Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Introduction to the Business of Video

Creating a film as a personal project is an enriching experience. Creating a film for someone else where you are getting paid, is quite another.

I was asked to film a wedding, which is amazing due to the fact that my resume contains only horror and comedy shorts. I will talk through the points I considered during this project for hire, and things to remember if you want to make a run at turning your hobby into a business.

Since you are here for visual entertainment, here is the streaming video package that was part of the contract. Keep reading if you want a little bit of insight into the process.

In preparing for the shoot, I borrowed a second camera.  Redundancy is key. If something goes wrong or an attendant walks in front of the camera, you'll need another angle. I wish I had three cameras, but that would have added fifty percent more time to the lengthy post processing time.

I have to come to terms with the fact that I have seen this wedding more times than anyone else ever will; such is the nature of editing.

With such a venture, you need to be clear on expectations. How much of the reception are you required to film? What is the expected outcome? I crafted a lengthy contract to pinpoint exactly what was needed. I consider a down payment mandatory, with fees in full paid before anything is delivered. When was the last time Wal-mart let you walk out with merchandise, promising to pay next week?

Perhaps most importantly, make sure you can deliver the product. If it's a DVD, make sure you have the software for that. You don't want to promise anything you can't provide. You have to be honest about your limitations.

I've never filmed a wedding, so I had to estimate my time. I based my estimate on single camera shoots I've done. I realized two cameras would make editing longer. I also considered audio mixing and any color adjustments as well.

I estimated wrong. I didn't lose money, but I value my free time more than the pricing would indicate.You need to make a conscious decision on the value you put on your time. I enjoyed my first experience and learned a lot from it, although any future venture I undertake will be for a higher price; I'm not too keen to pursue projects as I have so many of my own. I may just start charging by the hour to alleviate the need for estimates.

Of the total time expended, filming was 25% of that and editing was 50%. The rest of the time was rehearsal, set up, the event, transferring, transcoding, and exporting.

I utilize Lightworks for editing. Each release has made the program more streamlined, but I am disappointed that the latest release removed some features for exporting video.

The sad thing about the editing process is the most amazing cuts are gaps in footage or corrections that only make the final product look 'normal'. No one will ever see the original clips and how far I tweaked and corrected them.

The audio was recorded separately at the venue. This provided a great audio track free of any audience noises. The bride and groom were not mic'd. On the original audio track their voices were inaudible. Their vows were amplified considerably, with a noise removal and a bass boost applied to make their voices sound normal again.

The biggest obstacle to overcome was the photographer. Numerous times the photographer walked in front of me, stopped, acknowledged my view was blocked and didn't move. If I didn't have two cameras half of the video would have been of the photographer. Again, redundancy is key for this very reason. The most disappointing shot ruined was the bridge and groom walking down the aisle after they had first been announced. The sequence had been coordinated at the rehearsal, and on the big day the wedding director was frantically trying to remove the photographer from my shot.

Be prepared to field questions. My camera mount generated a lot of comments.

In the end, my clients were pleased with the final product.

If you want to start turning your hobby into a business, realize that the learning process will cost you. Determine what you want to get out of the experience. Are you building a portfolio, getting paid, or performing a public service?

In this case, the client was a friend and I was happy to be a part of the day. In the future, I would charge more if I were to do this again. I enjoy working on my own projects, and I have so many of them.

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