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Signs of the Apocalypse

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Chris BlairSigns of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 1:27:50 am

In the last 6-12 months we've experienced some things that we believe are signs of a coming Apocalypse.

1. At major corporations, people are being transferred from previous careers in IT, Human Resources and Customer Service...to positions as Marketing Directors, Brand Managers and VPs of Advertising. Never mind they don't know a rating point from a pressure point. Experienced (and smart) VPs are getting kicked to the curb in droves.

2. "Senior" Producers at Ad Agencies are younger than my son, and greener than the Chicago River on St. Patty's day. One of them recently cast a college student to play the part of....wait for it....an elderly lady! Another cast a "how to" video with actors but had nobody on set who actually knew "how to" perform the task needed for the video.

3. These same green Marketing Directors ask for bids on video projects based on written specs, then once the contract is inked, present revised scripts that are impossible to shoot on the agreed upon budget. In fact, they'd be impossible to shoot on Herculean budgets! They're upset about that fact because they've already told their boss it can be done without asking us first.

4. Producers who've NEVER been on a shoot before argue about how we schedule the shoot, complaining "we don't need that much time to do four setups because the shoot is in one location." Never mind we've been doing this for 25 years, have scheduling down to a near science....and most importantly... the location is an industrial complex the size of a small city and it takes 30-60 minutes just to move from one location to the next...NOT including lighting, blocking and shooting the scene.

These are just 4 of MANY trends we've seen since the economic bust two years ago. Are we just that "unlucky" or are others experiencing similar trends?

I should also point out that this isn't a complaint, just a fact that has frankly shocked us. We'll do whatever the client wants...in fact, our internal motto is from Caddy Shack Greens Keeper Carl Spackler: "we can do that...we don't even need a reason!"

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


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Rich RubaschRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 1:36:55 am

Apocalypse, 'eh? I think you're onto something.

Has been pretty strange around here too. Lots of oddball shifting around in the industry and not the usual players anymore. Lots of newbies, who in some cases, are actually pretty talented on their own. How they will fit into the community of professionals who want to push the buttons is hard to say, but many of the up and comers have put out some clever, good looking stuff. But usually they don't have an agency creative over their shoulder.

On the production side we do see more corners being cut at least in our realm of work.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production and Post
Owner/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Bill DavisRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:12:53 am

Chris,

I've seen EXACTLY the same thing out here in AZ.

What I witnessed over the past two years is that in a headlong rush to cut LABOR COSTS (the single largest fixed ongoing costs of ANY business enterprise) corporate execs would do something that, on first analysis, looks sensible...

If you have, say, 30 folks in a department - and you want to generate significant savings - you cut the MIDDLE personnel out. In other words, to get down to TEN associates, you'd protect the seven lowest salaries of the admins or new folks at the bottom - because they do the bulk of the paper shuffling and phone answering and keep things actually RUNNING. AND you'd cut down to two supervisor types at the TOP of the department, plus a Department Manager or VP cuz you've got to have someone to liaise with the suits in the executive suite. And so you cut out the MIDDLE of the department to generate the largest savings while still keeping just enough bodies around to make it seem like you've still GOT a department.

BUT...

While yes, you GUT the people who COST you the most - sadly these happen to be the experienced middle and upper middle folks who've put in time learning their crafts and who actually know how to PRODUCED QUALITY for the department. These are the folks who've risen from the ranks and typically after learning the game, have become what I call the "smart heart" of the business.

The problem is that when you dump these folks, the ONLY people you have left above the FUNCTIONARY level are the upper managers and VP types. And suddenly THESE FOLKS have to do the actual WORK of the department. They're typically smart enough, and if they came up through the ranks, they also may even have had writing and/or creative chops at some point, but now they're suddenly having to cover for ALL that lost talent in the middle.

Over the past year, I've worked side by side with VPs and Senior VPs trying to write video scripts. They're educated and intelligent - but the are NOT scriptwriters. And in other businesses, just as your note describes, I've worked with rank amateurs who have been tasked with "supervising" work they have NO CLUE about.

These companies will, someday I believe, look back and realize that while the brain might be at the top of the organism - it's HEART is in the mid-levels. And you can't create anything lasting and wonderful when you cut the heart out of any enterprise.

A\And someday those same companies will wonder why they can't DO STUFF like they used to.

And the answer will be that they LET GO of their companies institutional wisdom in the headlong rush to keep profits up. And it's going to be a LONG TIME before these companies can build that back.

Such is life.



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Bob ZelinRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 3:26:17 am

I just related this story yesterday, and was going to keep it quiet, but now that you guys started...............

This is nothing complex, it's the usual "how can we get it done cheaper - I don't care if they are qualified or not" -
A client at Universal (independent production company) had a young, bright editor - so bright, they built their last edit system without me (to my dismay), but this guy did it - so you would think that he was valuable to them - BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !. I was called by them two days ago to do some minor work (I was surprised, because this young guy built the new edit room by himself, why did they need me), and there was this nice young lady who I recognized as AN INTERN from another company in town, who was now editing there. In making small talk, I said "so where is XYZ", to which she replied "oh he comes in once in a while, but I am now editing here every day". Which means boys and girls, that even though he was young, but very qualified in both editing and technical skills (enough to not have to even use me) - he was STILL too expensive, when they can get this girl to "edit" for what someone earns in McDonnalds. THAT is how it is done today.

Repent - the end is near.

Bob Zelin



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David Roth WeissRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 5:02:55 pm

This has been going on for several years now, and when pointed out here by many who recognized the changes early on, in almost every instance they were belittled and met by post after post from Walter and Bob telling them that everything in the world was just peachy. Seems the new reality may have sunk in for Bob?

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Rafael AmadorRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 9:14:02 pm

On this side of the pond, that started in England back in the middle 80's with Miss Thatcher and is the habitual scene since then.
Students on practices and scholarships covering have of the positions and experienced (well paid and with own ideas) people being changed by beginners (cheaper and easier to manage and squeeze).
This have been happening in every sector and industry no only in the film&video.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Ned MillerRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 2:22:19 am

Thank you David Roth Weiss for vindicating me: "when pointed out here by many who recognized the changes early on, in almost every instance they were belittled and met by post after post from Walter and Bob telling them that everything in the world was just peachy."

Last year I posted a couple of times about this very trend, specifically how clients were doing video themselves, using Flip cameras, interns producing, etc. and the responses were incredulous. Now I see that this trend has spread out from Chicago and more on this forum are noticing it. There is a fundamental, and I hate to use the cliche: "changing paradigm", at the bottom, and low middle range. Although us pros don't care to troll the bottom end, it sure helps pay the bills when times are slow or expenses are high. Perhaps one has kids in college or a boat payment? We could always count on the bottom end and low middle when between high end well paying projects. Alas...no more.

How are others on this board combatting this trend? I for one, on my slow days, market to what I perceive are prospects in growing companies, in hot recession proof industries, based on news stories in local business sections and trade magazines.


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Walter SoykaRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 8:54:01 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "This has been going on for several years now, and when pointed out here by many who recognized the changes early on, in almost every instance they were belittled and met by post after post from Walter and Bob telling them that everything in the world was just peachy. Seems the new reality may have sunk in for Bob?"

I don't presume to speak for Bob, but I've never interpreted his posts as if he's thought everything was just peachy. In fact, I think he's been saying the opposite for years: the world is changing, the pace of change is accelerating, downward pressure on prices is increased and accelerating, and if you want to stay in the video business, you must constantly evolve and never ever stop learning.

I think that Bob Zelin has one of the best views of the business here. As a video and storage engineer, he provides infrastructure to facilities. His clients are the shops which are busy enough to justify paying him to help them expand their infrastructure and capabilities. Bob's clients are upgrading from single edit bays to suites with shared storage. Bob's clients are using innovative, lower-cost engineering and technology to their advantage. Bob's clients are all growing and investing in their futures, even in the Flip era, which is why I read every post he writes about the industry twice.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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walter biscardiRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:24:51 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "Walter and Bob telling them that everything in the world was just peachy."

I've been saying the world is peachy? No. I've been saying that we are in the fortunate position to be expanding while much of the country is contracting.

In Georgia our film and television business went from around $200 million three years ago to about $1.7 billion last year.

I'm also in a position where I have very good long term clients that have nothing to do with corporations.

I also steered my company away from corporate clients 4 or 5 years ago when the only thing that mattered to them was the bottom line and I could simply not compete at the price level they were asking. The young college kids are better suited for their price points.

And last but not least, we keep our overhead to an absolute minimum and the new building is part of that strategy. Because the economy is so bad, we are building from scratch on almost 2 acres of land for about 60% less per month than if we leased 40% less space than we are building.

Yep, the economy is bad, high school kids with iMovie can do the exact same work we're doing for pennies on the dollar and I'm now getting resumes from people who used to work in the $85 million production facility in town. But we're still expanding because we're in a position to take advantage of everything that's going on in this state.

Nowhere does this say everything is peachy, nor would I ever say that in this economy. All I've said all along is that we've built for 10 years to put ourselves in a perfect position to take advantage of this down market.

Call it what you like. I just call it being in the right place at the right time.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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walter biscardiRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:30:41 pm

And as a PS, I'm well aware that there are two potential outcomes for our expansion.

We will continue to be successful.

We will have a downturn in the company and declare bankruptcy.

I know this going in and accept that we will work hard to make sure the first option is where we go. But I will never have to wonder what could have happened had we not expanded.

At this point we have no choice but to expand. 1000 square feet with 6 people tripping over each other is not going to work. So sink or swim, we're going to have fun trying.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Scott SheriffRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 6:25:39 pm

David,
"This has been going on for several years now, and when pointed out here by many who recognized the changes early on, in almost every instance they were belittled and met by post after post from Walter and Bob telling them that everything in the world was just peachy."

I'll go a step past that to say this began in broadcasting with the demise of the Quad machines, and the rise of U-Matic, 1" and then Beta. In Denver, that was around the mid to late 80's. By '91 we had the last running Quad in Denver, and spent a lot of time bumping stuff to 1" for clients that were slow to catch on.
The change was logarithmic, so many didn't see it right away. We stood there like dinosaurs, watching the comet that was to kill us, stupid and happy. Unaware that many would be extinct in a few years.
But as soon as station management started seeing that you didn't need to be an engineer to operate the new gear, staff size, hiring qualifications and new hire wages began to decline. And you saw a rush to purchase more and more 'plug and play' equipment, which was becoming cheaper every day.

It reminds me of the 'Bah Humbug' Christmas episode of WKRP. The ghost of 'Christmas Future' shows Johnny the station run entirely by Herb sitting at some futuristic console. I think when we all saw that show back in the day we all laughed. How ridiculas, one guy running the whole station?
Now radio has gone completely beyond that, and there are TV stations (in top 20 markets) that run 24/7 with one or two people.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Jason JenkinsRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 9:07:10 pm

I'll jump in here and add my story. I was contacted recently for a bid on producing eight 15 second TV ads. No actors needed, but shooting some live elements, stock footage and a fair amount of animation. Turn-around: 4 weeks. Delivery for broadcast and web. I put in a bid of $20k. After a week of no response, I emailed. Their response, "Since we are a public agency, we had to take the lowest bid." I asked what the other bids were. $15,000 and $12,725. My rates used to be considered very middle-of-the-road. I really can't complain, though. The last couple of months have been very good, work-wise. It would have been fun to finish off the year with a $20k project though... At least I can hold my head high because I took a stand for decent rates!

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Mark SuszkoRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 1, 2010 at 5:45:02 pm

There are the middle level people that, as you say, know their business... and there are...








From the perspective of the grunts who DO the work, to the pooh-bas upstairs, there is often a large disconnect about what the work is, and how best to do it. Pooh-bas look at bottom-line P/L numbers and the human effort that goes into the production process is considered a "sunk cost". Your level of talent and experience is not something they can easily commoditize like physical equipment. However, they CAN look at an experienced person's higher salary and benefits costs and decide that replacing the person with a low-cost beginner saves more money than it costs in lost productivity... because productivity is not directly connected to the poobah's own performance, and it is very hard to quantify the difference between a pro who knocks out a great edit in an hour, versus a newb who may have to slave over it all day to get somethugn *almost* as good. if the deadline was met, to t he pooh-ba, that's no net difference, you see?. If it were the reality that the top guys' pay was linked to the bottom guy's results, we would all be scouted by talent agents as if we were baseball phenoms or rock stars.


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walter biscardiRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:55:38 pm

[Chris Blair] "1. At major corporations, people are being transferred from previous careers in IT, Human Resources and Customer Service...to positions as Marketing Directors, Brand Managers and VPs of Advertising. Never mind they don't know a rating point from a pressure point. Experienced (and smart) VPs are getting kicked to the curb in droves."

Yep, it's all about Salary. This has been happening at Turner Broadcasting for years at all levels from on-air talent to the technical staff. Cheaper to bring in new folks or folks new to a department than to keep promoting the same people. It's easier to take someone making $20,000 and promote them to $30,000 while at the same time letting go someone who used to make $100,000 in the same job.



[Chris Blair] "2. "Senior" Producers at Ad Agencies are younger than my son, and greener than the Chicago River on St. Patty's day. One of them recently cast a college student to play the part of....wait for it....an elderly lady! Another cast a "how to" video with actors but had nobody on set who actually knew "how to" perform the task needed for the video."

No surprise there quite honestly. It's fun for me to work with green folks who have absolutely no clue what it takes to produce a project and see what they come up with. That's why all of my contracts include a line like "based on the information available," or "the figures quoted in this contract are an estimate and subject to change based on client requested changes."


[Chris Blair] "3. These same green Marketing Directors ask for bids on video projects based on written specs, then once the contract is inked, present revised scripts that are impossible to shoot on the agreed upon budget. In fact, they'd be impossible to shoot on Herculean budgets! They're upset about that fact because they've already told their boss it can be done without asking us first."

As I said, my contracts always have the provision for changes. I always keep a copy of any correspondence with the end client with my contracts so if there is any question as to why I'm changing the price, they can see why. Of course if it looks like they are going to nickel and dime me to death I'll either cut loose the contract to walk away or I'll hold the master until we receive final payment. Nothing like holding on to a project that is scheduled to be shown tomorrow and they don't have it in their hands because you didn't get paid......


[Chris Blair] "4. Producers who've NEVER been on a shoot before argue about how we schedule the shoot, complaining "we don't need that much time to do four setups because the shoot is in one location." Never mind we've been doing this for 25 years, have scheduling down to a near science....and most importantly... the location is an industrial complex the size of a small city and it takes 30-60 minutes just to move from one location to the next...NOT including lighting, blocking and shooting the scene."

Producers who HAVE been on shoots always argue with me when I schedule the time. Again, see my answer #2. I have had two shoots where the client insisted on scheduling the time.

On one of them I knew they under-booked the time by half so I told the entire crew to be prepared for three additional days of shooting, kind of like asking them to be on stand-by. When we got to the end of the first day it was very obvious to the client/Producer we were not going to complete the project in three days. "So what can we do?" Well, we either scale the project way back to shoot what we can in three days or you will have to add three more days of field production to your budget.

They miraculously found just enough money to cover those extra three days of shooting.

If a client wants to back themselves into a corner I will let them. Then I let them make the decision of how to proceed. It was their decision to forge ahead ill prepared so they can make the decision on how to fix it.

But my contracts have the provision to cover overages and I will (and have) held Masters until final payment if necessary.

The trends you mention really aren't all that new quite honestly. Well except for the part of the folks getting younger in much more prominent positions.

I've had my own company since 1998 and right from the get go, our first client "knew television" and insisted on how the first project was going to go. He was wrong and we ate the added cost.

Since 1998 I've had to deal with the "sticker shock" when we tell folks how much a project is going to cost. And especially the time involved. "It doesn't take 30 minutes to edit a 30 minute video?"

The big trend of the past few years has simply been the availability of the tools to a much wider audience. Anybody with a Mac laptop is a video editor with a very powerful suite of tools for $999. So as a result, the rates people can charge have plummeted and the sheer amount of people providing production services has skyrocketed. Go to any dinner party and you will hear about someone's child who is at college / high school / tech school editing, animating, doing graphics and website in their spare time on their laptops. Those same kids then move into our field and since they're only out a couple grand for the laptop and software, will charge $25/hour for what a typical shop would charge $175/hour and higher.

We have not been hit quite as hard in that regard because our prices have always been much lower than the going rate in this area. I've always gone after the strategy of long term clients paying less per job but making up for that with the volume of work. That has worked for us so far.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Patrick OrtmanRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 10:32:36 pm

Go Walter!

>>It's fun for me to work with green folks who have absolutely no clue what it takes to produce a project and see what they come up with. That's why all of my contracts include a line like "based on the information available," or "the figures quoted in this contract are an estimate and subject to change based on client requested changes."<>I'll hold the master until we receive final payment. Nothing like holding on to a project that is scheduled to be shown tomorrow and they don't have it in their hands because you didn't get paid..<<

Here's where I have gotten screwed this year. Stupid me, releasing masters without final payment. Hopefully it'll all work out OK, though. Never again.

Happy Holidays, eh?

P

---------------------
http://www.patrickortman.com
Web and Video Design


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Tim WilsonRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 3:56:32 pm

[Patrick Ortman] "Go Walter!"

[Walter Biscardi] "The big trend of the past few years has simply been the availability of the tools to a much wider audience. Anybody with a Mac laptop is a video editor with a very powerful suite of tools for $999."

Walter, Ronald and I started lamenting this in 1998, when you could start doing DV with a Media 100 card for "only" $16,000 dollars, not counting the computer and drives. No software solution existed yet, and no laptops could do this yet...but it was a major collapse in even our cheap, one-man band markets.

A friend of mine knew that I was using Media 100, for which I had paid $30,000 three years earlier, saw how far the price had come down, and when his kid said he was interested in video, he offered him three choices for his high school graduation: a boat (this was Florida), a car, or a tricked out Media 100 system. The kid picked Media 100.

Of course, this was the wheel of karma. When we set up our shop for $100,000 all in -- 1 computer, drives (I spent $15,000 for NINE GIGS), one BetaSP camera, one UVW-1800 deck (for my money, the thing that lit the fire on the NLE revolution: now we could actually DELIVER broadcast video), 2 computer and 1 broadcast monitor -- and I could get away with $1500/day, this was a staggeringly low price that cratered my local market.

And to underscore Walter's point about going for broke, we featured his story in an issue of the COW Magazine called "The Think Big Issue," full of stories of people who risked bankruptcy to swing for the fences. I set up my first system by taking out a second mortgage, and it was scary as sh**, in the middle of what was considered the Golden Age.

re Bob: Ronald and I have known him for 15 years, and we were the people he used to rail against in 1995 -- these people with cheapo $30,000 Media 100 cards and BetaSP/UVW gear who were taking big money away from the Avid/DigiBeta/BVW crowd.

He has also spoken on almost a weekly basis about how, if you don't stay motivated to drive yourself into the ground learning EVERYTHING new, you'll find yourself working at McDonalds, having been replaced by people working at McDonalds now.

And fwiw, Bob has changed his focus for the same reason Walter has: the old wells are drying up, if not completely dry. But there are new wells if you're able to blow everything up and start over.

But this isn't about Bob and Walter. I don't mean to do anything but SUPPORT the observation that the signs of the apocalypse are all around us.

Just for grins, I reviewed my notes on the past 2,000 years of the usage of "apocalypse," and they hold in common that ain't none of this tribulation going away any time soon.


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David Roth WeissRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 6:40:09 pm

[Tim Wilson] "But this isn't about Bob and Walter."

Sure it is... and that was the main point of my earlier missive.

One need only go back in time to see the many times in past history when Walter has turned some poor Cow's passionate plea for empathy into an opportunity to spout off about many new toys he's recently purchased. And, ever since wiring Walter's shop, Bob has become Walter's wingman whenever someone takes offense and chooses to point that out.

As we've seen, there are those who applaud the self-promotion and lack of empathy that's often exhibited here when doom and gloom are mentioned, but there are also who don't, who would rather remain silent observers than get into such a discussion here.

Meanwhile, as Ron and I have discussed many times, we are all most likely facing "the new reality," not just a temporary recession, depression, or simple setback. And, there will most likely be many Creative Cows tempted to bemoan their changing situations here on the Business & Marketing Forum, which is one of few places for people in our industry to both rant and to receive useful valuable and helpful advice for dealing with those rants. Personally, I am sympathetic to their pain, can certainly commiserate with them, and I am here to listen, to help, and to offer solutions whenever I can, and all without the need to tell them in the same breath about my new hardware purchases.

BTW, for anyone who's interested, I did buy a terrific $35 app. yesterday that does a bang up job of transcoding pesky m2TS files to Quicktime files. However, I'll review that in a more appropriate place on the Cow, hopefully leaving this thread for more bemoaning of the Apocalypse, more sympathy, and more solutions.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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walter biscardiRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:32:55 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "One need only go back in time to see the many times in past history when Walter has turned some poor Cow's passionate plea for empathy into an opportunity to spout off about many new toys he's recently purchased. And, ever since wiring Walter's shop, Bob has become Walter's wingman whenever someone takes offense and chooses to point that out."

Sorry if my positive take on situations doesn't fit with your doom and gloom philosophy. And Bob is certainly not anyone's wingman, although with that wild head of hair I'm thinking he can get up to some serious heights.


[David Roth Weiss] "hopefully leaving this thread for more bemoaning of the Apocalypse, more sympathy, and more solutions."

See that's the thing. If you want to moan, look for sympathy and cry "what now?" then you're done.

Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can complain about the situation you're in, wonder why the old ways aren't working, look for others who feel the same way as you do so you can all cry in your beer together. Have a nice moaning party and feel bad for each other.

Or, you can look at what's going on around you, spot trends and adapt to what is going on. If you're willing to adapt to changes, you have a fighting chance to survive. I simply refuse to complain when the entire business model I was planning to follow falls apart around me. I just create a new plan and keep supporting my clients and my production team the best way I know how.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Ronald LindeboomRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:46:12 pm

[Tim Wilson] "re Bob Zelin: ... Ronald and I were [some of] the people he used to rail against in 1995 -- with cheapo $30,000 Media 100 cards and BetaSP/UVW ... taking big money away from the Avid/DigiBeta/BVW crowd. He has also spoken on almost a weekly basis about how, if you don't stay motivated to drive yourself into the ground learning EVERYTHING new, you'll find yourself working at McDonalds, having been replaced by people working at McDonalds now. Bob has changed his focus for the same reason Walter has: the old wells are drying up, if not completely dry. But there are new wells if you're able to blow everything up and start over."


This has been the one constant in this industry: a level of almost soul numbing change that demands a near constant redefining and repositioning of oneself.

I remember the first time I met Bob Zelin 15 years ago online in the Avid-L listserv. I was an enthusiastic Media 100 jockey and he was easily the most feared and one of the most respected men on Avid-L. Let's be nice and say that in my first discourse with him, he taught me the true meaning of the words: "Oh God, please help me -- what in the hell have I gotten myself into?" (He gave me my introductory initiation into what many here in the COW today refer to as being "Zelinized.")

One thing I know about Bob is that he knows more about this industry in his little finger than I do in my whole body. And like many here, he sees how greatly the industry has changed. In the number of phone calls I have had with him over the years, it is clear to me that Bob is all too aware of the pace of staggering change in this market -- and its affect on both who we are, and what we can charge our clients.

Oh, and he's actually quite funny and much more calm and listening on the phone, than some of you might expect.

Many here also already know the story about how when he began coming here many years ago, Kathlyn called me into her office and said that I think we need to close a guy's account who is telling people he's going to come to their house and spank them and take their dog because they are too stupid to have one. I asked who it was. She showed me a thread and there -- lo and behold -- was Bob Zelin in the COW. I said excitedly: "Wow, Bob Zelin comes to the COW? Kathlyn, it's working -- the COW is becoming what I hoped it would one day be."

She thought I was on crack or something. But today, like the vast majority here, when she sees Bob Zelin posts in a thread, they are some of the first she reads. You can tell because she is laughing in her office and when you ask why, she is quick to say something like: "Listen to this that Bob Zelin just said..."

Change: at least it's constant.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen


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walter biscardiRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:24:19 pm

[Ronald Lindeboom] "One thing I know about Bob is that he knows more about this industry in his little finger than I do in my whole body. And like many here, he sees how greatly the industry has changed and in the number of phone calls I have had with him over the years, it is clear to me that Bob is all too aware of the pace of staggering change in this market and its affect on both who we are and what we can charge."

What I love about Bob is he is involved with so many high end clients that he sees a lot of what works and doesn't work. So he ends up giving me options and solutions I would never even think of.

The Ethernet based SAN is a perfect example. I thought I was going to be forced to spend boatloads on FibreChannel and then he tells me about this thing that actually works.

Without the Cow I never would have met the man and my business would definitely not be what it is without his continued expertise over the years.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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walter biscardiRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:16:24 pm

[Tim Wilson] "Of course, this was the wheel of karma. When we set up our shop for $100,000 all in -- 1 computer, drives (I spent $15,000 for NINE GIGS), one BetaSP camera, one UVW-1800 deck (for my money, the thing that lit the fire on the NLE revolution: now we could actually DELIVER broadcast video), 2 computer and 1 broadcast monitor -- and I could get away with $1500/day, this was a staggeringly low price that cratered my local market."

See, Media 100 was my big saving grace in getting started in all of this. When I purchased my first one, I knew I could build four systems for the price of one Avid. I remember my boss in Connecticut specifying that I HAD to purchase Avids for our company and I asked her "why?" "Well why not?" Then I explained Media 100 and how not only was it cheaper, but had better codecs to boot.

We went with M100 and never looked back.

Now of course Final Cut Pro makes it so much cheaper than we ever imagined.

As for my attitude and all of that, just call me a glass half full kind of guy. We get one shot at this thing called life and I'm going to make the best of it, sink or swim.

If this fails, I'll just go get a job as a short order cook....

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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David Roth WeissHere's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 11:31:34 pm

The following was posted right here on The Cow by a New York City editor and colorist looking for work. I'm guessing he's probably living at home, rent free, in his parent's upper East side condo, trying to add something on top of his allowance.

Offering new Introductory rates: $100/day; $350/week; flexible project rates available.

His flexible project rates couldn't be too flexible, cuz as the Billy Joel tune says, nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Mark SuszkoRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:26:03 am

See, a pro would know it was Billy PRESTON. The kid thinks all that music is contemporary.
:-)


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Patrick OrtmanRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 5:07:25 am

Maybe he forgot to add a zero?

---------------------
http://www.patrickortman.com
Web and Video Design


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David Roth WeissRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:43:54 am

All I know is, ten bucks an hour in NYC can't possibly pay the bills.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Bob ZelinRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 3:13:07 pm

1) I never NEVER said that everything was peachy. I know very well, that I am lucky. But I also know that you make your own luck. I am ALWAYS losing jobs to people who "try to figure it out by themselves". I just found out that a big facility who I built, hired someone else, because they were cheaper than me to do an expansion for them. Now things are not working ok, which is how I found out about this. Am I angry about this - YOU BET I AM ANGRY, I did a good job for these people, but I guess I just wasn't "cheap enough".

There are plenty of people that say "the business is over" - well, it's not over, you just have to go out there and FIGHT, and believe me, at my age (almost 55) it's getting harder and harder to fight everyday. And I'm not only fighting the kids that may know more than me about computers - it's the clients that I have to justify myself to, and why they should still hire me. Does this suck - of course it sucks, but that's what fighting for survival is. So it seems like I am busy all the time to a lot of people, because I am always building new places - because I FIGHT EVERY DAY for it.

As for "10 bucks an hour" - not only do I see this now ("mom and dad bought me a RED camera") - I have seen this back in the stone age, when parents would buy their kids a big NEVE audio console and 2" 24 track recorder in NY, and they would give away the recording time, so they could be in the "pro music business". And we all know how that turned out - today, it's almost impossible to have a successful audio business, unless you are doing post audio in NY or LA - the music recording business is basically over. But hey, LETS NAME NAMES - Magno Sound (which became Magno Sound and Video in NY) was funded by THEIR RICH PARENTS. And todays Postgroup in NY and LA (which started in NY) was funded by wealthy real estate parents. Now, these are two examples of "kids" who are no longer kids that worked hard, and turned these into successful companies, but for every one of these, are the losers, whose parents buy them "some toys" to start a business, and they go nowhere, and in the process, spoil it for the rest of us, because they are "giving it away".

Yes, no one is living in NYC (even in a crap apartment) and only charging $100 a day for their professional services, because you simply can't afford to live or eat on $500 a week in Manhattan.

Bob Zelin



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Patrick OrtmanRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 3:24:39 pm

Right on, Bob. Couldn't have said it better- and we loathe what we call 'trustafarians' over here. Man, you hit a nerve with me this morning!

I'm all for giving the next generation a leg up, but wouldn't a better leg up be a respect for oneself/one's industry and an understanding of how to run a business in the real world? Buying your kid a RED or whatever won't make them a better artist, and it certainly won't make them a better businessman. Those things take hard work.

There's a company in our building that specializes in auctioning off the leftover REDs, Avids, and so forth that these trustafarians blow through, along with their inheritances. They're doing pretty well. So it goes.

---------------------
http://www.patrickortman.com
Web and Video Design


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walter biscardiRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 3:31:38 pm

[Bob Zelin] "There are plenty of people that say "the business is over" - well, it's not over, you just have to go out there and FIGHT, and believe me, at my age (almost 55) it's getting harder and harder to fight everyday."

Can't agree more. Well except for the age part, but I'll be there sooner than later.....

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Neil HurwitzRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:51:56 pm

This thread is a replay of the Avid L circa 2000
The bottom line here is that our business is based on Technology
and Talent. The historical price of technology used to be much
higher, Think 7500,000 for a 1" room, 100,000 for an Avid 8000
in 1995, 35,000 for an Adrenaline in 2004, and now a tricked
out FCP room for maybe 10,000 or a Laptop for 3,000
As this cost of entry fell, Talented people that had limited access
could now jump in with a good mastercard. There is very little mark-up
available on your equipment investment now. This MARK-UP was always
a very very significant portion of the profits of this business.
Profits had nowhere to go but down. A good plumber or electrician
(protected by license requirements) working 40 hours a week is
going to do just as well as an "Editor" A high school Art Teacher
with a Masters and 10 years of teaching is going to do much better after considering the work hours, salary, bennifits and pension.
Lets face it we are now just digital slaves, there is no magic curtain we can hide behind.

Now for a comment on what Walter and Bob have said:

Walter, just where did you think that increase in Georgia work came from? Thin Air? No, it was stolen by economic warfare by your state in the form of all sorts of tax breaks AT THE EXPENSE of other states and of other peoples jobs in those states.
So Tell Us
How much "Incentives" you received to build in Georgia?
How big was your suck at the public teat?
Do you feel good about knowing that Interstate Warfare
has hurt your fellow workers in other states?

Bob, (My old friend from CMX and Quadra 950 days)
You are dead wrong on how MAGNO was started. Ralph Freidman started
the company in the 50's as a sound shop for motion pictures.
He was a friend of my father and as a young teen (I've got a year on you)I remember going to his place and walking around rooms full of
magnasync dubbers doing sound mixes to 35mm projectors. He put in many many years before making any money, He was not rich and certainly did not give money to his kids to start MAGNO. He just died at an early age and his kids had the good sense not to kill the goose. He also had the good fortune to buy his building on 48th street when Times Square was a truly dangerous place and sell it to
to a hotel chain a few years later and make 10 million.
Way more then he ever made in the sound biz.

The bottom line here is that this biz is turning into a comodity
There will be less & declining profit in it for all people below
the line forever. We are expendable. In not too many years video
editing skills will be considered a must have like reading and writing and simple math. Don't think so? When was the last time you
saw an add for a "Wang Word Processor Operator"?????

Neil Hurwitz


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Scott SheriffRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:18:23 pm

"The historical price of technology used to be much
higher, Think 7500,000 for a 1" room,
"

The room I learned online editing in cost our station a million bucks.
Datatron Vanguard edit controller, 3 M/E Grass 300, single channel ADO-original model no curve or sphere, Chyron IV with MGM- whopping 777 color palette 16 colors at a time, 4 Hitachi 1" machines, Sony BVU 820 3/4, 2 cart machines (gpi) and a reel to reel (gpi) and two Hitachi studio cameras, since the edit room also doubled as the studio production control room.
At that time we still had 16mm film and Quad.

"
Walter, just where did you think that increase in Georgia work came from? Thin Air? No, it was stolen by economic warfare by your state in the form of all sorts of tax breaks AT THE EXPENSE of other states and of other peoples jobs in those states.
So Tell Us
How much "Incentives" you received to build in Georgia?
How big was your suck at the public teat?
Do you feel good about knowing that Interstate Warfare
has hurt your fellow workers in other states?
"

I wouldn't begrudge Walter (or any of the other big gun types) any of his work. This sort of thing has been going on since broadcasters lost their grip over the post production world and you started seeing the rise of the independent post houses. That is just how it is.
However, plenty of indy post houses with national clients and lots of awards have gone under. Producers get fired, budgets get cut, priorities change, new guys come along. The things that make you hot today, can make you a 'has been', or a target tomorrow. Guys like Walter need to get all they can, when they can, because things in this biz can change quickly. I don't really see where the 'big guns' like Walter are really taking biz from the rest of us.
I think it is all the newbies and hacks that think they know it all because they can heap a gazilion plugins onto everything they do, shoot everything without the sticks, and then charge a hundred bucks for a 5 minute piece. IMHO that is who is hurting this biz, guys that don't know what the term 'production values' means.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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walter biscardiRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:11:41 pm

[Neil Hurwitz] "How much "Incentives" you received to build in Georgia?"

Zero. Tax incentives don't apply to Post Production. We're paying for the entire build out of our own pocket. Well we will be for the next 20 years anyway.


[Neil Hurwitz] "How big was your suck at the public teat?"

Zero. We have not benefited from the tax breaks at all because we don't do any production that falls under the guidelines and as I said above, Post Production does not fall under the tax breaks. So even if were editing any of the films or TV shows that are shooting here, we would not benefit from that.



[Neil Hurwitz] "Do you feel good about knowing that Interstate Warfare
has hurt your fellow workers in other states?"


This "interstate warfare" was initiated by the Georgia Production Partnership. An independent group of media production professionals from all over the state (of which I am a member) that approached the Georgia Congress with the tax incentive proposal. The incentive is 20% tax break for production work that qualifies and an additional 10% if they include the Georgia Production logo in the credits.

Any production group in any state of the country could have come up with the same initiative. The GPP saw this as an opportunity to make good of a bad economy to give producers and production companies a reason to come here to do production.

Now other states in the area like the Carolinas are following suit with their own incentives and the SouthEast at the moment is a hotbed of production.

Do I feel bad good people are not getting work in other states? Of course, who wants to hear about production companies shutting down. But at the same time, I made a choice to locate my company here in Georgia from the get-go because the cost of living is so incredibly cheap here compared to New York where I'm from, Connecticut where I used to work and of course California where I might want to visit but never live.

So was the work "stolen?" No, not really. Georgia just made it worthwhile for studios and productions to come here. We have incredibly talented people in this state and incredible locations all around for shooting. It's no different than all the "runaway" production that was hightailing to Vancouver, Canada for the longest time because it's cheaper to shoot up there. Now in some cases, it's cheaper to shoot here.

Eventually enough other states will have the same incentives and production work will move around the country. Those in this state who have built up their companies solely to support the tax incentive productions will go bust while those who build a well rounded client base will survive.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Neil HurwitzRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:01:27 pm

Hi Walter,
I was referring to your post of June 17th, 2010 in which you said

" One of the sweet things about Georgia is the 30% tax break for
the media industry and our expansion will be able to take advantage
of some of that"

Your exact words, Not Mine

I am glad to see that your organization was able to get the ear
of your legislature and get some advantageous tax policy past.
Maybe you should hang up the post-biz and become a lobbyist?
Anyway I don't mean for any of this discussion to be taken
personally and wish you the best of luck in your new spot.
How did the build out go?

My point was that the business is not expanding but that the pie
slices are getting sliced and diced smaller and diferently.

Neil Hurwitz


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walter biscardiRe: Here's one of the many road signs along the way to apocalypse
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:42:14 pm

[Neil Hurwitz] "Hi Walter,
I was referring to your post of June 17th, 2010 in which you said

" One of the sweet things about Georgia is the 30% tax break for
the media industry and our expansion will be able to take advantage
of some of that"

Your exact words, Not Mine"


Quite honestly a LOT has changed since then. Yes our expansion will still put us in a position to take advantage of any productions in this area that require Post Production, Sound Mixing or even just a Screening Room. We will not be able to directly take advantage of the tax breaks, but we might be able to bring in some productions looking for a Post location.

But since I posted that, we have had many changes in our production outlook for 2011 and 2012 that will change the way we approach those productions.



[Neil Hurwitz] "I am glad to see that your organization was able to get the ear
of your legislature and get some advantageous tax policy past.
Maybe you should hang up the post-biz and become a lobbyist?"


That tax break was brought to bear long before I joined on to the group. The GPP has simply an amazing leadership team that has really done a LOT of good for the community.



[Neil Hurwitz] "Anyway I don't mean for any of this discussion to be taken
personally and wish you the best of luck in your new spot.
How did the build out go?"


It's nearing completion and believe me, I know how fortunate we are to be in a position to even try to make a run at this.



[Neil Hurwitz] "My point was that the business is not expanding but that the pie
slices are getting sliced and diced smaller and diferently."


Absolutely. One of my biggest strategies in my entire 10 years has been my pricing model. It differs from just about every other production company and freelancer I've encountered and it works for us. We just take a different strategy that results in a much more stable, long term clientele.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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John DavidsonThe Silver Lining
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:58:46 pm

This was a great thread guys. It touches on many interesting topics - I'd like to just add a little spin to it.

The economy sucks for many many people now. Just about everyone you talk to has some gloom and doom story of how x is happening and we're all so helpless to the whims of fate. These stories add to the fear and desperation that feed recessions - people hold back the little cash they have to weather the storm, prices plummet, businesses go under, and the sky gets darker by the day. This is why we NEED people like Walter to share stories of his expansion. Stories of other's growth may create a knee jerk reaction of 'screw the rich' in some people, but who doesn't feel a little more secure to hear that it's not all bad out there? Knowing that another person can still make it might make some jealous, but in my experience jealousy is a fantastic motivator. Let's hear more about the successes, the ones who hit it, the people who aren't just surviving, but thriving. No one should ever feel guilt for success in business.

So bring on the showboats, they're the ones that are going to get us out of the hole.


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Chris BlairRe: The Silver Lining
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:53:35 am

Wow...I didn't realize my rant would create such a stir! I will say that as a company we're going on our 15th year in business, so we're not new to any of this and have seen our share of change in that time.

I am personally going on my 26th year in this business, and have produced and directed work that ranges from six-figure, grant supported PBS documentaries to $1500 yell and sell car commercials. Much like Bob, I also constantly try to learn new equipment, new software and try new ideas. We've been using ethernet based shared storage in our facility for 3 years and like Walter, didn't realize it was even possible until I started exploring and hanging around the SAN forum a few years back. I've tried (unsuccessfully) to implement ethernet based deck control in our facility. We know it's possible because Harris already uses it in a couple of their ingest systems.

The point here is that we ARE the type of company that tries new things and constantly looks for and explores new markets. We began as a video production company and are now a full-service ad agency. Just this year we began offering web design when before we farmed it out. We were sending TV spots encoded to MPEG2 using FTP back in 2001! We were sending radio spots first via satellite, then using DG, then using email... when other companies were still sending CDs in the mail. So we ARE progressive company both technologically and idealogically...yet.. we continue to struggle with what is easily the largest change we've seen. Just last week an ad agency here in our town, Keller-Crescent fired all their employees and were bought by their president. They changed their name to 10 over 12 (don't ask) and are trying to survive as a "boutique type agency." This is an agency that for 50 years was a top 100 agency in sales. They had many fortune 500 clients. But in less than a decade, they're gone!

Were they slow to change? Yes. Were they arrogant as all get out? Yes. Were they expensive? Yes. Were they good? Yes...VERY!

My point isn't so much that budgets are small or that people are inexperienced and green. It's that people don't seem to recognize what quality is and worse, even if they do, they don't want to pay for it. They're happy with mediocrity (at least in our region). Clients don't even want to meet to discuss "ideas" or concepts. They just want their project shot. They have no desire to tell stories or "hook" people with clever visuals. Even when they have decent budgets they show up at the shoot without a script...heck...without a shot list....despite our repeated attempts to meet and discuss and even offers to write their script for them. This trend has definitely escalated...and that's more what shocks me. Showing up for a shoot that IS expensive with no plan, heck...no idea of what they're trying to accomplish is the norm instead of the exception!

It reminds me of when I was in college and the "video club" would meet on Saturdays and everyone would show up to the studio but nobody had a script or any ideas. They thought video would just "happen." THIS is what many of the projects we've been working on lately are like. This is what is incredulous to me. And beleieve me...we try very hard to convince clients of the importance of ideas and story and uniuque visuals and sound.

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


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Ronald LindeboomRe: The Silver Lining
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 4:32:11 am

[John Davidson] "Just about everyone you talk to has some gloom and doom story of how x is happening and we're all so helpless to the whims of fate. These stories add to the fear and desperation that feed recessions - people hold back the little cash they have to weather the storm, prices plummet, businesses go under, and the sky gets darker by the day."

Personally, when people talk like that, I ask them what are they doing about it.

Many Americans don't seem to understand that they are now, by a vast majority, in a service economy -- at least most don't know what that means to them (if they did, they wouldn't hoard their money and quake like lemmings running into dark corners to hide because the market's "bad"). With no real manufacturing to speak of, it is hard to rebound when people are afraid to act and spend money. The flow of money is the life blood of a service-based economy.

Without that flow, things collapse fast. There is not much to fall back on at that point, other than government -- and as I celebrate my 60th birthday, I find that idea laughable at best. It used to be government by and for the people, but the people aren't reading, don't act, and expect others to do it all for them. That's a recipe for disaster. (Sometimes, I am really glad to be 60.)

Like Walter points out: if you live and talk like the sky is falling, then most assuredly it will fall...on you, the quickest of all.

I like strategies and plans. Things are always bad somewhere. It is what you do when things go bad that separates achievers from non-achievers.

If we had applied much of the rhetoric bandied about in this forum when we launched the COW with little more than a burning hope, vision, and blind ambition, we'd not be here today. Why? We had no money. We had no investors. To make matters worse, we had competitors that were sitting on many millions in the bank.

We didn't have a proverbial pot to ____ in. We were recovering from three bouts of viral pneumonia. We had lost all our accounts. We had enemies who didn't like us because we had built something before that they couldn't. They lied publicly about all the money we "made" from our earlier site; with it, they tried to turn all of their friends -- and many of ours -- against us. I wish we had the money they claimed we made, because if we had, our struggle would have been far easier than the one we walked through for years.

Life kicks your ass sometime. Get over it. Suck it up and get on with it. Do something about it. Don't take no for an answer. Build something. If it doesn't work, quickly build something else.

Remember the dinosaurs, they couldn't adapt. Little furry tiny-teethed (but oh so tasty) little mammals beat the giants in the game of life.

Creative COW is now bigger and has a larger footprint than every major multi-national trade publisher in this market. The Creative COW Magazine is now -- at just five years old -- the strongest magazine in this industry. As I have written in the magazine before, it was a gamble -- we had no back-up and no money to fall back on. A year in reserve? We didn't have a month in reserve when we launched it. It was all a gamble. After we announced that we'd be building a magazine, we heard that a competing website was also about to launch a magazine -- so we jumped on it like a house afire. They never did release their magazine.

Did it work? Yes.

Creative COW is now, at long last after 15 years of work in this field, a real business that employs many, pays a bunch more sub-contractors, gives away over a million dollars a year in free services that we pay for, not counting the forums. And we've launched a foundation that awards grants to students at the American Film Institute.

Not bad for people who spent the better part of a half year in bed with pneumonia, then relapsed again and again for a couple more years. Those who know me know that I fight near-constant chronic ear infections because of it. It sucks. So what. My life is a cakewalk compared to the 3 year old girl I saw on Discovery Health Network recently who had so little spine that she was drowning in her own blood because her spine couldn't hold her up -- so her lungs were collapsing. Now that is heartbreaking. She had to have stainless steel rods screwed into her vertebrae to keep this from happening to her. And as she grows, she'll have to have the surgery over and over. God bless that little girl, she has more courage than most men.

Fight back or lay down...it's your call.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen


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walter biscardiRe: The Silver Lining
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 5:31:36 am

[Ronald Lindeboom] "Life kicks your ass sometime. Get over it. Suck it up and get on with it. Do something about it. Don't take no for an answer. Build something. If it doesn't work, quickly build something else."


[Ronald Lindeboom] "Fight back or lay down...it's your call."

As they say in the MasterCard commercials. "Priceless."

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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grinner hesterRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:44:05 am

the best way to get warm bodies on the cheap is to give em a title of producer.
Worked for me in '92, anyway.
But are there any victims? Aman, I had long hair, a bigass camera, a cool title and all thr trim I could handle. It mattered not that I made less than 20k a year. Who has time for money when you have the above?
The bottom line has never been the end product... in any industry. Not in this country, anyway.



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Scott SheriffRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:10:13 am

Grinner,
"...all thr trim I could handle."

LOL, that is an expression I haven't heard in a long time.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Mike CohenRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 4:11:53 am

Wow, what a long and interesting thread. I will add just a few notes:

1. You need to make your own opportunities. If business is bad, double your efforts.

2. When I first started blogging here on the COW, I wrote about past experiences, my training and bits and pieces of my every day work, but avoided outright promotion. But then I noticed that Walter, Richard Harrington and others blogged about their business activities and new projects as well as new products they have produced. These are two successful guys, so I started writing more specifically about events and products that we create and sell. Given the COW's ability to get instantly indexed by the search engines, it seems like an added benefit beyond the enjoyment alone.

3. Yeah, the recession is sticking around. It affects everyone from the butcher to the cobbler to the candle stick maker. But don't take a bad economy as an excuse to stop trying to sell your services and improve your business offerings. Now is the time to prepare for the recovery which will happen and likely result in a slightly different meaning of status quo.

4. To both the regulars and new visitors to this site - read everything from the top posters on this website - they are some smart people who know their stuff.

5. Refer to item 1 - print that one out and hang it on your wall.

Mike Cohen

Medical Education / Multimedia Producer


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walter biscardiRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 5:29:25 am

[Mike Cohen] "5. Refer to item 1 - print that one out and hang it on your wall."

Yessir! That's a good one!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Mark SuszkoRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 4:43:51 am

You use the + and - keys for that, I believe ... or type the time codes if you're very precise;-)


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David JohnsonRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Dec 11, 2010 at 5:34:38 pm

[Chris Blair] "These are just 4 of MANY trends we've seen since the economic bust two years ago. Are we just that "unlucky" or are others experiencing similar trends?"

No, you absolutely are not just "unlucky" ... I think it's true that better-faster-cheaper with heavy emphasis on the cheaper has always been the trend in every industry, but in my 20 years in the business, I've never before seen such an extreme acceleration of the issues that come along with that as I've seen in the past 5 or so years.

I haven't had a chance to read the entire thread yet, but certainly will come back to do that since this subject hits extremely close to home with me and is the reason that, as much as I hate to say it, I'm looking at the front door, so to speak ... in regards to the business I love so much in general, not just my specific current job.

I don't mean to quote somebody out of context, but a great line Mark Suszko reminded me of in another recent post comes to mind ... "I'm taking the goldfish". Let the folks with their HD cell phone cameras and iMovie have at it as far as I'm concerned. Hmm ... do I sound bitter!? lol


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John YoungRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Jan 2, 2011 at 9:13:21 pm

Just read through this whole thread.

I understand that most of you on this forum are long time industry veterans and often work in high-end production situations, but let me put a different spin on this, using my perspective.

As technology becomes cheaper/more accessible, yes, the rich kids right out of college may have access to a high quality cameras, high quality editing software, and high quality distribution methods (1080p on the internet). But that also means that high quality video communication is now a viable option for many many more clients......

I was hired 2 years ago to do video/multimedia production for a small company that manufactures construction chemicals. My company has 70 or so employees and I am part of a 5 person marketing team. I think that 5-10 years ago there were very few companies that size that would have a full-time videographer on salary. Now, I think we will see more and more companies doing this, with the drop in price of technology and the rise of social and interactive/viral marketing.

I think my company is ahead of the curve. And (hopefully, due in no small part to my skills) they now know that video is an extremely powerful means of communication, and even a small company like them can harness that.

Yes, the industry is changing. The way I see it, the industry will be different, probably more spread out, but I only see it growing and expanding in the future.

http://www.johnathanyoung.com


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Patrick OrtmanRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Jan 2, 2011 at 11:31:02 pm

Hi John,

First, yes- different perspectives are always welcome, in my book. That's one of the reasons I come here, too.

For us, and I imagine for many video production companies, the equipment is indeed a large and ongoing investment. However, as a business owner, my biggest expense each month is payroll and benefits.

If you look at a "rich kid" offering HD video services in NYC for $300, you may think that's acceptable- after all, most of these kids are rocking a 7D and a pirated version of FCP. Just a few grand, right? (ps: pirating is wrong and hurtful). But mainly, I think, the mistake in this perspective is that employees do not see their time as costing anything, since they're on salary. I assure you, your company's owner definitely sees the cost of your salary and benefits as a real cost of doing business, and you need to include your own yearly salary and benefits as part of the true cost to produce the videos, not just a few grand in gear.

The good news: your company has invested many tens of thousands of dollars, every year, in video marketing. The "also good news" you point out: the technical quality of this video is way better, hopefully, than possible in years past if you make a few smart purchases and work at your craft.

I very much respect a company that takes their video marketing seriously enough to hire in-house staff to work it. It's sometimes the right decision, sometimes not. Totally depends on the company, and how the videos are to be used. But it often does work. For us, we get called in to do "higher-end" projects like TV spots and tradeshow video presentations by some clients who have one or two in-house video guys. It worked the same when we mainly did website design, we often worked alongside their in-house web or graphic designer.

I think a lot of the other comments in this thread were mainly about how the quality level has dropped in many cases, and that clients in many areas seem not to give video marketing the respect it needs to be effective. In your case, your company is clearly giving video marketing it's due. That's great!

Patrick

---------------------
http://www.patrickortman.com
Web and Video Design


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Doug NormingtonRe: Signs of the Apocalypse
by on Jan 25, 2011 at 6:04:43 pm

If it was the Apocalypse I would probably take the afternoon off. Maybe have some good food... Wow... you guys... "What's the matter with kids these days?" Musicals have been written about this. Here is what I see as the Apocolypse Trifecta.

1. There is a certain point in your career where you are suddenly older than your customers and a lot of your long term customers are downsized, layed off, or retired! It is only a matter of time. So watch for that one.:>) It's inevitable. Have patience
2. The advent of inexpensive and very effective software for video editing has led to a lot of companies doing video themselves in-house to try and save money.(however badly) I just did a large event where the client showed up with 16 videos that one of their people had done in-house. Normally we would have done that for them. We had to fix them onsite during the rehearsal.
3. The availability of inexpensive and very effective editing capability has also removed the price barrier for getting in the business. Today $4000.00 gets you approx. what $40k got you ten years ago. Photography studios are shooting video on their $2500 DSLRs, etc... Fewer viable jobs. More Competition For Them. Not everybody is positioned to work in the high end of the market. But that is the only place where you don't run into the Do It Yourselfers with their FlipCams.

The end result is well... the current Apocolypse.

Doug Normington
NORMCO Multi-Media, Inc.
(608) 824-0999 Office
(608) 345-7579 Cel


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