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Work during this crisis

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Karim Cherif
Work during this crisis
on Feb 18, 2009 at 5:15:49 pm

Hi Folks,

I was thinking about this the last couple of weeks and was wondering how you guys think about it.

Personally I don't really mind the crisis. It's good to shake things up once in a while. I also think the bigger companies will suffer more than smaller ones, or freelancers. I think it is the perfect time to pitch for projects or even sending out your work to bigger potential clients.

I mean, the big production companies or motion graphics companies have so much overhead and charge a lot to keep afloat. What do we creative people really need? We usually have a small studio, or work from home. We have a passion for what we do (which means that we usually put in a lot more hours into the project than agreed upon). We don't need an account manager or secretary. Do we?

So how are you guys preparing for this crisis?
Any thoughts?

K


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walter biscardi
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 18, 2009 at 5:54:17 pm

Crisis, what crisis? We're expanding because we're over booked. Is there something going on that I should know about? :-)

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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Mike Cohen
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 18, 2009 at 6:22:38 pm

In any economy, good or bad, you need to hit the pavement and get work. As long as you don't do video work for investment firms on Wall Street that is, although I bet they need videos of their executive retreats!

It is a buyer's market for production services, so be competitive but don't sell yourself short either.



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Rich Rubasch
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 2:28:27 am

Well at least my post was able to get far enough under Zelin's skin to elicit some constructive advice. Go back and read the original post....then read the very first post...Walter's. There is no advice there. It is smug.

I'm standing by my comments, but I'm glad Walter chimed back in to clarify....just thought that should have been his first instinct.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media



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Nick Griffin
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 18, 2009 at 7:01:33 pm

We work almost exclusively in the technical/industrial segment and that is being affected by the slowing of business activity. The big companies still have some things going on, just fewer than we'd like. Some of the smaller companies we work with are going ahead with business as usual while a couple of others have put a virtual hold on any form of external spending.

With most companies we are seeing increasing evidence of a "delay" mentality. It goes something like,"We're still going to do Project XYZ, but we have to put it off for a little while." (And a while, and a while, etc.) In some ways that can be worse than getting a flat out no.

One variant of the delay which we experienced with one of our larger clients last fall was mid-level engineers and product managers rushing to get a project shot quickly before it could be put on hold by the higher ups. Unfortunately that only lasted a short while.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about competition and what overhead they may have. My focus is almost always on the clients' businesses and my personal belief is that in this economy many people will still buy from the larger, solid companies because they know they'll be around to support them. The little guys and the obviously sick ones are who industrial customers fear doing business with. Many of them clearly won't make it and nobody wants to be left hanging on post-sale service or support issues.


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grinner hester
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 18, 2009 at 7:37:20 pm

Specialists have always gotten the big bucks. Big bucks are what are not affordable today.
By that, I have expanded my services so that I can be a turn key facility within myself. For me, this employs me as a shooter, a director, editor, ect. For them, man they get a flat bid up front so there are no budget surprises for them.
If you are not wearing multiple hats today, I think you are in for quite the struggle to compete.




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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 18, 2009 at 11:38:22 pm

I'm continuing to focus on business development services rather than simply "video production". Video is simply one of many tools that I offer a client in their marketing toolbox.

I've found that it's even more important to be able to show your potential clients "success stories" - tangible examples of how someone used your capabilities to bring in more business for themselves.

Know your value proposition. For those who don't live in the day-to-day world of corporate buzz-speak, you certainly don't have to use the words "value proposition" to your clients. But you do need to be able to quickly let them know what you bring to the table that helps them succeed in these so-called tough economic times.

Another piece of advice? If you are good at what you do, and you don't mind the bureaucracy, look into targeting clients in the government and education sectors (at all levels). Their budgets may have shifted, but they aren't decreasing.



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Rich Rubasch
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:19:18 am

I agree that smaller is more nimble and can be an advantage to some clients. Then again this might not be the right time to jump ship and try a new, smaller production company/freelancer. But it is a great time to brush up on skills, get some marketing materials out there and get the word out.

We are busy with most of our most solid clients, who have their own solid clients and we are all in this together. So far so good, but we are definitely nurturing our closest clients and giving it our all.

I grow weary of Walter's constant posts about how busy he is. It's not constructive to the poster in any way. Hey Walter, how about a few thoughts on WHY you are so busy, instead of the smug same' ol?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media





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cowcowcowcowcow
Bob Zelin
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 4:37:18 am

Rich,
you write -
"I grow weary of Walter's constant posts about how busy he is. It's not constructive to the poster in any way. Hey Walter, how about a few thoughts on WHY you are so busy, instead of the smug same' ol? "

REPLY -
do you know why Walter is busy. Because he is GOOD. Because he and his little shop can outproduce and outedit dramatically larger facilities. He works his ass off, and learns everything. He has no excuses, and expects no excuses from anyone that he deals with.
People who are "editors" and "dont' go graphics, don't do DVD authoring, don't do audio", etc, because they are "editors" -well they are the ones in trouble.

I'm 53 years old, and I study all this new crap that keeps coming out like I'm 21. I know that I am begin chased by younger, smarter guys that charge less than I do. And I will be DAMNED if they are going to get the work. I am going to compete, I am going to know every damn thing that these "kids" know, and I am going to be aggressive in getting new clients, and keeping old clients. And you know what, I am probably even busier than Walter. And in my spare time, I am on forums like these, instead of watching TV, or bowling.

Do you know what is constructive to the poster? GET OFF YOUR ASS - LEARN EVERYTHING, SOLICT MORE CLIENTS - are you tired? I DONT CARE -GET OUT THERE and KILL (or be killed).

Bob Zelin





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Chris Blair
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:47:23 am

While I would've written a little more softly...I'll second Bob's post. We're also busier than we've ever been...and that's after losing a half a million dollar account last fall. We had a record January, and February looks to be nearly as good, with lots of work also already booked for March and April.

Our clients are varied, from car dealer groups to kitchen cabinet manufacturers to health care companies, with some religious and educational institutions thrown in for good measure. None (even the car dealers) seem to be greatly reducing their advertising or production.

But we pride ourselves on giving great service, solving clients problems (i.e. doing the things they don't know how and usually don't have time to do on their own) and on knowing more than our competitors. So much like Bob, I just turned 48 and I spend hours each week researching and learning new techniques, new technology and evaluating new processes. I think all those things pay off in times like this.

And while our work isn't wildly creative or groundbreaking, it's consistently well-done and most of all it communicates and gets done on-time and on-budget every time.


Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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grinner hester
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:09:27 pm

Multiplying one's chances of billing when not booked is not a bad thing. Walter is not having to do this today because he's so busy as a result of years of doing just this. Days off are opportunities to learn a new billing edge and if not utilized as such... all pripes are forfitted when failure happens.
I've been at this for a couple of decades and so far this week I have learned two new NLE apps, a handful of authoring tricks and a boatload of new media practices. First, this is fun for me because I love it. Second, man I can't afford to get left behind as others grow.
My pitching revolves around my capabilities. May as well have a big arson to select from.



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Jason Jenkins
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:45:37 pm

[Bob Zelin] "do you know why Walter is busy. Because he is GOOD. Because he and his little shop can outproduce and outedit dramatically larger facilities. He works his ass off, and learns everything."

You can be the best and know everything and still fail. Schmoozing, marketing, networking, selling yourself, making connections and being in the right place to 'get lucky' is all more important than than being good and knowing a lot, IMO. (Of course, if you have all that together, it's a bonus!)

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!


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walter biscardi
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:23:03 pm

[Rich Rubasch] "I grow weary of Walter's constant posts about how busy he is. It's not constructive to the poster in any way. Hey Walter, how about a few thoughts on WHY you are so busy, instead of the smug same' ol?
"


Did you read my 3 part series on building a new business? Most of my thoughts are in there.

Other than that, I think Bob summed it up pretty well. I don't have any magic answers. We work hard AND we keep re-investing in better and more equipment. I am competing against companies that have $85 million facilities right here in Atlanta and I get work that was bid against them.

The caliber of your work, the abilities of your facility and the diversity of your client base will be your make or break.

I started $80,000 in the hole when I opened my doors in 2001. My company is essentially debt free at this point and has been for the past three years. I don't apologize for being successful because I have earned it through my work. If that comes across as smug, sorry.


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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Shane Ross
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 2:50:06 am

Still...kinda glib to say "what crisis?" Many many MANY of us are hurting. Even those of us who aren't just creative editors, but know graphics and color correction and can author DVDs and are GOOD at what we do. It is one thing to say "well, we aren't feeling it here." Quite another to act as if nothing is going on. I know this is the internet and trying to sound cheerful or sarcastic or to say in a fun way "we aren't suffering" comes off as sounding glib...and I know that was not Walter's intention (to sound glib). But it is very tough for those of us who are suffering through this.

Here in L.A., large shops and small shops are being hit. High end and low production companies. And the good and talented. Clients and networks are cutting back...because they too are feeling the pinch.

So I am glad that Walter is busy. He could have just phrased it a tad differently.

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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cowcowcowcowcow
Bruce Bennett
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:50:14 pm

Hi Karim,

I am a Producer/Director who owns an LLC without any other employees. I sub out all shooting and editing. Business is good, but like many of us, unpredictable for 2009-10. This year, I’ve already lost two $15,000 jobs that were canceled because of the recession. I’m preparing for the possible “crisis to come” three different ways.

#1) Personal Life
Over the past year, I’ve been paying off and eliminating personal debt. Also, I have been spending less “disposable income” for fine dining restaurants, toys, etc. This has created less need for a “larger salary” from my business. (Still doing a good job of staying away from Wal-Mart in order to help manufacturing friends from losing their jobs to China).

#2) Business Infrastructure Adjustments
I’m trying to emulate what all the corporations are doing. Because of the actions mentioned above, I cut my salary back to what it was in 2007 (if I end up making great money this year, I can always pay myself more as dividend payments). I was amazed to find out how much money I was “saving” from less payroll taxes.
I also cut operational costs like the fax service that I used only twice the last two years, less awards competition entry fees, etc. According to my accountant meeting last week, this is exactly how small businesses should be dealing with this recession.

#3) Vendors
I have vendors who are full fledged brick and mortar production companies with multiple employees and others that are younger professionals who live and work out of their parent’s houses. Having a diverse vendor base allows me to be flexible when bidding on projects that are all about price in these times of client budget cutting. I have the flexibility to at least compete with others in getting “low priced” jobs by hiring the vendor that “fits the budget” best. I don’t always go to the cheapest vendor for low cost jobs, but some times will discuss cheaper budgets with higher cost vendors and see what they can (or if they want) to do in order to compete for the job. I have very positive and honest relationships with all my vendors. If I tell them that there is no money, they know there is no money. Likewise, when I have a higher budget, I let them know that too.

My 2-cents for now (maybe more once that big stimulus package is implemented).

Good Luck,
Bruce


Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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Bob Zelin
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:47:24 am

Bruce writes -
Still doing a good job of staying away from Wal-Mart in order to help manufacturing friends from losing their jobs to China).

REPLY - Bruce is the enemy. If Bruce shoots with a camera, it is made in an Asian country. If Bruce edits or does graphics with a Macintosh, it is made in China. If he uses Blackmagic video hardware, it is manufacturerd in Singapore. If you use disk drives on your computer, they are made in Korea, or Thailand. So YOU BRUCE, are the enemy. Go back to WalMart, and start EMPLOYING American workers that are WORKING at WalMart, and need their medical benefits, and keep those truck drivers that deliver to WalMart working, and stop being such a hypocrite. Want to be a "real American" - edit with an editor that uses an AVID - made in America. (Of course, the disk drives, and monitors are still made overseas).
You sound like the guys that want to buy an "American car", made in Mexico or Canada.


No offense Bruce - I'm just trying to stir up trouble ! If the big fat companies go out of business, there are plenty of us small businessmen that will pick up the slack, embrace that work, and stay employed. The "old guys" making over $100,000 a year will be replaced by the "youngsters" that YOU are employing (that live in their parents house). These kids will learn whatever it takes to be employed by you, and will be the next generation of people that will be in the business, while the "old guys" that know it all fade away, and cry about the good old days (of Quantel, CMX, D2 machines, etc.).

bob Zelin





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Steve Kownacki
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:57:02 pm

my 2¢ - mostly regurgitated from past posts and other sites:

1) Read the E-myth by Michael Gerber. http://www.e-myth.com/ A good tech does not always make a great biz owner.

2) You are constantly soft selling. Get people to like you first. Your mood, your personality, your skills all reflect your business - make sure it's attracting your customer. I never sold anybody anything, I educate them why they should use video & what makes us different (what they should look for when choosing a video company). They basically convince themselves to use us.

3) Take care of your customer. Period. Get the coffee/beverages they like, make sure the right food is served, create the right atmosphere. People like to feel special - do that.

4) Create value. I never bought on price, I like to buy service. Do all the little stuff that takes any burden off the client. Anticipate their needs.

5) Ask for referrals.

6) Spend 64.7% of your time reading about biz development & marketing. You still need to learn video stuff, but that doesn't bring in work. While this thread is great, you won't learn enough today to have a magic wand. This stuff needed to be in place for years to easily weather so called bad economic times.

7) Never get discouraged.

8) Partner with another company (not in the legal sense) and become a bit of a specialist.

9) How many Thank You cards did you send out last week? I did 7. Nothing special, a box of simple cards from BJs for $8. But they were hand written, hand addressed. A single dub or a promo video. Didn't matter, each one got a card.

10) Bob nailed it - you cannot be lazy. This stuff takes an immense amount of time, but ya gotta do it. Do enough business to hire somebody to do it for you, have your kids do it. There's a solution for everything.

We are busy, mostly with repeat clients 'cause we take care of them. We make their lives easy. We too work our butts off, all that matters is the client leaves at the end of the day happy - they don't need to know the hoops you had to go through to make it all happen - that's your job.

Hopefully some of this makes sense. Time to count my piles of money. Hee hee. Steve

Steve



Jump to the FFP Website



View Steve Kownacki's profile on LinkedIn




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Bruce Bennett
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:24:19 pm

Hi Bob,

Your profile: “Hobbies and Interests: torturing participants on web based user forums.” LOL. This helps me understand your overall good nature helps support my harping on the newbies to fill out their profiles before posting.

One common defensive remark related to my “Wal-Mart” comment goes something like, “All retailers buy goods at the cheapest price possible. Wal-Mart happens to do it best.” But…. As far as I know, Apple (Final Cut Pro) and Madison/Middleton’s Electronic Theater Controls (ETC) don’t hand out applications for state provided health care or food stamps for low-income residents upon hiring new employees like Wal-Mart does. And, I don’t think our locally owned Dorn Hardware store chain has systems in place that help their suppliers close down domestic factories and then set up replacement sweat shops in China. Looking at the “means” versus the “end” has a lot to do with my actions/opinions. I hope this negates the feeling/belief that I’m being a hypocrite.

As far as small, medium and large vendors, I try to “share the love” with all of them.

Thanks for the reply. I enjoy reading your posts.

Now I must go out and buy our local boy Matt Kenseth’s Daytona 500 t-shirts (printed by Madison/Middleton’s Top Promotions) before all the good stuff is taken. I plan to buy from Matt’s independently owned store near Cambridge and don’t plan on stopping at Wal-Mart :)

Cheers!
Bruce

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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Mike Cohen
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 4:16:54 pm

I look around my office and there are few things NOT made overseas. Perhaps my desk is made domestically as America still makes a lot of furniture.
Walmart and Target are cheap places to shop - even the food is cheaper. While the lines at Walmart are long, they are also long at Costco, which has in some cases the best prices of all.

I agree with Bob. At the moment, we need to support American workers, who are retail workers more than they are factory workers.

Mike


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Bruce Bennett
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:23:13 pm

[Mike Cohen] "At the moment, we need to support American workers, who are retail workers more than they are factory workers."

Confusing statement to me.
Supporting retailers that pay employees a decent wage is good for our economy. For example, according to the New York Times, Costco pays their people an average of $17 per hour, which is about 42 percent more than the average Wal-Mart employee. Supporting retailers that pay employees a decent wage, offer benefits and don't use their buying power to force American owned factories to relocate overseas is even better.

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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Mike Cohen
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 6:21:29 pm

I generally avoid Walmart because my local store smells funny!

Anyway, let's get back on topic - getting work during an economic slowdown.


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Chris Blair
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 21, 2009 at 1:53:16 am

I don't think anyone, including Walter, is acting as if nothing is going on out there. But there are many companies that are not feeling the effects of the economic downturn, especially companies that provide services that people need whether the economy is good or bad...like Health Care. Insurance is another area that isn't significantly feeling the effect (yet).

You've got to figure there are many companies cutting wages, freezing spending, and laying off workers because they CAN. I have a friend that works for a property management company that owns scores of big apartment complexes. Their occupancy is at record levels.

Yet just this week a memo was sent stating that all executives and management will get a 10% pay reduction and that layoffs are coming. Obviously, it's management folks are baffled and angry. Their costs have not changed significantly, yet their CEO is acting as if business is bad. It doesn't take a lot of smarts to see this is a company whose board of directors is saying, "hey...everybody else is doing it, we can do it too (and get away with it) and make even MORE money for us and our shareholders!"

Then there companies like Toyota doing everything possilbe to avoid significantly cutting wages or laying off workers. Like reducing work-weeks from 5 days to 4 for salaried employees, re-tooling assembly lines to be more efficient, moving products to assembly plants that can build faster or leaner, etc.

So I think finding innovative ways to cut costs, and getting better at estimating and pitching your services to clients is a HUGE key to survival. Advertising, marketing and video work isn't going to cease. There will be plenty of it, but getting better at finding the available work and getting better at winning I believe will be a big key to surviving.



Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Tim Kolb
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 21, 2009 at 2:10:50 am

[Bob Zelin] "while the "...old guys" that know it all fade away, and cry about the good old days (of Quantel, CMX, D2 machines, etc.)"

What? D2 machines are no longer current?









TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Nick Griffin
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:18:08 pm

[Tim Kolb] "What? D2 machines are no longer current?"

And just what am I supposed to do with the Sony BVH-2500 1" VTR sitting in the corner of my office?? (Oh, that's right. It's a prop so the more naive of our clients will see it sitting there and think we must really DO television. Without it our offices would only have computers just like all of their offices do.)


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Work during this crisis
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:37:32 pm

Man I'm old... when I do a seach for 2" quad, all I get is results for Intel processors!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2%22_Quadruplex_videotape

Steve



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View Steve Kownacki's profile on LinkedIn




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Bob Cole
"Sail your own boat"
on Feb 24, 2009 at 1:22:42 am

Some of us have more work than others. It's just human nature to own our success, and blame our problems on the environment. Sometimes, that is even true. Sometimes it's an excuse. You can't generalize. The best of us and the worst of us can succeed or fail, either because of our own talents or despite our weaknesses. That's not to say, Don't work hard -- it's just to say, Have some humility when you're successful, and don't necessarily get down on yourself when you're not.

What got our country into this economic mess? It's because too many people started judging their own self-worth on the basis of their place in society. Some of us got jealous of those neighbors who made a fortune by flipping their house, or by investing with that genius Madoff, or of people who got huge bonuses by selling shaky mortgages.

My late father-in-law, boatbuilder and wonderful, gentle man, enjoyed racing sailboats. Occasionally he would observe one of us peering anxiously astern or ahead at the rest of the fleet, and he would say, "Sail your own boat."

That's really all you can do, isn't it?

Bob C



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walter biscardi
Re: "Sail your own boat"
on Feb 24, 2009 at 1:28:49 am

[Bob Cole] "My late father-in-law, boatbuilder and wonderful, gentle man, enjoyed racing sailboats. Occasionally he would observe one of us peering anxiously astern or ahead at the rest of the fleet, and he would say, "Sail your own boat."

That's really all you can do, isn't it? "


Amen to 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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