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Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.

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Ned MillerEeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 18, 2016 at 8:31:07 pm

So...I have a client of many years who habitually runs for office and when he's not in a campaign he is an activist for many political causes. His wife considers everything he does as newsworthy and is into "immediacy". Starting with the Flip phone she has gotten down the art of quick uploads and the whole social media aspect I can't stand and try to avoid. I am utilized mainly to shoot press conferences, announcements, etc., ala ENG style, in case the local news crews don't show up, the footage is quickly edited and sent to the local stations ASAP.

Today she asked me what my opinion is of this doodad below:

https://getmevo.com

I believe it was announced at or for NAB to dovetail with Facebook's new thing: Facebook Live. In sum, many of my clients, for the sake of social media SEO want little videos constantly to populate their site, blogs, and such. The current soon to be dead business model is we would shoot and edit on site, upload ASAP. This thing will evaporate that workflow. For example, last year at the big car show where the manufacturers were announcing the new models, as soon as the cloth cover was removed from the car and the flashbulbs went off, a PA ran my card to an on-site editor who did a crash edit and upload. This gizmo will eliminate that workflow which under the best of circumstances would take 45 minutes to a hour to get on a site. However, I don't understand how you can get an audio feed into this thingy?

I am of the age group who had to wait two days for the 16mm work print to come back from the lab to see what we shot and if all was OK. If we paid extra we got it back the next day, hence the term Dailies...

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Todd TerryRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 18, 2016 at 9:03:16 pm

I refuse to admit that anything that takes away from what traditional production has been doing well for years...and finds a new/easier way to do it, poorer... is cool.

But...

That's pretty cool.

T2

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



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Ned MillerRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 18, 2016 at 9:50:29 pm

Anything video the client can start to do themselves: I make less money.

Anything video the client does that no longer needs my gear: I make less money.

Anything video that no longer needs me to book and bring my on-site editor who I would mark up: I make less money.

Mevo = Less $ for me. So, new tech is a way to bypass Old Pros.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Todd TerryRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 18, 2016 at 9:54:15 pm

Could not agree more.

Still, it made me say "Dang, that's cool.....dammit"

T2

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



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Mark SuszkoRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 19, 2016 at 3:44:11 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Apr 19, 2016 at 3:47:18 pm

I saw a similar gadget but it had wide angle cameras front and back to shoot 360 degrees. These look like fun products to own and rent out to potential users.

Ned, Todd, the thing I see in the Mevo demo is, it's still a director picking the shots and the timing of the shots. The interface is an iphone or ipad, instead of a switcher panels; so what. A few users will really grasp how to use the fake multicam correctly, but the majority of users will still need somebody to maximize the ability of the product. Not to mention to still light the scene.

You guys are in danger of being like this:







When really, the tools have been constantly evolving this whole time. It's never about the tool; it's about the way we use tools to tell stories. If it works as advertised, this is a great way to allow storytelling with less and less of a technological barrier in the way.








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Ned MillerRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 19, 2016 at 7:12:50 pm

Nah Mark, I’ve seen this play before. Change is not always positive when you’re making good money as an independent biz owner the ways thing are. It’s called Disruption, you lose a revenue stream, which is a bummer when you make your living based on projects rather than a steady paycheck. My experience with bare knuckle Capitalism, and our tech oriented industry in particular, is that everything will always move towards what is:

CHEAPER • QUICKER • EASIER • SMALLER

Let’s say a client calls me to film something live and “get it up on the web ASAP”. I might get a gig like that 10-20 times a year and if I am booked I farm it out for a commission. Between the day rate and the post I may clear $1200-$1800 depending if I edit it myself on site or hire an editor to be on site. So, with your "the glass is half full" scenario, you think if I learn the Mevo app interface the client will pay me that kind of money for being at the live event for a couple of hours? I don’t think so. I don't want to call the client and say, "Please don’t pay me $2000 for the shoot and edit, I will come with my $400 Mevo for a couple of hours and charge you $350". The way clients think, they will learn to do it themselves and even though it sucks they will think they did an admirable job. Just as with their scriptwriting…

As to embracing technological change, please tell that to the IT folks at Disney, Toys R Us, Abbott Labs, etc. who have been training their H1B Visa replacements and will be let go shortly. Perhaps send them those two videos? That’s the same thing as telling a freelancer like me to welcome a gizmo that cuts me out. I’m in the end of the pool where you need to hustle for a living, there’s no steady paycheck, I have a nice niche doing something for good coin, and you expect me to "embrace the change" knowing I will make less money? When something new that comes along that pulls the rug out from one of your revenue streams, it is not a good thing, even when it’s called Change. Storytelling? I have no idea what you are talking about. This forum is Business & Marketing, I use video to make a living.

Tech Change can be a bad thing from a biz POV and usually is. It often is about inventing a way to do something Cheaper, Quicker, Easier, so in effect less money can be made to charge for that product or service, which is what I do and the forum is about: Making Money. I'm sure Creative Cow has a Storytelling forum, right? This Mevo is an example of bad change, so why would you like me to embrace it? Now that I’m making more money with paid off gear, do I really want to use my working capital to buy 4K gear which will make me no additional profit, yet create a loan repayment schedule just to "embrace change"? Do I want to oogle new gizmos that I know will mean I make less money this year just because they will promote "storytelling" for the masses? In fact, anything that allows for more competitors or for clients to DIY, such as the DSLR option, is good for the buyers of that service, not the providers such as myself. Anything that gets video done simpler and cheaper is good for the clients so they don’t need to hire a pro. I shoot for several small marketing agencies that no longer need to hire my recommended freelance editors since they either DIY or have an intern on iMovie or some low cost editing platform now and to them it's "good enough".

And if you think I’m a crackpot, just call some Hollywood DPs who specialize(d) in helicopter work and ask them what they feel about drones. Even if they buy and get good at drones they will never make the kind of money they once commanded. Or ask the VO pros how happy they are with Voices123. Maybe the Stedicam experts who put tens of thousands of dollars into their rigs and made great day rates now going up against $2000 Ronins that a drunk can use. So, tech change is double edged, good for poor newbies and cost conscious clients, bad for the old freelance pros hustlin to make a livin.

P.S. I have decided I want nothing to do with this Mevo. If the client buys one I can hope it messes up and they have to call me in for the next event.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 19, 2016 at 8:28:35 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Apr 19, 2016 at 8:31:25 pm

For our office, the Mevo makes a lot of sense. Right now, if we get an order to go shoot a committee hearing/conference table gig or a trainer talking in a room full of people, we shlep-in a full-sized broadcast P2 camcorder, tripod, lighting kit, mics and mixer, as a start. One operator then has to try and track multiple people speaking, plus follow a power point screen, with one camera an no b-roll cutaway sources. If I can, I bring a mic stand with a threaded adapter and add ago-pro to use in post as a b-roll source, but this adds time to the post production. Yep, I can do this and actually make it look fairly decent, even fake some cut-aways here and there. The Mevo would make this job easier by removing the need for swish-pans and a second, backup camera and tripod, and by live-switching it with a phone or ipad, from the back of the room or even a chair in the audience, I've saved myself drive space and edit time back at the shop, so when I get back, I can help yet another client, instead of telling them to wait a day. I'm skeptical of how this thing handles audio and for me, it would still need an audio input from multiple mics mixed down to one source mix... but it's an exciting development as a tool for a large part of what we do.

Why would you EVER tell the client what your gear costs? That's A: none of their business, if it does the job, and B; you're only hurting yourself by giving away information on your costs and margins. And C: the point is: you're mostly charging for the value of what's between your ears as the coordinator/operator of everything. The same camera in your hands and in an amateur's hands is NOT going to deliver the same results. Will an amateur consider poor results "good enough"? Maybe, at first. But not in the long run. You need to compete so that you're still in the game in the long run, to recover that business.


You say you're in the video-making business, and that "story" is irrelevant, but I tell you plain: we're all in the story-telling business here, whether you want to acknowledge that or not. What you do is connect a sequence of images and sounds together in a systematic way that conveys a message. I got news: that's what Man has been doing since we knew how to make a fire to tell stories around. Your variations you execute may be more prosaic versions, but in the end, you too are "telling a story" in pictures and sound. If you'd rather just consider yourself a technician and machine operator - well-skilled, but just an operator - then yeah, maybe it IS time to hang it up and find a beach somewhere. Next to the elevator operators and gas station attendants. But you're more than a technician. Don't sell yourself short.


If you want to quit the business, go ahead: this is a good time for it. But you could choose to turn and face the Strange ch-ch-changes, and maybe find that with some of them, you are saving time or money that allows you to make better use of your time and more profits elsewhere. You're stuck serving an operational model that has served you well, one that you deeply understand and have mastered... and it's becoming outdated. Right now, you're choosing to go down with the ship, because surely, there can be no way to make a Living outside of the current model you've gotten accustomed to, can there? It's never been about the gear: it's been about YOU; your eye, your ear, your skill. That's what delivers the product, not the ever-changing hardware.

It's telling that you complain that you don't wanna invest in new gear because you've finally paid off the old gear and now are turning a relatively larger margin. Temporarily. Until everybody considers you and your gear obsolete. I faced that prospect when DV camcorders came out: they displaced my analog VHS and S-VHS gear with a technically superior solution, and I could not continue to compete in the wedding business unless I bought all new DV gear. I chose to sit out much of that time and reclaim my weekends for family and renewing myself for my full-time video work. A close friend of mine picked a different route in that same era: he sold off his analog gear while it still had a little resale value, took out loans and dove whole-hog into a digital-based production and editing business run out of his home, at a time when the Big Iron facilities were floundering. He nailed the timing just right; delivering the look and quality of traditional online suites with the speed and savings of digital gear. I can't say it was all a cakewalk for Chris, but at a time when many facilities were shutting down, his boutique business flourished. Because he adapted his model to changing times.

Change is scary. But change is the only constant in this world.


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Ned MillerRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 19, 2016 at 11:16:07 pm

I don't tell clients the cost of my gear, unless I want to impress. I mentioned the $400 figure so the thread reader knows how little the Mevo costs.

I make my living mainly as a DP, perhaps 70% of my revenue, so "storytelling" is up to the writer (if any), producer, director and editor. I'm up to my eyebrows with the technical and running the crew (if any).

The best camera is a Paid Off Camera, then it is generating profit. The longer you can keep it going without losing clients to the new thing, the more profitable you are. The only sector that benefits from tech changes are the manufacturers, they are always shoving something new down our throats, look at NAB. I had a paid off $60K Beta SP 4x3 camera when 16x9 got popular and when I bought the new 16x9 model (clients don't pay extra), it took over a year before it broke even. Same when we went to HD. Will be the same when we go to 4K. In fact, I probably have bought 16-20 pro level film and video cameras over my career. When a cameraman brags to you how quickly their new camera paid for itself I can assure you, it took much longer. The reason is, when I discuss with a fellow shooter how they determined when their break even point occurs, they invariably, 99% of the time, tell me they use the local rental house's rate for that model and apply it to every day they go out with it. Me, I'm honest with myself. No matter what the cost of the new camera it is a mere percentage of the gear I bring out so I put down $200-$250 and I include the insurance, taxes, etc. So in sum, I never get in from of my clients, I wait for them to desire the new thing instead of talking them into it. It is very easy to buy into a mistake. Anyone remember the recent 3D push?

But I digress. I don't recall reading if you're freelance or staff but I'd say your mindset is not that of a freelancer. That's not an insult, just an observation. Please let me ask you a few quick questions:

1) Is the demise of VHS (and DVD) as the deliverable of choice in favor of a media file to the client a good thing in your opinion? Yes or no.

2) You say you have or hire a camera operator for shooting a panel discussion/live event. If you buy and use the Mevo, what happens to that person? Will they be on the job where the Mevo is used? If it was a freelancer that you hired, will they be on the crew the day the Mevo is used? Tell the truth.

3) Is the rise of micro sites to buy individual stock footage shots in your opinion a good thing or bad thing?

4) Is the tremendous rise of people offering freelance production services, specifically DP, a good thing or bad thing?

5) Is the creation of Ebay and CraigsList to buy and sell used gear a good thing or bad thing in your opinion?

I am two years away from retiring, although no freelancer ever truly retires because they need to keep the tax write offs open. I will then use my super powers only for the good of mankind, rather than using my skills to sell some product or service or entertain the masses. I have no interest, having riden the Golden Age of Camerawork, to go out shooting for a third of the rate I used to just to employ the latest technology. I am very interested in the answer to the above questions.

Thanks

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 20, 2016 at 4:16:56 am
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Apr 20, 2016 at 4:20:55 am

I personally have not got stuck with an obsolete camera, since outside the office, I only rent them as needed. Of course, it depends on just how often you put it to work, but a lot of people just getting into the business buy a bunch of gear, cameras included, that spends most of the week on a shelf, depreciating every minute, and actually shooting for maybe a day. My way has always been to own the support gear: tripods, lights, mics - because those ARE cheaper to own and last a long time without going out of style - but I've never fetishized camera ownership in my freelance careers. When I'm not using it, I'm not paying for it.

But let's get on with your deposition.



1) Is the demise of VHS (and DVD) as the deliverable of choice in favor of a media file to the client a good thing in your opinion? Yes or no.
It's news to me that DVD and BluRay are dead: we ship product to clients and some TV stations weekly in those formats, and archive to them (gold versions) as well. Delivering files by FTP has overtaken optical media for us this year, but we still offer both, because our clients still demand both. I keep a Final Cut 7 suite in Leopard OS just for authoring DVD's with real menus and interactivity and etc. It's something our competition no longer offers except at a steep premium.


2) You say you have or hire a camera operator for shooting a panel discussion/live event. If you buy and use the Mevo, what happens to that person? Will they be on the job where the Mevo is used? If it was a freelancer that you hired, will they be on the crew the day the Mevo is used? Tell the truth.

We have several staff members who do it all: produce, write, direct, shoot, edit. We shoot news, multi-camera live-switched talk shows in the studio and in the field; we do EFP production in the field for public service announcements, documentaries, and training, lots and lots of boring yet vital and money-saving training. And we get to shoot incredible oral history interviews with all kinds of interesting people. I've gotten to work with or around people like M. Gorbachev, Jim Lovell, Desmond Tutu, Leon Lederman, Mike Royko, and a few others. I got to work with Obama when he was just an Illinois state senator and I knew he was going to make it to the White House at a very early stage. We shoot the Illinois house and senate action in the Legislative chambers. Later this month I have shoots scheduled in a half-dozen state prisons. I get to shoot aerials during floods and such. A couple of times a year, we shoot live, multicam statewide broadcasts by satellite to feed networks all over Illinois as well as occasional satellite media tours and interviews for CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, etc. If it's a weekend and Dick Durbin is not in Washington, you're seeing him on Meet The Press via our studios down in Springfield. That's our week, in a nutshell. I like many of those Oral History gigs the best, as the rest of the work is pretty ephemeral, but the oral history work is forever. It's rare we need a video freelancer, but we hire still photog freelancers all the time. As to what happens to our staffer if I don't need a second warm body on location because of Mevo-like technology: I've been actively pursuing robotic technologies for our press rooms for years now. The argument is simple: You don't really need a warm body to aim a camera on sticks, on a locked-off medium shot at a guy standing at a podium, in a pre-mic'ed, pre-lit press room. Chicago TV stations would agree with that: for a time, three of them pooled from a single shared camera operator, so their other shooters could go cover more stories, because who needs three identical copies of the same event? (Those of you with journalistic tendencies know that those three angles are not truly identical, but that topic is really for another discussion later)

By using a remotely-aimed PTZ camera in the press briefing rooms, it would free up our Chicago and Springfield guys to go off to shoot other events in the field that are happening at the same time, or close enough that he can't be in two places at once. So we're twice as productive, gathering more and better material, and more responsive to sudden demands for service, with the same number of staff. I figure with a robotic PTZ camera install we could add six or more hours of programming a week from new shooting opportunities we'd earlier have to forego, due to schedule conflicts or travel time (4-hour drives each way can add up to a lot of paid overtime before 8:30AM or after 5 PM). It's not about losing a job to the robotic camera: the robot camera does the low-skill grunt work so the human operator can go work on loftier, more creative things, and we can do more with a limited number of people and limited budget. His skills as a field shooter at events that need actual camera movement and positioning expertise, and his editing expertise, are more valuable in the abstract than making him babysit a locked-off medium shot. You can put an intern on that job. If we still had those. So, the Mevo-type of system could only help our situation, by reducing the amount of gear the operator has to haul to a site, while improving the overall level of production quality by simulating/replacing a multi-cam live-switch with a pre-switched live feed to the web. But the operator is still necessary as ever: only, now he's not just the camera op: he's live-directing, working at a higher creative level and saving the time we'd have spent assembling the event in post, so that edit time can now go to other work in the pipeline, like PSA or documentary productions. There is absolutely nothing to fear from Mevo, as far as our guys are concerned. The ones with bad backs appreciate the lighter weight.:-) The clients we serve are not interested in buying a MEVO and doing the coverage themselves, because it's not their area of expertise or competence, and they don't have the time or inclination to learn the directorial skills we already offer. But they'd LOVE the output of a MEVO used for their event, operated by skillful hands and eyes. That's why I think you're missing a bet avoiding MEVO, instead of offering it in a rental production package you control. Now, MEVO as presented today is not quite ready for us, specifically: we'd need better multi-mic input, and a hard-wired SDI output, in addition to the other features and streaming, but does anybody wanna bet they don't have those upgrades by next NAB? For about the same price? AND 360 room coverage?

3) Is the rise of micro sites to buy individual stock footage shots in your opinion a good thing or bad thing?


Good thing, for producers and editors. Ever-more usable footage, at lower, more affordable cost. From the shooter's side, it's a mixed bag, I think: you're competing with more shooters and that puts a downward pressure on what you can get away with charging. UNLESS - unless what you have to offer is niche or unique in some way. That's where the money in stock has always been: the rarities. Generic b-roll has always been cheap to sell as well as to produce, if all you do is shoot what's around you. Micro sites can offer the ability to provide more customization, shooting to order.

4) Is the tremendous rise of people offering freelance production services, specifically DP, a good thing or bad thing?


We graduate too many new pros every year, compared to the work available, and their eagerness to work means they often don't appreciate the career and industry damage they do in undercutting each other on prices. Our last intern went to work at a local network affiliate as a "Nightside" shooter, and had to quit to take a better-paying job as a car rental clerk. And radio is even worse off. But there have ALWAYS been sharp producers out there exploiting freelance talent, intimidating and hard-bargaining their rates downwards. The shooters and DP's with guts, drive, and vision have survived and thrived, making their business based on their reputations. The ones who lacked faith in themselves and their product priced themselves down and down until they could not stay in business. The other side of the glut of talent is that companies and clients who had never before dreamed of making commercials are now looking to do something, even if "just" for YouTube. And "just" is really the wrong word: online is where EVERYTHING is at today. They try shooting on their own, but soon find they lack the essential skills. For some, the low-quality aesthetic is acceptable and even part of their branding, but most people want a product that really looks good - that looks like "real television" that people are used to. The ones who see their deficiencies but still see the potential for using the medium, they are looking for someone like you to come in and make their crap product look better, work better. When I owned a SAAB 900, I didn't take it to a big dealership - I took it to a freelance mechanic with Big Dealership training and experience, who put his skills to work for a lower price, but he kept all of it for himself, not sharing it with an employer. I got better, more personal and customized service, for less. He got a lot of referrals.



5) Is the creation of Ebay and CraigsList to buy and sell used gear a good thing or bad thing in your opinion?

Unquestionably a good thing. Watching the numbers on completed auctions rapidly tells you the true market value (what people are actually willing to pay) for what you want to sell. Referring to cars again, you do know that the "Blue Book" prices are not what cars actually SELL for, right? That those are the prices dealers are ASKING for. So, the online auctions are a good fast and true measurement of resale value. The downside is you rarely get the added services that you would if dealing with a VAR. But VAR's don't move used goods as their main line anyhow. For a freelancer starting out, this is a great way to get started with lower costs up-front. For an established guy like you, it's a way to phase in newer technologies without the huge first-year depreciation hit. if you know what you're doing, and what you're buying.


I'm eligible to retire right now, and after 30 years of hard work, I have a sweet retirement and benefits package waiting for me, thanks to the union, but I'm too young and pretty and I have three kids I'm helping get launched in college and their own lives, so I keep at it, and I keep learning new things all the time, learning new gear all the time, even as I keep the older stuff running, "as long as it can turn a profit", as you say. I tell folks, I no longer do this job because I *have* to: I do it because I *choose* to. And that alone is a very warm and cozy feeling to have about your career choices. Was I lucky? Yep. The timing was perfect for me. Did I earn every dollar and then some? HELL, yes. I sometimes wonder about the road not taken: once, I planned to work in the big Chicago Advertising agencies, or the network news "O&O" stations. But in a way, I had both of those careers, within my own, all this time, since I got to do journalistic news work, as well as create a lot of advertising, and Instead of being a low-level person in those trades with only a little participation in big productions, I got a lot of "ownership" and "authorship" of things I made. I also avoided all the career churn of those careers, the constant job-jumping, begging for work, and stress. I had my own taste of freelance work after college; some of it was fun, interesting, and profitable, but some didn't last, and I finally had to choose between more freelance work and a steady, small check doing less glamorous work, with a big retirement payoff at the end. I feel like I won the lottery in my career, and I'm still winning, every day I come to work. What more can someone ask of the thing they would just as soon do for free?


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Ned MillerRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 20, 2016 at 2:16:40 pm

Good morning Mark,

Lucky I am an Evelyn Wood Speed Reader graduate. I will say that all of the tech changes that have negatively affected my revenue stream over the years, that you find to be positive yet are insulated from, causes us two to look at it from opposite angles.

When you back out the rich kids, married wells and hobbyists, there are two types of folks in our biz in terms of the way they make an income: Those with steady paychecks and those who are independent, meaning the latter go from project to project trying to glean a profit, such as freelancers and small post and prod co owners. The perspectives you and I disagree on illustrates this chasm. Over my 38 years in the freelance biz I know the difference very well, having had friends, clients, associates and competitors on both sides of the fence which is also why I could tell you must be of the steady paycheck crowd.

In sum, if one is going along swell making very good money in a certain manner, such as making great markups on large VHS (DVD orders are a pittance in terms of profit) dub orders, selling stock footage on digital beta tapes with little competition, selling used equipment at auctions when there's no Ebay or CL, etc., and then major technological advances occur that tremendously reduce or totally zap that revenue flow occur, I hear you saying that one should welcome and embrace that change? Really? I can predict, adapt, purchase and deal with all these changes but as someone who used to make rather large totals doing biz that has been eradicated, there's no way to feel happy about it, just like the former Disney IT guy who is now driving the airport shuttle bus. After all, I am a success story in terms of being a survivor but I do see the younger shooters in this biz as never going to be able to make the great money my generation did and I steered my kids away from it.

And this thread is reminiscent of a thread a few years back regarding the Flip camera taking biz away because clients started DIY and the respondents claimed it wouldn't cut into my revenue stream because it can't compete against a pro. Well, they were wrong, it did. Analogous to when PowerPoint came out it was assumed that the clients would still need the freelance graphic artists. Nope. 100% of clients now create their own PP. And a client asking me how to use a Mevo is the same damn thing. I am very tuned to these types of changes because they affect me getting a check. See? That's the difference. I actually experience the losses in revenue rather than oogle a tech change that cuts me out. Just yesterday I shot for an educational company and at break the client told me they were now going to do less video and move into "digital signage". Asking why, I was informed that it is easier to revise and update but most importantly, with videos the people in proximity turn the audio off! So they want their messaging to be text driven totally independent of audio. That's an "innovative tech change" which means less shooting days per year. Oh! BTW, they figured out how to do the programming in-house.

Someday when I have time, I will tell you some stories of how these tech changes you find so exhilarating have undercut us non-staff folks' ability to hit what I call financial home runs and grand slams. A very small sampling:

• Mid 90's made $27K in 60 seconds (two 30 second phone calls) on a 9000 VHS dub order I marked up $3 each! When I first started producing VHS dub orders were my favorite thing.

• In 1984 bought our first house at 29 years old producing a $80K 16mm industrial film, spent $20K, project got cancelled and I got to keep the remaining $60K to buy the house! BTW, today that client could get their video made at $30K, easy.

• In 1991 made $156K in 6 months shooting America's 2nd reality TV series ($1000 a day x 6 days a week x 6.5 months), that would be $248000 in today's money! Can you imagine a 38 year old DP (outside of Hollywood) making $248000 in six months today????? Can't do that today. This was what put 2 kids through college and provided the base of our nest egg and in the last half of the 90's it was expected to make 15% a year in a large stock mutual fund!

• Until Ebay & CL came along I was very active in the auction scene, specifically dealing in used Mole Richardson (anyone remember them?). Bought classified ads in the back of our trade magazines and sold and shipped them nationwide.

• Before this interwebby thing I was pretty much the sole source to purchase digi beta stock shot reels of Chicago's most requested establishing shots and every year that was good for $4-$8K, since much of the year the weather sucks and there was zero competition this was nice to do!

After a few beers I could probably come up with a dozen or so more grand slam stories which are now impossible due to tech changes. See? Change is inevitable but not always good as you claim, at least not for the freelance/indie crowd. Of course, young peeps don't know what they missed, they only know the prod biz in 2016.

So now I hit singles, doubles and occasionally a triple. I don't fear change, I know it's always coming, but I do get bummed, unlike a guy with a steady paycheck, when my revenue streams get cut, such as the Mevo you lust after. For several reasons this is a horrible biz to grow old in (unless you're "protected" by a union, have a staff gig or are in post) but the main one, if you are in production, is that as you need to max out your 401K and prep for retirement (and that day will come to all) you can't invest in the new best thing to keep yourself competitive. However, if you have a staff gig you are insulated from these tech changes, unless you get canned. Fortunately my (teacher) wife and I who come from modest Midwest backgrounds so we are instilled with a savings ethic and are avid savers. I am a self taught investor (remember Magellan and Puritan funds?) and we are ready for "retirement" in a couple of years, but I shake my head at the Millenials in the biz in terms of the financial future they will have, specifically in the art of freelance camerawork. They will seldom have a fully paid off camera for very long. 4K is just a brief stepping stone towards 8K and who knows what, but in order to compete all these changes will require constant capital outlays when that money needs to go into an IRA and grow. There's no pensions for us. So screw the Mevo. If my client buys, learns and adapts it, that means perhaps five less working days a year for me. See what I mean now?

Well, breakfast is over. That's my two cents.

See ya,


Ned

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Todd TerryRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 20, 2016 at 3:14:13 pm

I think Mark and Ned are indeed looking at things from two sides of the fence, and I can completely grasp both arguments.

I myself radically fear change but have learned through the years that is a hopeless position to be in our industry.


[Ned Miller] "I hear you saying that one should welcome and embrace that change? Really?"

I don't think you have to be happy about it. But I do think one has to deal with it, as it is inevitable.

I've tried to welcome some of it. A few days ago I had to pull some footage from a Beta tape from a project that was pushing 20 years old (and I worried about a rain of oxide when I opened the case, but fortunately everything was fine). As I was popping the tape in, I realized that in a rack of Beta machines I hadn't even as much as turned on a single one of the decks in years. Years. We used to send dubs by the hundreds every month to TV stations all over, and those days are gone. And even though we charged for them, if I never have to make anther Beta dub as long as I live it will be too soon. Digital uploads have freed me and the others at my place from a mundane job that took up time better spent doing more interesting, creative, and profitable work. Just one example.

Conversely, we have indeed seen a corporate client or two go away because they suddenly have an in-house "video department" which is some newbie grad with a DSLR and Final Cut. I would grumble about that a bit, especially because one of them was quite the cash cow in its day. But looking back on each of those jobs, I can ask myself "Was the work I was doing for them really what I wanted to be doing?" The answer is invariably "Nah," it was all trained-monkey work. And in hindsight if the newbie with his 5D or GoPro is doing work that is "good enough" for that client, then that's not work I care about doing anyway.

For years we were just about the only production company in our area that truly delivered a filmic cinematic look... for the simple reason that we shot film. Hardly anyone else did, and those that did shot 16mm, I most always shot 35mm. Now everybody and their brother has a big-sensor camera and can claim to do so... although our stuff still looks better, because as my friend Tim Knox once reminded me "Talent comes before technology in the dictionary," and it should in our daily work, too. (and speaking of, where IS Tim? Haven't seen him here in ages)

The winds of change don't stop blowing. I don't always like it either, but I also know no amount of complaining or being frustrated about it is going to stop that.

Indeed, part of my slightly positive attitude toward the Mevo is probably due to the fact that I'm unlikely to be a customer. That's not the kind of work we do, I can't think of a single instance in the past 19 years here where I (or one of my customers) would have used it had it been available, nor can I think of an upcoming one... so I can look at it without the "They took our jerbs!" filter. If it was putting me out of work I would no doubt feel differently. But love it or hate it, you have to admit it's kinda cool technology.

T2

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



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Mark SuszkoRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 20, 2016 at 3:57:29 pm

Like you say; this isn't personal. We're looking at the issue from different perspectives. I have nothing but respect for the work you've done and do, and your work ethic is beyond reproach. You have every right to be proud of what you've accomplished, more or less, on your own terms.

I would point out, however, that the majority of your anecdotes revolve around having an unfair market advantage in terms of knowledge and information, or in terms of infrastructure and resources or access, vis-a-vis, the customers. It's easier to score a run when you start on second or third base.

As in the Mole-Richardson lights. Moles are workhorses and will last a Lonnnng time. So an investment in them meant you were buying them for pennies, if you divide dollars spent into hours of productive and revenue-generating use. And when there's only a few sources for the used stuff, you can ask pretty much what you want in terms of a price. You had an unfair advantage over the consumer in that regard. Comes along online auctions, and you lose your unique status as a supplier as well as being able to set prices. Now you're in a level playing field market, and demand tells you what you can charge. In terms of a business model, You were basically GM, before the Japanese import wave and gas crisis/ emissions restrictions. Or the Mainframe division of IBM, before PC's.

Now LED and Flo lights are displacing tungsten, those Moles are worth more as converted home decor objects than as working lights, in many cases. This year we finally surplussed our on-camera Frezzi lights to replace them with LED panels. I still prefer the tungsten Frezzi in a few situations where the extreme photonic firepower is needed... but the LED panels are "better" in 90-95 percent of our typical shooting situations now. They have dimmers, they can run off camera taps or AA packs for hours, they run cool, they weigh less, they cost much less....what's not to love?


For about a decade, simply owning an expensive digibeta deck was a license to print money, even if all you ever did was sub-rent it to editors needing to ingest or output to digibeta for a broadcast station. The decks cost more than the complete editing workstations. I remember someone created a money-making business, just as a "dating service" to connect digibeta deck owners to editors needing deck rentals by the day or even just by the hour. And then, one day, it was like a switch flipped: hard drive-based recording and card-based recording and FTP eliminated the need for tape dubs. I always hated tape dub runs, whatever the format: they had to happen in real time, which took forever. I was happier to do DVD dub runs at 20x realtime, using mass duplicator/labelers. Even nicer now, to just upload one file and point everybody to the server. I never had access to a digibeta deck, myself. And I resented that. The tech that liberated us from Digibeta opened a door for many more new people to start making video, just as DV technology broke the hold of the small techno-priesthood of the online suites. For the people wanting to make television, but lacking access and big budgets, this was a great time of new opportunities.

It seems to me you like how you had things, and you don't like that times change. It's a big club :-)

But because new gear is also much cheaper than what it obsoletes, you can more or less tread water and maintain your prices, only, you're now offering more and wider services for the same price in some cases. Buy the Mevo and the ipad to run it, and charge the same as you did for a 2-camera digibeta camcorder gig, and pocket the savings, only now, your product is actually superior in an objective way, while your profit margin is higher.

As to the digital signage, if you know how to edit, there's nothing stopping you from getting into that market and being competitive, versus some kid using factory-supplied templates. Really, you're as competitive as you choose to be.


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Ned MillerRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 20, 2016 at 4:44:46 pm

OK Mark, it’s 11:30AM and I’m STILL in my PJs, so this is the last one of the day.

I am a very creative type, the last thing I want to do is learn how to control a Mevo via an iPad, or any such geeky situation. I'ill shoot a panel discussion so I can put food on the table but for me to make less money doing so does not appeal to me, and if you think I can get the same amount of rate you are mistaken. Can you show me a tech innovation in our biz where the rates did NOT go down? That's one of the principle definitions of a tech innovation: Cheaper.

I'm a shooter, specifically I love the rush of a documentary situation. I am actually trying to reduce my screen time. If you think about how much we used to be creating, now we're doing geek chores on a computer, even if it's editing. So any endeavor to reinvent myself which requires screen time is anathema to me. I am very active on DVXuser.com and I will say that in the last few years the tech geeks have moved into the shooting realm, after all, video cameras aren't really cameras anymore. Cameras are now little computers with a lens stuck on the front. On those camera forums you'd think you stumbled onto a developers' site.

Wrapping up, there's two things you wrote that paint the differences between our perspectives (Staff vs Freelance vis-a-vis DIY tech changes) then I got to go. It's nice out and the dogs are looking at me.

• You welcomed the demise of VHS because it makes your life easier, yet your paycheck did not change downhill as your company transitioned to digital delivery. My level of income drastically did. Are we in the same boat? No. You see it as a positive because your family income is not negatively affected.

• I'm 100% sure if I asked you if the plethora of offerings of all these choices of today's video cameras is a good thing, you'd say YES! You wrote that at your company you rent the camera models you need and do not own. Yet when you rent your paycheck stays the same. I work for different TV shows and they actually dictate which model camera I should use plus the settings. Yet when I rent my income goes DOWN. I have to absorb some of the rental cost because they may go to a competitor who owns it, I need time to pick up and drop off, I have to study tutorials and set it up, etc. To summarize, tech innovations cause us both to need to rent yet your income remains level, mine goes down. Now do you see?

Just those two examples illustrate the difference between staff and freelance, which colors our view of tech innovations. You seem to have a rosy view of reinventing oneself and being able to charge the same. It doesn't work like that. For example, because the bulk of my work is corporate, (or the ugly LA term industrials) I am in Midwest factories a lot. I mean a real LOT. Many factories I go into are now using robots and have become very lite on workers. Do you think they all reinvented themselves? There aren't enough rental car shuttle busses at the airport to employ them all.

I think it's easier to consider adapting to industry changing innovations, such as this Mevo, as a positive thing if one does not need to worry about one's income. If one is getting the same paycheck every two weeks innovative tech disruptions may be seen as a positive thing, but not to those who lose income to them.

Well, got to run. We are of different universes, I must hunt and kill for my next meal. I worked only one day this week so I need 2.5 days next week somehow.

Later, still friends but of different worlds.

Ned

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 20, 2016 at 5:26:40 pm







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Brian RobinsonRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Aug 21, 2016 at 3:25:10 pm

The Mevo is quiet comfortable to work with and doesn't take long to get hang of it. I have reviewed it on my blog here : Mevo Review


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Richard HerdRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 22, 2016 at 10:37:57 pm

The decline in real wages is prevalent in more than just this industry. Perhaps this is the end of this process-form of capitalism.


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Ned MillerRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 23, 2016 at 12:38:48 pm

Here we go:

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2016/04/18/digital-white-collar-jobs

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Richard HerdRe: Eeeesh...Another gizmo to learn.
by on Apr 26, 2016 at 8:44:59 pm

Sorry it took so long to listen.

That's a good podcast.

Turning to machines is an old issue. Marx raises it in Chapter 15, section 8 https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch15.htm#S8

But that's too hard to read. This is a bit more accessible





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