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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:16 AM   #31
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I think you have to have a plan in place before shooting. Be able to organize your clips. Surely you must have a theme in mind either during the filming, or immediately upon completion of that task. Take your clips, organize a rough draft, take a step back, load the music and audio, step back, show the rough to someone, fret and agonize over it, re-cut, show it again to anyone, come to terms with the final edit and complete the task.
Anything else is procrastination. I think it's necessary to complete the project while the event is fresh in your mind if nothing else. The time taken to complete a project must vary according to length and technical aspects. We're taking 3 hours of video film, 400-500 clips, editing into 22 minutes for TV within one week, one guy filming and editing.
Unless you're filming and editing a major motion picture why take half a year?
Recap:
One week to film and edit 22 minutes, approx. 44 hours working time, including 22 hours editing, 22 fretting, put the pedal to the metal and finish it, then move to the next.

By the way I am mostly speaking/drilling myself on the above, editing is tough but very rewarding.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:22 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Shawn McCalip View Post
However, I'm more inclined to agree with Steve here. Customer service is one of those crucial aspects that seems to be put off to the wayside. Don't get me wrong, I'd love for all of our clients out there to have deeper pockets and a more laid-back and educated opinion of video production, but that's probably not going to happen anytime soon. the analogy using the RED camera doesn't really fit in here. Talking about product development is a whole different ball of wax. Instead, think of something more service oriented. Say you want new cabinets installed in your kitchen. If you called up a carpenter and he told you it would take 6 months to install new cabinets in your kitchen, I bet you'd tell him to be on his way and get on the phone with another carpenter who says he'll have them installed and ready to use within 3 weeks. You can also imagine how difficult it will become for the first carpenter who works on such a drawn out time schedule. I don't believe in the philosophy that "The customer is always right", but they're the ones paying the bills- so we're kind of obligated to meet THEIR needs- not the other way around. Any business that's tried it that way has run into trouble. Look to our own General Motors and Ford for more details.

Everyone's business is a little bit different, and that's a good thing. It gives clients options, and creates a diverse market. A 6-month turnaround time might be a great option if you're charging less than the competition, and it could be a good niche for you. Your market and general area may also have a lot to do with it. I need to be mindful of my turnaround times because I know there are other businesses here in town that can do it just as fast if not faster. Why should someone pay me $3k to record an event and produce a DVD in 6 months when they can go to the other guys, spend the same $3k and get the same end result in 6 weeks?
I wanted to comment on this too. This business is a lot different than other straight forward made to order products. I liked your carpenter analogy because I got a feel for what you are saying. Let me offer this in return:

You call up 2 carpenters for cabinet instillation. The first guy has all pre-fabbed cabinets. He says can install them in a couple weeks. Then you call the other carpenter. The other caprenter does not have pre-fabbed cabinets. He makes them all by hand - and they are absolutely beautiful. Sure they are just cabinets. They all have shelves and doors... all the same right? Well... not exactly. The cabinets are specially made. The wood is imported and rare. The craftsmanship is unique and beautiful and no one in the area does it like him. He tells you that with his current work load, he can get you the cabinets in 6 months.

It's not hard to see that people will wait for quality. No... not everyone will. And that's fine.

Believe it or not, people kind of like having to wait for their DVD. Yes.. I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out. They would rather hire someone that is sought after, than someone who does not have any business and can turn around in a week and a half. And this next one you will probably find absurd, but wedding videography is one of the few businesses that can get away with it. Having to wait a while builds a lot of anticipation... Kind of how I got months before 'The Dark Knight' came out. (No... I'm not comparing our vids to actual motion pictures, just making a comment about anticipation). Details about their wedding start to fade within those first couple of months. By the time they get their video back, they have slipped into a post marital daily routine. Giving them their video a couple months after their wedding allows them to re-live it all over again, as the images and memories have already begun to fade.

Having said all of that, I think 2-3 months is a good target.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 08:02 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Louis Maddalena View Post
I have read this whole thread and I think the best way to solve it is this:

Steve,
I have to extend a challenge for you. Go find a wedding client. Shoot, Edit, and Deliver that video, and then post that video on vimeo and post a link. Tell us how long it took you, how much money you charged, and how many people worked for you. Tell us weather you paid them a fair wage or if you cheated them out of cash, and tell us how much of a profit you made from that video. Now, here is where the challenge continues.. for how ever long you are working on that wedding video pretend you dont' have a day job. Don't touch that money you make from that other job... can you survive on that amount of money? Don't forget we're going to critique the video to the same detail we critique our friends, and the way you critique our business plans. Will it stand up?

I take 3-4 months to turn around a wedding video. That week of the wedding I turn out a quick 3-5 minute edit just to hold them over until the video is done. I have never had a single person complain, infact the average client appreciates that I don't rush the job, and they understand that I have to work on the videos that I shot before their event before I can work on their video.

Louis Maddalena
Sorry, I'm going to have to decline your challenge. General consumer video services such as weddings and events, etc, are not a direction I choose to go - my passions are elsewhere. Besides, I'll be the first to admit that I wouldn't be as good at them as many of the people who post here - it takes a special talent to be good at it and my talents don't lay in that direction. I have done wedding still photography in the past so I'm not totally ignorant of the business in the trenches but my eye tends more toward reportage and commentary than towards romance. Although I've shot stills since Jonah was a deckhand I wouldn't want to run a neighborhood portrait studio either - some of them do beautiful work but it's just not my cup of tea. In any case, customer service is customer service regardless of the business and the talent to make beautiful wedding videos doesn't carry with it knowledge of the people skills needed to run a business. My ability to make a good wedding video or the lack of it is not a valid test.

Of course you're going to work on projects already in the que before you work on a particular client's wedding - never said you shouldn't. But some people suggested they had other projects such as commercials that came in after the wedding in question that got higher priority handling and jumped the que - IMHO that is giving short-shrift to the wedding customer and is poor service. There comes a time when you have to decide what business you're really in and decline those other projects in order to concentrate on doing your core business really, really well.

You, Travis, and Josh seem to think I have painted all wedding videographers with the same broad negative brush and I have not ... many give their clients excellent product and excellent service. I just don't feel that those who make their clients wait ... and wait ... and wait .... and wait ... and wait, month after month, until they find it convenient to fit finishing the project into their schedule, all the while sitting on the money the client's have already paid, are treating their clients properly. They're putting their own interests ahead of their clients when the key to any business should be that the customer comes first. A 3-month turnaround during the busy season seems reasonable, perhaps less during the off-season. But I've seen people quote norms of 6, 9, or even 12 months and that's just not treating their customers right.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 03:46 PM   #34
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I was even thinking to offer a straight edit video as well, nothing creative, just clean video and sound in a documentary way (so no additional music) and asking about 30% less then what I normally charge for a "creative" video. A clean edit I can finish in a day and per hour I would earn a lot more and couples would get their dvd a lot sooner. I am sure a lot of couples just want it like that around here, nothing fancy, just an overview of their day. Only now a lot don't hire a videographer because they think it's too expensive.

I too have been a solid believer in creative video's and I take a lot of pride in what I do but at the end of the month my bills have to be paid. Therefore I don't have that much problems leaving the creative part behind, for clients that want it like that, and get the dvd's delivered to them by mail 3 days after the wedding. In this way I can make a lot more money with less effort.

I can understand Steve's point of view and I think he is right, if your client has to wait more then six months there is something wrong with the way you do business, you should either hire extra help or you should change the way you work.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:04 PM   #35
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Somebody please explain this logic to me .. that if my customers have to wait 6 months or more for their video, but they are happy to do so, that I am still providing bad customer service. Please explain, as I'm dying to hear how this is rationalized.

It seems pretty clear to me that if my customers are happy, then I'm providing good customer service. Steve, maybe you should pop on to my website and read the "rave reviews" my clients have left me. Many of those couples had to wait 6 months or more to receive their video. Do their "reviews" sound like things clients would say if they were receiving poor customer service? I don't think so.

Steve, you may have also more "teaching" experience than me, but I have real-world business experience with clients every single day. Again, until you have your own successful wedding videography business, I don't think you're very qualified to be telling the rest of us how to run our businesses.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:16 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Sorry, I'm going to have to decline your challenge. General consumer video services such as weddings and events, etc, are not a direction I choose to go - my passions are elsewhere.
Exactly. Your passion appears to lie with teaching about business rather than actually running one. There's nothing wrong with that, but you need to start recognizing the limitations of your advice when you aren't actually running a business in the field under discussion.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
But some people suggested they had other projects such as commercials that came in after the wedding in question that got higher priority handling and jumped the que - IMHO that is giving short-shrift to the wedding customer and is poor service. There comes a time when you have to decide what business you're really in and decline those other projects in order to concentrate on doing your core business really, really well.
Exactly what I would expect someone to say who isn't in the business. Once again, your lack of experience clouds your logic. You're assuming that all videographers have the ability to survive on wedding videos alone. The truth is, wedding videos don't pay very well. In order to survive as a business many videographers have to diversify and offer more than just wedding videography services. But if you take on a commercial job you're generally dealing with a client that needs a finished product in a few weeks or less. You can't take a commercial job and put it at the back of the queue because the client won't agree to that. So many videographers have no choice but to take the work and put it ahead of their existing wedding clients. But again, if the wedding clients are willing to wait then it doesn't matter if another project gets put ahead of theirs, as long as they get their video within the timeline they were promised.


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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
A 3-month turnaround during the busy season seems reasonable, perhaps less during the off-season.
Once again, how are you at all qualified to determine what is "reasonable" for turnaround and what is not? You don't produce wedding videos.


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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
But I've seen people quote norms of 6, 9, or even 12 months and that's just not treating their customers right.
Even if the customer is happy to wait that long for a better product? Explain why it's wrong if the customer is happy. ????
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:38 PM   #37
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Ask Robert Allan /what his turn around is then ask what he charges then ask him if HIS clients are unhappy. End of story!

Don
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:47 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
...

Once again, how are you at all qualified to determine what is "reasonable" for turnaround and what is not? You don't produce wedding videos.

Even if the customer is happy to wait that long for a better product? Explain why it's wrong if the customer is happy. ????
You're still making my point - suggesting that it is good enough to do the minimum necessary to keep the client from getting PO'ed. IMHO that's the result of the Wal-Mart philosophy in a nutshell. Good enough, never is.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:50 PM   #39
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Probably time to lock the thread down...
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:56 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
Ask Robert Allan /what his turn around is then ask what he charges then ask him if HIS clients are unhappy. End of story!

Don

I doubt his clients are unhappy - the clips on his site are beautiful, very cinematic! Any idea roughly where he might sit in the pricing and delivery time spectrums?
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Old September 1st, 2008, 04:59 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Bill Thesken View Post
We're taking 3 hours of video film, 400-500 clips, editing into 22 minutes for TV within one week, one guy filming and editing.
Unless you're filming and editing a major motion picture why take half a year?
As was stated before, there are a lot of differences between that type of project and what a wedding videographer does. For starters, you're working with less footage. 3 hours? Bah. I generally walk away with 8-10 hours of footage.

You're also working with a script, right, so once the filming is done you know how you want to edit it. With a wedding, you can't script it out. What happens is what happens, and you won't know until you've filmed it. So the editing is far more time consuming as you have to go through it and pick and choose different shots for different purposes, and find conversation pieces that work for different parts of the video. You essentially have to film the event and THEN figure out how to tell the story.

The length of my total edited pieces is also much longer than 22 minutes. The couple generally gets a DVD with nearly 2 hours of edited video pieces on it. That's a lot of creative editing considering there is no script to work from.

Finally, you produce your television show on a regular schedule, right? Well, the wedding season is far from a regular schedule. I might shoot a wedding every weekend for several weeks straight, and during the week I'm meeting with clients, planning secondary shoots (like save the dates or love story videos), shooting secondary sessions, and much more. It's impossible to get a lot of editing time in during the actual wedding season, which is why most editing is done after the wedding season.

There are many reasons why a wedding cannot always be turned around within 3 months.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 05:07 PM   #42
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You're still making my point - suggesting that it is good enough to do the minimum necessary to keep the client from getting PO'ed. IMHO that's the result of the Wal-Mart philosophy in a nutshell. Good enough, never is.
How am I "making your point"? I never said I only do what it takes to keep them from being "pissed off". Don't put words in my mouth.

You obviously didn't take the time to go read some of the reviews on my website like I suggested. If you're going to try and argue with me on this topic, get your facts straight. Go read my reviews and tell me if you think those clients are just a step away from "pissed off". Nonsense.

Face it, you stepped into a discussion where you have no qualification to argue. I suggest you save what face you have left and back out of it.

The bottom line is if I tell my clients it takes 6 months to produce a masterpiece, and they are perfectly happy with waiting 6 months that quality, and I deliver a masterpiece in 6 months, then I'm providing great customer service. Unless you have an argument for why that's not good business, it's time for you to move along.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 05:22 PM   #43
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You're still making my point - suggesting that it is good enough to do the minimum necessary to keep the client from getting PO'ed. IMHO that's the result of the Wal-Mart philosophy in a nutshell. Good enough, never is.
I just realized you're also now critiquing Wal-Mart's business strategy. This is just further proof that you don't know what you're talking about. I'm pretty sure Wal-Mart is a very successful company. For them, "good enough" is working quite well.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 05:27 PM   #44
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So.. this thread was about how long does it take to do an average turn around. Judging on the responses here.. it looks like 2 - 6 months is about what it is.

Of course this thread has turned into... is it bad customer service if your closer to the 6 month mark. I've only done Wedding video for 2 years. I feel like I have learned a lot within the 2 years that I have been doing this. But I can tell you that if you asked me some of the questions that have been asked on this thread, my aswers would have probably been different 2 years ago before I started.

Taking a step back and looking at this from a simple logical point of view, I can see how a 6 month turn around would seem like a long time from someone who has not researched the topic.

The fact of the matter is.. that's just the way it is. Travis made a good point that during peak wedding season, You might do 1 or even 2 weddings in a week. You have to take the jobs when they come or you could starve come November December.

Keep in mind, couples can choose "Simple Sam's Videos" that have a 1 week turn around and no creative element. But the ones that choose us did not. And they are happy to wait for the completion of there video because they chose us.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 05:56 PM   #45
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Keep in mind, couples can choose "Simple Sam's Videos" that have a 1 week turn around and no creative element.
That was just my point, not every client wants to have a creative video, especially if they know it will save them money. If that will improve my turn around times I will accept those as well and deliver in a week. A simple documentary can look just as professional as a creative one if executed right.

If my basic principle would be to only deliver nothing else then very creative videos my clients would also have to wait 6 months and longer and I'm sure they wouldn't be happy (most of them already contact me after 3 weeks, even if I have told them that it might be 1,5- 2 months)
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