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tired of getting bad footage

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Rob Grauerttired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 1:06:59 am

So I've been editing stuff for this guy since around late January/early February. He seems like a good connection and a real nice guy, and the concept of what I edit for him is pretty good. The problem is his shooters are crappy. They never get close ups and they never get cut-aways. Their idea of a close up is having the lens zoomed out all the way and putting their camera real close to whatever they want a close up of. I don't know about any of you guys, but to me, thats not a close up. They also never pay attention to audio. I realize editing isn't always easy, and problems do happen during the production stage, but these guys just seem like they don't get it. It makes post production so much harder and so much more mentally exhausting than it has to be. I've only gotten one great project from this guy.

My question is: Should I move on or do editors always put up with crappy footage? Should I tell the guy this is why I want to move on or should I just say im getting too busy with school or something.

I hope you all don't think im lazy for wanting to move on, but who wants to edit bad footage project after project. This is the first time i've ever been turned off about video making.

Robert J. Grauert, Jr.

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Zane BarkerRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 1:24:18 am

Talk to him about it. Shoe him specific examples. And perhaps make arrangements to demonstrate now shooting techniques.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!

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Zane BarkerRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 1:24:53 am

If none of that works then, I would consider moving on if you wish to.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!

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Andrew KimeryRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 6:57:59 am

I would politely bring up the less than great camera work to the producer guy and see what happens. If things don't improve then I'd walk away If you don't need the money and it's not providing you any new growth or opportunities as an editor. If it isn't earning you a living and it isn't good enough to go on your reel so you can go earn a living working w/someone else then it's just a waste of time, IMO.


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Mike CohenRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 2:03:54 pm

Is your client happy with the edited videos you have been delivering? Not to suggest that you bite your tongue here, but if the paying client does not recognize bad shooting, and is in fact satisfied with the delivered videos, your comments/criticism may fall on deaf ears.

Take a hypothetical client of ours - A client who always useS the audiovisual techs (poorly trained) included with their convention center AV contracts(cheaper than using an outside crew) to shoot live events - the results are nearly always predictably poor (low audio, poor lighting, high gain, wobbly shots zoomed from the back of the hall, slow reaction times when a speaker changes) but despite suggestions for improvements or alternatives, they go with low price over higher quality every time. Quality is subjective. The client is happy that the event has been documented at all.

It can be frustrating to work with incomplete materials - you might take a proactive approach and give the client a suggested shot list for the next video, based upon what you know the shooter usually misses.

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Mark SuszkoRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 2:01:10 pm

The lack of cutaways is bad, and you have every right to complain about it.

But getting close-ups by moving the camera closer is the DEFINITION of a "close-up". And this is how the Big Boys tend to do it.

Tightening your shot with the zoom is actually a cheat, we all do it from time to time, but the more "cinematic" way to go about that shot is to treat your lens not like a zoom, but a variable Prime lens. Meaning, set the lens to one agle, then if you want the next shot tighter, you move the camera IN. The difference between a camera moving in and a fixed camera zooming in is sometimes subtle, but has everything to do with changing the perspectives and proportions in the shot.

Have you considered making a printed shot sheet that gets passed to the camera ops? A laundry list of shots you need?

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Greg BallRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 7:25:18 pm

I see this as a golden opportunity for you. Why not go to your client with suggestions on how to make these shows look better? Approach it in a positive light. Tell the client that if they were to shoot cutaways and vary their angles or focal lengths, you, as an editor would have more to work with and be able to provide him a better looking show.

Of course be careful that the client's shooters aren't family members, good buddies, or the client himself. In that case bite your tongue.

Explain to him that you're running into challenges with audio, and you'd be happy to even talk to the folks shooting the video for him to help him achieve a better quality end product. What I do is explain how it takes longer to edit poorly planned or shot video, and poor audio. If you're charging him an hourly rate explain to him that you can edit faster and ultimately cheaper with better quality. If he disagrees with you... you can always move on.

Good luck

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Rob GrauertRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 8:09:05 pm

Yea, I don't know how he will take it if I tell him I don't like his stuff or if i start throwing out suggestions. He's a really really nice guy and easy to get along with, but he's also been in the business for 12 years, used to work at NFL films, and is now a producer. I'm just some kid in college; ambitious and well educated when it comes to shooting and editing, but I still feel like people are still going to look at me as just some kid in college. And incase you guys may be thinking this is a good opportunity to build my portfolio in school, trust me, this stuff wouldn't even pass my portfolio classes in school.

Robert J. Grauert, Jr.

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Christopher WrightRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 9:00:35 pm

What Mike Cohen said..

I have several clients who insist on always shooting their own footage on the new cheaper HDV cameras. They have never considered using anything but the camera mike, never white balance, have horrible "queezecam" zooming, panning and hand-held footage, and have no idea how to properly compose or frame shots. One woman actually shot an entire documentary, continually cutting off the head of everyone she was interviewing, (usually below the eyebrow even in fully wide-angle shots!). She entered her film in several film festivals and has even had the film play in Nashville with Al Gore's film at a "green event" (due to the subject matter no doubt). I spent over a month posting her project, trying to fix the bad audio, color correcting every shot, using the image stabilizer on any shots that weren't too shaky for even that remedy, but unfortunately I didn't have a plug-in or filter for the "chopped forehead" syndrome. I still cringe when I see the film, but she is extremely happy with it and even touts her skills as a "cinematographer." She would be very offended if I told her that her footage wasn't up to professional standards. I can honestly say that 75% of the footage I see in post is not up to the standards I set for myself when I am fortunate to be a DP on the project as well. The bottom line is to make whatever footage you receive look as good as you possibly can.

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Ryan MastRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 14, 2008 at 4:56:34 pm

Then present it to him as a way to save time and money. Unless the shooter is someone I know and trust, I usually budget more time for editing & cleanup than I would if I were shooting myself. In many situations, it'd be the same amount of time/money for me to shoot and edit my own footage, as it is for me to clean and edit someone else's footage. When talk with him and offer to give a shot list to the shooters, explain to him that this will save time and money. It will also save you time and give you a better product for your demo reel, so it can a good deal for both of you.

I suppose it doesn't hurt to offer to shoot, too. Even if you shoot your own footage for just one of the projects, you'll at least have one that you can use on your demo reel. And if he like you and notices the difference between your footage and the other shooter's footage, you might get more work.

Good luck!

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John BaumchenRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 13, 2008 at 9:39:31 pm

I once had a client who always shot their own footage. no tape striping, lots of zoom shots....

I did manage to get them to use a tripod though. The end result was that I actually had more billable hours editing than I would have had I been behind the camera as well. They were always happy with the final, (even thought I sometimes cringed when they would view it), and most important, I always got paid on time and had lots of repeat business from them.

Having begun my video career as an editor, seeing lots of bad camera work actually helped me to be better behind the camera.

If you have a good relationship with your client, maybe suggest to them that you would be open to shooting their next project.

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Gav BottRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 14, 2008 at 12:46:03 am

I think John has hit the nail on the head.

You've already meantioned your a shooter too, so it's not asking you to move out of your comfort zone.

Ask to shoot the next one your self + crew. If you can do it for the same budget and at much better quality the guy isn't going to be upset.

If it turns out that he's paying less then peanuts, at least you'll know why the footage is so poor and can work out what solutions there might be from that point in.

It sounds as though the guys shooting at the moment are running and gunning - self directing. There is no problem in issuing a shot wish list when that style of shotting is on the cards, at leats not that I can see.

"Your video's are cool, they would be better if you could tick each of these shots for each subject"

A little white lie doesn't hurt the clients feelings.

of course you could always go the route that I learnt from editors, well one in particular. take them out, get them drunk, and then laugh at them for 8 hours at how bad their footage is and describe what hurdles you have to jump each time just to make it a viable finished product. Of course this works best if you are from Glasgow and are over 100kg.

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

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Matt GottshalkRe: tired of getting bad footage
by on May 29, 2008 at 12:37:59 am

Same thing happened to me quite some time ago.

Know what I did?

I went back to shooting again!

Now I shoot 60% of the time and still edit too.

Best of both worlds.

McGee Digital Media Inc.
24P HD Production and Post

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