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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!

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Old December 9th, 2006, 07:56 PM   #1
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To credit or not to credit...

In addition to video and audio production, my small company also does photo montages. I've done various kinds from weddings to reunions to graduations.

I've also done several memorials for a local funeral home and plan to expand to other funeral homes. This is what prompts my posting.

Currently, I do not include any copyright notice or credits for my small company (or anyone else) on the DVD or any packaging. Company info and copyright notices are on my other types of montages videos. The reason I don't include it on the memorial video is because the video is shown during the visitation services, where it plays over and over. I'm not sure how family and friends of the deceased would react if at the beginning or end of the video a credit and/or copyright notice from my company appeared.

I do this work as an independant contractor and provide the service to the funeral home, not individuals. The funeral director supplies me with the photos and once done, I deliver the DVD to the funeral home. Athough I have on a few occasions, generally I do not meet with the familiy. In addition to producing the video memorial, I also supply additional copies if requested which the funeral home marks up and sells. I assure the funeral home that additional copies must be purchased through them and I will not sell directly to their "client".

I do have a concern. This isn't an accusation. I just see the potential for copyright infringement in that the DVD could easliy be copied and sold by the funeral home without my receiving compensation or the credit for producing the video in the first place.

My questions are:

Is there anyone else here providing video memorials (or whatever name you call them) to funeral homes and how do you handle the crediting/copyright issue?

If you don't provide this kind of service, put yourself in the place of a visitor during the visitation. How would you react to seeing a production company credit at the beginning/end of a video?

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Old December 10th, 2006, 08:27 AM   #2
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Food for thought.


Here's a description of a recent experience I had that may be of help, and let you know what you're facing.

My FIL passed away recently after a long bout w/Alzheimer's. He had no sons of his own, but treated each of his 3 sons-in-law like his own. Because we were close, I desperately wanted to do the memorial montage myself. I have lots of photos from over the years, and felt I could have done a great job. The wake and funeral followed Roman Catholic tradition.

What I learned through the funeral director is that there are web sites available whereby survuvors of the deceased supply photos to the funeral home, who then scans them, puts them on a web site, adds b/g music, and burns a DVD for playing during the wake. The only choice the family of the deceased needs to make is which photos to give to the funeral home. They do the work.

The web service used for this funeral was "Making everlasting Memories" (MeM). From what I gathered, it is a subscription service that the funeral home can subscribe to. It did not cost extra, but was included in the cost of the entire funeral. The completed project ended up including about 30 photos, with appropriate music. Other than the fact that the first DVD did not work and a second had to be burned, it was more than adequate, but less than I feel I could have done myself. (I didn't argue the point with my wife or sisters-in-law, as it was their father who passed - not mine - and they had to be satisfied with how he would be remembered).

Along with the DVD, a small web site is created for the deceased, whereby the obituary and photos are used to start it off, and survivors and other guests can add memories, tributes, or stories about the deceased.

I now have the final DVD and will burn copies for family members who want one. However, the photos I contributed to the project have yet to find their way back to me. (Not at all happy about that, but I think they are in the hands of one of my sisters-in-law, so I expect to recover them soon).

Now that it is all behind us, I better realize that the short amount of time between his passing and the funeral/burial really allows little time for family members to be heavily involved in compiling a memorial DVD. The frequent visits to the funeral home for the wake, (twice a day, with dinner in-between), the Mass, the burial, the brunch afterward, and dealing with a somewehat infirm MIL, all took more time than I originally expected and would have prevented me from doing the quality of job I wanted to do. Despite my disappointment, all the mourners were pleased with what the funeral home produced. However, knowing that more was possible, I know a better job could have been done, though timing would have made that difficult, if not impossible.

Now, with the holidays quickly approaching, I have the option to compile the DVD I wanted to make and distribute copies as Christmas gifts.

Moral of the story: families need help in doing this, but the funeral homes and others are already well aware of this market. Because it added no cost to the arrangements, getting a family to commit to extra costs at a time of grief strikes me as difficult; something more attractive and unusual than what the funeral home provided would have to be offered for a family to commit to those extra costs.

Good luck. If you find a way to counter or combat the ease and timing provided by the funeral home, let others in on how to do that. I haven't come up with a strategy for that yet.
Our actions are based on our own experience and knowledge. Thus, no one is ever totally right, nor totally wrong. We simply act from what we "know" to be true, based on that experience and knowledge. Beyond that, we pose questions to others.
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Old December 10th, 2006, 12:38 PM   #3
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Thanks Denis for your comments. I appreciate it.

I'm not dissuaded by funeral homes being able to use online services for these types of montage videos.

I live in a rural community in Northwest Ohio. The additional funeral homes I intend to market to are also in rural communities within a 20 mile radius of me. The closest "big" city to my area is Toledo Ohio which is a bit more than an hour away.

Within the 20 mile radius I intend to serve are 8 funeral homes. Only one appears to have a web site. I have seen some of the memorial videos produced by other individuals serving this area. They are fairly lame and more or less plain ol' slideshows. I use panning and zooming "ala Ken Burns" to add impact to the presentation. 75% of the memorials I produce result in additional copies sales.

One hinderance I see with the online services is that funeral homes have to take the time to scan and upload then wait for the service to compile and resend the project back to the funeral home. Then the funeral home has to burn the copy. It seems to me that the whole process could be rather time consuming and may not be something the funeral home wants to invest the necessary time into. That's what I'm betting on for the funeral homes in my area.

One funeral home I deal with now was making their own but after trying my service, they bring all their business to me. The video is provided as a "gift" to the family but the cost is actually hidden inside the overall funeral service charge.

This week I'll be producing a promo video for my company which I will deliver to the funeral homes in my area. The memorial videos I produce take me about 3 to 4 hours to produce. That includes up to 50 photos, scanning, minimal photo enhancement, titles, music, rendering and burning, labeling.

In addition to the copy on DVD, I also provide hosting of a web version on my website. I mimic the look of "their" webpage and place hosting and production credit for my company on the page. At this point that is the only place I get crediting for producing the video.

That is the reason why I originally posted. I was thinking of putting credits on the DVD version but am concerned if it would be viewed as "tacky" to put credits on a video that is being shown during the visitation service.

After some more thinking about this, I'm thinking it may be better to not include credits on the copy to be shown during visitation. I would supply a second copy (the gift that the FH would give to the family) which would include credits as well as any additional copies that are sold. And I would require return of the un-credited copy.

Of course, there is still nothing to prevent someone from making a copy of the un-credited DVD and using it as their own. But hey, whad-a-ya gonna do? I'll just have to rely on the honor system. If I continue to get repeat business, I'm not going to sweat it.

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Old December 11th, 2006, 05:55 PM   #4
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Just a thought...

You could have the credits as a still screen under another selection on the main menu screen. That way, should someone see what you've done at another funeral home, they could get in contact with you, and it wouldn't be part of the looped video...

Just a thought.

"... the drama is on your doorstep..." - John Grierson
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