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

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Old January 26th, 2018, 11:58 AM   #1
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Dance Recital Video Distribution

My company records dozens of dance recitals each year. We currently distribute on DVD, charging each purchaser a flat fee of $25.

For the past few years I have felt that distributing with DVDs is not the best method (especially for the available quality of HD) and in fact, in the not too distant future, DVD distribution may become obsolete.

I am thinking about moving to online distribution but it seems there are some hurdles to overcome. The main hurdle in my mind being, keeping parents from sharing my work without paying for it.

Today I received a call from a potential new dance recital client. She approached me about on line distribution. She noted the her and her students would receive a better quality copy (HD) and that many people are no longer even using DVD players.

She also, to my surprise, said she would build in the cost of the download into the students dance package that they are already paying the school.

I thought that as an initial offer, to get my feet wet and hopefully work out the bugs, I would offer downloads for $1,000. She has one recital with about 60 numbers and 55 students in her studio. So basically every student would be paying about $20 to be able to download the video.

I think that if this works well, I will move the price per recital to $1,300. Some of my studios have two or three recitals. At $1100 - $1300 I would make about the same money as I would if I distributed DVDs.

I still have some small problems to work out with pricing, but I think with a little creativity, this may work for studios that are interested in offering a better quality product and the convenience of a digital file.

On the production end (which is more of my reason for sharing this info and getting opinions) I thought that I would upload each individual number to a Google drive folder and share the folder with anyone from the studio. They could then download every number or just the ones their child participated in.

The parents could also share the link with family and friends.

I would keep the folder online for six months.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this plan? What are the drawbacks? What am I missing?

Thanks to anyone that shares their thoughts!
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Old January 27th, 2018, 07:30 PM   #2
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Hi Tracy,
Im already trying to put it into place this year. I have 2 of my Principals that are on board and will be speaking to the other ones in the next week or so when everyone gets back after Christmas break.

IMHO it's the only way to move forward from DVDs.
HD and online delivery simply cannot work when you are paid per unit. Once that HD file is out there it will be duplicated many, many times. Its human nature to not pay for something you already have.
By paying for it up front in their fees, by the time the link is sent, the movie has no worth because its already been paid for.
No need for copy protection or moral dilemmas over whether to pay or not pay.

The hurdle will be all the old school people who have the DVDs lined up in the bookcase and still want to
be able to pick it up, look at the jacket, put it in the player...... and so on.
Our solution so far is to offer the physical DVD as an extra cost. This is untried though, will post back feedback same time next year after concert season.

Very interested if other people are already doing this and how they make it work.
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Old January 28th, 2018, 04:13 AM   #3
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

The key is to get paid in full before you place any downloadable link online, dvd's have always protected us from being robbed, sure there always where some tech savvy people who knew how to rip a dvd and burn and copy it but most, if not everyone, is not bothered to go through this process.

Digital files however don't have this barrier, if you don't build in some security like a limited amount of allowed downloads per link you will loose a lot on sales. Even if you can secure one allowed download per client they still might just upload it again to their google account and share the link or put it on a usb stick and pass it around.
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Old January 28th, 2018, 07:48 AM   #4
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

I don't record dance recitals, but have recorded several school productions per year such as end of term productions, nativities etc. These have always been supplied on DVD although for the last 12 months I have been looking at alternatives.

There are a number of things to think about, not least of which as Noa has said is security. You could as you suggested, charge a fixed amount to the school which would pass the buck to them as regards security of individual downloads. The problem I have found with many download models is that the client is going to have to rely on their download speed being sufficient for HD or above, which sadly in many places is still painfully slow. Also, if you have a limited availability time, they could lose their downloaded version and have no further access to it. With that type of footage it tends to have historic emotional interest which families want to keep. the traditional dvd allows that purchase to have substance and nothing else is coming along that is as universal and convenient.

For our wedding work I supply a USB HD version and have considered that for schools deliveries. It is more expensive than DVD but could be built into the pricing, but there are still sometimes replay compatibility problems from time to time. The world is moving towards streaming for the main delivery, but I do worry that for many that is more restricting, less personal and in some instances even a backwards step.

Roger
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Old January 28th, 2018, 03:14 PM   #5
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Are you OK with the download traffic. My server I use for audio downloads would charge me quite a bit extra for umpteen gig downloads for hundreds of people. I tried to estimate the bandwidth consumed to get an accurate price, but the price looks a bit tricky. Is distribution on memory sticks possible, but even so, that's not remotely the same as the cost of a DVD.
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Old January 28th, 2018, 08:36 PM   #6
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Roger and I were looking at using live streaming for schools as I use it exclusively for wedding shoots now. It's also pretty practical as a record only situation as you can edit live very easily.

Again the stumbling block was distribution. I pay our CDN $499 a year and get unlimited views and unlimited downloads so the costing is easier. However once you send a download link/code etc to a client they CAN share it with all their mates and that's where the issue lies. Our commercial clients don't really know each other and are unlikely to meet up or interact but with a dance school I would assume that the parents would meet and chat so sharing a link would be more likely!

USB is simply too pricy (8gb drives are already vanishing so you need a 16gb drive) ... and paying $15 per drive against 0.30cents for a DVD is again the issue. Clients often expect a physical product in their hands after they have parted with their money.

Surely one can code a download page or portal so a password can only be used once ?? That would solve the sharing with your mates problem! A solution would be awesome as, for now, I'm not doing these sort of gigs purely due to distribution hassles!!!
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Old January 28th, 2018, 11:23 PM   #7
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Not trying to be rude but I think a lot of you are trying to find a way to lock something down that is impossible to do.
A copy protected DVD is the closest thing we have to keep them from copying. Any way you give them a HD file is just begging to be passed around.

You/ we/ I, need to get paid at the point of capture. When nobody has those files except us.
They should be paying for a service in its entirety, not as a per unit purchase.
We should be the wholesalers, not the retailers. Leave that to the schools.

Maybe we need to leave enough room for the retailer ( the schools) to make some profit on top, then they would be more interested in being the middle man.
My 2c. :)
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Old January 29th, 2018, 01:45 AM   #8
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

When you sell your films on a usb stick that drives up the price considerably and it will only increase the chance op people starting to copy.
If you don't have to make dvd menu's, check the entire dvd for good operation, design your dvd and dvdbox templates, print, burn etc but instead just upload a film once it's ready you"ll be saving a lot of time, that should also translate into a cheaper price compared to what you asked for a dvd sale, only then people will be more inclined to pay, not if you keep prices the same because they will get the feeling you are ripping them off.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 05:03 AM   #9
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

I found for the Christmas just gone that we moved as many dvds to each school as we have ever done before which surprised me. I have also visited two potential wedding clients since Christmas who had 4k Sony tvs that just would not read our mp4s on USB. We've never had that problem with other makes, so they looked at a couple of dvds instead. Both couples remarked on how clear and sharp the videos were. I think that we sometimes get hung up on how good our HD and 4K footage actually looks, and forget that people are so used to seeing highly compressed TV that they are more interested in the content, so an upscaled DVD shot on modern cameras can still look pretty good.

With Schools, I find that they are very reluctant to commit to an up front cost that covers everything, particularly as they can't be sure how many copies they will sell and are usually on a tight budget. My solution has been to charge them a fixed price which covers my basic production time and includes a number of DVDs that they know they will sell and a half price charge for extra copies so that they can make a profit on them. All orders and sales are through the school and I never deal with parents. It has worked well for 10 years.

As regards USBs, I can purchase 16gb USB2 sticks for about 4 in the UK as against 15-20p for DVDs, but with usb there are no artwork and printing costs. USB3 will be quicker to copy but more expensive. For the time being I will be sticking with DVD for schools.

Roger
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Old January 29th, 2018, 07:31 AM   #10
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Just for interest Roger on our last recital we did DVD's .. all 400 of them which admittedly was time consuming but I also asked an independent friend to check out some image qualities for me ...I had a standard DVD - 720x576 and then a USB with the same program done in 1280x720 at 8mbps , 1920x1080 at both 8mbps and 16mbps but left them all unlabelled (Just called them clip 1 to clip 4) ...Results were quite varied with his comments and his wife having different choices!!

When we livestream we send the video to the CDN at a low 1280x720 and at a tiny 2.0mbps and people are overjoyed at the video they watch (both live and the DVR version) We tend to get way over critical about IQ and our clients don't and I have often had even brides tell me that their wedding is stunning .. when I ask if the DVD quality is OK they tell me "that is the DVD" "we haven't bothered with the USB yet as popping the DVD into a player is so much easier!" We also have 7" LCD players in a book and load the same video rendered at only 2mbps at 1280x720 and the image is stunning ... most people seem to use a phone nowdays now so I really wonder if a download is even necessary??? People just want to watch the video and the bitrate when played on a tiny phone can be pretty low!!!

I think it will be a while before we cannot use DVD as a distribution media.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 09:49 AM   #11
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Chris you are right of course, we are used to working with the latest tech and image quality and it easy to lose sight of what your ordinary Joe Public sees and expects.

Roger
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Old January 29th, 2018, 09:58 AM   #12
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Just as a follow up to my last post, I filmed a wedding last year where just before the ceremony I changed the main camera from 1080 HD to 4K so that I could crop in post. I didn't have time to change it back for the photo shoot afterwards so continued in 4k........or so I thought. Somehow in my haste to change before the ceremony and without my glasses on, I accidentally changed to 640x480. I was devastated when I came to edit it, even waking up at night concerned about the delivery. When I finally delivered, they remarked on how good the quality was and even put a great review on our Facebook page.

Just goes to show that what we see and what the client sees are not necessarily the same, thankfully!

Roger
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Old January 29th, 2018, 11:19 AM   #13
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
I accidentally changed to 640x480. I was devastated when I came to edit it, even waking up at night concerned about the delivery. When I finally delivered, they remarked on how good the quality was and even put a great review on our Facebook page.

Just goes to show that what we see and what the client sees are not necessarily the same, thankfully!
Roger
I used to burn DVD's on several spare laptops. I had a 60-disc order spread-out over 6 laptops. I mistakenly burned the wrong Cheerleading Competition onto 10 of the disks. I immediately sent an email to all 60 people asking them to view their DVD, and contact me for a replacement. Only 1 person contacted me. That means 9 people paid good money for a DVD, and stuck it in a drawer.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 12:17 PM   #14
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

At the last university I worked at, I changed from delivering standard DVDs to data DVDs with a 1280x720p mp4 on it. The reason being is that the HD looked better and it was more useful for the clients. They could shelf the DVD for archive and put the file on a USB to take to a class or on their onedrive to download and playback on location. If you use a dual layer disk you have the same space as an 8gb USB drive. Also I found that the DVD would play in many Blue Ray players. You wouldn't have menus but the player would see the file and give the option to play. It doesn't keep people from copying, but it's a possible option to deliver higher quality if a studio doesn't want to go the download route.
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Old January 30th, 2018, 09:37 AM   #15
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Pachiano View Post
..... I mistakenly burned the wrong Cheerleading Competition onto 10 of the disks. I immediately sent an email to all 60 people asking them to view their DVD, and contact me for a replacement. Only 1 person contacted me. That means 9 people paid good money for a DVD, and stuck it in a drawer.
Yeh right :- )
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