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Old December 13th, 2002, 03:56 AM   #1
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monetary benefits of owning an xl-1s

so, would really like to move out of my parents basement (i actually have a very nice room on the second floor, but basement paints a better picture of where i see myself) and make independent movies and make just enough money to pay rent and get my artsy girlfriend vegan cook books.

me and my pal are both saving to get a pair of xl-1s cameras. we figured we could shoot weddings and maybe some commercials for local businesses. can anyone else think of anything else we could use our new found image capture devices for?

and if anyone knows anything about broadcasting: all the amateur shot commercials around town look like crap, but they all look like crap in the same way. the color is washed out and the signal is noisy. i'm pretty sure it's the cable channels fault but if anyone has any other ideas as to what is to blame, please share.
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Old December 13th, 2002, 04:05 AM   #2
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It's a hard life. I've been working on it for about a year now, and I've had all of three paying gigs so far. There's a prejudice against miniDV out there too. Local companies may not take you seriously because you don't have a massive betacam, or at least one of the $20,000 dvcams. Just to let you know.
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Old December 13th, 2002, 08:55 AM   #3
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I just bought my first XL1S and I have to say that we were looking at a couple of other cameras but one, of the many good reasons, we chose the XL1S was the look--- of the prosumer level cameras it looks less 'sumer' and more 'pro'.

Throw a MP200 on the back end and a nice professional lens hood and it looks just as good as a pro camera to most people.
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Old December 13th, 2002, 02:15 PM   #4
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Yeah, its tough to make a buck in this business. I'm glad I have a day job.

If you are going to shoot weddings, you might want to look at WEVA and maybe stop by Hal Linden's site at http://www.videouniversity.com. You can make money doing weddings, but do your homework first.
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Old December 13th, 2002, 06:05 PM   #5
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I've been at this for several years on a freelance basis and so far it's done well enough to pay for the equipment and upgrades. My day job keeps us housed and fed. I discovered that it's hard to get the really good jobs without having correspondingly good gear. The XL1 helped, although as others have mentioned it can't beat a $30,000 2/3-inch 3-chip broadcast camera.

Along with the camera make sure there are funds for other essentials such as a good tripod, a decent microphone and lights. Some of the problems include unwanted shake, bad audio and bad lighting.

If you're doing commercials you're going to need a good stable image with smooth pans and tilts. A good-quality tripod will help ensure your video isn't messed up when your pan is interrupted by sudden changes in speed.

Get clean audio if someone's talking. At the very least get an electret Radio Shack lavalier with some extension cable to get clean audio directly from the talent. If you can afford it, then invest in a good wireless. Always monitor with headphones.

Lights are also an important part of the total setup. Video is like photography in that the image is based on composition and lighting. Having enough light isn't enough -- you have to control the quality and direction of that light so the image will look professionally recorded.

Then there's the editing aspect, which is a whole, long and complicated issue in itself.

From what I've seen in my neck of the woods, the ones who keep getting hired for various gigs are the ones who truly know what they're doing and are the easy to work with. They know what they're doing, maintain a cooperative attitude throughout the job and know when to lighten up and buckle down. Apparently these guys make a very good living at it, too.

Good luck!
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Old December 13th, 2002, 10:50 PM   #6
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At any rate, keep in mind everyone here basically says that they have a day job in addition to the freelance. Those who live on freelance alone are truly gods among men.
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Old December 13th, 2002, 11:03 PM   #7
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Bokkus37,

What market do you live in? The station(s) your talking about are they cable broadcasters or affiliates (NBC, FOX, CBS)? Do you know what format thay use for broadcast? If you don't, just call them up and ask what format commercials need to be submitted on.

Many of the smaller markets use S-VHS and 3/4 Umatic for broadcast. These format look pretty bad after going down a couple of generations in analog linear editing. Find out some specifics and I'll try to give you some pointers.

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Old December 14th, 2002, 12:11 PM   #8
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Dude, stay at home as long as you can!!!!
Living on your own gets really expensive. Every month you stay at home is $1000s+ that you could be spending on crucial gear. Like a good tripod, editing system, duplication VCRs, lighting, advertising.
Be prepared to work a 40 hour day job, almost all of us do (not me:), and do a lot of work for free until you get a good demo tape and EXPERIENCE.

In fact, I wouldn't leave home until I was actually making money at it.
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Old December 14th, 2002, 12:56 PM   #9
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In joining this debate I truly do not wish to be negative or put a downer on anything but I fear that is how it's going to sound.

However, if I can make the observation that buying a fast car does not make you a good driver or buying a typewriter make you a good journalist etc. ad infinitum.

You really must learn how to use your gear before you can reasonably or morally expect to charge people - and that means professional training, like in any other profession.

The investment in gear is one thing, though that is very considerable when you are to provide a full professional service, but knowing how to deliver a professional product to a broadcast standard, which you should be able to do even if your clients are mainly corporate takes years of training, especially camerawork and editing - there are no shortcuts, there are no whizzkids here when you have to do everything yourself.

If you are going to do mainly weddings etc. then you are going to be up against a lot of competition because there are many others too who believe buying a prosummer camera alone puts you in business! I find where I am that I do not have any serious competition, but then I have been working on national TV for nearly twenty years, and the competiton, such that it is, is in my view simply incompetent - this is not me bragging it is also the view of my clients.

My advice would be, if you want to earn some extra money with your camera, then contact the better pro outfits in your area and offer yourself and equipment for hire as an extra camera - but be honest about your experience and then you might get some invaluable on job training and contacts. Above all be realistic, and if you have a true enthusiasm and natural ability for this type of work then things will come through!

Regards.
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Old December 14th, 2002, 01:21 PM   #10
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Good advice, C&P.

Getting professional training is always good (except, perhaps, to your student loan balance).

Learning, in general, is the key. Books, videos, CD's, bbs's, on-the-job experience... they all contribute to the acquisition of knowledge.

When you have a talent at something, you are able to acquire and retain relevant knowledge faster. If not, it doesn't matter, cause you'll lose interest... sooner or later.

I know a guy that picked up a guitar at the age of 16, and bought all the material he could regarding playing and music theory. He had no formal "professional" training... but in three years, he had learned enough to acquire 35 paying students. I knew back then that he would eventually be one of the best guitarists in the world... given enough time.

I plan to farm myself out as an additional camera operator to increase my arsenal of knowledge. It's all part of paying your dues, as I see it.

From the wedding videos I have seen, many have been less than good... IMHO. I did one for my sister's stepdaughter with an elcheapo Panasonic camera and a $40 tripod that came out better than many professional ones that I have seen... and worse than many others (particularly in the audio department... those 'on camera' mics sure do stink). All that have seen it have told me that I did a great job, and should pursue it full time. (Maybe I have the talent)

Until your parents get wise, and decide to take their lives back, stay where you are... and buy all the equipment you can. No matter how many books you read, unless you get your hands on the equipment and use it... it's all a pipe dream.

Meanwhile, don't piss your parents off.
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Old December 16th, 2002, 11:35 PM   #11
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paying???

HMMM my advice is suspect, I bought my xl1 to do other things than my day job which is a net....however you can make a living. I have been able to charge my net for shooting and to get out as a shooter/producer sometimes also...I would suggest getting the cables to feed to a beta deck then you can sell your stuff to your local news as well;(take little $ the 1st few times; till the assignment mgr. gets to know u) in addition family history videos seem to charge a pretty penny, and a growing business!!! also if theres a local recording/arts center see if they have a go crew if not get listed with them or if theres a bunch get on their list. (just some thoughts and like J. Bass says everything I wrote is probably wrong) :)
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Old December 19th, 2002, 10:47 AM   #12
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Any photo or audio experience? It's always easier to give some kind of direction if one knows what one has to work with.

Chris
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Old December 20th, 2002, 02:33 AM   #13
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I shoot weddings quite a bit here in the Vancouver, BC (Canada) area. I have never advertised and never need to. I have a full time day job and a mortgage to pay. The weekend weddings really help out and are alot easier to get than a commercial shoot or documentary(plus they actually pay!) Maybe if I still lived at home with parents that had money I could do other projects. But unfortunately(fortunately) I don't. If you can stay at home then you have an advantage.

Weddings are great for extra money but I'm really getting sick of them! Now everyone wants DVD and it's more work. (of course more money). Working a full time job and coming home to edit wedding videos ALL YEAR LONG is very time consuming. Once you get into the wedding scene you may actually have to turn down work as it gets too much (that's of course only if your good at it!).

The best way to learn how to tape a wedding is when you edit your own footage! The more you swear at your footage, the better you will need to be next time!
Do a few free weddings or low paying ones to get going.
A DVD writer is a must now. (VHS sucks!)
I do all my weddings with 1 camera but edit on the spot and it looks like I use 2 cameras. Continuity is very important.
I make less money doing a 2 camera wedding even though it looks better. I usualy have to rent another camera and pay someone to operate it. Then I have to sync up the 2 cameras for the A/B roll. I charge extra but it's still not worth it.

Once you get going, don't charge too much but don't charge too little (otherwise you look like an amature). Undercut the pros out there and you will get work! Who really wants to spend 2-3 grand on a wedding video?? (save that for photos). It's not a motion picture, just a wedding! (and they'll probably get divorced ina few years anyway!) :) (sorry, I'm negative today..but all in fun)

Your really not making a profit until you add up what you spent on gear and what you made. Also your time is money too. I should be ahead in a few years I hope.

(stay at home if you can, until you get kicked out!) :)
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Old August 3rd, 2003, 08:24 AM   #14
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monetary benefits of owning an xl-1s

bokkus says---

...all the amateur shot commercials around town look like crap, but they all look like crap in the same way. the color is washed out and the signal is noisy...

Bokkus, where I live, even the supposedly professional local commercials are like that. Just terrible.
Hard to believe people even pay for the crap. My nine year old son makes better video than some of these outfits.
I've never tried to do any commercials for local businesses, But I can't believe that with even a MINIMUM of effort I could not do as well.
My ex-wife hired one of those outfits to do a 30 second ad for a second hand kids clothing store she opened. My boys were in the video, and the whole idea was you saved a "fistful of cash at The Little Red wagon". The kids pulled up a little red wagon, then threw a few handfuls of Monopoly money in the air. Simple. The wind drowned out the kids lines, and the camera swung off to the left as they were tossing the money up. I thought, of only really 2 things that they could have done to screw up the commercial, they did both of them.
And they charged her 500 bucks.
I felt really sorry for her!!! What a ripoff!!!

Russ
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Old August 3rd, 2003, 05:20 PM   #15
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Re: monetary benefits of owning an xl-1s

<<<-- Originally posted by Russ Evenhouse : bokkus says---

...all the amateur shot commercials around town look like crap, but they all look like crap in the same way. the color is washed out and the signal is noisy...

My ex-wife hired one of those outfits to do a 30 second ad for a second hand kids clothing store she opened. My boys were in the video, and the whole idea was you saved a "fistful of cash at The Little Red wagon". The kids pulled up a little red wagon, then threw a few handfuls of Monopoly money in the air. Simple. The wind drowned out the kids lines, and the camera swung off to the left as they were tossing the money up. I thought, of only really 2 things that they could have done to screw up the commercial, they did both of them.
And they charged her 500 bucks.
I felt really sorry for her!!! What a ripoff!!!

Russ -->>>

I hate to say it, but.... you get what you pay for. Sounds to me like your ex-wife got a $500 commercial.
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