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New Business

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jenna gordonNew Business
by on Feb 15, 2008 at 5:34:41 pm

Hi, I'm new to Creative Cow; a production friend recommended it to me. I recently got out of the reporter gig and am trying to get into video production; mainly for medical videos. I'm planning to buy a HVX-200 panasonic complete with P2 cards, a three light system, wireless lav, etc. and will edit on Final Cut Pro on Mac Pro.

I know how to shoot, how to edit, how to make things look "presentable" but as a novice getting into this business I was hoping someone out there could give me advice on what else I'll need to get started. Or if you were once in my position... what I can do as a "small business" aka one-man band. I already have my first client to make a DVD, which I'll use to market for additional clients. But any advice would be appreciated. Also, if I decide to use music.. where do I go to pay for copy-write fees?


Jenna G.

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Rick DolishnyRe: New Business
by on Feb 15, 2008 at 6:10:38 pm

Don't BUY anything except perhaps your edit suite.

But in some markets you can rent that too.

Get a few gigs under your belt then when the time is right buy what you need.

Search music it's been discussed. :)

Rick Dolishny
Discrete Editors COW Leader

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Ron LindeboomRe: New Business
by on Feb 15, 2008 at 6:11:58 pm

[jenna gordon] "...if I decide to use music.. where do I go to pay for copyright fees?"

Welcome to Creative COW, Jenna. I hope that you find the site useful.

I will leave others to address other aspects of your questions, but I'd like to focus on your music issue.

The single most useful tool I have found for creating great audio beds is Smartsound Sonicfire Pro. You can download a demo of it HERE. The thing I have always loved about Smartsound Sonicfire Pro is that you can get professional audio scores quickly and cheaply. They also can easily be set to exact lengths and on-screen elements far faster than editing audio from library CDs or other means.

If you would like to see a "reviewtorial" of the product to get a feel of how it works in action, please see my article here at the COW.

Some people prefer using tools like Garageband and Soundbooth but loop editing takes a lot of time and so I find Sonicfire Pro far more useful.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
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Steve WargoOh yeah.
by on Feb 16, 2008 at 8:07:49 am

Sonic Fire is the way to go. So easy, even a ------- can do it!

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.

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bill CampbellRe: New Business
by on Feb 15, 2008 at 9:40:58 pm

Here is technical advice for you....FCP rocks...take a close look at the new sony EX1 before you decide on the HVX200 (I've used the HVX for a year now and it's been a trying week I get an EX1 for comparision, it might not be better but it can't be worse.
One thing to consider carefully is the workflow on tapeless... I have spent more on drives this year than I ever dreamed possible. The HVX files are huge and you need to create a back-up all the time as you have no tape to fall back on. You should also consider logging footage carefully. We just spent 2 months re-logging the past two years of HD footage so that we could re-purpose it.

...for royalty free music...Sonic Fire 4.5 ML series music is amazingly customizable. We've also used Apple loops in soundtrack a fair bit...but less so since we got Sonic Fire because it's sooooo simple to use.

All the best

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jenna gordonRe: New Business
by on Feb 15, 2008 at 10:42:37 pm

Thanks so much! Very helpful. I'll talk to my producer friend about the camera. He just got the hvx200 so he'd be able to help me out more, but I'll definately look into it as well as the music options.

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Steve WargoRe: New Business
by on Feb 16, 2008 at 8:12:44 am

The EX-1 is better in many ways. See the Sony CineAlta forum for details. Several people have done side by side tests and the EX-1 has faired very well. For starters, it's a true 1920 x 1080 1/2 inch chip and it records 57 minutes of HQ Hi Def on a 16 Gb card. The HVX-200 crowd is clamoring for the next great thing from Panasonic. Low light is much better and the cards download in minutes.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.

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Brendan CootsRe: New Business
by on Feb 16, 2008 at 6:08:34 am

There's about a million things one could say here, but the number one piece of advice has to be - get yourself a contract before doing ANY work for anyone. There are generic work-for-hire contracts all over the internet that you can customize, but working without getting your client to sign one is suicide. At the very least, your contract should cover:

- Total cost of video or hourly/daily/weekly rate , depending on how you work

- What is included for that price; is it a flat bid for a guaranteed finished product, or does the bid only cover x number of hours?

- What you are expected to deliver, and what you will NOT deliver (such as original project files, etc)

- Payment terms. Net 30 or payment on delivery? Either way, get it in writing because this issue can ruin you

- How are disputes handled? My contract stipulates that the client agrees to give us the chance to fix any problems before pursuing legal action, and even then they agree to binding arbitration. It can be disputed as to whether this is legally bulletproof, but I sleep easier at night.

Any other issues you think might become a problem, write them into your contract. Just be careful not to get too heavy and risk scaring clients away. Remember, a good contract protects both you and your client so that both sides walk away satisfied.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Brian MillsRe: New Business
by on Feb 17, 2008 at 2:35:38 am

If your production friend has a camera, he probably has all the other gear you need as well (to shoot and even possibly edit). Why don't you arrange to rent the gear from him for the first few jobs until you build up your client base/reel?

Now, you two would have to hash out the details, but be prepared to pay $300 - $500/day for camera/lights/audio (maybe less if he's a close friend).

Why not just buy the gear first? Well for a Panny HVX, tripod, decent light kit and 2 decent wireless lavs, we're talking at least $7k, probably much more. That means you would have to shoot 14-22 days before it would start to pay for itself.

That's a lot of shooting days! If you've got steady business coming in, of course you should buy, but until then, why not build the rental cost into your bids and cover your behind in the meanwhile?

Good luck.

Brian Mills

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George KroonderRe: New Business
by on Feb 17, 2008 at 8:42:52 pm

As for the music/sound as well als stock video, lower thirds and other design elements, you should look at They also have some great online video's (DJTV) and you can preview all libraries online.

Renting equipment is good advice, especially if you don't have a steady number of gigs in the pipeline. However, if you are committed and failure is not an option, you can also look at financing. New cams like the Sony EX1 also come with attractive financing deals that can include other equipment as well. Talk to your broadcast dealer.

Also you may not want to buy everything new. If you have experience with a cam that will 'do' for now, there may be used ones on offer from trade ins. A brand spanking new set of camera's lights and accessories easily runs over the $10k and when you include a new Mac and software, you'll soon be out of pocket twice that.

Generally to start should only own what you will need for every production and rent everything else. As you grow your business you will aquire the other stuff you find usefull. With renting it is also easy to charge your client for the costs and later when you own the equipment to make a return on it.

A boom mike (wired) may be more reliable then wireless lav's and more convienient (for the talent as well).

Don't forget the "small stuff" like gels, reflectors, stands and clamps, a backdrop (or two), maybe a couple of gobo's, enough tape, tools/toolset (inlcude a tacker) and some make up.

That's all I could come up with today...


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jenna gordonRe: New Business
by on Feb 18, 2008 at 8:04:05 pm

Thank you everyone for your feedback!! I'll definately be looking into all of this. I'll be sure to pick your brain some more if I have other questions as the days go by.

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KC AllenRe: New Business
by on Feb 20, 2008 at 4:44:47 pm

I agree mostly with everyone here. Royalty-Free music has a nice catalog of stuff too - we buy the StudioCutz library. We also get Digital Juice's StackTraxx, and occasionally visit for something different. I really like their music.

Buy a camera. Don't rent a camera. If you own it you have the time to create things for your reel. You have time to get to know the camera, get used it, get comfortable with it, and it's always available. During downtime you can take the camera places and just create. Be artistic, shoot a short movie. I agree that the HVX200 is not the best choice. For the money, the Sony XDCam-EX is getting great reviews, and it doesn't use out-of-date architecture like the HVX200. The HVX200 is a great camera, don't get me wrong, but the PCMCIA cards it uses are old news. The EX uses SxS cards which will slide nicely into your MacBookPro. The two cams are relatively similar in price, too, and FCP supports the XDCam with no problems. I use it's older, bigger brother, the XDCam HD 350.

The only downside to using tapeless media is the folks who will want you to tape the event and hand it over to them for editing. If that happens, then you can rent. Beta Cams are a dime a dozen. They're everywhere. So are MiniDV cams.

For business, you might try aligning yourself with local graphic designers or advertising agencies. At least be their friend and let them know you exist should they get a request for some video.

Another great way to pay the bills early on is to do TV commercials. Yes, they suck. No, they don't pay well...but they pay. In a small market it's a great way to get your name out fast. Also, join a Chamber of Commerce and offer to do work for them. Join networking groups. One big decision is to decide whether or not to do weddings. Some people say that either you're a pro, or you do weddings. Others keep weddings in their business plans because they're pretty profitable most of the time. I personally don't do them - anymore.

KC Allen
Allen Film & Video

"Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows?"

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