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

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Old December 23rd, 2016, 06:58 AM   #1
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Selling Video Downloads

I have been filming School productions for a number of years at the same handful of schools, but this year I have noticed a marked reduction in the number of DVD orders for the first time. I have made a few enquiries and it seems that many of the parents are saying to the schools that they don't have a DVD player any more.

Given the fact that the download marketing of films has expanded rapidly, people are using DVD/bluray less and less. I was contemplating the idea of uploading the finished productions to an online facility that enables parents to purchase a download or viewing as they would with popular films. Does anybody here do that already and are subscriptions such as Vimeo Pro able to offer that facility? The other thing I wondered is whether it is possible to upload the videos to my own website and add some sort of pay for download facility.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Roger
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:26 AM   #2
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Hi Roger

I did a pay to download arrangement thru PayPal for my DIY tutorials for many years and they were very successful too. All people do is pay via PayPal and they are directed to an encrypted download link where they download the file to their computer. Sure it can be hacked by clever people by really who would want to hack a kids concert? I think you would be quite safe doing it that way but if you are concerned simply set up a payment site and once you get notification that you have been paid you can send the parent a download link. As with DVD's links can be copied or shared so you have to accept that ..If I download the concert from you so I can see my child performing I can easily share it with other parents if I want to so what I would be inclined to do would be to split content up into segments so parents can choose which scene to download that has their offspring in it.

Just another thought...my mate over East worked for a company that produced USB's on demand at the concert for each performance and people could physically buy them on the night.
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:34 AM   #3
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

At least copying DVDs required a little technical knowledge & simple measures could defeat casual copying but as soon as the video file is downloaded it's so easy for it to be copied onto a USB thumb drive & passed on to another parent.

The only relatively foolproof way of preventing copying is to do as the major studios do & sell through iTunes but Apple don't make this easy (or maybe even possible?) for the small scale operator.

The alternative is to reach an arrangement with the organisers of the dance recital or concert that the price of the video gets bundled in with the ticket price & everyone gets a copy. You can charge a lower amount per video knowing that the numbers will be higher.
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:51 AM   #4
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Hi Nigel

Of course once Mum and Dad get their download they can also easily share it with all the aunties that couldn't attend so one must expect a bit of piracy regardless. The nature of the event however wouldn't really be attractive to 6 billion hackers in the world so one could quite easily just ignore the "shares" which are likely to happen with either USB, downloads or DVD's ... Most payment processors will have the facility for an encrypted download link that expires once you have used it. Personally sharing cannot really be prevented regardless of the media.

Roger ..this is worth a read ...Selz host your downloads and have a secure checkout http://www.wpsuperstars.net/how-to-s...pal-wordpress/
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:58 AM   #5
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Vimeo has an "on demand" feature. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/startselling
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:58 AM   #6
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

I password protect the download school play/concert file with a customized shortened url using the surname of the individual who paid for the link. I figure they are less likely to share the file if their surname is the password.
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 09:16 AM   #7
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

I was thinking about this recently. I seem to revisit it each year.

My main concern with the download method is that theatrical performances can get long and large. Is someone going to want to download 6-10gb file?

The vimeo method solves the large download but there are issues of how long they have access and most people want to watch on a large screen tv and there's the $17/month is fine as long as it's generating enough sales.

The flash drives have issues of compatibility with tv, cost of 16gb media is around $5, packaging... but this actually seems like the better method.

Most of my clients are moms buying a video of their kid are they techy enough for these methods...
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 06:30 PM   #8
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Thanks guys for all the advice so far. One thing is clear from the advice and suggestions, which is that it is not a simple route to follow.

There appear to be a number of problems:-
1) Any downloaded files are easily copied
2) The performances are only occasional, but would require a subscription to host no matter how many sales were involved which may not make it financially viable.
3) The performances are free, so no chance of adding on to a ticket price.
4) Many performances are over an hour and most people may not want to download the size of file, or may not have a download speed that is fast enough for practical downloading of a big file.
5) With the DVDs at present, all sales are made by the school based on a minimum quantity for each performance bought from us as the production company. The minimum quantity covers our costs and makes a small profit, with extra copies given us a bigger return and a small profit from each one to the school. That would be difficult if not impossible to implement with a streaming or download system.

My conclusion so far is that the demise of the DVD could make marketing of small quantities of performance recordings extremely difficult in the absence of any cheap hard copy alternatives. USB drives are a possibility but are not attractive as a medium to parents, not always cross platform compatible and are easily lost. They are also much more expensive than blank DVDs and more difficult to package appropriately. They work for weddings because of the bigger overall return and small numbers allowing for attractive packaging, but for school play and recital type projects I can't see them being easily saleable at an affordable price.

Sale on the night is not possible, as we shoot with multiple cameras requiring editing. Live mixing is also not practical as it would require rehearsal attendances and familiarity with the script for precise camera directing and mixing cues. Something not possible with low production costs.

It does seem that the advances in technology and viewing practices means that small production viewing could be taking a step backwards unless a secure and affordable subscription viewing services becomes available for occasional small runs. This would need to be bundled in a way that the video producer could control, whilst giving full viewing and sales access figures to the stage producers to be able to set up a financial package that is open and clear.

Roger
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:18 PM   #9
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
My main concern with the download method is that theatrical performances can get long and large. Is someone going to want to download 6-10gb file?
There may be some aspect of this I'm missing. But Roger was talking about downloads as an alternative to DVD distribution which implies standard definition video to me. How long are these events? I can encode high quality Standard Definition H.264 files with a tool as simple as Handbrake at less than 1gb per hour - just did a 64 minute file this morning and it is 850MB. The quality is noticeably better than the disks I used to burn in DVD Studio Pro 5 years ago.

I also don't know what system you might be using to make your DVD's, but there are a bunch of readily available tools to rip them (again, Handbrake does this). So if somebody wants to duplicate and send to friends, doesn't seem like a physical disk is much of a barrier anymore.

With it being so much simpler to distibute online, couldn't you lower the price to the point where there's less incentive to copy them? And since it is easy to purchase online (with instant gratification), perhaps you could make it up with a higher volume of sales?
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:36 PM   #10
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Hi Roger

OK if you use Paypal it does cost you anything to setup (admittedly they take a % of payments but that's easy to cover) plus you can use your account over and over for shows, events or even wedding downloads

Anyone that can copy a downloaded file and put it on a DVD/USB for Aunt Mary can also do the same with your DVD. In fact if you give the school/organiser a bunch of DVD's to sell they can also copy it!!

It takes time to render a DVD, print it and post/deliver so you save that expense.

Most parents only want a record of their child/children so when we do a dance recital we create a clip for each segment (usually a song length) so unless the child is a superstar parents will more than likely want just a few clips that features their kids only. Doing that method on a DVD is impractical but offering performance clips are highly practical and you are looking at small downloads.

I guess if you are doing just one show a year you don't want to invest in anything extra anyway? Do you really have to edit? The last dance show we did the dance teacher complained that it wasn't all wide as she felt that we were being biased by showcasing some girls and no others. The next one was the stage width with no edits at all and she was delighted!!

I guess it's back to DVD's?? You could also offer parents (via the school) an optional USB at a fixed cost but it would mean you would have to render out to MPEG2 and MP4

Hope you find a practical solution for this but regardless have a Merry Christmas!!
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 08:42 PM   #11
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Boyd,
Oh I didn't think about distributing standard def online because dvd do that well enough, the customers are happy with it and the media is inexpensive and easy to author.

I was thinking only HD because its difficult to distribute. Given bluray is expensive, difficult to burn and author and doesn't have the adoption rate of dvd. This leaves either usb memory stick or online distribution as the only viable alternative.

Chris,
I do a couple of those types of dance recitals and that's an interesting approach although seems like it could introduce a lot of complexity managing the clips and pricing them. I sell a dvd with an index menu and chapters for each dance. That way I author one dvd and allow parents a way to easily navigate to their kid. So lets say there are 39 dances how are you pricing them?
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 11:19 PM   #12
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Hi Pete

Mine so far have been on DVD just like you with a comprehensive menu so mums can select the dances that apply to them. It is the easiest way. I purely mentioned that I rendered each clip I shot to it's own file and then assembled them onto DVD so for upload in MP4 they would be practical to download as each clip is only around 3 - 4 minutes ...however, as you say, if you charge say, $40 for a DVD is it worth selling individual dance sequences for only $1.00 (assuming there were 40) My last one was a 4 hour session with 2 hours for Juniors and 2 hours for seniors so there were, in fact 40 performances!!

Maybe DVD is the easiest route? Even an 8gb thumbdrive here is $4 - $5 compared to a DVD disk that costs 28 cents!!! add a case and printing and you still have very cheap media compared to USB!
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Old December 24th, 2016, 02:43 AM   #13
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Quote:
is it worth selling individual dance sequences for only $1.00 (assuming there were 40)
I would price individual downloads of one out of 40 performances much higher, like maybe $15.00 or $20.00 and then price all 40 for $40.00, in that way you would encourage people to go for the full package so they feel they get a better deal, asking $1.00 for individual downloads will only lead to sales so low you will have to forfeit on the following years performance as it will not be worth it.
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Old December 24th, 2016, 05:22 AM   #14
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

It might be easier if I explain better how we work at the moment.

Assuming an average show of 60 mins, they are performed by all the children in the particular year or years, typically about 60 children. They are either Christmas shows based on the nativity, or end of spring term shows which are simple plays. All the children appear several times in the shows, some as main players and some with smaller parts or in a chorus. The shows are continuous theatre style productions with dialogue, narrators etc, so it wouldn't be possible to break into sections with particular children and would also be incredibly time consuming. We cover eight of these shows each year.

The shows are shot with two manned cameras to follow the main actors and dialogue and two locked off cams on full stage and closer on centre stage, although we have just started filming in 4K to cut out the need for follow cams. The editing is basically a rolling mix, giving us the ability to pick out who is speaking which we couldn't do with a live mix. The timeline is rendered to MP4 which is very quick, then the DVD made from the mp4s, also very quick. Sleeves are produced from an archived template that we just drop a couple of stills into and change the name. It takes no more than 10 minute to complete and they are printed very quickly. Cases are slimline budget ones, so the cost of cases, blank DVDs and printing is less than 50p each.

The schools have a contract with us to receive a minimum quantity of DVDs at 10 each, which covers all our basic costs and time and makes a small profit. Any extra copies they get at 5 each and they sell all copies at 10 to the parents. This means that after the initial minimum quantity, all extra sales make the school 5 per copy, which they love, they also bring us an extra 4.50 per copy. Typically the schools sell 2-3 times the minimum number, so everybody is happy. We have no contact with the parents at all, so just film, edit and produce the DVDs. As the schools have no ability or time to make their own copies and also their contract makes it clear that we own the mechanical copyright, there would be no point trying to make copies themselves. Plus they make 5 anyway off of each extra one they sell. Parents pre order from the school and we make one bulk delivery, which reduces even further the chances of parents copying them as they like the original with sleeves and disk printing. At 10 each, they are also an attractive price at less than the cost of a school photo.

Hopefully that makes it clearer why I am struggling for an alternative method of supply that is as cheap, easy and reliable.

Roger
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Old December 24th, 2016, 06:52 AM   #15
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Re: Selling Video Downloads

Based on that Roger I would simply do as you always have done and supply the minimum quantity on DVD it seems the easiest way to go. You could of course also offer an alternative delivery on USB for extra orders at a suitable price.

Have a great Christmas!
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