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Video/Photography Business Site

Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2010, 7:46pm

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Serpent

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I have finally started my business. It is located at http://cpostudios.com and is based on Wordpress. I'm starting at rates that should pay me around $10 an hour, which is plenty for my life style right now. My personal website is moved to http://cpostudios.com/cpoblog for now, will soon get its own domain.

Eventually I want to expand by getting a studio location, higher rates, bigger clients, employees etc. I have no idea how this is going to go, I'm sure it will change a lot over the years, but I would love for this to become my income.

I still need to add a lot of content before I start pushing it out there, I've got some photography and graphic work, some visual effects stuff, and I'm working 2 free music videos for friends who will pass my name along, as well as help out my portfolio. I'm shooting some new stuff very soon, after which I'll put together a nice reel. Also doing some professional real estate shots for some multi-million dollar beach homes and portrait work of agents.

I would love any feedback on the site, writing, rates, the business model in general, etc. For now, my ultimate goal is to get a consistency going where I can pay my rent, get a car, pay electric/water/internet, + some luxuries. The rest of my money will got to equipment or be invested. I'm working a "real job" too, as a backup. I am very inexperienced in real business (I've run successful other types of businesses before), and independent life in general, so again, feedback would be appreciated.
Posted: Sun, 20th Jun 2010, 12:50am

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DVStudio

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Heyy

I'm liking the idea and the website. very clean feel, looks professional, no problems there. I noticed you have a lot of great FAQs and such on there as well. I know its a work in progress, but more examples of your work would be great, show the customer what you've done, you know? wink

Nice job though, I wish you the very best. If you ever need any website help, just shoot me a PM and I'd be glad to give you a hand.

One other thought I had was that, although I'm not sure where you are based, make sure you have enough potential business around you, and work haerd to get your name around. Maybe do some freebie projects (like the music vidoes) and do a good job so your name is circulated that way. Other than that, very nice, and good luck.

DV
Posted: Sun, 20th Jun 2010, 2:20am

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ben3308

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Some things to think about:

You have a script font, rather light line weight to it, as a header - and is then used nowhere else on the site prominently, neither for accent links nor subhead text. So I have to ask.....why the script font? If for the hell of it, why not a heavier-weight font, to solidify the design the of the header better.

If script font is used in an effort to be more artful-creative, for sure incorporate more 'artsy' elements into the design, even if it's brush strokes or a city skyline or something.

I dunno, I just see a lot of black and some gradiented sections and expect then a heavier weight, more corporate font or something, not a script font - at least, not without some more colors in the design, like the blue from the logo as the background of the lower half, or something. I actually worked on a site that provides a good color-complements example of what I am speaking of here.

So that's that.

Second thing, you've set your website up using WordPress to have it update itself and roll new information forward. Nice. But do you think for a sales/promotion website you want it to be that obvious that it's a blog software?

Think about it. You have a really cool logo for the time and date (likely from a modded WP template) because, on a blog, the time and date of posts are normally more important referential information than the titles of the posts - those can fluctuate and be meaningless, after all.

But, on a portfolio/presentation page wherein you want to SELL someone and have them be sure of the information you provide, the hierarchy in place is one where the date you post things may matter at some point, but would be fine contained in the footer or each new post, not at the top of the subheads on the main page. Think about this, now: the font point height of your subheads - which SHOULD be conveying the important sales/news/info is actually smaller than the cool looking time/date icon that lies to the left of them.

To me at least, there's something wrong there. For a blog, okay. For a website that wants to market anything, least of all material that can actually be sampled on the website itself; I think the prominence of dating news and information versus actually ordering such news and information is more important.

I agree that WordPress is a good technology to automatically and succinctly (in terms of code) frame your website and content as you add it. But realize that you may want to step back and ask yourself if you are using the WP process too much for what you want your website to contain.

Other than all of this, it looks good! biggrin
Posted: Sun, 20th Jun 2010, 2:51am

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Serpent

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Thanks for the tips guys.

Ben: you have no idea how much I messed with paint splatters. razz I'll try brush strokes or other "arty alternatives." If I did that and maybe made the font a little bolder, do you think that would be fine? Or does the script definitely need to appear elsewhere on the site. Design-wise, I can't imagine using it more than once, maybe twice. But maybe you have a different take. For the splatters I tried green, different shades of blue, different brushes, etc. and Pooky and Aculag gave it a thumbs down, so I definitely need to take a new approach.

As for the post dating, lots of words to say something simple (not that I'm complaining), so I kind of lost track of what you were saying. So you think news on the main page shouldn't have dates, the information on the sections shouldn't have dates, but the new content *should* have dates? Am I understanding that correctly? That would be perfect because then I can just manually add the dates to posts. I think the pretty dates on the main page are necessary though, since that's also just going to be new content and updates.

And as for it being wordpress, a lot of businesses are using Wordpress these days and I removed any mention of it. I'd much rather do it this way for easy to update stuff (coding pisses me off) and for Google results. I can't live without a CMS, and Wordpress is the best one in my opinion. And it's already set up, so I'm not gonna go back. I got plenty of WEB DESIGN offers when I was in Orlando and we used a template for our business site just because we were rushing to get the business launched. razz The only "abuse" of word press might be using posts for new content, but that is such an easy way to update people, and it's very easy to navigate.

Finally:

"I think the prominence of dating news and information versus actually ordering such news and information is more important. "

I don't really know what you mean by that specific sentence. The only "order" I'm changing is the sticky posts (plugin, for those curious) that describe each section.

Again, really appreciate the feedback, especially on the "artsy design" side. I was about to settle on the header design, but I knew it was missing that.
Posted: Sun, 20th Jun 2010, 4:12am

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ben3308

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Serpent wrote:

And as for it being wordpress, a lot of businesses are using Wordpress these days and I removed any mention of it.
...
I don't really know what you mean by that specific sentence. The only "order" I'm changing is the sticky posts (plugin, for those curious) that describe each section.
Let me clarify slightly.

Basically, clients may have no idea how a website is made or what goes into making it, but they know what blogs are made to look like, and they're at least aware that WordPress and things like that exist. So if you do something, say, more indicative of WP technology than others, clients can tell. Custom, custom, custom is what people equate with quality in branding. And WP styles are sometimes derivative of stock, templated, and machine-based.

Using such things can (sometimes) look bad, and I mean that by ordering the 'news' in a way that it's a list wherein the blue accents for the graphic design are used on elements you don't REALLY need. Basically, dates aren't as important as you've made them, IMO. They're big and blue - which anchors the color scheme of the site - but they're just not important, and the big numbers make it look MORE like a blog than just using WP on a portfolio/sales site.
Posted: Sun, 20th Jun 2010, 4:31am

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ben3308

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Also, as for splatters, I'm not sure that would mesh with your site layout/design as it stands now unless you did a complete redesign in terms of re-imagining all the elements on the page in a more 'artsy' way.

I think the main thing, then, would be to revise the CPO Studios font to something more corporate, sans serif, capitalized, and bold - maybe with minor serif flourishes or the like?

Or, if you feel you must stick with script fonts, use the one that emulates the Viva La Vida cover......I forget its name, but enough Googling should yield results. It was more organic and rough and bold. And I think, if you want to contend with script-ish styles, it's a solid choice. Basically, right now it looks like WP template (which is nondescript and okay, because it's neat and clean) where someone simply subbed out the header sample and added their own without incorporating it properly into the site's current central design.
Posted: Sun, 20th Jun 2010, 4:48am

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Serpent

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Gotcha (and that's pretty much what I did save a bit of PHP/CSS/plugin/widget editing). I shall try to incorporate it better, maybe play around with other fonts and design ideas to make it look more part of it. I'll look into the Coldplay font, I like the Viva La Vida album cover.

As for the dates, that was part of the template the site is based on, but I'm going to remove that in the PHP so I can put the dates in the footer and have it show up *only* subtly on new content posts. I'll bump this when that's done and the new header is done, maybe get some feedback on various design attempts. I definitely want to go with something artsy to sell that part of the business to potential clients, the fact that it's mainly a creative business. Also to sell graphic design abilities just from the front page (which it obviously doesn't do now). Thanks again man, I really appreciate it. I'm going to use this opportunity to bug you about the Muse posters: get those suckers done! I'm trying to shoot on Tuesday and I need at least a day to get them printed.


And of course, more feedback and general tips from others is appreciated, especially pointers on the business aspect.
Posted: Mon, 28th Jun 2010, 3:31am

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Serpent

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Time to bump the topic for more thoughts. I've added more content, and more is on the way. But I've got everything I need to start, so I also put up a Criagslist ad:


CPO Studios - Photo, Video, Graphic, and Post Production Services (Norfolk/Hampton Roads) img


and here's my competition (on Craigs):
http://norfolk.craigslist.org/crs/

I was going to change the dates on the home page, but I think the blue square looks really slick with thumbnailed photos/graphics. I will add back in the date subtext php code though, but just the month and year. I'm also getting ideas for the header, just too lazy to update. I'll let you guys know how the ad goes. Let the clients roll in(?)
Posted: Mon, 28th Jun 2010, 5:11am

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Garrison

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Rating: +1

Cool stuff Serpent! I'm not the most useful critic of websites since I am really illiterate on that kind of stuff. However, I did come across a podcast a couple of weeks ago that deals specifically on this -

Hope you find it helpful and good luck on your business.

http://www.thedvshow.com/podcast-432-effective-web-design-for-video-business/
Posted: Wed, 30th Jun 2010, 12:01am

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Serpent

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Oooh awesome, I'm sure that will be very helpful. +1

If anyone can give me information on copyright stuff for something like this I'd appreciate it. I would like to retain the copyrights to work I do, but allow my client to own some rights to basically use it as they please.
Posted: Wed, 30th Jun 2010, 1:00pm

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pdrg

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Copyright law is both complex and simple.

In essence, if you made it, you own the copyright. It's automatic, but if someone can show they made it before you, they have the rights. This is why people register copyrights with agencies (and pay for the privilege), to prove they did it first.

You could grant your clients license to use the finished piece (assuming you own the master rights, which you will unless you infringed someone else's rights by using a photo they took, for instance), or you could transfer all rights to them granting yourself a license. Practically, if they pay you, they should own the rights, and in the absence of paperwork, that's probably what a court would say anyway. After all, it's their business, but you may want to be allowed to use the work for showreel purposes, which they'll surely grant you smile

If you want to take it further, see a lawyer, I am not one, and this is not legal advice smile
Posted: Mon, 5th Jul 2010, 4:08am

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Serpent

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Thanks pdrg, that really helps.

Business progress: I've had 2 hits so far, one was a beauty pageant for 7-19 year old girls where I would judge, photograph, and have access to the parent's for current and future business, as well as the 17 year old soon-to-be senior high schoolers. Something about it seemed off though, no pay, no guarantee, 2 full days, little info. They at least had a clearly commissioned website, but it's terrible. So I turned that one down.

Next hit is a company in Miami, some kind of club or something, that wanted me to film their parties and create a DVD on some Fridays and special events. Not sure if they own a club here in Virginia, or they found my site from my old business in Florida, but I messaged them asking if they were in Virginia, and said I could do DVD work if they were based in Miami, or any flyer/graphic work.

I'm working on 3 music videos, all friends, all free, but all very popular in different areas of the state. One's an urban prog rock band that's very popular in nicer high schools in this city, and a generation of college freshmen, one is growing indie band in Northern Virginia, really good artful music, and one is more of a pop rock popular local band that have gone National and is popular among high school girls, mostly.



The website has a new feature, where there is a hidden category of "prices," and each time there is a new price value for a project, I will make a new post titled $270 for example. I would use it in the future to link a quote to a client, and it is a page with a Paypal button for that amount. How do most people do business? I know you can do either, but is it best to get money up front, or do some kind of contract? And how do I make sure I'm not stuck with a client that just wants it changed to the point where I'm getting paid slave wages? Another new feature coming up is a flash rotator on the front page where the main image is. Also adding some graphic design and Blackhawk! photography, as well as a web design reference to my cousin in Rates and Contact. We pay each other percentages of referred clients.
Posted: Sat, 10th Jul 2010, 8:49pm

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Serpent

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OK, now the ball is actually rolling and I'm in business. I am shooting 2 weddings, one is a small short wedding, the other a larger wedding, full photo and video. I am hiring 2 experienced people to shoot the video while I shoot the photos. I'm working with another professional in the area for advice, and I may be shooting a wedding with him for experience.

I am also shooting and designing an album cover for a musician. He called me earlier, I'm just waiting on an e-mail. I need to get used to answering my phone as a business. 2 very unexpected calls. After this I'll be able to pay off my upcoming equipment loan.

Any advice on "the process" would be great. Right now, I'm going off instinct, telling people to get in touch via e-mail, and sending them a detailed quote that is a little below the average in our area (my competition is 70% terrible, but I'm new to the game) an about what I'd want to receive estimated per hour. Then I arrange a meeting, or arrange digitally, a way to sign a contract and pay a deposit, which is $100 for larger projects, $50 for small, $10 for smaller. Still need to work out agreement details, I think pdrg posted a music video one recently that I might utilize and alter.

And anyone that has shot a wedding, tips would be amazing, or a link, but I'll do some research of course.
Posted: Sun, 11th Jul 2010, 3:01pm

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er-no

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Serpent wrote:


And anyone that has shot a wedding, tips would be amazing, or a link, but I'll do some research of course.
Hey Serpent,

I founded and ran a moderately successful wedding film business, we started it back in 2004 and poured some finance into exhibiting at the UK national wedding show. From that show we took 32 bookings for the first year of packages ranging from £750-£2500.

http://www.jamweddings.co.uk/

Then the seriously hard work began. The problem with weddings is the serious nature in which the bride and groom (normally the bride) take the final result of your many hours of filming. Over the first year we learnt a lot about how most of the planning for filming and delivery was decided well before the actual wedding day. If you want, jump onto Skype and I'll try and grab some documents and bookings forms the company now uses (I stopped editing or shooting weddings about six months in and like you, got other freelancers to shoot the work at the right standard).

Can defo help with advice on that subject though smile
Posted: Mon, 12th Jul 2010, 1:25pm

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pdrg

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That beauty pageant job sounds dodgy as all hell, RUN AWAY FAST!!! And in fairness, there are some honest nightclub owners/promoters out there, I'm sure, hopefully including these guys.

As for how to run a company, well that's quite a big ask for a forum post. For any job where you have upfront costs (or guaranteed costs or commitments you're making), the client should give you money upfront. My terms of business say 50% upfront, and 25% during production and 25% on delivery. Your mileage may vary (as does mine, job-by-job, to be fair - for corporate clients I front all the costs and get paid 6-12 weeks later, so build in a cost of credit!)

Even if you can't afford a lawyer, make sure you have every job spec written up and agreed and signed on paper before you start, or it becomes an all-you-can-eat video buffet. The purpose of the spec is to include what *is* and *isn't* included. For instance for the weddings, maybe you provide one master DVD, but copies are charged extra at $10/each. DVD cover art - included/excluded? Number of cameras/operators? Length of the vid? How long you'll be on-site? Who pays for your lunch? EVERYTHING - get it on paper, get it agreed, then and only then can you know when the job is finished (you can effectively tick the boxes on the list on the paper), and so when you should get paid, and how much.

Quoting for a job - tricky one. They want you as cheap as possible, you want to make a profit of course. It's all about who bears the *RISK* in the project.

*If you have carte blanche to work as many hours as you like at $x per hour, to hire in equipment on their bill, to hire in staff, to pay post-houses, to let them change their minds as long as they pay for the time and costs, they are bearing the risk. If something goes wrong, or they change their minds, great, you get more hours and paid more.

*If you quote a fixed price for the job, you have the potential to organise yourself efficiently (workflows!), and make a better profit. But if something goes wrong, you bear the costs of remedial action, the risk is on you, so cost it accordingly to give yourself wriggle room.

*If you quote a fixed price for a core set of activities, but in your (paper! always on paper!) agreement you set out that the client pays for any changes of mind they have at $x per day + costs. You share the risk, so if you balls up, you cover the costs, but they can't change their minds every 10 mins and hope to get more 'stuff' for free.

*If they offer you a 'Not to exceed' deal, where they pay you a day rate and costs up to a certain ceiling, run a mile. Never touch one of these jobs. If you work smart, you get no benefit, if there's a problem, you suffer for it. You bear all the risk, with no wriggle room and no mitigation. I took one of these jobs once, never ever again. I was young, dumb, and hadn't realised the implications. This one tip could save you thousands, learn from my mistake!

How much to charge? Well, look at your costs (include transport, hotels, food, hires, crew, stock, insurance, etc), look at the competition, and position yourself in the market where you want to be. Premium-end hiring in top-notch kit and crew? Cheap? etc., and price accordingly. Remember there's a lot of competition at both ends, so you can't necessarily compete on price alone. Maybe compete on convenience, flexibility, find a niche market you can service expertly (like free-running, small bands, college proms, whatever), etc.

For me, I have a mixture of clients and work - some is insultingly cheap (if I've nothing else on), some free, some premium, but I don't tell each market about the others. The cheap guys expect premium quality, or the premium guys want cheaper shoots - keep them separate.

There's a hell of a lot to do to run a business. I wish you much luck! And perhaps, just perhaps, one day you'll be in a position where you'll can give me a job - don't forget me wink
Posted: Mon, 12th Jul 2010, 11:02pm

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RodyPolis

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I don't mean to high jack your thread, but since we both are doing similar businesses I thought I could ask that here.

How do you do business with someone online? Someone not close to you that you will never meet in real life. What I'm more interested in is how to sign a contract with someone over the internet.

Some months ago I had some problems with something like that, and I just want ideas on how to prevent someone from screwing you over.
Posted: Mon, 12th Jul 2010, 11:15pm

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pdrg

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Hey Rody,

I suggest you get the fee either part-paid in advance, or better still held in escrow (a third party that holds the funds and releases them on completion). You can still have an agreement/contract, they can post you a copy back after signing...
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 5:03am

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Serpent

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Hijack away, I've been moochin' off your threads too. wink Thanks so much for the advice pdrg, I am taking all of it. And I will never forget you, honestly. If this goes where I want it to, I would love to hire someone like you.

I am very determined though. I have never felt like this passionate about anything, with my films, photography, business, and independent living. Will be an interesting trip.
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 7:43am

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ben3308

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Serpent wrote:

I am very determined though. I have never felt like this passionate about anything, with my films, photography, business, and independent living. Will be an interesting trip.
It does seem like everything happens at once, doesn't it? My own summer started slow, but after doing a couple music videos to get back in the swing of 'business-like' work (granted, they were for free) and one airing nationally in three days and Rody having already had a quick turnaround on the music video he just recently set out to do, I've totally been equally motivated by this thread to get back into music videos for at least the next six weeks mildly here in Dallas.

Then, back in Austin, there's an exponentially higher market, so hopefully I'll have time for that.

For music videos, it helps if you can just find the MySpace Music account of whatever small-ish music venue you have in your area and see who has been soliciting them for the venue. Great way to find a bunch of small, eager (to spend money and to get opportunities, like a music video can bring) bands to do a video for.
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 9:07am

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Serpent

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That is a great idea, and I would love to work with bands, seems way more up my alley. I enjoy photographing bands, and love telling stories/making videos based on music.

Oh yeah, one thing I forgot to mention was that I pitched all my business ideas and plans and whatnot to my parents, who approved an equipment loan. I'll also be setting up a studio location in an empty bedroom in my apartment. It's basically a support plan, and the short term goal (3 years) is to be able to support myself totally with a job and the business. Eventually I'll go all business and I can quit my employed job. Then hopefully eventually beyond that sell/change my business to mostly film/television work. The plan is obviously much much more detailed.

As far as the equipment goes, I'm pretty sure I have everything, but maybe someone will notice something missing that sounds extremely useful. I got myself a mini slider dolly (Indislider) based on the HDSLR thread examples, and I love it. I'm sure a pro one would be better in size and consistency, but for $100, come on. My loan is going to cover Zacuto 3x, H4N (already ordered these first two), Follow Focus, 2 RAID Hard drives, 1 RAID portable drive, reverse portable flex Green/blue screen (the huge one at tubetape), Jib, underwater housing, video light (documentary style), flash (I've never been much of a flash shooter, but some things call for it, especially now), polarizer, rain cape. Already have everything else I can think of, collected over the years, and I've got a small "save up" list, like a manfrotto tripod, lavalier mic, crane exntension piece, bluray burner, etc. My friend is setting up my hard drives on a server so I can get multiple people working on the project in post. I already have camera, lenses, decent fluid head tripod, lights/light kit stuff (gels, diffusors, umbrella, etc. etc.), snorri, dolly, steadicam, bags/suitcases for transport, shoulder mount/handle, rails, pelican case for laptop, full post production setup as far as necessary things go (saving up for HDTV for "indy monitoring" and general use). I'll buy more storage over time if I need to. I have extension cords and whatnot, but should I buy my own generator? I would love to have a way to power everything I mentioned above + maybe more in the field (lights, laptop, battery charger, maybe a monitor, etc.). And if it could fit in my mini cooper it'd be a huge bonus, otherwise I may have to invest in a trailer. Right now everything fits in the mini, even the jib. With some room to spare, just not sure if it's enough for a generator that would work for me. I've got cloths, gray cards, laptop for monitoring (for now), tools, gloves, a photoish vest, filters, etc. I've got a second DSLR as another camera for stills. I've got an XLR mic to plug into the H4N. That's everything I can think of.

Sorry for the wall of text, but I'm treading in new waters here, trying to get as much feedback as I can.
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 11:27am

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er-no

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Just remember the little things like lens cleaners, wind-tins and other camera wipes/sprays that can save a lot of time and make things a lot easier when on any shoot. wink
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 12:22pm

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pdrg

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Great kitlist! If I were you I would only look at buying an HD monitor/generator/etc the week before the first job where you absolutely need it and can't hire it. Generators are dirty ugly things, and 95% of paying jobs will be near power - kit that doesn't get used is dead money. I only buy kit when 1) I'm cash positive and 2) I need it for a job. Technology will march on without you, so it means it gets cheaper! Oh, and never forget NEVER FORGET **NEVER FORGET** cash is king - carry as little debt as possible, that way lies trouble. Build up healthy cash reserves in the business to cover your rent, fixing up broken stuff, etc - even if that means hiring instead of buying, keep as much of your business value in cash and least in assets as possible. That way, when you see a competitor who bought loads of kit having to sell everything off to pay the rent, you can buy his assets cheap. I may be about to get a second Avid (symphony) for under $150 - massive insane bargain, but I've got the cash here and now, and so I get the pick of the crop. Assets depreciate, cash is king.

That said, if youlre doing a big shop... simple things like a decent acrylic clapperboard (no chalk dust in your kit!), some basic makeup and brushes (get powder in a few skin shades at least, from pale through dark), a software autocue you can set up with a spare monitor (you don't need the angled glass except close-up, a 19" monitor under the lens at 6-8' nobody can spot the eyeline), some impressive looking ex-studio Beta SP or similar tape decks - this is all stuff to make clients feel sexy and like they're getting value. Clients love to see a slate in use, even if you don't really need one ona simple edit with sync sound on tape. Machines they could never understand tell them they're buying your skills in deciding which kit to use (you can use the kit as props and supports in the rest of the time!). Autocue/portaprompt - I spent $45ish on a software prompt. It's not the greatest, and there really should be a free alternative, but the free ones and browser based ones suck badly. Best investment I made - week 1 without the prompt, 4 hrs to shoot (ok so that included a bit of lighting setup time), week 2 I introduced the prompt, 25 mins shoot. Much happier client, less stress on me, easier edit, less crew time, etc. And make-up makes the client less glowy, but als reminds them that you're a professional. Even if they don't need it, make like they do, especially the blokes. A few $ adds a lot of value.

Oh, one more thing, have crew for every shoot. Even if you've got sensible friends who you pay in coffee/beer/pizza - you should always have more crew than the client has bodies in the film. They may have 3 talking heads, so have 4 crew to distract them and keep your time free to do the job... they can help carry kit and watch it whilst you get the car, etc.

Above all though, don't forget to have fun too smile
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 7:46pm

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Serpent

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They actually have iPad software that turns the iPad into a prompt. At least that's the impression I got from this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/683545-REG/ProPrompter_PP_HD_I_PROPROMPTER_HD_I_f_IPAD_w_WING_GRIP.html

If that's the case, the iPad is one of the things on my "save" list to use for personal reasons (books, car computer, etc.), digital portable portfolio, etc. This might make it more of a desire. For now though, couldn't I create a scrolling image of the dialogue and just full screen it on my laptop and put some kind of hood over it to block sunlight? Then I could just have a crew control the speed of the scroll.

Makeup is good, forgot about that really. I'll get some stuff for deeper shadows and the like as well. What do you mean by less glowy? Less natural? I guess I should probably read some makeup articles, always had my friend do that.

Great advice about keeping as much cash as I can too. I feel like a generator is important though, and those suckers are actually decently expensive to rent. I'll rent for now when I need it, but wouldn't it be a good investment? I'm saving up for a photo light/flash kit, and I'm not sure if those need a generator (they have those big control boxes for flashes, can those generate power? I've never had my own to use, only used it in a studio.) Because I see tons pf photographers using lighting equipment hundreds of miles away from real power. How do they do it? And what about video equipment in the field, like monitors, lights, etc.? Wouldn't that happen a lot? I don't know how much power I need (how do I calculate this?), but the portable generators on craigslist are going for $300-$1,500 depending on the power and age/use, which seems better than the $50 daily rental price or whatever it is.
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 8:41pm

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pdrg

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Serpent wrote:

They actually have iPad software that turns the iPad into a prompt.
Yep, although that sounds like a lot of cost to use as a prompt where a laptop has a real keyboard (you will want to edit the text on the fly - scripts change).

couldn't I create a scrolling image of the dialogue and just full screen it on my laptop and put some kind of hood over it to block sunlight? Then I could just have a crew control the speed of the scroll.
You're better off with a PC/mac-based one, and yes you use the scroll to change speed - there's a free light version http://www.movieclip.biz/prompt.html (short textx only) but for longer scripts, this does the job just great, and you can make edits easily. You don't need a hood, but it's helpful to have an external monitor so you're not adjusting the speed on the keyboard of the laptop the presenter is trying to read from. White text on black is most readable.

What do you mean by less glowy? Less natural?
Greasy and sweaty - what people become under lights! The grease and sweat creates hotspots where the lights reflect off them, it looks pretty grim and for the sake of a few quid...

I don't know how much power I need (how do I calculate this?), but the portable generators on craigslist are going for $300-$1,500 depending on the power and age/use, which seems better than the $50 daily rental price or whatever it is.
You'll find the cheaper gennies are pretty low-power (like maybe not enough to light a light!) and if you're in the field you may find it better to use an inverter in your car to charge batteries. Batteries are the way forward wink And how often will you be shooting with lights and power-hungry stuff miles from anywhere? And gennies are noisy too, especially the cheapo ones. Personally I'd see how often you really need one, then base your buy decisions on that. How to work out power? Well, a 500W lamp (using P=VI where V=110 for the US) is going to pull 4-5 Amps. Ouch!

My 2p again though!
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 8:59pm

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Serpent

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So there's no real good way to get my lights powered without an expensive rental, is basically what you're saying? And how much are we talking? $1k? $2k? $3k? I want to know at what point my business might be looking at a generator. If it's more like $3k, then probably at least a few years down the line.
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 10:50pm

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pdrg

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You could look at fluorescent lighting, look for pro systems that don't flicker and ruin your shots (or that flicker. At a high enough speed you get loads of cycles per frame, unlike domestic ones). Or look at the emerging LED lights which run much lower power, and you can do a lot with a £10 light and some AA's. Or bite the fact you will probably need a hefty genny to do hefty lighting. But again, how often?? That said, on ebay I saw a 2800W genny for under £200 new, and at that price I'd buy one if I knew i'd need it more than a couple of times.

Oh, one more thing about the prompter - you mentioned having a hood for bright sunshine - you'd normally only use one in straight-to-camera pieces, which are like 99% indoors anyway. You don't want actors reading screens in drama, they're supposed to learn the words wink
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 10:55pm

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Serpent

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I've actually been on a television shoot that was a straight-to-camera piece shot in central park. It's applicable to more commercial/documentary stuff. But probably not a big concern, I can just make a simple DIY hood.

$400 for a generator that could power my lights and laptop would be amazing. Is there a good way to suppress the sound, besides maximum distance? I'm getting a cheap LED video light that can attach to the camera or a tripod, so that should be useful.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jul 2010, 6:45am

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ben3308

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pdrg wrote:

You could look at fluorescent lighting, look for pro systems that don't flicker and ruin your shots
Just want to throw it out there that even professional, rented Kino-Flo's still are pretty much unusable with the T2i. So do not go fluorescent, in my opinion.

Also, for Zero Hour we ran everything off a 3,000w generator and had borrowed it for free. The house we filmed in had no power, so we literally relied on the generator 100% of the time and it didn't fail us. Ask around and see if any family/friends has one that they only use once in a blue moon, and see if you can 'store' and use it for them. You'd be surprised how little generators get used by their owners most of the time!

Also, consider just paying the rental fee for a substantial generator per shoot for the time being if you can't borrow a good one. The cheaper ones aren't enough to power the light/other things you likely need the generator for in the first place; and you're going to have to purchase gasoline every time you use the machine in the first place. So just factor it, lightly, into the incidental costs and move on. biggrin
Posted: Wed, 14th Jul 2010, 12:08pm

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pdrg

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True Kinoflo's should have high-frequency ballast and special colour-matched tubes - perhaps yours were defective? It's not like the T2i is the first camera shooting at 24/25/30fps, and kino's have been a staple for decades... :-$ I urge you to try them again, or maybe go back to that hire facility and ask to do a camera test on-site as you were seeing flicker - they may be faulty and give you back your hire fee from before!
Posted: Wed, 14th Jul 2010, 5:49pm

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ben3308

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It's not just a regular fluorescent flicker, I'm aware that's eliminated by the special ballasts. It's the single CMOS chip in conjunction with minor flicker that is the issue. How often do you find a 24p cam with rolling shutter? It's for this reason DSLRs are better suited to HMIs.l
Posted: Wed, 14th Jul 2010, 10:51pm

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er-no

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Gotta love the rolling shutter syndrome some cameras experience with lights. I have quite a lot of difficulties whilst shooting in NTSC framerates when shooting in the UK (currently I'm working for two US based productions companies here in/around London). The Sony EX3 manages to sort itself out through adjusting the manual settings of the shutter, the Sony Z7 and pretty much all other cameras I shoot with don't like to play ball as much in 30p and 24p.

It is workable though Ben, and from my experience with owning and using Kinoflo's they are great lights to work with.
Posted: Thu, 15th Jul 2010, 3:55am

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Serpent

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I'm receiving the H4N and 3x Zacuto Z-Finder tomorrow. I am ECSTATIC, finally I can shoot handheld and actually see what I'm doing. smile Ordered a cobra crane I as well, will invest in the extension kit later.

I met with the bride/father/groom with my co-shooter who has shot weddings before. It went really messy with the contract. My printer was out of ink, so I tried to do a Wacom signing, and if you've ever used a Wacom, you know how hard it is to get used to. Kind of embarassing, but she gave us the check for the deposit and we've been exchanging agreement e-mails, so that should be enough. We got messy versions of the signature with witnesses though. Being shot in the VA Sports Hall of Fame, kind of a lame place for a wedding, so this probably won't be useable (most of it) for marketing. Attractive couple though, so that is a plus.

I am also booked to shoot Senior pictures for 3 different attractive high school girls, which will be great for the portfolio. Mine will be much classier than most of the corporate stuff, hopefully. Also booked to shoot group shots of my sister's friends, one of the moms is paying me.

Word's gettin' around. razz I also have around 5 on-call assistant crew at this point. They won't be 100% available, but the more people I have the better. So many willing in this economy. I got offered to shoot "sexy pregnancy photos." No thanks.