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Old February 26th, 2004, 12:19 AM   #1
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Braeking Bad News

Hi all,
I am new to the paying gig thing and i need some advice.
I was filming a cd release party for a local musician and I took a hot audio line from the main mixing board and the whole shoot has really bad feed back in the audio. I had set channel 1 to record from the mic (audio tecnica ) and channel 2 to take the line in from the mixing board. the thing is that i did not turn the power off on channel 2 so I have a hum through the entire shoot. I checked both channels 1 and 2 channel 2 has nothing but a hum for audio. And I tried channnel 1 and I can still hear the hum and a little good audio. So in other words, I am F*cked!! I have a bunch of interviews that have good sound ( just bar back ground noise ...they are fine with this ) but the whole music part sounds bad
I know I should have picked up on this right away but i was useing another camera, trying to get another angle, and sound good when we did the sound check... i think the audio guy changed somthing but i dont want to blame him. (it is my fault for not making sure it sounded good)
this is where the fine people at DVINFO come in. I need some advice.
I was paid $100.00 (I took the gig for experience more then money) The way i see it is i have 3 choices

1) take what i have and edit it all together give them the best i can. Offer to do the next gig for free.

2) edit it and give it to them, explain that there was a problem with the audio and refund their money.

3) tell them there was a problem with the audio and ask for the recorded copy from the audio guy they had there, ( they were making "live recording") so maybe I can get a copy of that audio and sync it with the video I have.

thanks for all your help
Michael
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Old February 26th, 2004, 12:49 AM   #2
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My advice is to be as diplomatic as possible and go for Option Three.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 01:02 AM   #3
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$100 is really cheap for a shoot, so don't feel too compelled to return the money as you still need to cover costs. Also, you have two things going for you:

Interviews and intact video.

The only element you're missing is the performance audio and, as you said, a clean recording exists. So explain what happened and let the client know that you have a remedy planned.

If your video had been totally botched with no picture or sound, then you'd be in a really bad spot. But in this situation I don't think you'll need to offer to do the next gig for free. In fact, if you do a good job, you might consider asking a better rate.

In the future you might consider having someone handle the audio on a shoot like this, especially if you're taking a feed from someone else's board. As you now know, output levels could be anywhere, and some cameras have very low limits on what they can take in.

Good luck!
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Old February 26th, 2004, 02:08 AM   #4
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Just poking my nose in to say that it would soften the blow if you could show them some of the best footage while explaining what happened. That way they will realize that $100 is darned cheap and that it's in their interest to get you the audio so they can have a completed project.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 02:12 AM   #5
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I'd take route #3.
But first...
Post a sample of the footage with the bad hum sound and let some of the audio guys here listen to it. You'd be surprised how easily fixable some sound problems can be.

Which local musician was it?
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Old February 26th, 2004, 07:03 AM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dean Sensui : $100 is really cheap for a shoot, so don't feel too compelled to return the money as you still need to cover costs.
-->>>


I do not necessarily agree with this. If you cannot come to an agreement with the band and cannot supply what you promised, then you need to refund at least part of the money.

It doesn't matter if they paid you $10 or $1000; heck, it doesn't matter if you agreed to accept yak pelts as payment -- you agreed to perform a certain amount of work for a specific amount of money. You are obligated (and should feel obligated -- as you obviously do) to refund the money if you can't do the work. I don't buy this, "Well, I gave you such a great deal that even if I can't deliver what I promised, I still keep the money." I would punch someone who did that to *me* :)

That said, you still have other options that will allow you to turn in the work you promised, or will at least allow you to come to a middle ground with the band (and let you keep the money, if only to give them free work later).

I would agree that option #3 is best -- you can possibly even avoid bringing up the fact that the entire audio is shot; just say that there are some "trouble spots" that you think would be best fixed with their soundboard recording. Or be honest and tell them what happened -- for all you know their soundboard mix has the same hum and you can both blame the soundguy!

The board mix will allow you to give them exactly what you promised with no regrets -- if you can drop that audio in, then take the money, have no regrets, offer no "freebies," and learn from the experience. If you can't fix it, that's when you start negotiating.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 07:54 AM   #7
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Commit Hara-Kiri

Just kidding.

At $100, they are basically just paying you to be there. If the result is good, that is a bonus. I would not return anything under any circumstances.

I am sure the $100 does not even cover minimum wage for all your time preparing, shooting, editing, worrying like crazy, etc, much less pay for your equipment depreciation.

I wonder if minimum wage law applies to contractors? I hope it does, under the jeopardy of "death panelty". Some clients are just idiots, expecting something for nothing. Just because they do not see you editing for hours on end back at the office, they feel they already pay you a lot for being 2 hours on the scene.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 10:58 AM   #8
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I would agree with most of the answers here. $100 is very cheap even just for filming, without editing, and providing an end product. You said that you did it for the experience, so they know that you are inexperienced - If you had presented yourself as a hotshot filmmaker and asked for "realĒ money, I would say that you have a problem. But you didnít, so you are clean, thatís what getting experience is about Ė making mistakes and fixing them. Donít make an additional mistake, by groveling. Tell the band that it was a lot of work for alone, and the audio suffered because of that Ė Take the responsibility for what happened, use all available means to correct it and everything will be cool.

One thing that I have learned in the field, one person can only operate one camera at one time. There are a lot of exceptions to this rule Ė but most of the time it rings true, and helps to guarantee the best results.

As far as the sound guy who was running the show Ė you canít blame him. Iím sure that he had enough on his hands to deal with without worrying about your stuff. That is usually the case.

Donít be too hard on yourself,

DK
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Old February 26th, 2004, 01:15 PM   #9
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I don't want to belabor this point, because everybody is entitled to their opinion, but I have a serious problem with so many videographers saying that $100 is chump change and not worth giving back.

Daniel -- At *my* bank, $100 is considered "real money." The musician has every right to expect their money back if that's what they so desire. If they paid for Michael to shoot the concert and he can't deliver, then the musician might want his money back.

That's not to say that Michael can't use his fee as a bargaining chip if he can't get a board tape: "Hey, I got all this other great stuff, and no one else would even consider shooting for $100, so can we make a deal?" But if the musician says, "No, I wanted my concert on tape. No deal, gimme back my dough," then Mike needs to hand the money back. If he agreed to do a specific amount of work for a specific fee, he needs to do what he promised. To keep the money against the client's wishes is just being an unprofessional jerk, to be blunt.

I charge the cheapest price around for my local commercial work. You couldn't get a videographer to drive by and yell at your customers for what I charge. And for that price a client must accept *reasonable* limitations -- I don't bring in actors, the shoot is very run-n-gun, I provide the VO, etc. These limitations are known up-front, both verbally explained to the client and shown in my demo reel. Their ad will be on par with the work in my demo.

Now, If I go do a shoot and come back and the sound is shot or part of the video comes out bad, then I have to either fix it where the customer is happy or give them their money back. I can't say, "Well, $X is very cheap even just for filming, without editing, and providing an end product, so here's a final product that isn't what we agreed to and I'm taking your money." If I did that, I'd lose business so fast, regardless of how cheap my price is.

The difference between amateur and professional isn't what you charge, it's how you treat your clients and handle your business. Just because you agreed to a cheap price doesn't entitle you to screw your client over. It's *your* lesson to learn, not theirs.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 01:38 PM   #10
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I would pretty much agree with John here. I do stuff for free (in fact -ve caus there are costs involved of course) at the moment while I learn the ropes. I also suggest, if it's really really important to them, to hire a real professional for the job. Fortunately I haven't had any bad experiences yet..

If you charge, even $100 and you screw it up you should be honourable and give the $$ back. Even if you were doing it for free, you should try and compensate them somehow (Offer next job for free or something). Of course #3 is something you should try, in order to avoid this.

Just be honest and open about things. That's the way to retain your dignity, and also make anyone who's involved, or hears about you from this person, know you're a person who will do the job, take blame when it's your fault and do what you can to fix it.

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Old February 26th, 2004, 02:00 PM   #11
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Keep in mind that no one is suggesting that the client be deprived of both the money spent and the product. Not providing a refund _AND_ not providing a finished video is absolutely wrong.

I have no problem with not refunding anything _IF_ the client ends up with a finished tape of the event. In this case, all the elements are there including the performance audio. The only difference, if I understand it, is that the audio is not yet synchronized to the video of the band on stage. So it's just a matter of asking the client if he can provide a copy of the audio from the board and syncing it to the video. Quite simple, actually. In the end, the result will be as good as, if not better, than the product as originally intended. In fact, it would have been better to plan doing it this way from the start as it would allow both cameras to roam freely. It's a double-system, two-camera shoot that worth several times more than the initial agreed fee.

If the client still balks at that idea, and demands the $100 back, then there's no reason to hand over the tape as well as the $100. The videographer has put in valuable time, expended resources including equipment and supplies. Should the videographer hand over the tape, there's nothing to prevent the client from taking that material and assembling a perfectly good video for himself. In that case, the client not only gets a product that's worth far more than the original fee, but a product that's been financed by the videographer who has provided manpower, materials and expertise. In the publishing world, there's a general rule that if it's worth publishing, it's worth paying for. That holds true with any other service if it results in a satisfactory product.

In every producton there's always the possibility of something going wrong. I've had problems develop on jobs but always managed to recover and provide a product that usually exceeds client expectations. As for rates, I check with other established IBEW professionals and set my own rates accordingly. To do otherwise would drag the market downward and make it harder for everyone to make a fair living. Of course, I'm not a beginner at this, and I do my best to keep my own work on par with those same IBEW crews.

In this particular case, the client knows that the videographer is new to the business, that the major elements are intact, and that an earnest effort will be made to provide a finished video as agreed. The event's been covered and nothing is really lost. The videographer learns a valuable lesson (it pays to have an audio engineer for these things) and develops a new skill (editing double system sound). Furthermore, the guy running the board might even get an audio credit out of it. Everybody wins.

Dean Sensui
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Old February 26th, 2004, 02:42 PM   #12
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I may have misunderstood Daniel's post (I'm sorry if I did), but Law did specifically say:

"I would not return anything under any circumstances."

Although I may have misunderstood this comment as well.

And I certainly agree that if you give the musician any sort of final product, then you should get some sort of payment -- but I do think that *if you cannot get the board tape or otherwise provide audio* and can only give them the interviews and other footage, the client has a right to say something like, "Well, without the concert, this is 75% of what you promised me, so I'll give you 75% of what we agreed to." And this is a conversation you need to have *before* you start editing. If the musician gets ornery during negotiations, then you can simply say, "Here's your money back, I'm done" and not turn over anything.

I'm sorry if I misuderstood anyone's comments, or if I don't communicate very well myself...
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Old February 26th, 2004, 02:47 PM   #13
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Jeez. I must be too nice. I wouldn't do the "Here's 75% of what I promised and I'm keeping 75% of the money" thing. I mean without 100% of the final product the client is basically screwed, and they'll have to go and get it finished themselves (Probably at bigger expense and time). But if You keep 75% of the dosh, then you're reasonably happy - you can move onto the next job.

If I ordered a new DVX100 and got everything but the tape mechanism, and they just said, "well that's about %20 of the camera so we're keeping 80% of the money" I think I'd have a few words to say about it.

Anyway, I think most people are in agreement regarding #3.

Good luck
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Old February 26th, 2004, 03:06 PM   #14
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Aaron

I simply meant the if you do not turn in 100% of what you promised, then *the client* has the right to negotiate a reduction in price (whether it be 75% or 95%) if they so choose. In my opinion, that would only be fair. And, of course, Michael has the right to refuse the client's negotiated terms if he finds them unacceptable and simply return the client's money and keep the tapes for himself.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 10:35 PM   #15
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Please, DON'T SHOOT, only my opinion!

$100 US or Canadian? (Only kidding.)

OK folks, in looking at the BIG picture, $100 is pretty much chump change in today's world. I'm not saying that if I dropped a $100 bill and it was carried off by the wind, I wouldn't chase it down, trampling old ladies, cripples, nuns and little children in the process, but, this is not about money, this is about professionalism, work ethics and honor.

I really feel that if the final product is not exactly what you promised your client, a $100 refund AND turning over the blemished final product speaks volumes about your professionalism and work ethics and can do nothing but help you in the long run. Let's face it, we are all human and prone to making mistakes. Coming clean with your client and explaining the problem is infinitley more productive than trying to polish the proverbial turd. Lying and deferring blame can only inflame and complicate the situation.

I ain't no altar boy, (well, not anymore), but I strongly believe that you should resort to #2 but ONLY after persuing #3!

The whole thing can probably be resolved by synchronizing the audio from the sound board and adding your good interviews, as Dean said, it will probably give you a better end product, which just reinforces one of my favorite sayings, "I'd rather be lucky than good!"

Michael, we've all had our share of bonehead moments, at least I have, if you want to really feel better about your situation, just ask and I'll be happy to reply with one of my "not-so-shining" moments.

Just suck it up, keep your head high and go forward...this is just part of the learning process.

Good luck, RB.
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