medium when it is put to full and effective use. You, with your skills and experience ARE the "added value" of this proposition.

So add some value.

Treat each project like it is your entry for a contest, and the judges are those people that have to sit and watch what you did.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Budgeting - Slippery slope to Craig's List Unsustainability - DVDs
on Dec 10, 2010 at 3:39:10 am

"I'm taking the goldfish... who's with me?"



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Rob Neidig
Re: Budgeting - Slippery slope to Craig's List Unsustainability - DVDs
on Dec 15, 2010 at 3:42:12 pm

You had me at "hackles".

Actually a very insightful post, Mark. I hope people are motivated to at least try to educate their clients and increase the actual, as well as perceived, value of what we do.

Rob

Rob Neidig
R&R Media Productions
Eugene, Oregon


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Brent Dunn
Re: Budgeting - Slippery slope to Craig's List Unsustainability - DVDs
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:20:47 pm

This is about a week late, so hopefully you've landed the client. Always, meet their needs as long as you are getting your rate.

I also look at a corporate client as a continuing revenue source. So, after you've finished what they want, do a short demo edit of how it could be the next time your work together, to give them something to think about should they want to use your services.

Do the boring edit they want, and them show them a 3 minute, wow edit to educate them.

Finally, you have to build the relationship with the client. Once the trust is there, they will always look to you for advice and guidance. Money will be less of an issue to them and they will always come to you first and not waste time bidding.

Sometimes it's easy to loose a job because of pushing production over what the client is asking for.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite





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