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Video Tutorial

General Business Issues

What are average rates one would expect to pay for crewmembers in video production?
  • Depends on if the job is union or non-union.

  • Also depends on location and type of assignment.

 

“Rates for various crew hires are spread all over the place. Photographers are prone to make mistakes in this estimating stage, especially if they have not previously been involved in coordinating production values for large-scale motion projects.”

Gail Mooney www.kellymooney.com

 

“Depends on assignment. 2nd camera - $750, 1st assist - $500, digital tech - $500, gaffer - $550, prod assist/best boy - $525, jib owner/operator - $550, jib assist - $325 (day rates).”

Aaron Ansarov (located in South Florida) www.ansarov.com

 

What sort of equipment/services are subcontractors expected to provide?
  • Subcontractors line item their equipment and their fee

 

“It varies. Some people will only want to work with their gear. Other people are willing to work ‘labor only’ and use what the client provides. More experienced freelancers usually prefer to use their own equipment as familiarity usually provides for better results and quicker work on the set. If a camera operator has to read the manual to figure out how to change the IRE value of the zebras, you’re wasting time that could have been spent shooting something or at least tweaking the lighting.”

John Freeland johnfreeland.com

 

“Anything to get the job done. Rent, borrow, own if necessary.”

Richard Freeda mergegroup.com

 

“Again, I think it depends on the project. If I am working with a production house, then I expect them to provide all necessary equipment. Most local television cameramen and -women who are freelancing (moonlighting) expect their clients to provide the equipment”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“Again this varies from person to person and project to project. Sometimes the DP comes with their own gear. Sometimes the camera operator comes with his or her own gear. Sometimes the editor comes with his or her own gear. Sometimes no one comes with their own gear. That will always figure into their rate and be part of the negotiations. Typically I prefer working with people who come with their own gear since there’s high likelihood that they’ll have better familiarity with it as opposed to something else we’re renting. However, if more than one person is going to fill a particular role (say, editor), then having gear separate from the person is almost always a good thing.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

What role do you play in the “team”? Director of Photography? Camera Operator? Producer? Editor?
  • Director of Photography, Camera Operator, Producer — most queried were working in these roles.

     

  • Some edited their own projects — depended on the scale of the project. Most hired editors on a per project basis.

     

  • For those working on news stories — many online video operations are built on the idea of backpack journalists working as solo journalists. They are expected to act as reporter, shooter, editor, and also do their own lighting, audio, and script writing for narration to complete a piece.

     

“The smaller the budget the more roles you will have to take on. Single job categories are a thing of the past in current day productions, and the freelancer that only works in one department is sitting home looking at the phone.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

“I normally work as a Director of Photography, camera operator or location sound mixer.”

John Freeland johnfreeland.com

 

“I was formerly the managing editor for multimedia at washingtonpost.com. In that role, I was acting as executive producer. Many online video operations are built on the idea of backpack journalists working as solo journalists. They are expected to act as reporter, shooter, editor, and also do their own lighting, audio, and script writing for narration to complete a piece. This is pretty standard in news website operations. Personally, I have been playing the role of executive or senior producer.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“Executive Producer, DP or Director. I don’t edit.”

Stewart Cohen www.stewartcohen.com

 

“I’ve filled all these roles at various points. These days I typically work more in the roles of producer and editor because they tend to have the largest time commitments. A DP may only work with you for a day or two, but I’m typically cutting for at least a few weeks, depending on the project.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

What are the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of positioning yourself as a shooter, a director or a producer?
  • Producer: You’re probably the first person on the project. It’s up to you to hire the right people, come up with a workable schedule and make sure everything comes in on time and on budget. You may or may not have any artistic control over things, but you may be required to find a new director or other members of the team if things aren’t going the right way. Behind it all, you’re the one who’s really responsible for the project.

     

  • Director: The success of the project is primarily up to you, at least from an artistic standpoint. But that’s likely to be what really matters in the end. Five years down the road, no one is likely to remember whether or not the price was fair or if the project was delivered in a week or a month. But they will remember if the project connected with the audience. Even though the success of that connection is a team effort, it ultimately falls to the director to make that happen. This can be both good and bad.

     

  • Shooter / Camera Operator: Typically you don’t have a high level of artistic involvement. Certainly you’re unlikely to be involved with the overall approach to a project. You’re an operator — someone who takes a camera, points it in the right direction and makes sure things are in focus. On the upside, you don’t typically have a lot of investment in a project, so you’re unlikely to be up at 3am trying to figure out how to tell the “story.”

     

“A shooter does not make much per day. I can easily go in as a producer because I have produced many large photography jobs. As producer I can still be the DP and/or editor for a small video job.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“The advantage is that you can typically do lower budget projects if you do it all yourself… that is, if you have the time. The disadvantage is that typically there are people better than you at many of the disciplines, so ‘one-man bands’ tend to have lower production values.”

Mark Green www.mgp2.com

 

“As a shooter I would have to answer to the director. As a producer, I am responsible for keeping within budget and provides the limitations or freedoms for the creative. As a director I would be considered the one who is overall in charge of the creative direction. I think in the near future we would want to be called directors so we are not pigeon holed into a sub level as a photographer or videographer. They would be considered part of the production team while the director gets the credit.”

Aaron Ansarov www.ansarov.com

 

“As a videographer and location sound mixer I do very little in the way of sales and marketing. I get to work on a wide variety of projects and when the shoot is over I get to go home and don’t worry about the edit or the fact that someone that was interviewed was terrible or didn’t say what the script said they needed to say. I worked as a producer for more than a decade and I don’t miss the stress. My marketing plan is simple: ‘Do a good job and be pleasant to work with on every job.’ Do this and people who hire you will call again and other freelancers you work with will recommend you to their clients.”

John Freeland johnfreeland.com

 

“Director determines the vision and the Director of Photography executes that message visually, directing the lighting and the camera. We’re questioning that right now — do we tout the fact that we do both?”

Stewart Cohen www.stewartcohen.com

 

“I have much more experience on the journalism side of that question. It seems to me that most journalism organizations are built on creating a certain brand identity for their news product. In working with freelance photographers, editors, or producers, they want to be sure that such people can operate inside the boundaries of their brand identity and create stories that meet the aesthetic and journalistic criteria implicit in their brand promise. It is probably more typical that the final editing and production are done by internal people (if the product is aimed at the web or broadcast) and that a freelance crew or individual is particularly focused on the field work and initial editing as the first phase of post-production. I think there is a lot of variability now as organizations try to act on new models to save money and cut costs as well as drive revenue.”

 

“The commercial work tends to be more focused on entertainment-type programming or advertising/marketing, and I think things are very different in that arena. It might make sense for you to tap the expertise of someone is very active in that world.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

Have you formed partnerships or virtual companies to facilitate the production of both stills and video?
  • Overwhelmingly, respondents said yes to this question.

 

“Absolutely. Often these are somewhat informal, but can be a great way to share marketing, equipment and other business costs. If you partner with an editor and a director of photography, it’s often easier to sell someone on the combined strength of all three as opposed to just you.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“Yes, Merge (http://mergegroup.com).”

Richard Freeda

 

“Yes, this is the whole idea behind Anthem Multimedia. All of our principals/contributors have their other clients/jobs outside Anthem, but we try to collaborate as often as possible. We actually have an office space, though, so it is not entirely virtual.”

Erik Jacobs www.anthemmultimedia.com

 

“I made partnerships with individuals who offer capture to editing.”

Salem Krieger www.salemkrieger.com

 

“Yes, I formed a partnership and dissolved it 3 months later, as it is best to hire individual people or companies for each video project as needed. Video production requires a larger crew than most photography projects, so I am building a network of talent which includes producers, scriptwriters, teleprompters, editors, and DVD duplication services to name a few.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

What markets do you work in when shooting video?
  • Corporate video projects and sizzle reels. Stuff that’s shown at tradeshow booths, national conventions, etc.

     

  • Music videos, fashion clients, personal video art projects, small corporate video.

  • Real Estate and instructional products for usage in construction.

     

  • Mostly Commercial — broadcast spots.

     

  • Web videos, testimonials and DVDs.

     

  • High end of the low end.

     

  • Journalism for newspaper websites, broadcast websites, and those run by non-profits, NGOs (non-governmental agencies) and governmental agencies.

     

  • National and international news and sports reporting, broadcast documentary and docudramas, reality TV, corporate marketing, business training, TV commercials, live sports and music event camera operator.

     

“I built my motion business by offering it to existing still photography clients.”

Jim Scherzi www.scherzistudios.com

 

“We started the company with a desire to put our skills to work for companies we believe in. Companies whose businesses are good for the world rather than detrimental. We are trying to keep to socially minded corporations or projects, NGOs, and non-profits. We have yet to discover whether this is a sustainable goal.”

Erik Jacobs www.anthemmultimedia.com

 

“Currently only working local clients in order to build enough of a portfolio to hit larger national clients. This seems to be easier to sell to smaller businesses as they see they added benefit with reduced cost to them. Hiring one crew to do the same shoot at same time. Hiring models, MUA, wardrobe, etc once. As opposed to having two separate shoots there is more consistency in the branding.”

Aaron Ansarov www.ansarov.com

 

“My larger clients are international networks that shoot documentaries and current affair interest stories. I shoot for reality series program outlets, and I do a substantial amount of covert and hidden camera work for Dateline NBC and 20/20 Primetime ABC.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

Do you typically shoot both stills and video on a job?
  • Answers were unique to each participant.

 

“About 50% of our projects are both still and video.”

Gail Mooney www.kellymooney.com

 

“I shoot a shared set with both video and stills quite often. It has been a trend that seems to be the direction cost conscious agencies and news outlets are exploring.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

“Yes, I typically shoot stills on a motion job — but not the other way around. It’s a lot easier to shoot stills on a motion set than vice versa.”

Stewart Cohen www.stewartcohen.com

 

“I hope to never shoot both stills and video on the same job at the same time. You would need two separate brains. I would hire another shooter to do stills or go back another day/time.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“Rarely. Sometimes I’ll serve as an unofficial set photographer, but that’s typically more for our own documentation and marketing work than for the client. When the client wants stills as part of the shoot, we usually contract that out.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“As a company sometimes we do, but with RED, less so.”

Richard Freeda {mergegroup.com](http://mergegroup.com/)

 

“More and more. Maybe 30% and it’s growing.”

Mark Green www.mgp2.com

 

What opportunities or classifications are there in motion work — editorial, advertising, website, training videos, documentaries etc.?
  • All of the above plus training videos, “how to” videos, documentaries, infomercials, public service announcements, institutional web videos, tradeshows, broadcast spots.

     

  • Webisodes — long format pieces for the web — soft sell story about company or product. Kind of like an advertorial in print.

     

“It is clear to me that visual journalism in the future will exist principally on digital platforms. I don’t think visual journalism in print is dead or that it won’t continue to have value in print books or magazines or even newspapers. I just think it will flourish more fully in the digital landscape and that if certain things happen, visual language will be more richly developed in the digital landscape. If ASMP photographers are going to take full advantage of the possibilities in this landscape, they will need to collaborate to advance the sophistication of presentation for a range of delivery platforms and they will need to be very involved with the technologists who are shaping the new tools for visual presentation.

 

“I think we are at the beginning of a revolution that will be astonishing in another decade vs. where we are today, particularly if ‘augmented reality’ devices continue to pour out of the labs as commercial products. These devices offer a whole new world for visual information/imaging, although it may be more much about very basic visual information and not so much about storytelling. Still, someone will need to create and manage that kind of information flow, and it should be done in collaboration with the best visual communicators.

 

“To take full advantage of the creative possibilities, I think any still photographer needs to learn the fundamentals of video shooting and editing. I think it is likely that camera technology will continue to evolve making it possible to get both stills and video output at top quality from one device. That world is already here.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“Most everything can fall into the above categories you’ve already listed. And substantially more so than in still photography, there’s a lot of cross-over. Most projects aren’t straight documentary or editorial. They exist as a fusion of different classifications. At the moment, a lot of the work that’s bound for the web is ultimately for advertising purposes. A number of training videos cross boundaries between editorial, documentary and narrative. Some of those may end up on the web as well as on DVD and solid-state media such as USB thumb drives.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

How do you market yourself in video/motion? Where? To what type of markets?
  • As an up-sell to my photography business, often to my existing client base. I focus mostly on industrials.

     

  • We market ourselves as a new media production company to corporate markets.

     

  • Have reps all over the country. Take out banner ads on www.creativity.com. Use social media — Twitter, Facebook.

     

“I market my video services along with my photography on my web site. I also use an email campaign and I have dedicated two emails to video only but there are always links to the video samples for a photography email ad and visa-versa. I called my transition to video a natural ‘evolution.’”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“My state’s (Indiana) Film Commission has a production directory that is available on their website. Most of my out-of-town business comes from people who have seen my name there. In town, business comes from networking.”

John Freeland johnfreeland.com

 

“I am starting to use social media outlets and becoming more active in freelancer associations to get a creative outlet to share ideas and meet new people.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

“I have been working as a consultant and trainer since leaving washingtonpost.com, focusing on tasks that would fall under the umbrella of being an online editor or executive producer (in broadcast terms). In short, I have been doing a lot of story development and coaching of students to help them think more effectively about visual story development and narrative structure. They have found that story development means supplying information, and data, inside a contextual package that is expressed with emotion.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“We mainly market ourselves to our existing client base.”

Jim Scherzi www.scherzistudios.com

 

Do you market yourself as one “production company” or separately as a still photographer and media producer/videographer?
  • We went the ‘one production company’ route.

     

  • Both as photographer and videographer

     

“One production company — thinking of changing the name of production company as a name that is not his name.”

Stewart Cohen www.stewartcohen.com

 

“I market as photographer and video production.”

Salem Krieger www.salemkrieger.com

 

“We market ourselves as a complete media photo studio”

Jim Scherzi www.scherzistudios.com

 

“I have two windows for people to see. One is ANA Creatives (www.ANAcreatives.com). This is where local clients find us. The other window is Ansarov (www.ansarov.com). This site is being designed very soon and will include a video page where I will show combined work with the cinematographer I work with. I will eventually call myself a visual artist/Director.”

Aaron Ansarov www.ansarov.com

 

“In 2005 I changed my company to ‘MGP2 - Mark Green Photography and Productions.’ But I have worked very hard to not dilute the ‘brand’ of Mark Green Photography.”

Mark Green www.mgp2.com

 

“I market myself as one company. If you deliver quality photography, then clients will expect quality video from you even though most have no idea how complex it is.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“I position myself as a creator and producer of imagery. Not just still imagery. Not just moving imagery. Just imagery. That means I’m able to offer my clients whatever is most appropriate to their needs for communicating with their audience. And often that means using video to help tell the story at hand. Sometimes that’s as simple as putting together a number of still images into a nicely polished video presentation. And sometimes it’s as complex as hiring out a large crew to shoot on location for a couple of weeks followed by a month in a darkened edit suite. In the end it’s always about giving the client the most effective way to communicate their message.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

If you have representation, do you have a rep in each genre — motion and stills?
  • Majority not represented.

     

  • When represented, they had separate reps for stills and video.

     

Where do you think the opportunities for video are?
  • Web video — because of the shift from print to electronic.

     

  • Opportunities are wide open… I speak to a variety of clients primarily who could benefit from having motion on their websites.

     

  • EVERYWHERE

     

  • By 2012, 90% of Internet content transmitted will be motion video.

     

“I think video has immense potential as the prime building block of visual story-telling, going forward. Most companies are recognizing the value of story-telling as a means of engaging an audience and building a brand reputation. They want the ability to use visuals and audio as a means of connecting their stories with the audience. They found that story development means supplying information, and data, inside a contextual package that is expressed with emotion. The finished product must support a brand promise and connect with the audience’s intellect and emotions. Audiences are demanding stories that help them understand the world and make wise choices on issues that are fundamental in their life.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“The opportunities are everywhere if you can provide the whole package, i.e. produce the whole project. You are limited if you are just a DP or cameraperson. I personally feel that you limit your opportunities if you cannot edit. Hiring an editor for a small video will quickly drain your profits. Opportunities are on the web, on cable stations and corporate videos.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“There’s still a lot of opportunity for corporate marketing. A lot of my work these days centers on the creation of marketing materials and ‘sizzle reels’ for postproduction companies in Los Angeles. While these companies recognize the power of marketing with video and moving imagery because it’s part of their business, there are a large number of companies in other industries who are only starting to see it. Advertising with moving imagery is no longer solely the jurisdiction of the 30 or 60-second TV spot. You can find it on company web sites, on You Tube, in DVD mailers and branded USB thumb drives. BMW makes ‘short films’ that are effectively 5-minute commercials for their cars. Apple provides online ‘product demos’ that show prospective buyers why their new products are worth shelling out money for. Entire product websites are now effectively flash-based video promos.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“Because I own an expensive HD camera and many broadcast productions are hiring locally rather than flying a crew all over the country, doing work for national TV shows in my own ‘backyard’ seems to be an area of significant growth over the next few years.”

John Freeland johnfreeland.com

 

“Web content is what I view as the growth area.”

Mark Green www.mgp2.com

 

“Everywhere. Social Media is just the start to a global community awareness. It is going to be tough for serious professionals to get seen in this flood, but talent will always show. And it doesn’t matter what medium it is. From paint on caves to sculptures, drawings, paintings, photos, video… what is next? It is a matter of time, but there will be a shift and it is forward thinkers that will stay ahead of the wave.

 

“I will see family portrait photographers shooting videos and having them on frames that are video looped (i.e., Harry Potter). I see wedding albums having a still frame that when touched will start to play from that moment.

 

“I will say my favorite TV channel to watch is SciFi (SyFy) channel. Why? Because they are telling the future not far away.”

Aaron Ansarov www.ansarov.com

 

What do you call yourself? DP? Videographer?
  • Photographer, Filmmaker, Media Producer

  • Cinematographer / Director of Photography

  • Photographer / Videographer

  • Photographer / Director

 

“I call myself a visual journalist (multimedia storyteller or multimedia consultant) depending on the nature of the assignment I am fulfilling. I facilitate creativity and point companies to resources they can use to shape their visual storytelling, including making recommendations about who they should work with to achieve a certain result.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“These days I call myself a media producer. It’s descriptive of the work I do, while allowing flexibility in scope, and most clients think it sounds cool. Videographer conjures up images of some guy video taping weddings with a full-size VHS camcorder twenty years ago. Most clients don’t understand what a DP is.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“I say that I provide ‘video production.’ I use this all-encompassing term because I have studied the entire film and video industry. I am trying to get a firm grip on the technical aspects of acquisition, editing and output first. At the same time I am accumulating, or making, the equipment needed to produce high-quality video samples with careful attention to lighting. Photographers must understand the sacrifices they must make to get a grip on the whole industry. Or, they can be camerapersons or DPs and there is nothing wrong with that, but it may limit your possibilities. I also think that it is dangerous to just ‘dabble’ in video. It’s too complex.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

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