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Construction Project HD Documentation

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Greg BallConstruction Project HD Documentation
by on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:58:38 pm

I have a potential client looking to have us shoot and document a long term construction project.
They'd like us to provide a 2 person crew to shoot meetings on an escalating scale as the project moves along. That's the easy part. But they are also looking for the following:

1. They would like us to give them all of the raw footage on a Hard drive. I have no idea how to charge them for the raw footage.

2. They also want to set up some type of HD time lapse system to record 24 hours a day for the term of the project 3-5 years. They want us to maintain this equipment. I'm thinking that there must be some company that provides this service. Any thoughts?

3. Third they want to buy FCP and have us train them on how to cut together a quick video if needed.

4. Lastly, they want rates for over seas travel. How do you determine travel fees over seas? Is it just 1/2 of the shooting day rate? That woks usually for travel in the US, but how about overseas?

Anybody done something similar where you may steer us in the right direction?

Thanks for your advice.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Construction Project HD Documentation
by on Sep 24, 2009 at 11:16:48 pm

For the time lapse, give my friend Adam Zoghlin a call in Chicago; he travels everywhere, and works for all manner of clients, including Oprah, but he's no fancy-dan. You'll get a great product from him. He's also on Linked-In.

Don't do the FCP training thing: if they insist, give them a laptop with imovie HD on it, more than enough for their simple needs.

"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"

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Richard CooperRe: Construction Project HD Documentation
by on Sep 24, 2009 at 11:27:25 pm

3. Third they want to buy FCP and have us train them on how to cut together a quick video if needed.

To me this is a RED FLAG!!
Walk away.... or negotiate a finished product, you not in the training business... unless you are... then ignore my first comment. ;)

The time lapse is pretty straight forward. If there is a building near by that you can negotiate a window view or a weatherized mount on top then set up a DSLR (hard wired to power), set it to 1 frame every 24 hrs and you will end up with 1825 stills for a 74 second time-lapse of the entire 5 years (at 24p). Adjust # of shots per 24 hr period too get a longer time-lapse. Make sure you set you shots for part(s) of the day that is light on Dec 21st) otherwise you will end up with a huge pain come time for post production... pulling out all the black frames.

Get a solid travel itinerary from them on travel dates and places before bidding on any international travel (or otherwise) You cant give an accurate bid without accurate information.

Good luck!

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska

Everyone has a story to tell.

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Mike CohenRe: Construction Project HD Documentation
by on Sep 24, 2009 at 11:57:49 pm

Like with the previous budget estimate threads, you can't know the unknowns.
We always write "travel and lodging billed at cost." This way, if a shoot is a last minute idea and it costs $3500 for airfare, you are covered. Some large companies may demand estimates of travel costs, even if they don't tell you how many trips or locations there might be.

Thus, you need to bid high. When they see your budget of $1,000,000 + travel for 3-5 years of work they may think again about the project, or if they just got their TARP bailout they won't bat an eyelash.

Some people charge for travel time, others charge for a shoot. Just make your rate fair to the guys who will be away from home for 6 weeks.

The time lapse needs to be in some hard position, protected from the elements, and in a spot that won't get blocked. Imagine if your time lapse movie was a long shot of a house that was built in front of your camera when nobody noticed! Obviously someone needs to check the camera monthly to make sure it is there, working and to get the data.

Regarding training them on Final Cut. If that's what they want, fine. But your job as a vendor is to determine if what the client thinks they want is what they really want or need. Maybe they are looking to save some coin. But you could probably build a retainer fee into your budget for spur of the moment editing. You will have all the footage, and you could share with the client dailies or some online archive of timecoded footage.

If they are gung ho about editing themselves, tell them to take some night classes ;)

Training someone who is not your employee or colleague to do a job that you yourself usually get paid to do has an unknown monetary value. I would say your annual salary times the number of years it took you to become an expert is a good place to start. Could be a deal breaker as Mark has suggested.

Mike Cohen

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Mark SuszkoRe: Construction Project HD Documentation
by on Sep 25, 2009 at 1:11:04 am

The time lapse is, and at the same time isn't "straightforward"; for one that long, it might be better to contract it out to a specialist.

But if you do it yourself, arrange for a unit that not only stores the frames on board, but also emails or ftp's them out to a secure web site somewhere, so no matter what goes wrong at the camera site, you have all the frames offsite, up to when it went bad. Also, you need to be able to monitor ongoing progress in order to handle problems as soon as they become apparent, and not when it is too late to do anything about them. It is also nice to have the frames come to you regularly, so you can have a head start on working with them.

We had a great time using an Axis brand webcam to shoot time lapse of a 3-4 day process (building a butter cow for the state fair). All was well, the first day, but we hadn't planned that the night janitor, unaware of what we were doing, would come thru with a floor vac or buffer, and unplug our cam to run his cleaning gear, and leave the power off when he left for the night. The power loss made the internal server reset to frame zero, thank goodness most of the first day had been sent over to an offsite storage by the camera's built-in web server. Luckily, a second camera on a different angle and power line covered the gap.

If this is a building being built, you may want more than one camera position as well. Modern technique includes getting the outer "skin" on the building early; while lots more work goes on inside for a long time, once the skin is hiding it, you don't see it. So additional angles early-on, outside and and inside, are useful. Get some CAD files of the thing and use them to help you plan out the best camera shots in advance.

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Greg BallThanks Guys.
by on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:02:03 pm

Thanks all for your insight. Have a great weekend.

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Bill ParisRe: Construction Project in HD
by on Sep 28, 2009 at 6:36:44 pm


A couple of additional thoughts:
1. Travel - 1/2 Day per travel day, plus costs is usually fair.

2. FCP Training - will set them up enough to get started and answer more difficult questions as they progress.

3. Long Term Timelapse in HD - Harbortronics sells a weatherproof enclosure for digital SLR's that will run on solar. I used two of their systems on a movie set, shooting for three months in the jungle with no AC power and they worked great!

Good Luck!

Bill Paris
Producer/Director of Photography
Crew Hawaii Television

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