First pay job and what I learned (long)!

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    • #42712
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      After shooting and editing video many times for many people (free) to gain experience, I was approached by a person who has seen some of my work and asked if I was interested in covering a kindergarten graduation for 40 children (pay). I thought "what a concept" and nervously accepted remembering reading all the posts about how tough it can be to do a good wedding video in a church.

      You see, I had two things about this that I had to accomplish. The first was making sure this special moment was captured for each child’s parents in a way that was enjoyable to watch (it will only happen once at 5 years old) and second, be able to do it in a church that turned out to have poor lighting. The outcome was well…good and "could have been better". I was running two cameras, my Panasonic PV-GS250 (secondary) and a borrowed Canon GL-2 from my employer with a Road Vid shotgun Mic (primary).

      The video content was good but the lighting stunk. The event was held at dusk so natural lighting was out. Their ceiling pot lights didn’t go bright enough (30 feet high) to really make a difference. I tried some bounce lighting off the ceiling with some portable work lights. My footage of each child walking up to the table and receiving their diploma and a flower was good because I used a soft box. In my opinion, all the other "action" footage I shot is less than stellar. I realize how important lighting is and some cameras work with it better than others.

      I’ll be correcting for that during editing but my question is for the professionals out there that do this for living. What do you have in your lighting arsenal to help you in this situation.

      I intend on honing my skills and building up my tools to someday do this as a second income.

      Thanks for any input and sorry for the long post

      Steve

    • #179024
      AvatarAnonymous
      Guest

      Sounds like you’ve experienced what you’ll see over and over again when covering events. In the future, I’d look at a few things:

      1. Ask the venue/church ahead of time what the lighting is like and if there is a way to increase the lighting at all.

      2. If there are no options for creating more house light, you have to think about the various types of shots you want to get for your final video. It was a good idea to put the soft box on the kids as they crossed the stage. You could have also put a 350w-500w light on the podium if seeing the speakers is important to the video. A nice, affordable lighting kit is the Lowel Elemental Kit. I ordered mine from BH Photo several years ago but I believe they still have the same or similar kits available. Regarding b-roll/cutaways, consider using a camera light (dimmable or put some diffusion on it so you can keep it low enough not to blind people but still have enough light to yield decent results.) In the 15+ years I’ve been a videographer, I’ve never heard of someone complaining about having a camera light during an event. Other pros my feel differently but I have always believed that a well-lit image always should outweigh the 10 seconds a person has to deal with a light shined at them.

      3. If shooting these types of events will be a regular occurrence for you, look into getting cameras that operate exceptionally well in low light conditions. I’m a bit out of touch as to exactly what models to pursue, but I do know that the higher the lux on the camera, the better they will perform in low light conditions.

      Good Luck!

    • #179025
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Congratulations.And thanks for sharing your experience.

    • #179026
      AvatarTomScratch
      Participant

      Hi,

      To clarify the lux thing, a higher lux rating is a lower number. A lux of 1 far outperforms a lux of 3 in low light.

      Really good low light/low lux number (i.e., high lux rating) camcorders that in my (not) humble opinion are superb in low light include my workhorses: Sony’s VX-2100 and PD-170 camcorders. These are Standard Definition cams (SD).

      Forget High Def (HD) in low light at the consumer level for the moment. Haven’t heard of a breakthrough on this yet. HD gives poor results in low light compared to high lux rating/low lux number SD cams. HD requires lots of light.

      The future starts now. Happy shooting.

      REGARDS … TOM 8)

    • #179027
      AvatarTomScratch
      Participant

      Hi,

      Post Script:
      Did a quickie search on lux ratings. Per specs on the B&H site, the GL-2 is rated 6. Couldn’t find the Pan PV GS-250, but the Pan PV GS-500 is rated 5. These specs mean that these cams are not great performers in low light and may well require lighting augmentation in these situations.

      Had you shot with a Sony VX-2100, it is possible that you would have been much happier, perhaps not ecstatic, but very satisfied with the unaugmented lighting in your shoot.

      Part of a preference for brightly lit scenes is a matter of taste and style. You can’t go wrong really with bright, but that is not the only choice. In film industry terms, Five Easy Pieces was a notable turning point towards acceptance of more natural light on the big screen. (Some would say what happened to the lights.) Today, Spike Lee is known for extreme overlighting of many scenes. (Haven’t seen his New Orleans doc, so don’t know if he changed his habit on this one.)

      There have been discussions by others on this forum of how chapels and their often warm atmospheric low lighting schemes can look great when shot with a high lux rated cam, such as the Sony VX-2100, with limited or even no lighting augmentation.

      Starting out in the business, it can be useful to try out different things as you develop your standard approch to shoots. I bought my first VX-2100 after renting a Sony VX-2000 and discovering what great results I could get in the main club where I do my band shoots, using only the available (funky) lights of the club. If you were able to get a hold of a VX-2100, you could maybe wander over to the church when it was quiet and give it a little test run.

      Happy shooting!

      REGARDS … TOM 8)

    • #179028
      AvatarAnonymous
      Guest

      Duh…brain fart. Thanks for setting us straight.

      Tom Scratch Wrote:

      Hi,

      To clarify the lux thing, a higher lux rating is a lower number. A lux of 1 far outperforms a lux of 3 in low light.

      Really good low light/low lux number (i.e., high lux rating) camcorders that in my (not) humble opinion are superb in low light include my workhorses: Sony’s VX-2100 and PD-170 camcorders. These are Standard Definition cams (SD).

      Forget High Def (HD) in low light at the consumer level for the moment. Haven’t heard of a breakthrough on this yet. HD gives poor results in low light compared to high lux rating/low lux number SD cams. HD requires lots of light.

      The future starts now. Happy shooting.

      REGARDS … TOM 8)

    • #179029
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Well…I’m putting the final touches on the product so I can have it proofed by the school folks for spelling etc. I sadly had to educate their legal department on copyright issues so they are now getting the correct licensing or permissions for the same music used at graduation so I can use it in the my work as well. There are orders for 40 copies of the graduation out of 43 families so I’m tickled.

      Thanks for the great advise and a VX-2100 is on my wish list. I refuse to part with my PV GS-250 because it does take nice video and works well as a second cam. It’s small size allows me to place the camera in interesting places to add some creativity to my shots.
      My next purchase will definitely be some decent portable lighting as well.

      Any more lighting tips or what you pros do for good event footage such as graduations? Ahhh…the memories!

      Steve

    • #179030
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      It’s finished! 25 minutes of memories will be in the hands of 40 parents in about a week. My intent was to not turn a profit yet but to at least make enough to cover my costs and gain some experience. That happened with a little left over.

      What have I learned?

      1) Don’t quit my day job…yet!
      2) I am a perfectionist. This is good and bad…
      3) Lighting, lighting lighting…
      4) Be prepared for anything. My softbox shots came out perfect but, I should have been better prepared for the rest.
      5) Use a camera better at low light situations. My borrowed GL-2 is a really good camera… with good lighting.
      6) When using the camera with #5’s faults, be careful how fast you pan a shot with any zooming at all; artifacting will occur. Honest…I really thought I was going slow enough! Fortunately, it was only on 2 shots of the kids on one small segment.
      7) The "rule of thumb" of 2-3 hours for each finished minute does not apply to me yet and may not for a while.
      8) It’s not real popular but I really like my Pure Motion EditStudio 5 software. Would something like the new release of NewTek Speed Edit help my production or do I go a little more mainstream like Vegas, Adobe Premier Pro CS3 or even Avid? I am not rich…
      9) Finding suitable music that won’t put yourself or clients in a legal issue can be a pain and expensive.
      10) Do a better job than the person who did it the year before.

      Thanks to everyone that gave me advise and comments.

    • #179031
      AvatarEndeavor
      Participant

      Hey Steve! Congrats on losing your "video virginity"! X-D j/k

      Sounds like you were pretty well prepared for your first time out. The more projects you do, the easier and faster it will be to be prepared. Keep it up!

      Adam

    • #179032
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      I am about to get into the field myself, so I find all of this helpful. I found the post interesting. I am getting in with an HD camera for these types of situations. In a way it’s more of a necessity. Most of the competition is HD. So low light, I am going to be battling that a lot. The camera that I am looking at is fairly high end, 37K HD Panasonic Camera, it was rated …
      This is their quote:

      The AJ-HPX2000 is a top performer in low and bright light conditions, with a high sensitivity of F11 at 2000 lux and a minimum illumination of 0.007 lux (at +74 dB gain). This P2 HD camcorder offers innovative recording functions such as hot-swap, loop and pre-recording (15 seconds), and immediate access to recorded video with clip thumbnail preview for shot marking, playback and in-camera editing.

      , so I thought I would see if someone else here has any other input on the rating that I just jotted down. I am familiar with all the other features it has, Lux is a new concept to me however. (I am used to dealing with everything in Fstops, ISO and shutter speeds.)

      Do you use any lighting augmentation at a wedding ceremony?

    • #179033
      AvatarEndeavor
      Participant

      perrin26 Wrote:

      I am getting in with an HD camera for these types of situations. In a way it’s more of a necessity. Most of the competition is HD.

      I would think again about that. If you look around, you will notice that many other videographers "offer" HD. Whether they actually do any weddings in HD is another story. Sure, you may find one or two but in actuality, HD is not in demand for wedding videos (there are, of course exceptions) as of right now.

      One mistake alot of businesses make (videographers or not) is to try to appeal to as many different perspective clients as possible to broaden their market. They offer promo videos, legal videos, corporate videos, wedding videos etc. etc. etc. This is usually a big mistake. A better marketing strategy is to focus on what you do well and do it as well as you can. Brides aren’t going to hire a "corporate video/legal video/whatever video" company to do a wedding. They want a wedding videographer. If you focus on getting brides to want to hire you for HD, you will find that you may turn off brides who may have wanted you just because they like you (or whatever other reason). By all means, offer HD just in case, but don’t try to base your marketing strategy on it and don’t assume that just because others offer it that brides are buying it. They aren’t.

      Just my 2.

    • #179034
      AvatarAnonymous
      Guest

      Everyone is NOT using HD at this time. Especially in the consumer video market (weddings, graduations, events, etc.)

      If you are about to invest in equipment, certainly get camera or cameras that can shoot HDV and SD so you can serve both markets. I’ve been in business for 7 years and we have yet to produce an HD video. We’ve had about 3 requests in two years but the client didn’t want to pay our rates so the projects died before I could even think about purchasing or renting an HD camera package.

      The switch to HD is inevitable but my best guess is that I’ll have a good 2 years in my market (Chattanooga, Tennessee) before I have to upgrade all my gear.

      Regarding your marketing strategy: Don’t promote your equipment, promote what makes YOU a good choice for the client. Whether it be wedding videos, legal, corporate, whatever. A few clients will shop for equipment, but most will put way more consideration into the personality, experience and credibility of the producer when making a hiring decision.

      Regarding what to promote: It’s okay to diversify your offering. In fact, I recommend it 100%. Just be careful how you brand yourself with each of the services you provide. For instance, you wouldn’t want a prospective corporate client to go to a website that heavily centers around your wedding video services and vice versa. Strongly consider setting up different websites for each core service (Don’t spread yourself too thin of course.) Endeavor’s advice on focusing on what you do well is right on. However, having a few services you provide well will help you make it through the down times when some industries simply aren’t doing well.

      Weddings are pretty strong April through October. The rest of the year is pretty weak. Plus, during the wedding season, unless you are extremely successful in booking most of the weekends, you’ll have a lot of time on your hands that you could use to produce other types of videos. Look at how some of the leaders in the industry are organizing themselves. What services do they offer? How are they promoting it?

      We don’t shoot wedding videos anymore but you’ll see on my website, http://www.fireeyeproductions.com that we offer a lot of different types of services within the corporate video market.

      Finally, marketing takes a long time to work. Go ahead and plan on implementing a marketing strategy as soon as possible so you’ll start seeing results in 6-12 months. That may seem like a long time to wait but when the leads start flowing in on a regular basis, you’ll be glad you committed to a marketing program. If you don’t start a marketing program now, the odds are good your pipeline will be bone dry in 6 months.

      Good luck!

      Kris

    • #179035
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      MindYourVideoBusiness Wrote:

      Everyone is NOT using HD at this time. Especially in the consumer video market (weddings, graduations, events, etc.)

      Kris

      Hi! Thanks for the reply, I appreciate the advice on that. It could be a demographics thing though, I live in the west, in an area that has lots of production companies tv stations etc. 80% of the business here is done in high definition. The heat of the HD crossover is evident if you walk in to a Costco, where they no longer sell or, very limitedly sell, anything that is not HD. I did check this out pretty heavily before making this decision, I checked all the videographer sites I could find, and looked around. It may still be a year or so away, but with TV’s all HD now, I think it’s going to be a rapid transition, probably faster than the one from VHS to DVD since the format is now familiar. Just my thoughts. The camera I am getting will have SD capabilities, it does both, and films in Pal and ntsc as well as speeds of 4?fps – 60fps. That aside, I am also considering to try to get some commercial and broadcast work. Maybe make some DVD’s for Tourism, and I wanted a camera that was versatile, that wouldn’t require an upgrade for several years.

      I agree about the websites, originally when I started researching all this nigh a year ago, I was concieving of an all encompassing advertisement, but I quickly realized as several others pointed out such as yourself, it would be better to seperate the sites depending on the field. Weddings, corperate, events, music video etc, each with it’s own page. I am desiging DVD advertisements surrounding each theme. It sounds like you have been around a while. What area’s other than wedding work well? Do video’s centering on tourism work? How would you approach video for corperate use?

      I hadn’t planned on centering my reputation on the equipment, I just want good equipment :). I have long experience in the computer end of things, editing, dvd production, visual effects, 3d, flash, website building, etc. I have done almost everything in creative computer media. I am very familiar with formats etc and used some cameras. I have a long history in the more practical side of photography. I had my own Photography lab with complete developing lab and even mixed my own chemicals etc for development. I am familiar with lighting and several other aspects as well. The HD camera is more of a new venture. I want to center on a high quality product, not high quality equpiment. Part of that though is having good equipment, especially with weddings and the lo light, and lack of control. I also like the ability to save time with some of the features the equipment has. Time I think will be my biggest enemy.

    • #179036
      AvatarEndeavor
      Participant

      Good points. You do have a point about offering different services but "hiding" them from public view. I don’t have a problem offering other services but alot of wedding videographers seem more like an "all purpose" videographer than a wedding videographer. Keep your branding separate. Take GM for example, nobody would buy a Cadillac made by Chevy because obviously Chevy doesn’t know how to make a luxury vehicle. They should leave that to the luxury specialists, Cadillac (even though they’re the same company). That’s really my point.

      By the way, I totally agree about the equipment thing. I don’t ever mention what equipment I have unless I am asked. If nice equipment is what they’re looking for (it’s not) they can rent it.

    • #179037
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Don’t mean to hijack the thread but are the canon XL2’s good at shooting in low light?

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