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Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old April 5th, 2006, 09:08 AM   #16
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Duane-Thanks for more things to think about! I have always watched alot of hunting and fishing programs, but not alot of Discovery channel. It sounds like they are a little different, as the scene/setting seems to stay the same for quite a while on hunting/fishing shows. But maybe I am not understanding, are you talking about jumping scenes, such as to the hunter/fisher, to the woods or water, to the sunset, back to the hunter/fisher, to the action on the water, etc? Or are you talking about different settings altogether? Maybe the approach you are referring to could be used to add a change of pace to the "standard" hunting and fishing show. It's worth considering, and you also bring up other questions I had not considered. I really like the idea of planning, kind of like making a presentation, which I have some experience with, but hadn't really put enough thought into making it a production. That's good, I need to put more thought into that.

Another question for everyone, if I were to shoot the footage myself in HD, and assuming I find a market such as the Outdoor Channel for such footage, and I don't try to do it all myself, where would I look to find an HD editor, meaning a person rather than software? Is it possible to send footage to someone and work with them over the phone to generate a finished product? I assume it's better to find someone locally that I can sit next to and work with directly, but how hard is that to find if HD is relatively new?

Still looking for help, thanks Duane and everyone....
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Old April 5th, 2006, 09:38 AM   #17
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Depending on the type of HD you're shooting, it shouldn't be hard to find someone to edit it, but make sure the person you're hiring knows what they're doing in terms of editing technique and stuff like that. Most editors who are set up with recent systems/software will be able to handle HDV which I'm assuming is what you'll be shooting in.
If you can't find someone locally (which probably won't happen), I guess you could mail tapes to them and edit over the phone, but I've tried it and it's very difficult because you (the client) can't see what the editor is doing unless you send compressed videos back and forth over the net, which just becomes really, really time consuming for both you and the editor.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 09:36 PM   #18
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OK, I mentioned I might be getting in over my head, and now I am really wondering! If I can't learn to edit this myself, and to do so in the next few months, I may have to forget this idea if the email I received today was any indication. I emailed a local guy yesterday asking for ballpark (rough) rates on what it would cost to edit HDV footage for 1/2 hour program. He said it was hard to say, but a ballpark figure would be $11,000-23,000 dollars-for one show! Am I missing something by about a mile or what? Let's say worst case $23k-that means if I buy (6) minutes of advertising on the Outdoor Channel (if they wouldn't buy the show from me), I would have to sell it for about $4k per minute! That's just to break even on the editing costs! Are advertising costs that much? I am starting to think local cable channels, with me editing, are sounding a lot more "do-able". Somebody rain on my parade and help me to wake up if I am living in a dream world. Or is this figure just excessive for editing? Again, folks, I need help. Not ready to abandon the project yet, but if these are "reasonable" editing costs, I am ready to learn how to edit. Help! Please!
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Old April 6th, 2006, 09:39 PM   #19
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Sorry, I just re-read part of my post-I would have to sell advertising for $4000/minute IF Outdoor Channel GAVE me (6) minutes of free advertsing in exchange for the program just to break even on the editing! That's even worse! Double help!
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Old April 7th, 2006, 07:16 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Mark Fish
Duane-Thanks for more things to think about! I have always watched alot of hunting and fishing programs, but not alot of Discovery channel. It sounds like they are a little different, as the scene/setting seems to stay the same for quite a while on hunting/fishing shows. But maybe I am not understanding, are you talking about jumping scenes, such as to the hunter/fisher, to the woods or water, to the sunset, back to the hunter/fisher, to the action on the water, etc? Or are you talking about different settings altogether? M...
Have to get a little literary and philosophic here ... Always remember that your program is telling a story. It may be fiction or it may be factual, it may be to entertain, ir may be to persuade, or it may be to educate but it's always a story. And you need to engage the viewers interest and keep them wanting to see what going to happen next or else they'll turn you off. Now think back to your high school literature classes - what kept you more interested - Hemingway or Dosteyevsky? Hemingway writes in short, simple, declarative sentences - "The great fish lept from the water in a fountain of silver" while the Russian novelists can have a single sentence that runs for pages it seems. What is more exciting to read? Now, no offense intended but the majority of hunting and fishing shows are about as fascinating as watching paint dry - unless you're really passionate about the topic the episode covers, they're often just plain boring, often because they overlook the story-telling. So that brings us to the pace of the cuts - the length of a cut is the length of a sentence in your narrative. You shouldn't do gratuitous cut aways to something extraneous to the story, like a beauty shot of a sunset, just because it's about time to make a cut. But you should cut when there's something to be emphasized, to focus attention, to build viewer tension and then relax it, to direct their attention when there's action, to make them focus in curiousity wondering what's going to happen next until you finally reveal the secret. Think of your audience standing beside you as the action unfolds - Things are going on around you and you're going "Hey, look at this ... ooohhh look at that!" The pace of the action would be the pace you'd point it out to people would be the pace of the cutting of your sequence. And if whatever is going on doesn't advance the story, doesn't show the audience new things, explain what happened, or reveal new information, cut it out.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 04:50 PM   #21
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Steve, that is a FANTASTIC post; I agree 100% and then some! :)

Mark, $11,000-23,000 might well be perfectly normal for what you're asking, depending on WHO your're asking. But like anything else in the world, I'm sure you can can both a much lower and a much higher price quote from other vendors.

If you feel like you SHOULD do it yourself, then by all means do it! Two years ago, I had never even SEEN editing software, much less knew how to use it. It's daunting at first, but you'll get the hang of it really quickly. Just STUDY-STUDY-STUDY and you'll get there.

Of course, depending on what your time is worth, it may still be better to hire an editor instead.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 09:31 PM   #22
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Steve-You bring out some very interesting thoughts I had not given consideration at all. First, I never really thought about a hunting and fishing show from a story-telling standpoint! I think most people love to hear stories, but for the most part, you are right, alot of the hunting and fishing shows don't tell a story, they just show footage. Maybe that's why I fall asleep sometimes or turn the channel to a basketball game or something else. I need to really think about how to approach this, as not only do I want a quality, top-notch program, I want it to be different. I want it to be interesting, entertaining, enjoyable and yes, even fun! What a concept, an outdoor show that is really fun to watch! One where you can't wait to see what's on the next show. How do I get to that point? Good question. Maybe I start by throwing out any preconceived ideas I have, based on about 40 years of watching fishing and hunting shows, and concentrate on what made the good shows good in my eyes. As soon as you mentioned the story-telling, I pictured a couple of guys sitting around a campfire at night, saying something, like "hey, do remember the time we went here or there and did this and that" and then kind of fade into the show. But not like a lecture, not just like a bunch of clips pasted together, but a story about remember when. I really like the concept. And the Hemingway example was very good as well-something conise, to the point, but illustrative of what is going on, or went on or whatever the case may be. These are the kind of ideas I need, help from you guys on if, how and where to take this.
Duane-I was not criticizing your or anyone else's idea about an editor. In fact, I still think that's the best way to go. But from a tight budget aspect, I am not sure I can go that way. If the price range listed is reasonable, then I am way out of my ballpark, I can only look in from across the street with binoculars. And maybe a big part of the reason I would like to edit is knowing I am strapped for cash for this. But on the other hand, I think I would like to do it. I am not a genius by any means, and it may turn out to be too much for me to do. But if it's going to cost thousands, it may be me do it or don't do it all. The real question is will I be able to produce a finished product that will live up to my expectations, when I have no experience and will be competing against those that do? I really, really appreciate your giving me a little background on where you were at two years ago, because that's where I am at now. I haven't seen any editing software either, other than clips here and there and a touch with a small Sony consumer camcorder. So your words of encouragement really give me a ray of hope that maybe, with the Good Lord's help of course, that I can do it. I am not saying I can do what you did, but maybe I can. But again, thanks for giving me some hope.

One more question, Duane, how long would think it would take an inexperienced person like me to edit footage and come up with a good 1/2 hour program? Is it hours or days or weeks? And how long would an experienced person like yourself take, assuming I provide plenty of footage, guidance on where I need to go with it, and the network's technical specs? I am just trying to figure how long a good editor would take. Is the $11-23K range representing days or weeks-or hours? And maybe I did not make it clear enought to the gentlemen I emailed, even though I specifically only asked about editing.

Everyone, I truly appreciate your help. I want this to work out, Good Lord willing, but if I cannot do it right, then I don't want to do it. Your feedback is so much appreciated, may God bless you all.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 10:56 PM   #23
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Indiana videographer

Mark,

I live north of Indianapolis in Westfield. I mainly produce wedding videos. Perhaps sometime you could observe an editing session to get a feel for what's involved (storyboarding, trimming clips, laying out the timeline, transitions, color correction, and exporting). Most of my weddings are shot with two cameras. I can't imagine a very interesting outdoor video shot with only a single camera. You'd almost have to shoot every scene over from different angles to provide variety, but that would detract from the realistic apsect of the show and triple your production time. Weddings are a bit like fishing shows in that it's not a controlled environment and you don't get a second chance. That's why I think a second camera (often referred to as "b-roll") would be a must -- if nothing else, it could save your bacon if the primary camera misses the shot (or is out of focus, poorly composed, otherwise ruined).

Shooting video and editing are two totally different skillsets. I'd recommend you first master your camera controls and shooting techiques before trying to edit. Then tackle editing. Once you've experience both, you'll understand what it is to "shoot for the edit." For example, you should always have a few seconds before and after the action ("handles" in video editor speak) in your shot to allow for variation in editing and placement of scene transitions like fades and wipes.

Good luck to you.

T.J.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 11:34 PM   #24
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Editing costs come down to (A) labour and (B) equipment.
(A) - The rate for an editor can vary widely. Anywhere from $0-$200/hr freelance. Or if you go by annual salary, there's people making $200k and people making close to nothing.
(B) Equipment. Many Avid suites have a total $300-400k investment. So they have to charge a very high hourly rate.
(C) At post production facilities, there's overhead. Rent, the customer care people, etc.

B- As far as equipment goes, you don't need expensive equipment to edit your piece. It just makes the process faster and looks better to clients. Both are very valuable, but not necessarily to you. The equipment doesn't make a difference on your content.

For making a broadcast master, you may need to rent some time at an editing facility though. i.e. if they require betaSP, it's cheaper to rent an online facility than buying/renting the editing equipment.

Traditionally, the equipment cost a lot. And many post facilities still run as they have in the past, because $300-400k suites pull in well-paying clients. But nowadays, there are much cheaper and slower alternatives.

A- The labour is the other part of the equation, and rates vary widely. The reason to pay more for an editor is for their talent. The better-paid editors can also work better with others- they may be 'overpriced' because of this. Anyone can push the buttons, don't worry about that part.

In your situation, you might want to tackle the editing yourself (because of the money factor). It's about making a final product that's interesting and compelling. Most shows on TV are stories in one form or another (especially reality... there are actual writers who work on those shows). There are also some genres which I don't consider to be stories, but they are compelling nonetheless (game shows, here's cool stuff shows... i.e. science-type shows).

The button pushing part anyone can do. You might take slightly longer than others without experience (i.e. knowing shortcuts, a good workflow). Editing will go much faster if you have an excellent plan of what you want in your final product.

2- If you want a slicker package, then there are other things to consider like shooting the production well. On bigger budget and larger shoots, there are more people, they are more specialized, and they are generally more talented + paid better. All those things contribute to better production values. Better production values don't always translate into significantly more viewers though. But poor production values can be detrimental to you.

3- Traditionally, no one takes the route you are going- buying air time AND finding the advertisers. Usually, the broadcaster is better than the producer (or production company) at finding advertisers. The broadcaster already has relationships with their advertisers... forming that relationship takes significant effort.

And also you need to promote your show... that would cost money upfront. Normally the broadcaster promotes its own shows with its own airtimes (plus some print advertising and PR and things like that).

4- The pilot route:
A lot of people shoot pilots and many, many people pitch networks with show ideas. So your chances there aren't good. Your chances increase if you have a track record behind you. Unsolicited pilots may still be worth doing but the gain has to exceed the pilot cost / chance of succeeding (which may be under 1%). And also since you don't have a track record, you can get exploited by the broadcaster.

Usually the unsolicited pilots that get accepted are the ones where the on-camera talent/personality is good. They will likely ditch the production company/people, because they have no track record in doing good work (which will likely happen when you have no money).

You might want to work out a business plan just to think about how things will work. What things will break your business? (i.e. not finding advertisers, cash flow, not getting viewers, etc.) By thinking about it like a business, you may discover that other businesses have more potential. Some business ideas are better than others. Even really successful people have bad ideas.


Anyways just my two cents here.

Last edited by Glenn Chan; April 8th, 2006 at 12:06 AM.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 05:38 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Mark Fish
... As soon as you mentioned the story-telling, I pictured a couple of guys sitting around a campfire at night, saying something, like "hey, do remember the time we went here or there and did this and that" and then kind of fade into the show. But not like a lecture, not just like a bunch of clips pasted together, but a story about remember when. ...

I haven't seen any editing software either, other than clips here and there and a touch with a small Sony consumer camcorder. ...

One more question, Duane, how long would think it would take an inexperienced person like me to edit footage and come up with a good 1/2 hour program? Is it hours or days or weeks? And how long would an experienced person like yourself take, assuming I provide plenty of footage, guidance on where I need to go with it, and the network's technical specs? I am just trying to figure how long a good editor would take. Is the $11-23K range representing days or weeks-or hours? And maybe I did not make it clear enought to the gentlemen I emailed, even though I specifically only asked about editing.
...
Don't get quite so into the story idea that I meant your show has to be campfire tales told in flashback. But the show itself is always a story - it's your job to make it a good one <g>. For example, there's a documentary series running on some of our cable channels right now called "The Naked Archeologist." In it the host starts the show posing a question "Have you ever wondered about how XXX? Well I always have and so I had to go find out for myself." or "I heard they'd discovered XXX and I just had to go and see it myself" and he takes the viewers along with him on the journeys of exploration where he visits sites and interviews experts who explain the ideas, etc etc. That's what I mean - you never know what's coming next or where the next turn is going to lead or who he'll be talking to in the next scene- the head of the Israel Museum or Mustafa the Cabbdriver. Turns what could be a dry, academic topic into an adventure that's fun to watch.

A rule of thumb to give a very rough estimate of editing time is 1 to 3 hours of editing for each finished minute of screen time. If that seems long, remember there's something called "shooting ratio" that is the footage shot to the footage used. In documentary style, that's often 10:1 or more. So just to review the raw footage and log your shots for a 30 minute program is going to take you a couple of days.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 11:22 AM   #26
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Tim, Glenn and Steve: Thanks guys for these very informative posts. I definitely appreciate the info, and I appreciate the offer to let me watch an editing session Tim. You guys are very helpful.
Now the big question: Given what you have gained from my posts so far, which indicate a big desire but very small budget and no experience regarding the actual production aspects, if you were me, would just say it's not meant to be and give up? Tim's comments about a second camera are very valid, but also throws a major kink in the plan. For a fishing show, that means instead of just a cameraman in the boat, now we are talking about a second boat and at least two people in it (one to run the trolling motor, one to shoot footage). So now we are up to about 5 people total. I have been watching fishing and hunting shows for along time, but I guess I never really caught it that we were looking at two different camera angles, which I now realize. I guess it just never soaked in. Anyway, this was going to be stretching the budget to get one (1) FX1 and some kind of editing software, not to mention I might have to get a faster/bigger computer to handle the process, plus things like a shotgun mic, camera supports, case, etc etc etc. But another $3k for a camera and more people involved really makes it sound like I am dreaming too big. Don't worry about hurting my feelings, folks, if I am being unrealistic or I am trying to do something that takes a major budget for a good show, please tell me. I can always go to shooting a 1-camera show and doing it myself and doing on local cable stations, but not sure the end product would be any better, because I am still at one camera. And then almost everyone I talk to wants to sell me the time and let me sell the advertising, which has not worked well at all so far. Of course, who would buy based on the theory of what the show would be about when they can't see a pilot? Maybe I need to start small-time and see if it can go big time, buying the TV time on local cable and paying for it thru my very, very small fishing lure business, advertising my lures and hoping somebody sees it and wants to advertise too. Of course, I don't want to do that if I don't see results from it. Maybe this is why more people don't live out the same dream I have! OK, give me your thoughts, please! And thanks again to everybody, as I have said before this is major to me and I need all the advice/help I can get.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 11:29 AM   #27
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more food for thought...

So far I had come to the conclusion to do this right, right from the start. If you think going the local route is the way to start, then by that way of thinking, do I forget the HD approach (crawl before you walk) and just go with a PD100A (or maybe two for the price of an FX1) and just worry about getting started? The only kicker again is an additional person for that extra camera. Will people be happy enough to see a local program fishing where they fish and hunting where they hunt that they will watch a one camera program that does not meet network standards but is a "down home" show?
Thanks again....
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Old April 8th, 2006, 05:00 PM   #28
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Fairly random idea:

You could also consider doing short segments to place on your company's website to advertise for your company. Have short segments that tells your audience some information useful to them (i.e. the differences between various types of lures). And do something to the presentation to spice it up, make it fun and interesting.

You don't have to make the segments blatant advertising, and it may be better if they aren't. By giving away free information, you can build up your company's credibility. This would just be a way of getting guerilla advertising. You could advertise your segments through fishing forums (presumably there are some), and by getting other websites to link to your site.

This is probably not worth doing if your company does not sell product online. But the reasons this may be worth considering is:
A- It may stand a good chance of making some money. You can guess your returns by estimating traffic (there are traffic estimators for websites available), and your conversion rate (you might assume that 0.5% who watch turn into paying customers).
So suppose 10 segments, 20,000 hits each segment, 0.5% conversion rate, $10 profit / customer = $10,000

B- Lower-risk. You do need to spend money on video production equipment. But above that, there are only the web hosting fees (do watch out for overage fees on your bandwidth costs). If you pay $1/GB for bandwidth (this may be on the high side here), 20,000 hits for 5MB movies would cost $100. But most of this cost you don't pay upfront.

This would get your feet wet with relatively low risk.

2- If you do that kind of avertising, video elements may not necessary unless video helps show what you are talking about. Images + pictures alone may be a better option.
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Old April 11th, 2006, 08:02 PM   #29
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Glenn,

Thanks for the idea, I think it's a good one! Maybe that would be the way to start, putting clips on the website of the different products, when to use them, show some different colors, etc. Or maybe even film some fishing clips and show just how well they work! Some time after reading this, kind of felt like the Lord might be leading me to even do an instructional DVD that I could sell for $10 or so on the website! I appreciate the idea, Glenn, keep them coming!
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Old April 21st, 2006, 11:02 AM   #30
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