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


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Old June 15th, 2006, 05:39 PM   #16
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Waldemar, your approach mirrors my own, though I only shoot with two cameras (I'm the only camera operator). I too meticously edit my video as I can't bring myself to do a sloppy job. Who knows what other business the recital DVD may bring so how can I put out anything less than my best?

I also market directly to parents as the studio owner has too much to do already. I do get an order form into the packet of recital materials mailed home and I also set up a table in the lobby with more forms on the day of the performances. I have a small TV and DVD on the table running a short loop video from the dress rehearsal from the previous day. I don't know if it drives any additional sales, but I plan to keep it in my plans.

I too shoot and edit for the student and parents, not the choreographer. I try to capture some CU time for every student because I learned how important that is from being a parent at the receiving end of these videos. And they are the ones with the checkbooks after all. It won't be the dances they want to see years into the future, it will be the faces.

I am charging $30 this year (up from $25) which now includes mailing as I have found the studio pickup method doesn't work well at all. For that you get a single DVD (with titles) in a jewel case with an insert that includes a list of all the routines/chapters on the back.
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Old June 16th, 2006, 12:45 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Hanlon
It won't be the dances they want to see years into the future, it will be the faces.
That depends on the market audience. For little dancers (up to age eight I'd say), I agree with you. But cuteness wears off after about 4-5 years, so beyond that many parents want to see what they've been spending their money on all those years. I've spoken to several parents about it, and for the long-term students, the parents go from wanting to see the cute little girl in the daffodil costume to the dancer. And how she looks in a corps will be a reflection of her technique.

I shot a show for a predominatly teen/adult studio for two years using just one camera that always captured everyone on stage. And then they went to a different company for one show that used more of the close-ups and MTV style of shooting. Most of the participants were quite pissed off simply because they didn't get to see the choreography and how each dancer interacted with that choreography. It was always jumping from this facial close-up to watching this other dancer's feet, to zooming across the stage in some swifty camera move, etc.

But since the little ones largely don't have choreography (some stand there frozen, some search for mommy, some stare at the instructor in the wings, others happily twirl around...) the appeal they have is in their cute costumes, facial expressions, and unpredictable behavior. Although the older experienced dancers are pleasing to watch, the little ones make the show fun.

...but I digress from the topic. :) I typically charge $30/copy for a 30 copy minimum. That's one camera (GY-DV5000), PCC microphones, Amaray case with graphics, color thermal printed disc, main menu, scene selection menus, quick opening intro, and scrolling credits. If they want two cameras, the price goes up accordingly.
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Old June 18th, 2006, 02:33 PM   #18
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Brent ... Thank you. And if you don't mind ... how much more do you charge for an additional camera?

As for the rest of your post ... I agree that the older and more serious students are more concerned about the routine as opposed to individual shots.

And to make your point about the smaller/younger dancers ... I get this phone call from a grandfather earlier this week.

He wanted to know where I shot from ... it was two cameras in the balcony and the only place allowed to go. However, it's also the best angle considering the setup of the theatre.

Wanted to know if he would see his grandaughter and I assured him that he would as we did both wide shots and closeups.

His grandaughter performed (4 yrs old) on Friday night and as the song was ending waved and said "hi" to mommy. He wanted to know if I got it. I told him that I didn't know if it was on tape or not. (I have no plan to look for it.)

He said that it was really cute. I said I'm sure it was.

I then asked him ... "So you don't really want to order the DVD unless you can see your grandaughter wave to her mother ... you're not interested in the rest of her dance." He responded with, "I guess that's right."

I told him that the DVDs would be out in four to six weeks and that he could check with one of the other dancers that purchased the video and if his grandaughter was waving and he wanted to order it he could send his form in.
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Old June 18th, 2006, 06:23 PM   #19
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For the additional camera I charge $70 per recorded hour plus $200 per hour of final footage (based on the additional editing). So say their show is 2.5 hours recorded and edited down would be 2 hours, it'd be $175 + 400 = $575, which I'd probably round to $600 in the quote.

I've never actually dealt with someone like you describe, especially about the wave. I guess he'd rather have nothing than shots of her dancing. One thing I did learn quickly is that the younger the group, the more "illegal" video cameras you see popping up around the auditorium. And they're not even bothering to be discreet anymore either. Since most of the newer cameras have the LCD display on the back, they'll just hold them up, distracting everyone behind them, and get their shot. Of course this is after the announcement at the beginning of the show that no videotaping is allowed. But I guess those people are the ones like your grandpa, that only care about getting the one shot of their child. On the other hand, at this studio I just shot at last weekend, the show they did that featured the older dancers didn't have anyone taking flash photography or popping out a video camera. The seasoned people know the drill and respect the rules.
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Old August 13th, 2007, 08:00 PM   #20
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This is a very interesting thread. I have been shooting performance video for about two years now, mostly dance. I don't sell my DVDs cheap because I put a helluva lot of work into them.

I do only DVDs (what's VHS?) I burn them myself on an 11:1 duplicator, and I print labels directly to hub printable media. I use full sized DVD cases and print inserts with full color stills from the video. I highly recommend Taiyo Yuden PREMIUM 8x DVD-R hub printable media. You can get a great price on line. I also invested in a Primera Bravo Pro DVD printer.

I have two Sony HVR-V1Us, but started with an HC-1 and and HC-3. I shoot everything in HDV, and render to 24p standard DVD. It gives it a gorgeous film quality. With the V1U, I can shoot in 24p, so rendering is faster. And as Douglas Spotted Eagle has pointed out, HDV just LOOKS better, even when rendered to standard DVD. I use Sony Vegas 7 and DVD Architect. People think my standard DVDs are HD. They look that good!

I do all the sales and marketing of the DVDs, and give the dance studio a share of the sales. They don't need to lift a finger. All they need to do is promote it to the parents, and tell them who to call. We take advance orders, but most of our sales (75%) happen on site. We made the leap to taking MC, Visa, Discover AND (gulp) Amex this year, and we have a wireless credit card machine that prints out the receipt on the spot. That thing has paid for itself many many times over.

If I had the time, I could build this into a full-time business. One day I hope to. Unfortunately, they pay me too much at my "day job" so it's nights and weekends for now.

I have made lots of connections, and the people I work with love what I do for them. Extremely high quality at a reasonable price. $25 at the extreme low end (simple B&W label on DVD in paper sleeve), up to $60 for a "multi-show family pack" with all the trimmings in a 6-pack DVD case. I don't charge a per diem, but I do take the lions share of the profit. Everybody is happy.

And I turn around my DVDs in less than a month. Mailed straight to the customer. All DVDs are 100% guaranteed, or I replace at my expense, shipping and all. I have never had an unhappy customer.

But here's the real secret: knowing WHAT to shoot and HOW to shoot it is the most important part. Shooting dance is an acquired skill. I got most of my business because there are a LOT of REALLY BAD videographers out there. Of course, present company is excluded! But those of you who have taken business away from a guy with a video camera who doesn't know what he's doing know what I'm talking about.

I have learned a lot from watching BAD VIDEO. What not to do! Example: split screen with wide angle at the bottom and close-up pan at the top. Never ever do this! And if you do, chances are someone else will be shooting that performance next year.

Do yourself a favor: Shoot the dress rehearsals. It's great experience, it will help you when you do it for real, and you can make a little montage to show in the lobby as others have suggested.

One other bit of advice: when shooting dance, ballet in particular, DON'T cut off feet!

If you are at all curious what my video looks like, visit my YOUTUBE channel:

www.youtube.com/pointedvd

I also have a website: www.pointedvd.com

And you can email me at jerry@pointedvd.com.

Good luck!
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Old August 13th, 2007, 11:58 PM   #21
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>>What not to do! Example: split screen with wide angle at the bottom and
>>close-up pan at the top. Never ever do this! And if you do, chances are
>>someone else will be shooting that performance next year.

Out of curiousity, how do you manage to show the close-ups of the dancers without losing all the dancers on the stage?
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Old August 14th, 2007, 03:31 AM   #22
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Interesting to hear what others do!

Here in Melbourne Australia we started shooting dance school concerts in 1999.

Now its grown to shooting approx. 16 concerts in 6 weeks from middle November to Xmas, - we've never lost a client!

Mostly 2 camera shoots, edited with all student names as credits (always supplied in a word document by the school to save time and mistakes) and school's teachers and helpers.

Again the second camera (the tight shots), is only ever cut in if he covers ALL the students that are on the stage, so he does a lot of pans across stage, always timed to the music being played.

The opening credits (school, date and place) I do up in template using Bluff Titler at the start of November, so they look stunning for that year, and just change the school's details. I also have a title for every item - to allow in and outs points for my authoring.

I have always put extra time into the authoring with DVDLabPro, as that program was the first software to allow you to put in AND OUT points at any chapter point, so the user can play all, or select any item from a complete item list set of menus and just play THAT item, at the end of the applause the DVD will flick back to that item menu again.

All items are listed on the back cover of the DVD.

We always have the school as the client, they are responsible for selling the DVD's, and have minimum order of $35 for 35 copies for 2 camera shoot, up to 2 hours, $40 for two discs ($5 to author and supply second disc).

Some of the bigger schools order up to 300 copies. Most have to be delivered back before Xmas. (the biggest concert was nearly four hours long, three cameras nearly 12 hours of footage!!!!).

For 1 camera shoot (smaller schools or mid year) it's $25 for minimum 25 copies.

I use Edius Multicam to edit with, and last year had an editor in to help, while I did the authoring on a second computer, and a girl duplicating (we have two towers, a 9 and 7). Only ever burn at x4, which means 64 discs per hour, and three Canon printers which can print three copies at once (or two and the covers) through a third computer.

We work so hard over those six weeks I usually manage to get sick over the Xmas (summer) holidays, but last year was much better with an editor helping out.

Certainly make some money though!

Cheers Vaughan
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Old August 14th, 2007, 09:00 AM   #23
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I started doing my daughter's dance recitals around 8 years ago. I got into it not really to make money, but to have a nice video of my daughter. For the last 4 years, I have worked for 2 different studios. Here's what I do.

Studio 1: My daughter's studio. I shoot with 2 cameras and operators. We do three shows now. I sell the DVDs for $30 for one show, $50 for 2 different shows and $70 for all three shows. I add an extra $5 for VHS due to the fact that duplicated actually takes longer and it costs more to mail a VHS. The dance studio doesn't get a cut, but they get copies and copies from my 3rd wide shot backup camera.

I have found that the studio owners like to have a wide shot that shows the entire stage all the time for choreography purposes. My style is that during competitions, it is important to show the entire dancer or dancers head to toe all the time, but during recitals, parents and grandparents want to see faces as much as all of the dancers. Again that is different depending on the age of the dancers, really young, faces are money shots, older where technique is key, then head to toe.

Studio 2: I shoot their annual Christmas Nutcracker performance and their summer recital. 3 shows per event. I just do a single camera with titles and video/audio sweetening. I always to a backup wide shot. Even if I only had a VHS camera available, something is better then nothing. But I use a GL-1 or TRV-900 for my backup. I charge the studio $200 per show, that is $600 per event. I think that they sell it for $25 per DVD. I just give them 2 copies of each show and they take care of duplication and delivery.

I am going to raise my price for Studio 2 this year, but I haven't decided on how much yet.

The tough thing is that for both studios the parents can shoot all the video and all the pictures they want during the dress rehearsal, so I think that hurts sales a bit. So quality of your video and audio is key.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 11:05 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Colby Knight View Post
>>What not to do! Example: split screen with wide angle at the bottom and
>>close-up pan at the top. Never ever do this! And if you do, chances are
>>someone else will be shooting that performance next year.

Out of curiousity, how do you manage to show the close-ups of the dancers without losing all the dancers on the stage?
That is where the skill comes in at a couple of levels. You need to know when it is OK to go in tight, and when to fall back to the wide shot. I produce dance performance video that people enjoy watching, rather than contrived video that captures every kid, all the time.

As a general rule, here is what I do:

Tight shot on solos or small groups while everyone else is standing still or off stage. Wide shot as soon as everyone is dancing, or another dancer or group of dancers enters from the wings. Tight shot on a cluster of dancers when everyone is doing the same thing, then wide shot to see the whole view, and then choose another cluster of dancers and go in for a tight shot.

Having the constant wide shot is great as a safety net, or for the choreographer who insists on that wide view-- often because they don't know any better. I have never had a choreographer think I missed something critical. But it never hurts to get their input. Ask them what they think is a NOT TO BE MISSED moment, and be prepared for t. The key is to capture the moments that MUST be full stage, and know when it is OK to go in for the closeup.

That is why I think it is impossible to live-switch a dance perfromance and produce something that looks good. I have to edit in post. Time consuming, yes. But the quality speaks for itself.

I have found that parents can be overly concerned that they need to see their daughter for the entire 2 minutes she in on the stage. What they don't realize (until they actually receive my DVD) is that their kids will watch the WHOLE SHOW over and over because they enjoy the performance-- not just seeing herself. I am not making this up. Return customers don't hesitate to pay 40 bucks plus tax for a video that is an entire summer of entertainment.

And here is another twist: encourage parents to videotape their dancer in the dress rehearsal. Crazy you say? Not at all. They get their kid on tape for the whole two minutes. They watch the grainy, shaky, zooming and panning once or twice. And it stays in the camera until it gets taped over. Then they see my preview video in the lobby at the performance, and realize that it is superior to what they shot. And they are NOT allowed to videotape the actual performance. Then they buy the DVD. And they are glad they did.

Bottom line is there is no shortcut to producing high quality performance video. You have to know what to shoot, how to shoot it, and make it entertaining. And a nice package helps too. Anything less than that, and you risk losing your business to someone else. Deliver excellent qaulity, and the referals will come to you. Simple as that.

Hope this helps!
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Old August 14th, 2007, 11:28 AM   #25
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Quote:
I produce dance performance video that people enjoy watching, rather than contrived video that captures every kid, all the time.
Wow. Sounds like I've been doing 'contrived' video for the last 5 years.

Quote:
...parents can be overly concerned that they need to see their daughter for the entire 2 minutes she in on the stage. What they don't realize (until they actually receive my DVD) is that their kids will watch the WHOLE SHOW over and over because they enjoy the performance-- not just
seeing herself.
So who writes the check? The kids or the parents?
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Old August 14th, 2007, 03:16 PM   #26
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You have to do what works for your client. If people are happy with the split screen, there is nothing wrong with that. Personally, I tend to go with Jerry's approach and try to have the finished video look like a produced television piece. I usually don't do more than 3 or 4 closeups during a single performance, again depending on the type of dance. That is the key. I had thought about trying to do a smaller package for a cheaper piece that just had a single dance on it, for the families that might only be in one dance. After asking I have found two things:
1. Most of the time the kids are taking more than 1 class. Only 1 class is a major minority.
2. I have had many many comments that the kids like to watch the entire recital and see their teachers and friends dance as well.

It all comes down to what is working for you and what people are happy with. Good luck.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 04:06 PM   #27
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Wow. Sounds like I've been doing 'contrived' video for the last 5 years.



So who writes the check? The kids or the parents?
No offense intended, Colby. If what you're doing works for you, keep doing it. My experience has been that my customers like what I do better compared to their prior videos from split screen/live switch video guys.

And btw, the parents write the checks-- over and over again.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 05:20 PM   #28
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Interesting to hear what others do!
Well said Vaughan. My production and pricing sound very similar, but I don't do nearly as many performances as you do. I'm sure you didn't start out with 16 shows!

Out of curiosity, is that your recital season-- end of the school year? And do you do holiday themed shows as well (Nutcracker, etc)? At least we get to balance it out a bit up here.

What do you do in the off season?
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Old August 14th, 2007, 10:21 PM   #29
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Hi Jerry,

yes, the Xmas season is our end of year so major concert season.

It is also smack in the middle of our wedding season, which is our other main income source. (Wedding season in Melbourne runs from September - April)
Not many in Winter months (none this month)

We do get several mid year concerts and some school productions during the year, this week I'm editing a wedding from July, amateur concert from July,and a corporate video production for September. Then I have a holiday and get back into weddings!

Vaughan
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Old July 26th, 2009, 07:46 AM   #30
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Jerry,

That's a top idea about inviting the parents to video their kid at the rehearsal as a qualifying mechanism for valuing the superior / professional work you do. It's better than having "last years operator" to make you look good.

Well done!

Andrew
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