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


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Old April 4th, 2007, 11:45 PM   #1
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What to ask a videographer.. saw afew of these.. what can u add?

"How long have you been in business?"

((These days this question can be debated considering many new companies often offer more within their packages as well established studio's
Above all, ensure that they show you their business registry through DFT and also their AMCOS license. Its also wise to ask for verification of any claims made regarding production such as Dolby Digital formats. If they claim they can provide this, they should also carry a license to do so.))

"Are you the one who will be videotaping my wedding?"
((Good question and probably one of the most important. Be aware that many companies take on multple bookings. Also be aware that what you see in the demo MAY NOT be the work of the person shooting your actual day))


"How many cameras do you use? Does that mean a second videographer?"
((Another good one, and having 2 cameras doesnt necessarily mean another videographer. With clever management, you can get very good results with only one operator.
This saves you money at the reception as its one less mouth to feed. It also saves on travel and labour costs.
2 operators is always nice to have, but it not essential.

The key point here though is that whoever you hire SHOULD have a backup camera. Whether they use it or not to attain more footage should be raised upon meeting with your videographer))

"What type of cameras do you use?
"3-Chip Digital" is the most recent and highest resolution camera. Digital cameras have 530 lines of resolution. "


((In addition to standard Def DV, there is also ENG DVCam (exactly like DV but on differnt tape at different speed). There is also the newer HDV, which is a highly compressed high definition recording format.
Be aware that most 3chip (3CCD/3CMOS) 1/3rd sized HDV cameras require MUCH more light to function properly to offer a cleaner image. Smaller cameras such as 1/4 CMOS or 1/4CCD require even more light that 1/3 (smaller chip you see)

In addition, HDV compression artefacts are rampant with this format, so do not be surprised if image distortion and noise is visible, especially with water and fast moving action sequences (dancng) and low lit environments (electronic gain coupled with MPG noise)
Resolution for HDV varies between 720p, 1080i and 1080p (approx between 500 to 700 TV Lines in the old measurements.. lol)
There is also DVCproHD and XDCam HD, which are better formats to work with and offer higher latitude in image and less compression. These are the ideal formats, however HDV is the adopted prosumer format until h.264 makes its way through))


"What kind of lighting do you use?"
((Many will claim they dont need light, but please remember that without light, there is no image.))

"How many and what kind of microphones do you use?"
((Another good one. I would recomend no less than 1 wireless mic and no less than 1 shotgun mic.
Sound is 80% of what you see))

"How do you edit the wedding video?"

((This question really bears no weight on the actual postproduction as many studios outsource their editing and wouldnt know how to answer this, while others use a variety of tools for your edit.
The question should be-
"What is your editing procedure?
"As a client, what are my conditional requirements for you to complete the work? "
This refers to music and themes as well as phtos and anythign else which may pertain to the finished product.
In addition, one should always ask what delivery formats are available, such as DVD, Ipod, Web, BlueRay etc.
Different formats will incur different costs depending on their complexity and time required to encode.
You shoud be aware of this by asking. ))


Can I have my wedding on DVD?
((DVD is now the world standard. To be precise for private functions DVD5 (4.3gb discs) are cheap and reliable enogh to house your presentation.
Now with the advent of PS3, a definitive HD optical disc delivery option is also available wiht BluRay. This allows for less compression, longer duration and if your lucky, more features within the meny structure itself depending on who you go to.
BlueRay can house Standard Defintion or High Definition. Both formats will look considerably better than highlight compressed DVD5
HD-DVD (anotehr high capacity disc format) has not taken much form here in Aus, so i wouldntt bother with it until we see it on teh shelves))

"How do you stay up-to-date in the video business?"
((To be honest, i dont think people care about this. It would be nice if they did, but I know from expereicne, that my clietns dont really give a hoot about who i train or how many seminars i hold, or which software i Beta test.
Fair enough mentioning it may have an impact on how your skills and experience are recieed by the potential client, however most people will know someone is pulling their leg. ))

"How can I see samples of your work?"
((This is the definitive question. Do NOT under any circumstance book ANYONE until you see their work. be it online or through dvd demos, if u dont know what your paying for, you wotn knwo what your getting.
In addition, demos are jsut that. Demos. If you want a true representation of a sample of work, its bes tot ask to see ACTUAL work provided to clients. Theres no point seeing the best bits of the best bits in a demo when 90% of the presentation is crap (generally speaking... ).
Its like seeing 10 shots from a photographers work and making a decision on that .Bare in mind that these 10 golden shots may be mixed in with 2000 less than average shots taken on the day.. Video is no different in this regard. ))

"What other services or special effects do you offer?"
((Good question. Many will offer promos or refering bonus' . Be aware that some business' also lowball their rates out of sheer desperation. So be aware of this as you dont want teh price to compromise teh quality of work.))

"What about the contract?"
The contract is your safegueard to your investment. It is aninvestment in not only memories, but financially as well. Many companies charge upfront. This alleviates accounting fees and account management time. Each business will have its own payment structure.
The cotnract should detail -
-Permission to film
-Clients requirements (ie direction from client re music, special guests etc etc)
-Camera placement and set up requirments
-Audio set up and placement requirements
-Time factors such as shoioting schedules and itiniraries
-Back up and fail safe procedures
-Lateness and timekeeping procedures
-Production requirements on teh actual wedding day (such as Parking, meals, time to set up projections <if applicable> etc
-Conditional requiremetns from the client to ensure post production can begin asap
-Editing requiremetns and standards (if licensed)
-Discretion and artistic freedom requriements/allowances
-Preliminary viewing procedures
-Delivery options
-Payment options and procedures
-Delivery options and procedures

The contract shoud be followed with a Written quote/invoice which details final costings. This ensures that there are no further costs to you once you decide to go forward.

Thats about it in a nutshell, theres more detail to it, but i think that covers most elements))

"What will you charge to videotape my wedding based on the coverage I am looking for?'

Most Studio's have base packages which cover the elements. However as this industry is usually very flexible, its best to get as many details from as many companies as you can.
One thing i should stress here, is that you SHOULDNT base your decision on price alone.
Dont forget, you get what you pay for.
Most comapnies are happy to negotiate a price based upon your needs, and there is no harm in doing this, however many comapnies are already stretching the limit here.
Another key point here is what is included within the final price?

To some companies a "full" or "documentary" edit may be a neatly trimmed edit fo the Raw footage, which really isnt that much work. While others offer a fully edited feature length presentation. Others offer cinematic edits, while others offer more of a highlights piece.

It is recomended that you ask your potential videographer what THEY consider to be the "full" version as many clients are misled into believing they are recieving something when in fact thaty are not. in this case a long Form Edit vs Raw footage. In addition, the types of edits the studio provides will more than likely have an effect on the final delivery date.

Price vs content provided vs types of edit (edit style) vs popularity (ie weddings per month) vs service before, on and after the actual wedding vs accounting vs management vs consultations vs sales and marketing vs filming vs editing vs processing vs artwork and packaging vs Having a life = Delivery...

Its also wise to ask your potential videographer if they have travel surcharges, some studios charge extra for moving out of the CBD while others offer it free if you upgrade. Each studio is different so its best to ask.))

I hope the above has helped
cheers
Pete
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Old April 5th, 2007, 01:11 AM   #2
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That's a lot of material to wade through, and for weddings I'd say most couples don't necessarily care all that much about the answers -- they just want some way to start a conversation. As far as your comments about HDV are concerned, they sound exaggerated to me and leave out the benefits of widescreen/HD production for customers with expensive modern HDTVs. Low light issues with HDV can be mitigated with moderate lighting plus processing in post and artifacts aren't likely to be noticeable to most consumers with proper camera work. Very few wedding customers are going to pay for DVCProHD or XDCAM HD production, so that's hardly worth mentioning unless you have ultra high-end clientele. So basically it's either DV or HDV for weddings for now and either should be fine if handled properly.

Your advice to insist on seeing sample work and finding out what will be delivered is the most pertinent: all the technical questions mean little without seeing some results.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 09:28 AM   #3
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i hear u Kev, but I was a bit "tough" on the HDV format simply becuase so many people dont know how to shoot for that format.

Lets face it, for every one person here who knows WTF theyre doing, there are ten that dont...
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Old April 5th, 2007, 10:32 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson View Post
i hear u Kev, but I was a bit "tough" on the HDV format simply becuase so many people dont know how to shoot for that format.
You were very tough and left out the benefits, which is what some videographers do to steer customers away from HDV if they're still shooting DV. It's true that doing good work with HDV can be challenging but that's why people hire professional videographers: we're supposed to know how to overcome such hurdles to get good results. To be fair, HDV has some drawbacks and isn't the best answer for every customer or situation, but it's quickly growing in popularity and becoming a deal-maker for some couples for weddings. Sooner or later HD production will become the de facto standard for most professional videography, with HDV being widely accepted as a good solution for budget-minded customers. Describing it otherwise now makes it harder to explain as a common standard later.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 10:41 AM   #5
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Peter,

Your post reminds me of a couple of things I've noticed.

When I'm working a wedding show, I'll sometimes have a potential client come up and ask something like, "What kind of cameras do you use?" More times than not, they have no clue what they've asked, or what I'm telling them, and they go glassy-eyed with any answer I might offer.

Potential clients will ask to see a demo of our weddings. I agree that demos will show only a person's best works, not a realistic example of the product a client can expect. I like to offer them a choice from my entire library so they can see what their wedding might look like.

If a company uses free-lancers, or has more than one shooter, I think it's good to have available to the client, some example weddings that those videographers shot, too. And, always being honest and above board is not only good for business, it's good for the industry.

Just my 2 cents...

Mark
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Old April 5th, 2007, 12:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
You were very tough and left out the benefits, which is what some videographers do to steer customers away from HDV if they're still shooting DV. It's true that doing good work with HDV can be challenging but that's why people hire professional videographers: we're supposed to know how to overcome such hurdles to get good results. To be fair, HDV has some drawbacks and isn't the best answer for every customer or situation, but it's quickly growing in popularity and becoming a deal-maker for some couples for weddings. Sooner or later HD production will become the de facto standard for most professional videography, with HDV being widely accepted as a good solution for budget-minded customers. Describing it otherwise now makes it harder to explain as a common standard later.
I shoot both formats so its no skin off my nose.
the poitn here is that HDV doesnt have the latitude of DV so correction in post is difficult compared to DV.Why do i mention this? becuase the attitude of "il fix it in post" doesnt sit with HDV as DV does
Im NOT going to turn this into a DV vs HDV debate, thats NOT what this thread is about.

That poitn i made is a general statement whch potential clients should be aware of if going with someone who is shooting HDV.
Its that simple

I knwo its difficult for some people to accept, but the fac tremains most of those using HDV as a selling point have NO IDEA how to use it effectively.

As for 16:9 vs 4:3, let me just say that of the 60 weddings i did last year, 3 asked for widescreen. The others had no clue
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Old April 5th, 2007, 02:22 PM   #7
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It depends on your market - go to the local store, what do they sell in the electronics section? I'll bet it's Widescreen/HDTV by a wide margin TODAY- 3 years ago, probably a different story. Next year, or perhaps 2009 (US digital swapover), try to find a "SD/4:3" TV...

And HDV cameras are sprouting up like spring flowers... hmmm.

So the winds of change are blowing.

Does the average consumer have a clue about any of the technology? Even the majority of salespeople are clueless... so Q&A is a "YMMV" proposition IMO. It's nice to have prepackaged questions, but ultimately that may not offer much help if the answers are all over the board and fall just shy of "opinyuns"...

Even those of us actualy valiantly using these new cams have sometimes violently different perceptions... you think you can explain that to a client that just wants a nice video memorializing their big day?

<swerving wildly>
That said, let's address SD v. HD... stepping on landmine here I know, BUT...

Shooting HDV is a different animal from shooting SD, editing it is another animal altogether... involving large horses. Delivery... well let's just say the future is promising... I'll be the blue guy in the corner holding my breath... let me know when my affordable burner compatible with all formats is in stock, OK?


Let's be real practical here...

I looked at some "sample video" (at a wedding show) shot with GL2's - a camera I KNOW can shoot great footage - whatever the "video dude" did to this footage made it look worse than an old 8mm hand cam... it was AWFUL... my ancient $400 digital 8 Sony couldn't have looked any worse, and that's saying something... I actually delivered my first wedding (for a friend) shot with that cam and it didn't look that bad - actually rather good by comparison!



SO, what I'll propose for everyone to berate or cheer as they feel appropriate is that one must learn a "new" shooting technique/workflow when plunging into HD/HDV. Be prepared for a learning curve, and "differences"... don't forget "surprises", good AND bad...

Shoot guys, I go through several weeks of trauma when switching to the latest greatest CELL PHONE! I find every flaw and hate the stupid thing while I'm getting used to it. Eventually we settle in to a working relationship, and maybe it's actually better than my old beat up cell... in most respects, but perhaps (probably?) not all.



What I'm getting at is HD/widescreen is likely "the future" unless and until we are shooting 3D holographic... eventually you'll be shooting with some form of HD camera.

Can you deliver GREAT SD footage? I hope so!

Can you jump right to HD and it works great the first time out? Good luck with that...

If your technique is good, and your finished product looks great, will the client know what camera you shot with or what format it's in? Fat chance, their eyes glazed over at "CCD".

WHATEVER you shoot with, KNOW your camera, KNOW what it can and can't do, always get the shot, and always deliver the goods even if you had to shoot swinging from a ceiling fan! Don't ever deliver "uncle BobCam" quality for your own dignity and ours!!


I don't think we do anyone any favors ignoring the coming trends, unless you want to join the "typesetter" in the museum display of extinct species. Times change, technology changes, if you want to remain competitive, have good work to show, and let it speak for itself.

If it SCREAMS professional, there won't be too many other questions you need to answer <creatively returning to the focus of the thread (wink) after treading where angels fear to go...>.

If your work speaks for itself, and you have decent people skills, there won't be a LOT of things your client wants answered other than "are you available on (insert date here)?"

BTW, those are some good questions you should be prepared to answer just in case! Even if just to be able to hand them a disk and say "take a look for yourself, and let me know what YOU think".

DB>)
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Old April 6th, 2007, 08:01 AM   #8
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Crickey Pete, you must have a lot of rendering to do at the moment :)
Mate you are the king of the unabridged post - that's a very comprehensive list!!

I'd like to add one more:

"Is your videographer a part-time hobbyist or a full-time business?"
----------------------------------------------------------------
A pro videographer cannot afford stuff ups or sloppy work because he/she has invested $$$$$ in advertising, backup equipment, liability insurance, copyright licences, professional ascociation fees, office machines, training etc...
The hobbyist on the other hand, although can produce equally good work, has less commitment to the job & client (not intentionally or for lack of trying it's just a question of scruples) there's much less risk involved - in other words they won't loose their house to the bank.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 08:30 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson View Post
having 2 cameras doesnt necessarily mean another videographer. With clever management, you can get very good results with only one operator.
This saves you money at the reception as its one less mouth to feed. It also saves on travel and labour costs.
2 operators is always nice to have, but it not essential.
I don't like the "unmanned camera" trick. If you are going to offer a 2nd camera, why not do it right? Have a manned camera that can really focus in on the guests reaction during the ceremony. If the client really wants to spend the extra money on a 2nd camera, why try to sell them on a shortcut?

Quote:
Be aware that most 3chip (3CCD/3CMOS) 1/3rd sized HDV cameras require MUCH more light to function properly to offer a cleaner image.
A decent 3-chip HDV camera does not require "MUCH more" lighting to function properly. This is an exaggeration. In poor room lighting, an on-board camera light should be used no matter what format you are shooting with.

Quote:
In addition, HDV compression artefacts are rampant with this format, so do not be surprised if image distortion and noise is visible, especially with water and fast moving action sequences (dancng) and low lit environments (electronic gain coupled with MPG noise)
Resolution for HDV varies between 720p, 1080i and 1080p (approx between 500 to 700 TV Lines in the old measurements.. lol)
Ohh, you are going to get flamed to death on this one!

As someone who shoots in both formats on a regular basis, I can say this just isn't true. HDV still looks better than shooting in standard DV mode. More lines equals cleaner picture. The short GOP (6-frame) of the JVC HD100 helps to minimize compression artifacts as well.

Please explain how my HDV camera shooting at 1280x720p is really only 500 to 700 TV lines? "in the old measurements"?

As for your comment about which format is better for editing, I would say again, it's better to edit using the highest possible resolution. I have edited & outputted to DVD using both formats. HDV footage looks better on DVD than standard DV footage.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 02:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Scott Jaco View Post
I don't like the "unmanned camera" trick. If you are going to offer a 2nd camera, why not do it right? Have a manned camera that can really focus in on the guests reaction during the ceremony. If the client really wants to spend the extra money on a 2nd camera, why try to sell them on a shortcut?
I'll have to agree with Pete on this one: a second camera doesn't require a second videographer unless the client is prepared to pay extra for that. Since most couples don't want to pay much for wedding video services, getting some of the benefits of a second camera without the cost of a second operator is a good fit for many clients. If someone specifically asks about this, I use that as a reason they should consider a more advanced wedding video package.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 03:06 PM   #11
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I shoot both formats so its no skin off my nose.
If you're really offering both options I'd encourage you to reconsider how you word your comments about HDV: the way you describe it makes it sound like an undesirable format which most customers wouldn't ask further about after reading your remarks. As you said this doesn't need to be about DV versus HDV, but rather how can we describe the benefits and limitations of HDV in a way which is accurate and useful for customers? I don't see anything in your comments which would give anyone a reason to pick HDV over DV, so what is it you're trying to tell people?
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Old April 6th, 2007, 06:28 PM   #12
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Please explain how my HDV camera shooting at 1280x720p is really only 500 to 700 TV lines? "in the old masurements"
What Pete is probably referring to is that some inexpensive HD cameras in some recording modes have measured resolutions as low as 540 TV lines, or the same as the theoretical limit of DV. But in the Texas HD Shootout (see link below), the JVC HDV cameras came in at 700 lines and the Canon HDV models at up to 800 lines, significantly exceeding the best possible recorded resolution of any DV camera at any price. That's something which ought to interest customers who are paying thousands of dollars for HDTVs capable of displaying such resolution, and thousands more for the services of professional videographers. Of course there's still the HD delivery issue to sort out, and that's something else customers might want to discuss if they care at all about the technical quality of their videos. For something like weddings most don't really care about technical details provided what we give them looks good, but if they ask about cameras we can tell them the technology has improved recently.

http://www.dv.com/features/features_...leId=192501274
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Old April 6th, 2007, 06:34 PM   #13
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the poitn here is that HDV doesnt have the latitude of DV so correction in post is difficult compared to DV.
Granted that HDV footage can be finnicky, especially in poor lighting, but the Sony V1U is reportedly proving that the HDV format can deliver good latitude. The real issue here is that the small-chip cameras many of us use do struggle to produce good results in difficult conditions, and that's true for DV as well as HDV.

http://digitalcontentproducer.com/hd...titude_111106/
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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:39 AM   #14
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This wasnt meant ot be a which ones better... OMG...
It was to advise clients as to the differences, and HDV ISNT the only solution for 16:9...

"Please explain how my HDV camera shooting at 1280x720p is really only 500 to 700 TV lines? "in the old measurements"?"

((well using a resolution chart, the JVC is rated at about 700 lines, the Canon A1/XLh1 are at 800, Sony Z1 at 600, HVX at 500... but heres the thing.. there are guys still shootiing with ENG cameras (such as the DSR350) which ALSO pump out 700 lines.. the DSR570 blah blah..
Its not a "which one is better" FFS... or higher or whatever... Its about the capacility of the camera and the original write up which mentioned SVHS and Super 8...
Please remember that my "additions" are to an existing write up about this subject. It was outdated and barely scratched the surface of DV... ))


((This attachment people have to their gear is understandable, BUT lets be realistic here.. EACH FORMAT has its positives and negatives... To me, HDv, is an option i have no choice but to adopt, and i did... but the fact remains, with todays current market needs, HDV is NOT an essential format...
I have no attachement to any cam or any format, so please DO NOT think im puting one format over another. ))

"As for your comment about which format is better for editing, I would say again, it's better to edit using the highest possible resolution. "

((Sorry, i have to disagree wiyh this, faire enough resolution allos wfor quite abot of movement and framing freedom, but there is more to image quality than resolution alone. Consider colourspace of recording and wavelet, in cam latitude, incam (or online) compression (or lack of) and THIS will determine which editing format is "ideal" Each to their own i say, however HDV on its own isnt recomended for advanced colour correcting or grading.. sure you could do it, but the results usually speak for themselves))

I have edited & outputted to DVD using both formats. HDV footage looks better on DVD than standard DV footage.
((Depends on which camera u used to attain ur SD footage i guess. It also depends on the compression, latitude, blah blah of your source material. Both have the potential to offer great results, and no part of my post suggests otherwise.
The point im making in that post is the compression of HDV and issues clients need to be aware of when shooting with that format.
ie lighting, this goes on to what YOU and YOUR CLIENTS are hapy to accept.. what you might be content with, i might find unnaceptable, so this is a matter of conjecture, and thats NOT what im here for..
However, lighting is something the client needs to be aware of with HDV as without it, you have the potential to compromising the image quality, in turn generating much more noise due to the smaller pixels, higher electronic gain requirements and finally the compression itself.. Again, this is a matter of conjecture, however those 3 elements stated are the biggest issues which have the potential to either make or break this format in these environs... and its these 3 issues which continue to raise their ugly heads when client after client comes to me from another companies shoots asking me to "fix" the "dirtiness" becuase they went with company B due to the HDV/16:9 marketing stragtegy and difference in cost and ended up getting screwed over due to lack of knowledge and experience and skill on Company B's part...
Many shooters DO NOT know how to shoot this format. Thats all there is to it.))
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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:52 AM   #15
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"For something like weddings most don't really care about technical details provided what we give them looks good, "

what Kevin says here is pretty much the nail in the coffin

HDV isnt and by the looks of it, wont be seen as a "better option" instead, its being seen (and marketed) as the next DV.. which in all technical sense's it is, BUT whether or not its priced accordingly, who knows.. i know that i wont shoto HDV if im not paid for it. its that simple...

Wil my work suffer? no.. my shooting and editing hasnt changed
will my clients suffer ? no, theyre getting what they paid for..
will my future suffer? no... considering im almost booked out for the nextfinancial year and i havent pushed HD yet... by then the newer avchd formats will be announced and major changes to NLE infrastraucture of said formats (hdv/dv/dvchd) will be implemented
can my clients ask for hd? of course they can
can i deliver to hd? of course i can.. at a price.. hell, im not forking out 1100bux for asony 50gb bd burner + software with $80 discs and not charging for it..

lets be realsitic here..
we can either use HDV and HD delivery options as a means to increase our profit and our product offerings, or we can lowball the industry and charge SD priced for HD, simply becuase 'were desperate" for the work... lol which were not.. but some are..
However there is no point in "gear envy" if the clients do not want it. Gear envy used to be rampant in the music industry when new synths and samplers were released... and yes, i fell for it hard.. but ive learnt now to not jump too fast too soon.. hell i had 2 Z1's which i got rid of because i really had no use for them as the DVX100's worked perfectly fine for what the clietns were willing to pay for.
Why waste your money? I might go the Canon A1 and XLh1 now, but im yet to decide...
the question is...
Do you NEED HD to sell your work? do you NEED the higher res to reframe your shots?
is it what YOU need to create a decent wedding archive?
No, noone NEEDS HD at this time, UNLESS therieclients are demanding it, and the fact remains, they are not demanindg it.. not here anyway.. .

its a shame, but thats the way it is
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