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

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Old August 22nd, 2019, 10:20 PM   #76
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

I've always done minimum order amounts whereby the studio organises the orders. I've never had a problem. They know 6 months out how many students they have and how many they think will be needed based off previous years. There would have only been a handful of studios (generally first year studios) that don't know how many they can bring in and usually only have 20 or 30 students. In which case they generally get by with a parent videoing it until they have bigger numbers, or I make an arrangement where I just give them 1 USB with the edited concert and nothing fancy for a set fee.

I figure if the studio is 3 short of numbers, the extra margin they put on the DVDs covers themselves if they fall short anyway.

To be honest I don't see any other industry where someone can get a full on video production of their own business while not forking out a cent. You'd think they'd be ok with paying a couple hundred if they fall short, but nope!
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Old August 23rd, 2019, 11:12 PM   #77
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

Over the past decade I've tried taking orders/payment and mailing out the DVDs to the parents and I've tried having the studio take the orders and payment and then we deliver the DVDs to the studio/school them to distribute.
The latter is clearly the way I prefer.
One good client/studio sets up a table the night of event and takes orders. The DVDs are marked up $5 for them to pocket so they make about $500 so it's worth their effort. At their table they also sell shirts and whatever else they have.
About a week after the event the studio tells me the number of DVDs to make and I deliver them to the studio for payment and the studio gives them to the parents. It works out great. My contract is worded that the DVDs are produced for resell so the responsibility of tax is on them.

I've also had clients where they take the orders/payment but there is no markup and it didn't work out very well because there was no financial incentive for the studio.

If the studio owner does not prohibit audience photos and video during the event I'll see ~100 phone screens held up during the show and the orders will be few.

I agree we video companies are at a disadvantage because we can't shoot and edit the show in the best artistic way but rather showing everyone all the time. The parents only care about their own child and not the show usually. I make a cool intro video that is artistic though, showing tight shots so at least it starts off impressive and they can see what is possible.

If it's a first time client we set a minumum order and a price for each DVD beyond the minimum order.

We price the DVD according to the time and resources needed and also factor in the number expected t be sold. And as someone stated earlier in this thread it really is a great deal for the studio to have a video crew come with 2-5 cameras and mix the mics and music feed into a finished DVD with menu, full case with artwork and be out no expense themselves.

We've tried Blu-rays and USB drives and though I cringe crunching an HD and 4K source down to SD it just hasn't been worth it to offer all three. I hope to do more USB drives in the future.

While I very much enjoy making a professional keepsake for families I personally don't see this working out too much longer. While we have and can offer a product with production value way beyond what mom can do with her cell phone or dad with his camcorder - clean sound, multiple mics, good camera angles, etc...I think just a tight shaky closeup with lousy sound of their kid is what they want. Who cares about the other kids or the rest of the show. We just want to see Suzy. Why pay $20 or $40 for a DVD of the whole show when all we want is 7 minutes of just Suzy.


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Originally Posted by Gerald Webb View Post
Hi Micheal,
Off topic a little, but how do you guys deal with the double ups?
I have a few Saturdays and Sundays in early December where Im doing 3 in a day which is fine if they work out neatly like 10.30am then 2pm then 7.30pm starts and the traveling works. But what about when you have two a 100km apart at the same time?
Do you hire contractors or let them go?
I have enough gear and just try to make sure competent crew are at each show so we get all the shows shot right. Then I post them all.
I personally go over the details with the owners and check out the rehearsals the best I can. This can be tough since virtually everyone has their recitals on the very same day and often the same time(s)! Rehearsals usually aren't at the same time so I personally go check them out and do some testing. Then I try to make sure my crew are prepped to do it right. I make checklists for them and put someone in charge.

This has worked fine until this year when my crew in charge for whatever reason didn't do what I told them and shot the main camera way too wide and way under exposed causing me enormous problems in post trying to fix it. So in the future I plan on having a backup main camera to try to avoid this from happening again. It is really frustrating to pay someone (well) for rehearsal, explain everything, and they still don't do what you showed and told them!
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Old August 24th, 2019, 04:29 AM   #78
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

I find it difficult to find competent shooters. I’ve experienced the same thing over exposed, too wide, etc. I always shoot 2 cameras, the second acts a back up or a safety if they get out of the frame but most other shooters don’t own two cameras let alone matched. Most of my events don’t make enough to afford a second shooter or watching their rehearsal. If you know what you’re doing it not necessarily plus you’ve got the wide camera to go to in post if you get fooled.

As far as orders I’m unlucky most of my clients don’t want to have anything to do with it. For many the performance is the last time they’ll meet, the director rents studio space, parents don’t live near by or it’s a school production, director doesn’t want the hassle of distribution, or late orders any number of problems that come up.

To film enough events I also do plays and musicals. These by far are the most difficult to get enough orders. Usually It’s only 15-25 that’s roughly $400-600 gross to film and edit. I have to film 3-4 theater performances to equal one large dance studio.

The minimum orders I was talking about is when selling directly to the parents that the studio has to buy the short fall, which they can try to resell to make their money back. When filming non dance performances that would mean asking the director to eat the cost of the short fall... But like I said usually only reasonable recourse is to decline filming next year’s performances unless they agree to get parents to pre pay.

I find it’s a 3-4 day process if you have the energy to work continuously:
day 1 to film, day 2-3 to edit, encode, author, etc, day 4 produce, burn print, mail, upload, email and deposit checks

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; August 24th, 2019 at 05:07 AM.
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Old August 24th, 2019, 09:20 PM   #79
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

For me, the really small ones just don't bring in enough to pay for the amount of work and cost involved.
I'd love to have a bunch of good clients like the one I described but I don't.

I typically have an elevated camera angle that is responsible for keeping everyone in frame. I call this the main camera. This is at the rear and either in a booth, balcony or on a tall stand. Since this is a critical camera I often man this one. But if we have more than one show at the same time obviously I cannot be more than one place at a time.

I then have another camera up on the front row that gets a dramatically different perspective. Depending on the studio demands, this camera either gets medium and/or wide shots or a combination of tight, medium and wide. I mix this together with the main camera.

I then may have a catwalk camera or another angle off to the side manned or not depending on budget.
And also may have cameras rigged up above the stage for some cool views. These angles can't be used much and are a hassle to manage but I like them.

I also have a stage mic and have mics on each camera that I can use if necessary. And I tap into the sound system with an audio recorder.

All camera ops communicate on headsets.

I'm following this great thread hoping to maybe learn something to do better or different especially in the area of order taking and distribution :)

One thing I have been planning on doing is scaling down the operation to just one camera (main) and shooting in 4K and then crop zooming in for a tighter 2nd angle. This would allow me to do the event by myself and still have a 2 camera "look". The last 2 years I've been testing my new 4K cameras in preparation for this. Of course I mean one camera plus a backup right next to it just in case...
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Old August 26th, 2019, 07:43 PM   #80
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

I've been advertising dance recital videography on Facebook (targeting the East Coast) and we've gotten a decent amount of inquiries but have not yet booked any. It's only been 3 weeks so hopefully over time we will book a few. I really like the idea of using Facebook ads to advertise all across the East Coast so I was wondering if anyone knows of other events that can be filmed at essentially no cost to the client (DVD purchases by parents). I've seen online that high school graduations could potentially work, does anyone have experience shooting these for free and making money only off the DVD purchases? Any other events where this could work?
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Old August 28th, 2019, 05:39 PM   #81
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

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Originally Posted by Michael Silverman View Post
I've seen online that high school graduations could potentially work, does anyone have experience shooting these for free and making money only off the DVD purchases? Any other events where this could work?
I've had 4 daughters graduate high school. I have zero interest in a DVD of the event.
Our school district does contract out with a Media company to stream the event live to the web, and onto the video score board at the venue.

BTW, your are posting about an entirely different subject on the sixth page of a thread that is 18 months old. I'm curious as to why people don't just create a new thread with a new topic.
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Old August 28th, 2019, 06:21 PM   #82
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

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Originally Posted by Vince Pachiano View Post
I've had 4 daughters graduate high school. I have zero interest in a DVD of the event.
Our school district does contract out with a Media company to stream the event live to the web, and onto the video score board at the venue.

BTW, your are posting about an entirely different subject on the sixth page of a thread that is 18 months old. I'm curious as to why people don't just create a new thread with a new topic.
Sounds like I'm looking to make money sort of a deal.
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Old September 9th, 2019, 08:59 PM   #83
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Re: Dance Recital Video Distribution Revisited

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Originally Posted by David Banner View Post
I then have another camera up on the front row that gets a dramatically different perspective. Depending on the studio demands, this camera either gets medium and/or wide shots or a combination of tight, medium and wide. I mix this together with the main camera.
Hi David, I used to do this too. I got really interesting angles and nice close-ups of the dancers. But then it all got too hard trying to find a good spot down the front essentially "blocking" parents view that got front row in the center. I wanted to avoid the look of every other dance videographer doing 2 cameras at the back. I also ran into problems whereby this close-up camera would also get side stage action of the next lot of girls waiting to run onto stage and crew milling behind the curtains. Ultimately, I have moved into this direction with the occasional large dance studio getting a 3rd wide angle with a 16mm lens from the front which is unmanned. The parents don't seem to mind, and this way I still get good close-ups with my 70-200mm as well as a 2x extender if needed.

My fallback "main" camera is a GH4 which shoots 4k unlimited length. In Premiere I turn this into 2 shots - a full stage shot at 4K and a cropped in shot of 3/4s of the stage where most of the action may fall. On a 1080p timeline, this is still 1:1 scale soo there is no digital zooming.

This allows me to shoot by myself with 2+ cameras and being able to monitor both cameras at once. Audio monitoring is hit and miss depending on the location of the sound desk, but I use a Tascam DR-70 which can record a 2nd track at -10db so I have a backup recording incase of peaking.
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