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What to expect from your Clients or Contractors

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Phil LeBeau
What to expect from your Clients or Contractors
on May 12, 2010 at 5:45:56 pm

I am doing some research and wondering what your thoughts are on these two questions.

1. As a CONTRACTOR/FREELANCER, what information or materials would you like to have from your CLIENT when accepting a job? For example, Is there a script? Budget amount? Provided art work, and so on.


2. As a CLIENT, what do you expect from your CONTRACTOR? Like daily communication? Do you prefer phone calls or emails? What if the contractor needs more time or money for stock footage? And so on.

Thank you for your feedback. I hope that this advise will help others increase their service to clients.

Thanks again!




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Mark Suszko
Re: What to expect from your Clients or Contractors
on May 12, 2010 at 7:45:23 pm

Q.1: More than they usually give me:-)

For us, it it usually an interactive process: whatever initial data clients bring is never really enough, and they can't be expected to anticipate all the variables we experienced providers take into account. And maybe that's okay; after all, we position ourselves as taking charge of everything and making the process easy and transparent to our clients.

Even considering that, though, yes, there are some bare minimums we need to know, and questions we ask...
the 5 W's for a start. If they don't offer the 5 W's, we tease that information out with additional questions. Time for example: is the time you've told us the time the event starts, the time people arrive, which is actually an hour or more before the key event starts, or is it the time we're expected to arrive to load-in and set up? Often the clients don't appreciate how much time it takes to load-in and set up for quality video coverage. We have to figure out what time the real start time is, then back-time to take account of how long we need to set up, plus travel time. Clients still think TV is magic: you push a button and there it is, fully formed. They rarely consider that their 2 PM event start time may mean a 5 AM call time for one of us to hit the road to get there and be ready for 2PM.

Then we also ask pointed questions about the deliverables, and this you have to be careful about with unschooled clients, because they don't have a technical vocabulary to give accurate statements. Parse the following, for example:

"We want the film to be on a CD so people can watch it on their home DVD players."

Did that mean a film or a video? Did they mean something encoded onto a CD-rom, and if so, in what codec or format, or did you mean an actual mpeg-2 DVD?

"I want to be able to play it on my computer or on my DVD player".

Okay, does your computer have a DVD-capable drive?
"I dunno. I can play some movies on it"
"Hollywood movies, like from blockbuster video rentals?"
"No, Youtube movies, what's the difference?"

"Well, let's keep this simple; just give us a VCR tape of it."
(sigh) VHS or Betacam, or DV?
"Yes."

"Nevermind: just give us a Quicktime of it".
($%#^#$%@^!!!)


Assuming we work all that out eventually, next we come up against items about the location's suitability. Lighting, sound, power, access, just for starters. Often the real answers can only be achieved from a location scout, but that's not always possible or practical.

Then we have to ask them how they plan to use the product, as this affects how and what we shoot and what our post-production strategy and thus costs will be. I once got a client that was working on a training presentation for potential judges for the Deming Quality Award. I was called in to shoot the lecture, which came with a slide show. The assumption I had going in was, I would have time to edit and polish this, so I didn't shoot much of the slides live, knowing I could get them put in later, in higher quality, and I shot kind of loosely, snap-zooming and snap-focusing around the room for cut-aways with the single camera we brought, in areas I knew I would later cover with the slides. Comes the end of the presentation, the guy asks for the RAW FOOTAGE ONLY, right there. I explain that's not going to be of very good quality until I edit in the slides and clean it all up. The guy says, no, what I've got is going to be "good enough", sight-unseen. Just make a raw dub to VHS and we're done. This is going to be shown to the folks who missed the speech, as-is.

Deming. Quality. Award. Judge. Training.
(facepalm)

My own fault for not probing the client's needs deep enough and assuming that this client was going to be like the other 99 I had done. You can never ask enough questions.


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Chris Blair
Re: What to expect from your Clients or Contractors
on May 14, 2010 at 5:52:42 pm

1. As a CONTRACTOR/FREELANCER, what information or materials would you like to have from your CLIENT when accepting a job? For example, Is there a script? Budget amount? Provided art work, and so on.

Like Mark said, the more information we have the better. Script, storyboards, design elements, other marketing materials that run concurrently with the campaign, really ANYTHING that's relevant to the project and anything that can help us make it mesh with the company's other marketing and advertising.

I do design as well as shoot and edit, and I LOVE getting layouts from other graphic artists. I know a LOT of graphic artists who despise this because they believe it puts them into a design strait jacket. I actually think it does the opposite. It gives me colors and fonts and general design rules which frees me to find creative ways to animate or integrate those into the particular project.

2. As a CLIENT, what do you expect from your CONTRACTOR? Like daily communication? Do you prefer phone calls or emails? What if the contractor needs more time or money for stock footage? And so on.

We use freelancers for shooting, editing and design. I don't need daily communication, but I need at least enough regular updates to know where the project is going. I actually prefer emails because it gives me something to track, and more importantly, it gives me physical proof of what people promise and say. More important than that though is I want freelancers or contractors to DISCUSS what they're doing and ask for regular feedback.

I don't like when a contractor works in a little bubble and doesn't share back and forth about layouts or rough edits, or discuss the footage they've shot. I find that many people in our business treat what they do in a very personal way, and they're very sensitive about the decisions they make. So much so that they don't like constructive criticism and see any criticism as an indictment of their skills. When in fact, discussion and review by pros almost always improves a project, whether it's through better ideas, tighter editing, better lighting, or more compelling and communicative design.

So I expect a contractor to be a pro and make decisions and move a project forward, but also keep me informed and ask my opinon about what they're doing.

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


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