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Waiver for technology shortcomings?

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Sebastian AlvarezWaiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 9, 2008 at 11:35:38 pm

I was wondering, is it customary for small event videographers to give the customer some kind of waiver for certain technology shortcomings in formats that are not the most professional and/or expensive? For example, I shot some HDV today just for practice and when I captured it and played it back, there as about half a second lost, which I believe is like the drop-out of HDV, because of the large amount of B frames as opposed to regular DV in which all are I frames. Now imagine I'm shooting a wedding or some kid's graduation and one of these drops happens in a crucial moment. Obviously the customer is not going to be happy about it. Or the same thing but applied to other shortcomings, for example the length of the tape itself if it's an event longer than 63 minutes without an intermission to exchange tapes, or in the case of AVCHD, the SDHC card can get full, or the battery can go dry even if you have the largest one for your camcorder.

So I'm wondering, for event videographers that most likely don't have a continuous source of power and recording, is it a normal thing to explain these technology shortcomings to the customers and have them sign a waiver?


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walter biscardiRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 1:08:42 am

[Sebastian Alvarez] " For example, I shot some HDV today just for practice and when I captured it and played it back, there as about half a second lost, which I believe is like the drop-out of HDV, because of the large amount of B frames as opposed to regular DV in which all are I frames"

I've never seen anything like that here and we have edited entire documentaries all shot on HDV and transcoded to DVCPro HD during ingest. I've never noticed any sort of dropout, even during 20 to 30 minute interviews.


[Sebastian Alvarez] " is it a normal thing to explain these technology shortcomings to the customers and have them sign a waiver?"

I have never heard of anything like this. I believe this is why most wedding videographers work in pairs so there is a cross-roll. That's how I've always handled live events. We either have two cameras or multiple tape decks so there is always a cross-roll tape somewhere.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 1:17:49 am

[walter biscardi] "I have never heard of anything like this. I believe this is why most wedding videographers work in pairs so there is a cross-roll. That's how I've always handled live events. We either have two cameras or multiple tape decks so there is always a cross-roll tape somewhere."

Right, but that's a matter of budget for the groom and the bride. Hiring a two people team to video a wedding will obviously be more expensive than hiring one guy. And besides the drop outs there's the other stuff, like the length of the tape, SDHC card and/or battery. My question is more directed towards the beginner level event videographer who has the basic elements, but not much more. I, for example, could buy a portable hard drive that goes well with my Sony video camera, the HVR-DR60, which as of now is $1400, slightly less than what I just spent on my camera. But it's going to be a long time before I can afford something like that.


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Bill DewaldRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 2:19:04 am

[Sebastian Alvarez] "So I'm wondering, for event videographers that most likely don't have a continuous source of power and recording, is it a normal thing to explain these technology shortcomings to the customers and have them sign a waiver?"


No. That would make any sane customer run for the hills. As a professional, it's up to you to _overcome_ those shortcomings before offering your services.

And, no, you can't write off lost business due to your waiver.

Here's what you do - bid on jobs that you can confidently execute with your given level of skill and equipment. In time, that list will grow. Don't bite off more than you can chew - in business, your reputation is your livelihood.



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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 2:59:19 am

[Bill Dewald] "And, no, you can't write off lost business due to your waiver."

Not sure what you mean, or maybe I didn't express myself correctly as to the purpose of the waiver. Let's say that you had really bad luck one day at an event and technology failed you. A tape that had a manufacturing problem and made you lose several seconds of footage. An SDHC card that had been working great but suddenly went berserk and recorded green pixels all over the picture. You explain this to the customer, but they are obviously enraged because the fact is that you were supposed to video record his daughter's graduation speech and ten seconds or even more of it are lost forever. Even though it's not strictly your fault, the customer makes it your fault and then sues you because he hired you to videotape an event and you didn't deliver the most important part. Sure, later a jury can believe your testimony and rule in your favor, but by then you've been though a nightmare and you're in debt with a lawyer.

Sounds drastic, but everything can happen.

[Bill Dewald] "Here's what you do - bid on jobs that you can confidently execute with your given level of skill and equipment. In time, that list will grow. Don't bite off more than you can chew - in business, your reputation is your livelihood."

That's a good rule to work by, but it's not what I was asking. You bid on jobs that you can confidently etc etc, as long as the equipment behaves as it should and doesn't fail. My point is, what happens when the worst happens and you have to face an irate customer. Wouldn't it be safer to briefly explain these things to the customer beforehand and be covered in case the worse happens?


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Mike CohenRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 3:22:19 am

I saw my first HDV dropout today. I will go back to that spot on the tape and see if the video is there or not - it appears as a red flash in Premiere.

Stuff happens, but you can't lose sleep over the possibility of something maybe happening. This is why Aflac sells cancer insurance - the risk is there but usually it is small - but some people are risk averse. We have had a few projects over the years in which there was a camera malfunction - not much you can do except be honest and hope it was not a once in a lifetime event. For once in a lifetime events (weddings, building demolition etc - use two cameras - even if the safety shot is a lesser format - the bride wants to see the ring exchange and the vows, and would rather see it in Hi8 than not at all.). The one wedding I have shot for money this is what I did - DVCAM on a tripod moving around a lot to avoid the always moving stills shooter - Hi8 on a locked down tripod with a reverse shot - this covered my moves and provided a backup of both audio and video.

Any live event should be shot with two cameras.

Mike Cohen


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Bill DewaldRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 3:34:28 am

I understand what you're saying now. I've always operated under this premise - "I don't get the shot, you don't pay". If it's a small gaffe that you can work around, that's one thing, but if ýou miss the money shot, you'll have to eat it.


This is why event videographers go gray prematurely.


It's very wise to be thinking about these contingencies before going our and looking for gigs. But seeing a "techncial failure waiver" would give me pause as a client.

But I'm not an events guy. Let's see what they have to say about this subject...

Cheers - Bill


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cowcowcowcow
Bob ZelinRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 3:36:44 am

Sebastian writes -

"Let's say that you had really bad luck one day at an event and technology failed you."

REPLY -
Sebastian, is this a joke, or WHAT ? I was hired in May 2008 by Nickelodeon Television to build a shared storage system. Problems developed with the system, and it stopped working. It was not my fault. At this moment, it didn't matter if my wife got sick, my dog got hit by a car, my family was kidnapped by terrorists, and my roof caved in at my home. All that mattered is that THE JOB HAD TO WORK - no matter what, no matter who died, no matter who gets hurt, insulted, or inconvenienced - THE JOB HAD TO WORK. Believe me, I was SICK TO MY STOMACH, and I was scared, but I GOT IT TO WORK (thanks to great tech support from several companies).

There is NO EXCUSE for YOU screwing up a job (or me, or Walter Biscardi, or any other PROFESSIONAL on this list). You CANNOT make a mistake - everything you do MUST be done the right way. EVERYTHING is your fault, and you must plan for it, you must prepare for it. All that matters is that the job comes out perfectly. And you charge for this professionalism.

There is no question that I will screw up in the future (and you will have equipment failures in the future) - its going to happen. Let me assure you, one day soon - YOU will have a disk drive fail with all of your valuable media on it. YOU WILL LOSE YOUR WEDDING FOOTAGE, and when this happens, its YOUR FAULT. You must have backup. Does this cost money - you bet it does. Can you afford it - I don't know - you have to have the budget to be able to do this. You cannot say "hey, the drive might fail, and you have to sign a waver that you won't sue me if the disk drive fails after the wedding". Its YOUR FAULT (and it's my fault, and everyone on this lists fault who is a professional).

You might say "but if I have to budget in for a backup disk drive (or camera or battery), my budget will be too high, and I will lose out to my competition".

Welcome to business.

Bob Zelin




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Timothy J. AllenRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 4:37:05 am

If the camera malfunctions for a moment, you use a clip from your spare. If that won't work, you refund your fee.

The only clause I've seen related to that issue would be an "acts of God" clause, but that wouldn't cover things that you should be prepared for, like potential technical glitches.
-TJA


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Tim KolbRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 7:44:31 am

I'm pretty much on track with everyone else.

Anytime you cross the line from amateur to paid, you become a professional. Nobody pays anyone to 'try' to do something (well...maybe politicians and professional sports players...), they pay someone to 'do it.'

I had a job some years ago...some production, lots of dubs...short timeline. My dub vendor had a staff member that decided my client's label design wasn't to spec and that they'd correct it themselves...but they set it aside for a week. By the time my status check uncovered the problem, there was no hope of making the timeline. The vendor felt bad and gave me a 75% discount on about 5 grand worth of dubs, but the entire project's usefulness to the client was incredibly diminished if not gone entirely...I ponied up about $15,000 in discounts and refunds (about half the project price, and I was extremely fortunate the client was THAT understanding as I could have been sued for the whole bill if they'd decided that was what they wanted).

Was it painful?...oh yeah it was. However that client paid me to deliver...and I didn't. Like the tape dropout, was it my fault? I suppose I could say 'no', but it was my vendor, part of a project that I packaged and sold to the client. the buck stops here.

As Bob said, welcome to the business.






TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 9:53:32 pm

[Timothy J. Allen] "If the camera malfunctions for a moment, you use a clip from your spare. If that won't work, you refund your fee."

Good, but let's suppose you're taping a school play. Your customer's son has a small part in it. You put in a new tape in the camera, but you were unlucky enough that you had a drop just as he was saying his glorious lines. The customer will understandably be pissed off, but what do you do? Just give him the video for free? I would think that I would give him a big discount, but I couldn't just refund my whole fee and still give him the edited video, because even if there was a blunder, there's still a lot of value in what he's getting, despite the one second missing from it.


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Ron LindeboomRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:01:08 pm


[Timothy J. Allen] "If the camera malfunctions for a moment, you use a clip from your spare. If that won't work, you refund your fee."

[Sebastian Alvarez] "Good, but let's suppose you're taping a school play. Your customer's son has a small part in it. You put in a new tape in the camera, but you were unlucky enough that you had a drop just as he was saying his glorious lines. The customer will understandably be pissed off, but what do you do? Just give him the video for free? I would think that I would give him a big discount, but I couldn't just refund my whole fee and still give him the edited video, because even if there was a blunder, there's still a lot of value in what he's getting, despite the one second missing from it."

If you are not giving the client what they wanted, then you have not given them what they hired you for. How can you charge for that? The work that you did that was wasted -- as well as their time in hiring you and hoping that you would be a pro -- it's all a waste. Therefore, as many have said here, it's not something that you should charge for. You didn't do your job and you are the one that chose to fly without a safety net.

Sorry, but that's the black and white of it and all the machinations in the world are not going to change it.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:14:26 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "If you are not giving the client what they wanted, then you have not given them what they hired you for. How can you charge for that? The work that you did that was wasted -- as well as their time in hiring you and hoping that you would be a pro -- it's all a waste. Therefore, as many have said here, it's not something that you should charge for. You didn't do your job and you are the one that chose to fly without a safety net."

This doesn't answer my question. You taped a whole school play, your tape had a drop and you're missing one second from it. Are you supposed to still edit the whole thing and just give it to the customer for free? Is that what normally happens? I would find it hard to believe that any events' videographer would just give the customer the whole finished product for free because he's missing one second of it because of a bad tape.


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 9:42:32 pm

[Bob Zelin] "Sebastian, is this a joke, or WHAT ?"

No, I just like to be prepared for when bad things happen, so when I saw that I had lost about half a second of footage on a decent quality tape, one from Panasonic and labeled "For Professional" that I had just opened, I started to wonder what would happen if that drop had occurred while taping the kiss between a just married couple, or a similar crucial moment, and how that works in the real world.

[Bob Zelin] "Let me assure you, one day soon - YOU will have a disk drive fail with all of your valuable media on it. YOU WILL LOSE YOUR WEDDING FOOTAGE, and when this happens, its YOUR FAULT. You must have backup."

Ok, but we're talking about different things here. If I have a wedding that I'm charging, let's say, $1200 for, I will make sure that I burn the source footage to a couple of blu-ray discs as well as copy it to an external drive that I will keep disconnected from the computer. That means an initial investment in a Blu-ray burner, discs, and an external drive, which are paid off with the first wedding. So there's a difference between losing all the footage from an event because you were not careful enough to make a backup and then a virus formatted your hard drive and you lost it all, as opposed to having a drop out in a just opened tape of good quality that happened in a crucial moment of the event. Let's say you are cheap and keep using the same tape over and over for different events. If then you have drops in the footage then it's your fault for being careless.

Still, I see your point and everybody else's, the customer will not give a damn if it's really your fault or the technology's, even if you did your best. I know I would be really pissed off if I hire a guy to video tape my daughter's school play and there's a second missing right when she is doing her part. Knowing about how technology works I probably would understand it, if I know that he used a brand new tape of good quality, but I know most people don't care about hearing about the technological shortcomings of HDV, or the tape manufacturing process.


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kim krauseRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Feb 18, 2009 at 9:42:37 pm

interesting insight, but i must say i disagree. for 30 years i worked for other people and whenever there was a screw up with anything (and there always can be!) the big song and dance would start, followed by the finger pointing. well i have to say i no longer am ever in that situation. why ?? because my very first contact with the client is all about what to expect and being perfectly honest. i dont make false promises and there lies some of the biggest pitfalls. i never got caught up in the "client is always right" trap and have even told a few that they are wrong. my honesty is always appreciated and most even return. we all know the world could end at anytime or our plane might crash and burn so let's not not get so caught up in this self sacrificing attitude. you are only denying your self. make proper plans, build in r oom for error and above all tell the client....this may take a while! ever go to a dentist and NOT hear "this may hurt a bit". of course not ..he will always tell you the worst case scenario, then when he's done and your still alive and realize it wasn't so bad, you thank him for a job well done. since working for myself i vowed never to get caught up in the b.s. that eats up our industry. we all have had to work late and work hard and work smart but you can't always win....and guess what? life goes on.



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Timothy J. AllenRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Feb 18, 2009 at 11:23:33 pm

Kim,
I agree with you that a large part of customer service is managing the customer's expectations. So you do the best you can and if there are concerns that something won't go right, you do what you can to address it with the client before crunch time.

I simply don't charge for what I don't deliver.

Having said that, I do think there is a place in your agreement that covers your time as a deliverable. This is useful in cases where it's a possibility that the client would call off a shoot at the last minute. (For instance, if you are hired to document a wedding and the groom doesn't show up.) That's different.

In any case, it is important to be very clear with the client about what is to be considered "the products". Is it just the final edited tape? Is it also raw footage? Is it your time? Ensuring deliverablity of those "products" is another reason to structure your agreements where they are divided by phases (such as preproduction, taping and post).







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walter biscardiRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:27:46 am

[Sebastian Alvarez] " Let's say that you had really bad luck one day at an event and technology failed you. A tape that had a manufacturing problem and made you lose several seconds of footage. An SDHC card that had been working great but suddenly went berserk and recorded green pixels all over the picture. You explain this to the customer, but they are obviously enraged because the fact is that you were supposed to video record his daughter's graduation speech and ten seconds or even more of it are lost forever"

That's all your problem. You don't get paid if your technology fails. Plain and simple. It's your responsibility to have properly working, professional equipment if you want to be paid as a professional. If it screws up, that's your fault, not the manufacturer. You're the one getting paid to do the job.

Just like in Post here at our shop. We have three full edit systems because we're delivering to very hard deadlines. Technology breaks all the time, but with three edit systems we have redundancy. We also run all our storage in RAID 5 so if a hard drive fails, we can keep working.

As Bill writes, if a shooter ever presented a "technology waiver" I would never hire them.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Mark SuszkoRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 2:45:48 pm

You can buy insurance, so you can pay the client back their money plus whatever they sue you for. Or you can buy redundant gear.

One of the main reasons I got out of shooting weddings on weekends was that at the prices I was shooting with one camera, there wasn't enough margin for a second safety camera and I knew some day that would bite me eventually if I kept rolling the dice. I found the weddings much more stressful than the Brides did, knowing I only had the one chance to get it right with no net.

Put my vote down as well for Go Big or Go Home. Invest in more and proper gear so you have backup, or be prepared to take a huge hit when Murphy taps your shoulder and says: "Hi fella, been a while. You're gonna love this next part."


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 10:04:15 pm

[Mark Suszko] "You can buy insurance, so you can pay the client back their money plus whatever they sue you for."

That's a good idea, but I wonder if any insurance company sells that type of insurance. If they do I could buy it, since most likely it would be cheap like renter's insurance.


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Justin ParkerRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 3:23:18 pm

"That's a good idea, but I wonder if any insurance company sells that type of insurance. If they do I could buy it, since most likely it would be cheap like renter's insurance"


It's called Errors and Omissions Insurance.
If you're a WEVA member you can get it for about $100/year.


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walter biscardiRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 4:15:26 pm

[Justin Parker] "It's called Errors and Omissions Insurance.
If you're a WEVA member you can get it for about $100/year.
"


Really?! That's a blanket license for anything you do or does that only cover corporate? We just got E&O for a new series and it's $4,000 per 13 episodes.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Justin ParkerRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 4:30:09 pm

It's geared towards Event Video, so I don't know if it would cover the needs of bigger budget production work.

The Liability insurance is seperate and I think it's around $500.


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 10:02:49 pm

[walter biscardi] "Just like in Post here at our shop. We have three full edit systems because we're delivering to very hard deadlines. Technology breaks all the time, but with three edit systems we have redundancy. We also run all our storage in RAID 5 so if a hard drive fails, we can keep working."

OK, but we're talking about different things here, different sizes of companies. You are talking about a production center that probably has tens of thousands of dollars in equipment. I'm talking about a small events videographer, who would probably have to charge a wedding thousands of dollars because he has to recover the huge investment he made. I'm talking about a beginner events videographer with about $3500 in equipment between two HD cameras and a fast computer. And besides, it's like I said in another post, I'm not talking about things that are preventable such as making backups, but those things that are impossible to prevent, such as a manufacturing defect in a professional tape that you just opened and was never used before. And I know I'm just being negative for the sake of discussion, I taped a high school play with a Canon HV20 a while ago with two of these Panasonic tapes and I didn't get one drop in two full tapes. However, yesterday I opened another one of them and I got one drop while just filming in a lake to try my new camera. So that got me thinking, if this happened now, it may happen at a crucial moment, and what happens then?


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Ron LindeboomRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 10:44:09 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "I taped a high school play with a Canon HV20 a while ago with two of these Panasonic tapes and I didn't get one drop in two full tapes. However, yesterday I opened another one of them and I got one drop while just filming in a lake to try my new camera. So that got me thinking, if this happened now, it may happen at a crucial moment, and what happens then?"

As many here have already said: If you want to run with the bulls in Pamplona, you have to put on your running shoes.

Translation?

If you want to take people's money, you need to be a "real" business; otherwise, do it as a hobby and don't charge people. Once you accept their money, you are on the hook in a circumstance wherein excuses do NOT cut it. Telling them that it wasn't under your control will not work. As Bob Zelin said, it was under your control -- you just did not take the steps necessary to stay on top of it.

Everything else is merely the droppings left by the bulls in the streets of Pamplona.

Hate to be so direct but there really are no excuses that work in situations like these.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


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cow
Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 10:56:20 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "you just did not take the steps necessary to stay on top of it."

I don't agree with that. As I said, there's a difference between not taking steps to prevent a failure, such as not making a backup of the footage, and things that are out of your control, such as a brand new professional tape that caused a drop out. I know it doesn't matter to the customer one way or the other, but I don't agree in that it's always YOUR fault. You might take all the necessary steps, and still technology might fail, and there's nothing you could've done better to prevent it.



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Ron LindeboomRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:05:46 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "I don't agree with that. As I said, there's a difference between not taking steps to prevent a failure, such as not making a backup of the footage, and things that are out of your control, such as a brand new professional tape that caused a drop out."

It doesn't matter if you agree with it or not, Sebastian. The fact is, you are NOT a professional if you do not take the steps to assure that this doesn't happen -- in this case, using a second camera to guarantee that it doesn't happen -- and if you don't take the step, you are a hobbyist, nothing more.

Charge accordingly.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


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cow
Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:10:40 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "you are NOT a professional if you do not take the steps to assure that this doesn't happen -- in this case, using a second camera to guarantee that it doesn't happen -- and if you don't take the step, you are a hobbyist, nothing more."

OK, let me ask you this. What if your first camera has a drop in a crucial place and your second camera chews the tape at the same time? I know I'm pushing it, that most likely that wouldn't happen, but that was the point of my post, to talk about what happens when you take every possible step to prevent something going wrong and yet it happens.


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walter biscardiRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:16:09 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "but that was the point of my post, to talk about what happens when you take every possible step to prevent something going wrong and yet it happens."

You have to provide a make good to your client and hope that they will use you again and not trash your name to every other potential client in your market. If your equipment fails, you will be the person known as the guy who does not have quality equipment or cannot maintain it.

Not fair for sure, but if you fail to get a critical shot, people aren't going to care that the camera failed. You failed as the operator. Cruel, but that's how it works.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Ron LindeboomRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:34:16 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "OK, let me ask you this. What if your first camera has a drop in a crucial place and your second camera chews the tape at the same time? I know I'm pushing it, that most likely that wouldn't happen, but that was the point of my post, to talk about what happens when you take every possible step to prevent something going wrong and yet it happens."

You are, to use a technical term, hosed.

But a creative type could cover their butt and still make something nice. How? Let's use your wedding incident as a case study and let's say you flubbed the kiss and didn't get all of it.

Me, I'd call the bride and tell her that I had a great idea for the video that I would like to stage to get a close-in shot of the kiss and would she mind putting on her dress one more time to get the kiss.

"But Ron," says our bride, "my hair is not done and it isn't going to look the same."

"But ah, Mrs. Bride, I am going to be shooting so tight in that we are only going to see part of it."

Then, if she agreed, I'd shoot it and edit it in a blurred soft-focus around the edge so that the kiss is vignetted in the center -- a move that would also hide the hair in great part, while drawing attention to the face, the eys and the lips -- and I would render the frames in a time remap that would so accentuate the kiss on-screen that Mrs. Bride would not be the wiser as to what happened to the real kiss. (I would use the lead up and the pull away from the tape that was bad and all the rest would be me covering my tracks.)

These are the tricks that a pro uses and they cost you time to cover your tracks when you were too cheap to do what you should have done in the first place.

Give 'em what they want or don't charge them. I can't say it any clearer.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:51:43 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "Me, I'd call the bride and tell her that I had a great idea for the video that I would like to stage to get a close-in shot of the kiss and would she mind putting on her dress one more time to get the kiss."

Could work for a wedding, not so much for, let's say, a school play. If it's a school play, you can pray that it's not the last performance and you can go back to re-tape. If it's a corporate conference on something important, chances are you're screwed.

[Ron Lindeboom] "These are the tricks that a pro uses and they cost you time to cover your tracks when you were too cheap to do what you should have done in the first place.

Give 'em what they want or don't charge them. I can't say it any clearer."


Yeah, I'm seeing that definitely it was a mistake posting in this forum. Goodbye.


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Nick GriffinRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 10:58:19 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "You are talking about a production center that probably has tens of thousands of dollars in equipment."

I'm pretty sure that Walt's facility has just a tad more than "tens of thousands of dollars in equipment."

Sebastian - as Bob Zelin said, "Welcome to business." It only works when you have the correct match between what you can invest and what you can charge.


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walter biscardiRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:13:14 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "OK, but we're talking about different things here, different sizes of companies. You are talking about a production center that probably has tens of thousands of dollars in equipment."

I started out in the bedroom of my house with a single edit workstation. I was delivering corporate and broadcast material, but the deadlines and the pressure were the same. I could not miss a deadline and it did not matter if the technology failed. It had to get done. That's why I go with reputable companies like AJA Video Systems for all my purchases. The technology simply cannot fail and if it does, I better have a good backup plan.

My current production facility has been built slowly over 8 years to allow us to keep up with client and broadcast demands. But I started out very small with a single workstation. If you are going to be a professional, it is up to you to purchase the proper equipment for your expected clients and to be able to provide any and all services you promise to that client.

You simply cannot blame technology for any shortcomings or issues that might occur during one of your projects. As Tim Kolb put it so nicely, the buck stops with you. The person who is providing the services.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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John BaumchenRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 3:05:51 pm

I agree with the previous posts about taking the responsibility.

The problem of drop-out is a tape thing. One little defect in the tape, piece of dust....

If you want to greatly reduce the possibility of the video going south, go with a solid-state camera or use an external HDD to capture the video.



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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 10:25:15 pm

[John Baumchen] "If you want to greatly reduce the possibility of the video going south, go with a solid-state camera or use an external HDD to capture the video."

Not a bad idea, but an expensive one. The hard drive Sony makes for my camera, HVR-DR60, is selling for $1400 now, and even if I could buy it, attaching it to the camera would probably make it even more uncomfortable than it already is. Given that I recently had a pinched nerve that affected my right upper body, I'd rather not put more weight on that camera since it's rather heavy as it is.


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cowcowcowcowcow
Todd TerryRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:23:34 pm

I think we are beating a dead horse here.

Looks like most all of the world here (me included) is in agreement that delivering the product is what we are being paid for... glitches, gremlins, or technical problems aside, it's our responsibility. Period.

It doesn't matter if you are a multi-million dollar facility with years of experience and a sterling reputation, or a newbi with his first $900 camcorder right out of the box. If you are getting paid for a gig, the same standards apply.

It looks like Sebastian is simply not buying into that, and is not going to, and efforts to convince him of such are wasted breath. A never ending search for "whoops insurance," or a "hey it wasn't really my fault" clause in a contract.

And those don't exist.

And if they do... a client would be foolish to buy into it.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:34:51 pm

[Todd Terry] "It looks like Sebastian is simply not buying into that, and is not going to, and efforts to convince him of such are wasted breath. A never ending search for "whoops insurance," or a "hey it wasn't really my fault" clause in a contract."

You obviously got me wrong. It's not a matter of buying into anything. I do understand very well that even if in theory the technical malfunction is not your fault, the customer will always see it as your fault. Nobody has to convince that that's the way it is. All I wanted to know was if there was some kind of waiver for these situations, or if you just sit there and hope the customer doesn't sue you if the worst happens. And not that it will happen (again, I taped a two hour school play and didn't have a single drop), but I simply like to know what to expect.


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Todd TerryRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:40:05 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "I do understand very well that even if in theory the technical malfunction is not your fault, the customer will always see it as your fault."

Grrrr... and that customer is right. It IS is your fault. Well, maybe not your actual fault, but certainly your responsibility.

Going back a loooong way to your very original question, "is it customary for small event videographers to give the customer some kind of waiver for certain technology shortcomings...?"

Short answer, "No."

Slightly longer answer, "No, absolutely not"



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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walter biscardiRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:25:24 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "Not a bad idea, but an expensive one. The hard drive Sony makes for my camera, HVR-DR60, is selling for $1400 now, and even if I could buy it, attaching it to the camera would probably make it even more uncomfortable than it already is."

In the world of professional videography and production, $1,400 is VERY inexpensive. At $8,000, the Sony EX-1 and EX-3 cameras are VERY inexpensive.

Professional video production is not cheap, though it's much much cheaper than it was even 8 years ago when I started. I have to ask whether you're fully prepared for all that is involved in this industry to truly work as a professional. The entire topic of this thread leads me to believe that the answer is no.

Sorry to be so direct, but you keep looking for a way to cover your backside in the event of a technology failure instead of looking at what you have to do in order to make sure you're covered when that failure does happen. It will happen. All technology will fail. What will you have done to ensure that it does not bite you or your client when it happens?

I'll tell you what we did recently on a television pilot shoot. We shot with Sony EX-1 and EX-3 cameras in the field and in a studio setting. In the Studio, we captured all footage to the on-board cards AND fed two Panasonic 1400 DVCPro HD decks via the HD-SDI output on those cameras.

For the field material, we immediately made backups of both cameras to both hard drive and to the 1400 decks.

So in every case, I have at least three copies of everything and we had everything covered from either two angles OR we watched playback of every scene if we just used one camera for that particular scene. If the technology failed in any one place, we had several backups to help us out and in fact we did have a critical issue with one of our interviews. The camera itself had an issue switching from one card to the next, but because we were rolling to the 1400 decks simultaneously, we were covered.

So the technology failed, but it did not affect us at all because we were prepared for that.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:42:27 pm

[walter biscardi] "In the world of professional videography and production, $1,400 is VERY inexpensive. At $8,000, the Sony EX-1 and EX-3 cameras are VERY inexpensive."

To me, $1400 is very expensive, $8000 is out of the question. So we're talking about different types of companies here. You're comparing an events' videographer to production companies with tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, or should I say millions?. Perhaps this forum was intended for that type of company and I'm just wasting my time here because I just want to start my own very small business. Perhaps I should find a forum for people who are in a similar situation to mine and come back to this forum when hopefully several years from now I will have a production company and then the latest Sony holographic professional camera at $250,000 will seem like a cheap bargain to me.


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walter biscardiRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:54:52 pm

[Sebastian Alvarez] "To me, $1400 is very expensive, $8000 is out of the question. So we're talking about different types of companies here. You're comparing an events' videographer to production companies with tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, or should I say millions?."

Nope, I'm comparing you who wants to start a new production company and myself who started a production company in 2001. When I started this company I owed $50,000 to a partner for a partnership gone bad and I needed another $30,000 to purchase a broadcast quality system so I could freelance on my own.

I could have spent a lot less for a much simpler Final Cut Pro system, but it had to be broadcast quality, and I was starting with absolutely zero equipment. So I needed the FCP system, the BetaSP recorder, the broadcast tv monitor, good quality audio monitors, a desk, client chair, etc.... So I started $80,000 in the hole in 2001 and now have a company that is essentially debt free because we make all our deadlines and I have spent money wisely to grow our company's capabilities to meet our ever growing client needs.

So no, we're not talking millions of dollars in the least. We're talking about building a company from the ground up from absolute zero.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 2:38:46 am



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Timothy J. AllenRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 4:16:07 am

Sebastian,
If a technical issue, such as your example of the tape glitch happens, you simply do the best you can. If you did everything you would reasonably do to avoid the glitch, it's simply a sunk cost.

Be honest with the client and without making excuses, offer a few alternate solutions. Ron gave a great example of how he might salvage missing the wedding kiss with some creating thinking and wisdom in post.

As a client, I'd certainly reject a contract that gave the videographer an out for "reasonable" technical issues, simply because any other professional videographer would take responsibility. That's what the money is for - accepting responsibility to get the job done... and then getting it done.

If (or when) get into a situation where a technical issue will affect your product, just put yourself in your client's shoes and figure out what makes it right for them. Sometimes, it's a combination of a partial refund and some post production magic. Sometimes it's a full refund along with the best product you can make with what you have. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do to really "make it right".

Putting language in a contract that absolves what most of us here agree is "normal" risk and responsibility probably wouldn't help even if you could get people to sign it. The only time a videographer would need to reference that clause would be if something bad happened, and they couldn't "eat the cost" of making things right for the client. In that situation, rather than fighting about something beyond their control, they should be focusing on mitigating further damage to their reputation - and that kind of clause doesn't do that.



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Tim KolbRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 4:13:30 am

[Sebastian Alvarez] "Perhaps I should find a forum for people who are in a similar situation to mine and come back to this forum when hopefully several years from now I will have a production company and then the latest Sony holographic professional camera at $250,000 will seem like a cheap bargain to me."

Sebastian,

i think you keep dwelling on the 'scale' as a somehow mitigating factor...

Somebody pays you to do something. Your equipment fails.

If you know that the shoot went bad, it's probably best to inquire with the client to see if they want you to edit it, instead of editing it for free, but not telling them there is a problem until you're done editing is a good way to waste some time potentially.

If your technology can't be counted on, it isn't good enough to hire out.

Trucking companies don't get paid if the freight gets there late, it doesn't matter if a load of roofing nails spilled onto the highway through no fault of the driver and the truck got all flat tires...

You get a pat on the back for effort...people only write checks for results.

Bottom line.

Ten, a hundred, a million dollars...it's all the same deal.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Steve WargoRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 7:28:26 am

A friend of mine has a client contract that he never wavers from. In there, it states that he is in no way responsible if ANYTHING technical goes wrong. In almost 30 years, he has exercised that exclusion 4 times, twice for bad tapes, once for a horrible sound recording on a bride's wireless mic and once for a camcorder simply crapping out. Because these were low budget shoots, there was no second unit for safety.

Last year, I shot something for an out of town client with our Sony F-900 camera (F-900s cost over $100k). When the client got back to Pittsburgh, the recording on the tape was useless, or so he said. He sent it back. It was jumpy everywhere. Sony looked at it and could not determine the cause except they said that the camera might have caused it. They also said that it could have been the tape deck that they put it in. Every time we had a break, I reviewed the previous footage and it played just fine. I did not process the $2000 invoice. Ouch!


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 HD .


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Mike CohenRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 2:11:13 pm

This thread's development is all too familiar. Someone posts a question. Then when the responses do not fit the expected answer of the original questioner, the conversation diverges. It is similar to asking, "What is better, Premiere or FCP?" Such a vague question will get a storm of answers but it is a question that cannot be answered. As Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, it depends upon a "certain point of view."

In other words, Sebastian, the consensus of this thread seems to be that the answer to your original question is "No." Perhaps you were looking for someone to say "yeah, have them sign a waiver, then you are covered" but that is not too common in my experience. Equipment malfunctions, even if properly maintained, which is why I said in my earlier post - if shooting something that cannot be redone, like a wedding, heart transplant or whatever, have a backup camera. If you are charging typical wedding rates, you should be able to rent a 2nd camera for $200 from your local rental house for the weekend without losing your house.

Good luck, and thanks for seeking the advice of the very seasoned people on this board. We all have the best of intentions.

Mike Cohen


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Bob ColeC'mon folks, ease up!
by on Dec 14, 2008 at 3:36:41 am

You folks are too hard on Sebastian. Sure, it's great to cover yourself, be careful, check everything. But every professional I know has at some point made mistakes, or failed to notice immediately when a piece of equipment has gone wrong. Every piece of back-up gear I carry has a story behind it. That's why I bring it.

I think Sebastian is indeed demonstrating a sense of professionalism in posing the question, "What if?" Most people in his position, just starting out, are a lot less aware of the fact that bad things do happen.

Ron, your suggestion for a cover-up of the missed kiss is great. I'm convinced that the wedding videographers started a whole black-and-white vogue, when they shot the happy couple emerging from the church... still set to tungsten!

But back to Sebastian's question. Here's a hypothetical situation:

Client hires you for a one-camera shoot of a fast-paced event. The event is a one-time-only deal. No time for monitoring, no opportunity for checking tapes, and the event can't be adequately covered by a static, unmanned second camera. It's all dependent on your camera operating perfectly. You maintain your camera well.

In that case I think it is perfectly professional to tell the client, "You are hiring me to cover this event with one camera. I have never had a failure to record with this camera. But it could happen, and due to the one-of-a-kind nature of this event, I think it should be covered with a second camera, just in case. If we don't, we're running a risk, however small, of not covering the event in its entirety, with perfection."

Stuff does happen, folks, and usually it ain't us, thank God. I covered a construction "event" involving a new concept, requiring an extremely complex "dance" of very large cranes, dozens of workers, even a weatherman. We used two cameras. Both worked fine. They haven't asked for the footage though; the structure partially collapsed a week later.

I think it is reasonable, for Sebastian's level of production, to include a clause stating that his liability is limited to the amount of his fee. But at the same time, he really should just have a second camera as a wide shot to cover any glitches.

Actually, Sebastian is making me think: what if, on the way home from that construction job, my vehicle were totalled and burned up, destroying all the tapes/back-ups. Would the construction company be able to bankrupt me because I'd cost them the irreplaceable opportunity to document their event?

Obviously, that's where insurance comes in. I'd like to hear from some of you about your experiences with actually filing a claim. I have a very low level of trust in insurance companies. Seems to me they are in business for two reasons: (1) TAKE your money; (2) KEEP your money. And they have all the lawyers and resources to execute (2) to perfection.

Untoward events are, thankfully, so rare that most of us have zero experience of actually exercising our insurance. Anybody able to shed some light? Good, ethical E&O companies who have actually paid claims?

Keep your head up Sebastian. Get that second camera for event coverage (or cover two performances). Do what you can, work hard, be honest. Perfection is the goal, not the promise; your best effort is your promise, and if you are successful, it will owe a lot to your skill, your hard work, and some luck!

bob c



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David Roth WeissRe: C'mon folks, ease up!
by on Dec 14, 2008 at 6:06:55 pm

[Bob Cole] "You folks are too hard on Sebastian. Sure, it's great to cover yourself, be careful, check everything. But every professional I know has at some point made mistakes, or failed to notice immediately when a piece of equipment has gone wrong."

Bob,

As your friend, I'm gonna tell you bluntly that, I think that's a lot of hooey.

Sebastian's entire premise is based upon the premise of finding a way to escape responsibility. That's become pervasive in our society, and something we need to discourage.

Also, if Sebastian doesn't know by now that HDV requires a rather lengthy pre-roll, and ignorance of that fact bites him, it's not Sony's fault, and it's not a technical issue. It's a fact when working with HDV, and one that's been well-known and well documented for years.

Furthermore, the entire objective of event videography is "coming back with the goods." Any videographer who can't deliver should get into another line of business as quickly as possible.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Bob ColeRe: C'mon folks, ease up!
by on Dec 14, 2008 at 8:18:51 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "As your friend, I'm gonna tell you bluntly that, I think that's a lot of hooey."

I don't think you read my post with your usual detail - I did urge Sebastian to use a second camera.

btw, I ALWAYS tell my new grips - many of whom arrive with that "show must go on, what we do is SO IMPORTANT" attitude -- that the worst thing that can happen is NOT coming away without results -- it's getting somebody hurt on the job. It's up to me to see that the shoot is successful. I want everybody else to stay cool and safety-first.

I mainly posted because I don't like to see folks jumping all over a guy for posing a reasonable question, basically, "How can I prepare for something going wrong, despite my best efforts?" "Something going wrong" DOES NOT NECESSARILY EQUAL "I screwed up" or "I'm not a real pro." Steve Wargo told us about a tape which may or may not have been ruined by the client -- that and Ron's comment about the close-up-kiss-coverup were the most helpful remarks yet.

I still don't believe Sebastian's question has been addressed adequately, despite the length of this thread, which seems mainly given over to "I'm such a pro" examples. I believe you! I'd like to know more about the whole E&O insurance deal, especially the critical question: has anyone ever actually used it?

This topic of bad video hit the news recently. Did you see the story about the Canadian Liberal Party leader (Stéphane Dion) who provided Canadian TV with an out-of-focus video of his speech? The camera was focused on the bookshelf behind him, including a book titled "Hot Air."

Happy holidays.

Bob C



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Dan DennisRe: Waiver for technology shortcomings?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 2:20:05 pm

Sebastian,

It sounds like what you're looking for is similar in nature to the disclaimers offered by satellite and cable companies for failure to deliver their product (programming). They bear no liability for things like equipment failure, acts of God, etc., meaning if you don't get your WWE Raw then you can't sue them. This might help explain why Dish, DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, et.al. have such shoddy customer service.

What you're bound to do as a professional is provide someone a promised product for an agreed-upon fee. No ifs, ands, or buts. I have worked in TV and corporate video for nearly 30 years, and I can tell you that, no matter how much money you spend on equipment, something's gonna break. And it doesn't matter if it's the best equipment in the world or something you picked up at First Saturday on the sidewalk. If the customer doesn't get what you promised them, it's your fault. You can put as many disclaimers in your contract as you want, absolving you from fault should something break, but if I was the customer I'd go find someone who was more confident in their equipment. And confidence in equipment translates into confidence in abilities - and that's what customers are paying for as much as the final product. If you're not comfortable with the gear you're using, then your client will see that, and they won't be comfortable with you.

If it means taking out a small business loan to buy some more reliable (read: expensive) equipment, then do that. But don't highlight your potential shortcomings with a "technology waiver." (On the flip side, if you buy more expensive gear, you can charge more to amortize the cost. But your skills still have to say you're worth it.)

Sorry to be so blunt, but you don't stick around long in this business by being anything less than forthright - with your customer, and with yourself.

"A generation which ignores history has no past and no future." -- Robert Heinlein


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