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

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Old April 12th, 2010, 08:50 PM   #1
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Draft copy and clients input

Providing the clients with the draft that is as good as the final copy kinda ruins the surprise factor in the final delivery... although even watching the draft would be a surprise.... but still...

I have been thinking a lot how to give them a draft copy and get their opinion with keeping some surprise in the bag. Then I think, what if they hate that last addition.

So, just wanted to know if you give a draft copy before finalizing the video? If so, how much work do you put in it and do you withold anything in the draft? Or you just give them the final work and that is it?

If this topic has been discussed, can you give me a link since I was not able to find anything specific.

Thank you.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 09:52 PM   #2
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I do not worry about surprising the couple with final copy except for those few times when the couple were close friends or close relatives (of mine) and the final video was being unveiled at a gathering of friends..

For the last fifteen years, my practice has been to give the clients a proof copy just like they get proof copies of photos. If the proof copy is fine, they get another copy. If corrections are needed (say, if a name was misspelled in the credits or there is a clip with undesired comments from an un-favored relative, or whatever), then I make the corrections and give them two final copies.

The surprises all seem to come when they see the video for the first time and realize how much they did not or could not see of what was going on around them. My experience has been that most folks who want changes to the video want them because they want to give copies to others. Those folks don't want surprises. So, I put everything in the proof copy.

This all might just be a reflection of where I work ( a mountain resort town in a very rural area) and that most of my wedding videos are delivered within days of the event. (I've done occasional same-day-edits (SDEs) but mostly they are NDEs --- next day edits.)

I have to confess, thought, that, because I do not get paid more for surprising the couple with more stuff later, it never occurred to me to add surprises to the final video. Makes me curious as to how it has worked for you.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 10:18 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, Jay.

Generally, my clients get:

A slideshow of the photos they provide (photos from past, childhood, etc)
location shots with some introductory text
ceremony and reception
slideshow of the photos taken on the day at the end (I ask them to choose the photos and get photographer to send them to me)

For the limited number of weddings I have done, my practice has been to give them a proof copy of what I believe is final and get their input. I just wanted to know what other people do.

I thought about giving them the photage from the day (sort of director-cut) with limited editing and manipulation, so they can aprove the shots, and then I get on with the rest... but I don't feel comfortable to give them something they never approved of...

I hope I make sense...

I don't do a lot of weddings as I have a full time day job and I don't get paid a lot... and I always give more than what I get paid for..
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Old April 12th, 2010, 10:24 PM   #4
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Hi Hameed

I don't give them a draft copy at all!! They simply get my final set of 3 x DVD's and I have never had a problem. To me, giving them a "draft" is saying "I didn't really do a good job so tell me what you want changed" I did that once and never again. The bride spent a total of 18 hours with me changing bits and pieces that didn't suit her..if her hubby touched his nose then she wanted that taken out just in case someone thought he was picking his nose!! If her hair wasn't perfect, I had to cut the bit out where a strand fell across her face...it just went on and on and became a living nightmare!!!

In my contract now I specify that my edit decisions are final and IF they require any further edits then they CAN sit with me at a rate of $120 an hour PLUS recompile time too!!! Dunno about others but giving a draft/rough copy is an invitation to extensive re-editing (even if the original is good). They probably feel that they have to get something changed to make you happy????

Apart from the "re-edit nightmare" I have never had any client request changes. As long as you do a great job and tell the story they are happy with your result which, to me, makes a draft or proof totally pointless

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Old April 12th, 2010, 10:28 PM   #5
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We have been wrestling with this same issue of giving a proof. We do not want to have to mail a DVD to the couple, as that would cost us more in the long run, so we have come up with a tentative solution: We are going to try putting a reduced quality version on Vimeo and sending it to the couple that way for preview. It is good enough quality to check for spelling mistakes, audio mistakes, or any other glaring issues. The problem we have been having is that many couples are requesting very small changes to their films after receiving all of their copies, and even though it says within our contract that those changes (not counting errors) will be made at our current rate of pay for editing, it is very hard to tell a client that they have to pay more to get it the way they want it. I think that by giving them an online preview with reduced quality video (and limited quality audio), it still leaves a small surprise factor in the actual clarity of the image and the depth of the sound, as well as being able to see it on a big screen vs. a computer screen. When we put it up on Vimeo we are only going to put the feature film online, leaving out any highlight videos, trailers, or other special feature sections that are much more artistic in nature. When we send the couple this link, we will also send in the email a reminder of their contract which states that creative, artistic and stylistic edits will be charged our current editing rate. Hopefully this way we will have less nit-picking with changes and we will not have to burn a single blu-ray or dvd, or ship them, until the couple has approved their film.

I know this doesn't leave too much to the surprise factor, but I would rather have a couple tell me for sure that they like everything, rather then burn all of the copies, only to have them call up a few days later asking for a change. Though it is a small expense to redo the copies, it is an expense that will add up over time if done too much.

Let me know what you think of my idea. Thanks!
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Old April 12th, 2010, 11:32 PM   #6
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Review copy

Hi all,

Here's one way to think about it - if it was your own wedding DVD that was being produced by another company, would you want some say in what was included or not? And if the answer to that question is "yes of course" then is it a bit odd that you'd deny others the same right?

Couples pay good money for their wedding DVD so we feel they have a right to make sure they're happy with the end result, just as photographers give the couples the opportunity to have their input into the album design etc. It doesn't have to be a sign of weakness that you're consulting with them on the final product - I think it shows a sense of respect for the fact that they'll have personal preferences about certain shots or about some editing choices (eg use of music). Taking a "like it or lump it" approach may save some time and money, but surely you'll end up with some couples that just had to 'lump it' and who in the end weren't that happy with the result... and this means they're not going to go recommending you to anybody.

Our approach is to give a full review copy on DVD so the couples can approve every aspect of the disk, including menu design, chapter titles, cover design etc. It's on our contract with the couple that we allow for 2 hours of re-editing time for any changes they'd like - after that they pay on a per-hour basis. Since introducing this system, we've never had to re-edit a DVD for more than 2 hours (and as often as not, couples have no changes they want anyway).

It may also come down to how well you've prepared the couple for what they'll get at the end of the process - if they want a lot of changes, chances are they expected something other than what you typically make. We make sure couples watch excerpts from full wedding DVDs before they book us (whenever possible) so they already have a good idea of what their disk will be like. "Surprises" can be both good and bad - we prefer putting our efforts into making sure every couple goes away happy than trying to make sure we 'surprise' them with anything. (Though this might relate also to the fact that we shoot and edit in a documentary style).

Just my 2 Bob's worth.

Life in Motion
Melbourne, Australia
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Old April 13th, 2010, 12:08 AM   #7
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Hi Langdon,

You have a very good point. I think it is imperative that the couple have a say on the final thing. I do however understand where Chris is coming from, but then when you make sure that they can only have a limited edit time, then that solves the issue he had in the past.

It sure is a good idea. It might not work in some cases, as many people consider internet insecure and breach of privacy and all... I have yet to get a customer who agrees for me to use their video on the web. Perhaps a password protected area could work...

Thanks for your invaludable contribution to the thread. I hope more members could share their experiences and methods in this regard.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 03:41 AM   #8
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100% with Chris on this. Couldn't have said it better - exactly my policy.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 04:30 AM   #9
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I also agree 100% with Chris. Giving them a draft is looking for trouble. I just don't have the time for amendments.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 05:15 AM   #10
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Since they hired me as a professional to capture and edit their wedding and they did that generally based on the samples of my work that they have seen and in many cases a referral from some one else and after discussion with me either face to face or at the very least on the phone, then the client should be quite familair with the style of my work, while realizing that every event is different, but that there are certain similarities in my stlye that go from event to event.

Having said that, IMO there is no reason to give a "draft" or "approval" copy of the final edition. They hired me as a professional to do a job that they, in 99.9% of the cases, can not do and since this is not an editorial comment type job (movie, TV show, commerical, corporate video) I do not ask for nor do I allow for editorial comment from the client regarding how I should do my job. If I should make a mistake in spelling which does happen although rarely, as long as I'm made aware aware of it within a certain amount of time I will fix it for no charge but I will not under any circumstances do any type of content edting without being paid my normal fee to do so and I have been asked over the years. Take out 5 seconds of this person, can you take this person out, add some more of that person....it can drive you nuts and take lots and lots of time.
Everyone has their own business practices that work for them. If sending out a draft copy works for you great, if not, that's great also.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 05:23 AM   #11
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Thanks Guys

I was getting worried but as long as you are protected in your contract you don't need a draft!! Hameed, I use all my video on my video samples online page. Again my contract states I can use the video for promotional purposes.

I not in the least bit stubborn, BTW!! I have often done changes on DVD's at no charge!! If it's a reasonable request I'll happily do it (I had a client with the need to send copies to Ireland and the wedding party sang a song which apparently offends the Irish so they asked me to edit it out!!) Surely during the edit you will be looking for a nice smooth action flow and if you come across anything that may embarrass the couple you can edit it out!! I will also phone them if there is anything in the footage that needs their "OK" IMO the draft shouldn't be any different to the final copy!!

Like Howard, time is money and also handing over a draft might mean that you wait for weeks and weeks until they get around to contacting you..(my couples only pay me the final 1/3rd of the video price on delivery of the DVD's so that would also delay my payment too!!)

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Old April 13th, 2010, 06:34 AM   #12
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I don't give my clients a proof DVD, lesson learned the hard way years ago. It was for an 18th Birthday, celebrant broke up with her escort, she wanted him out of the picture. She does not like the font, etc, etc. The last thing I want is to holdup other clients because of revisions. I also had a Bride who wants to sit down during the edit ( I did not take the business). I am also protected by a contract that states I have overall creative control of the finished product and everything has been smooth sailing ever since.

I give them 7 days to check the video for spelling mistakes, after 7 days they have to wait in line to have them corrected.

My 2 cents.
Noel Lising
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Old April 13th, 2010, 10:04 AM   #13
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I didn't have time to read the whole thread, but here's our take on the issue.

DO NOT show couples a 'draft copy'. Showing a draft copy definitely taints the initial viewing experience, and it also encourages the couple to come up with changes. It's a mental thing. If you're showing them a draft then they will feel obligated (mentally) to look for things to change. We've NEVER shown a couple a draft and it's never been an issue.

Just make sure you're producing an edit that you know is going to blow them away, and then let them watch it and enjoy it. One other tip. I would recommend you let them take the DVD's with them and watch them for the first time at home. We have a very nice theater with a 10-foot screen and raised seating and an HD projector, and for a short time I thought it was a cool idea to have them watch their DVD for the first time in our studio theater. It never actually became an issue, but again, I could tell that some people were thinking of the event as more of a 'preview' of the DVD versus an actual viewing of the final product. You don't want that.

Just have them take the DVD's home and enjoy them in a completely relaxed and personal environment. You'll be glad you did.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 10:20 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Thanks Guys

I was getting worried but as long as you are protected in your contract you don't need a draft!! Hameed, I use all my video on my video samples online page. Again my contract states I can use the video for promotional purposes.
Thanks Chris. Would you mind sharing your contract? Don't feel obligated. Thanks

Thanks everyone for sharing your methods.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 10:51 AM   #15
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When I used to shoot weddings, the couple would get one copy of the final video to review. If all was fine (i.e. no spelling mistakes) then the additional copies, if requested, would be made.

As Don said, I did not allow editorial input. If the couple wanted changes beyond simple spelling mistakes they would pay for the editing time and go back into the work queue. However, in my years shooting weddings, no couple was anything other than thrilled with the final product. So my hard-line stance was never actually used on anyone.

Now that I'm doing 100% corporate work it's quite the opposite - pretty much everybody has editorial input on the product. But they pay more than weddings and the hours are better!
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