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


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Old June 7th, 2013, 09:46 PM   #1
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Delivering Only Online Files

What are your thoughts on skipping DVD, Blu-ray, or Thumb Drive delivery and only delivering files online?

Vimeo allows 5GBs per week. I can upload an hour and a half documentary and at 5 GBs the compression still looks good (at least good enough for a documentary) in my opinion. It takes around 10 hours to upload a 5 GB file on my computer with my Internet connection, which is certainly manageable (I can upload overnight, plus the computer I use to upload is separate from the one I use to edit). You can also upgrade your Vimeo account to Pro to get more upload space, or use services such as DropBox. I upload the longer versions to Vimeo as password protected files, which is also nice because since it's online it makes it easier for the client to share it with their family and friends (instead of them having to mail out DVDs).

The future seems to be heading in the direction of forgoing optical discs in favor of just files; consider Netflix downloads, for instance. DVDs and Blu-rays, with the additional encoding time, DVD cover creation, physical materials that you have to regularly buy, regular trips to the post office, etc., are simply a pain. Digital files are also more future proof.

Now add to this (at least in Florida, where I am) that you have to charge sales tax on the entire price of the wedding video if you deliver tangible goods (i.e., DVDs), but if you deliver everything online with no physical goods (a thumb drive with a file on it would of course count as a tangible item), then you don't have to charge sales tax. So online delivery saves the client money.

I think what I'll do is offer just the online file in my base package, and make DVDs/Blu-rays an add-on. That makes me wonder, though, if delivery is not reliant on tangible items being delivered, then if I charge for the DVD/Blu-ray add-ons, would I have to charge sales tax on just the add-on price, or the price of the entire wedding video?

Last edited by Eric Coughlin; June 8th, 2013 at 03:39 AM.
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Old June 7th, 2013, 10:13 PM   #2
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

That doesn't sound right. You don't have to pay taxes if you don't deliver a tangible product? I'm sure lawyers, doctors, dentists, consultants, etc pay taxes even if they don't have a product. In your case, I think the service you provided to capture and edit weddings is taxable. It doesn't make sense to not charge sales tax to the client when you have to pay for it.
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Old June 7th, 2013, 10:32 PM   #3
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

It varies in some states, but that is my understanding of it. The idea is that you are offering a service, and not selling a product. Contractors, such as plumbers and pool men also do not need to charge sales tax on the service. And no, I don't believe lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc., typically do charge sales tax (again, it varies by state). Also consider when you hire an independent contractor to help you shoot a wedding, do they have to charge you sales tax? No, because they are not selling a product to you, but are offering their services.

Here are a couple sources I just Googled...

The 7 Common Tax Mistakes Made By Photographers

"if you are a photographer and you don’t give them a tangible product, and you just FTP all of the photos that you take for a wedding directly to the client, you’re not actually turning anything tangible over to them so you might not technically have to pay sales tax on the services that you provided.”

“When it’s photography as a service, where you are shooting for somebody else and you hand over just your data, you’re kind of like a wholesaler at that point, so you don’t need to be collecting tax.”"

Photo Attorney: Sales Tax for Photographers

From the second link,..."California photographers who deliver images electronically do not have to collect sales tax from their clients. In some other states, you must collect sales tax for all photography services, including materials, services, and fees."
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Old June 8th, 2013, 12:18 AM   #4
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

Hi Eric

Have you perhaps talked to brides about their feelings regarding a non tangible product?? What do brides use to watch their wedding ..a laptop, media player into the TV ...my issues would be if she uses a crummy little laptop your audio will not sound nearly as good if it was played thru a TV!!

I was thinking at one stage of supplying couples with a media player so they were "forced" to watch the wedding in a minimum of 1280x720 rather than SD but what happens when Grandma want's to see her grand daughter's wedding and all she has is an old DVD player and a CRT TV!!

Commercial downloads now over here offer DVD, BD, Digital download and Ultra Violet ??? What's Ultra Violet ...I'm losing the technology race I think!!

Chris
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Old June 8th, 2013, 12:51 AM   #5
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

No, I haven't talked to brides on the matter. Headphones or external speakers (which most people own at least one of) would solve poor laptop speakers, and many people have PCs as well. As far as I know, there aren't many people (at least in my area) who are young enough to be getting married and don't own a computer, but do own a DVD player and a TV.

I also said I'd still be giving them the option for a DVD/Blu-ray, but just not to include it in the base package. So if all they do have is an old computer that won't handle the files (most computers within the last 5 years will handle the files fine), then they could still get a DVD or Blu-ray.

Also, most newer TVs will play computer files, such as off of a thumb drive, or by accessing the Internet and playing it right off of Vimeo. Funny to consider, but instead of offering a Blu-ray player you could for not for not a whole lot more offer them a cheap 1080p HD TV (like this, for example:
Toshiba 23L1350U 23" Class 1080p LED TV 23L1350U B&H Photo
) which has a thumb drive port for the HD video file.
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Old June 8th, 2013, 02:17 AM   #6
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

Thanks Eric

I love the idea but that's me so that's why I asked what bride's would think ..I can see them going for extra option of a digital download or view (at present I do give them a hosted video around 15 minutes, but that's just the ceremony) but they might want it as just an option rather than the final product and may still expect a DVD set as the primary "product" which kills your non-tangible aspect.

I was thinking (a while back actually) of not a BD player included in the package but just a media player with the video on a thumb drive all ready to go so they could still take it to grandma's house and plug in composite cables to play the files. However a pure digital supply only certainly would be easy!!

I wonder if anyone else here does a digital copy only with no hard copy at all??? The idea certainly has merit from our side but I'm still concerned that the bride might want a product in her hot little hands even if it's in SD!!

Chris
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Old June 8th, 2013, 02:58 AM   #7
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

I have had one couple this year that only wanted a digital delivery, they didn't care about dvd or blu-ray and had a server with backup and a mediacentre to view and/or listen their mediafiles. I don't deliver through download as my internet upload speed is too slow + here we have a limit on monthly datatraffic meaning you pay extra per gb if you go over that limit.

I would like to deliver in this way though, just put the finished edit on a server, have the client view it at their home through streaming and then let them pay the remainder they owe my true paypal and get a downloadlink to download their wedding. That would save me quite some time but I think it will take years before something like this would be common practice.
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Old June 8th, 2013, 03:47 AM   #8
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
I have had one couple this year that only wanted a digital delivery, they didn't care about dvd or blu-ray and had a server with backup and a mediacentre to view and/or listen their mediafiles. I don't deliver through download as my internet upload speed is too slow + here we have a limit on monthly datatraffic meaning you pay extra per gb if you go over that limit.

I would like to deliver in this way though, just put the finished edit on a server, have the client view it at their home through streaming and then let them pay the remainder they owe my true paypal and get a downloadlink to download their wedding. That would save me quite some time but I think it will take years before something like this would be common practice.
Hit the nail on the head ...

A fraction of the population want their wedding film this way.

I would still deliver it on a disc ... how difficult is it to just burn the digital .mp4 file or what ever onto a BDR and post it to them.
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Old June 8th, 2013, 05:02 AM   #9
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

I always give them a digital file at it's highest quality but that doesn't fit on a dvd so I should be using a br disc but almost nobody has a blu-ray reader in their laptop, then I can only use a usb stick. It's not that it's difficult, it would only be a lot easier to put it on a server and have them download it, just the way you buy software there days, you pay through paypal, get a link instantly and download.

I have many dvdboxes with movies that take up a lot of space, just the fact that that same thing could fit on a single harddisc and that I could scroll through my collection of movies on screen would be much more convenient.
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Old June 8th, 2013, 08:10 AM   #10
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

[QUOTE=Eric Coughlin;1799154]It varies in some states, but that is my understanding of it. The idea is that you are offering a service, and not selling a product. Contractors, such as plumbers and pool men also do not need to charge sales tax on the service. And no, I don't believe lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc., typically do charge sales tax (again, it varies by state). Also consider when you hire an independent contractor to help you shoot a wedding, do they have to charge you sales tax? No, because they are not selling a product to you, but are offering their services.

Hi Eric. I don't do many weddings, mostly corporate clients, but the concept is the same. It's confusing in Florida regarding when to charge sales tax, and quoting California sources if you get called in by the State of Florida won't help you.

After MUCH investigation, here's what I do. When you are delivering a product, there's tax. That means when you work as a PRODUCER, there's tax. I found links on the state site somewhere (under either Photographers or IT Services) that said an electronic product is a still a tangible product. (Plus you can copyright it. You can patent a process or service). It's the same thing as electronic money still being real money. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Not any different than buying an EBook from a vendor that has a physical storefront in Florida.

When I work as a shooter, for another company, (and usually there's a 1099 form involved), then I only need worry about federal taxes.

So the State of Florida views an electronic product as a real (tangible) product that you've sold just like the electronic money you've been paid is real money. Now I may be wrong, but that's the conclusion I reached, and my attorney agreed. When I work as a PRODUCER, then there's SALES TAX. When I work as a SHOOTER, then there's NO sales tax (so far).

That's one reason I like it when I have a client that's a registered non-profit organization.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; June 8th, 2013 at 08:17 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old June 8th, 2013, 12:46 PM   #11
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

The idea of supplying a downloadable video to the couple is attractive initially to the producer of the video, but I really can't see any great advantage to the couple and can see many disadvantages.

From my point of view as a producer, just about all of my clients want dvd delivery, which is straight forward to do and very quick to make multiple copies if required. The amount of time it would take me to upload 90 mins of HD quality to a server doesn't bare thinking about. That of course is even assuming that there are no errors uploading. I have only ever had one request for a Bluray and have also supplied a couple of videos on USB stick.

From a client point of view, I can understand that some may have an internet connection capable of downloading 90 mins of HD video, but I can't see in the foreseeable future that many are going to want to pay the cost of a wedding video, but not having a hard copy that they own. I certainly wouldn't pay hundreds or thousands of pounds out and then rely on a download with all the variables to view it. The other point of course is that many different family and friends want to view the video but may well not have the internet speed or facility to view, and indeed may have no internet at all.

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Old June 8th, 2013, 01:00 PM   #12
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

I still expect to be delivering dvd's in the years to come but online distribution is the future, more people are starting to download movies and music and view/listen to it on their laptop, smartphone etc. Music is also something that less people get a real cd, they just download one song or a album and pay online. Downloading big files won't be a issue in the near future either, Belgium is one of the fewer countries in EU that still apply limitations but that will change as well, my download speed f.i. has doubled the past year without me paying a premium for that. It is just a matter of (longer) time before we see dvd, blu-ray is a medium that is not intended to last, it's much easier to get it just by clicking a button.
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Old June 8th, 2013, 01:03 PM   #13
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

You could even offer a discount for clients that only want a download version of their wedding, that might get things started for people that have embraced future technology. Like with that one cleint I have this year, no dvd, no blu-ray, just some mp4 files.
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Old June 8th, 2013, 05:34 PM   #14
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

As someone who delivers by way of digital all the time, it's a godsend and a headache to boot.

You can never tell what a persons internet speed is. You don't know if they are behind prohibitive firewalss etc.

There is a certain group that it works like a charm for, and another group that needs constant tech support for issues you can't resolve.
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Old June 8th, 2013, 06:23 PM   #15
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Re: Delivering Only Online Files

I have absolutely no problem with downloading films, music etc especially on a pay to view basis. I also sometimes supply commercial work to customers as downloadable files. A the moment, I am working on a series of short video promotions for a multi-national science company, all of which will be supplied as downloadable files.

The doubt for me though lies in the idea of people entrusting their high cost purchase of a wedding production to remote servers, over which they have no real control. I can though see it as an additional service to the hard copy for family and friend to be able to view on line from anywhere, if they have the facility. As Noa said, supplying mp4 files on a ssd or disc is a viable delivery form that gives the client their own personally held copy which in my opinion will always be essential.

Roger
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