Starting Business -> Need Advice!

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    • #42816
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      I am in the beginning phases of opening a Video Production business. I figure I will being with wedding videos since the I should be able to book few regardless of my experience. After establishing a portfolio and having my card floating around the area, I plan on moving along and expanding to other areas of the business. I have been reading a lot but really am interested in what you all have to say. Here are my questions:

      a) Should I being renting equipment until I make enough $ to buy my own, or should I go in debt immediatly?

      b) What equipment is ESSENTIAL when beginning? (note: I am just starting, but I have no intentions of creating anything less than great).

      c) What is the best first step(s) in breaking into the local wedding video business in my area?

      Those are some of the more important questions I have right now. I am going to try and get as much experience with other companies by just helping out right now, but market research has dominated my interest. I also understand how important good picture quality is, but I do believe that having an eye for photography can go a long way. Not having the best camera won’t help my quest, but I do not believe that it will keep my company from creating good things. Thank you all!

    • #179335
      AvatarAlainstamour
      Participant

      Hi WazzuMan,

      I’m also in the early stages of launching an AV production company. I can’t make solid recommendations based on years of experience, but I can tell you how I’ve chosen to start and you can judge for yourself if you would like to proceed the same way.

      a) Maxing out my credit card, I bought my gear instead of renting it. There are a lot of benefits to owning your gear.

      === you are guaranteed to have your gear ‘in-stock’ – as opposed to having to wait until the gear returns

      === you will get to know your gear inside and out, which will allow you to exploit your gear and use it to its’ fullest potential – as opposed to the learning curve every time you use someone else’s, not necessarily knowing what its’ strengths and weaknesses are

      === if you get a great idea at 3 in the morning, you will have the luxury of firing up your camera and using it right away – as opposed to having to wait until the next business day where you are at the mercy of someone else’s availability, and where you are obligated to get somewhere to pick up your gear

      b) camera, camera case, tripod, lots of big batteries (get the longest life batteries you can afford) shotgun mic, basic editing computer and software / I believe that if you have a good eye for your subjects, composition, exposure etc, you can get by without having to use filters for your camera. And even though I STRONGLY recommend a good lighting kit, you can probably live without it for a while and learn to harness natural light and get crafty with lamps, candles, flashlights, even mirrors

      c) one suggestion: find hair salons and drop off your cards or sample DVDs – hair salons = where ladies (and sometimes men) get their ‘wedding hair’ done, this is a great place for word of mouth.

      Good luck.

      In Solidarity,

      Alain

      http://www.crazyredacesproductions.blogspot.com/

    • #179336
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Weddings are one of the more stressful video activities. There are no retakes and significant risk of failure. You should consider creating a limited liability company to protect your current and future personal assets, particularly if you are doing weddings.

      As far as equipment, make sure your video camera performs well in low light (such as the Sony VX 2100) and can use external microphone(s). You should also buy a decent external mike and probably one or two wireless mikes. If you’ve learned video editing on a PC, I would stick with that but I’m an Apple user and if you have no experience at all with video editing, you might want to consider Apple, even with its higher cost.

    • #179337
      AvatarVideoJeff
      Participant

      Weddings are generally the preferred way to enter the video production biz but they do offer their own challenges as well. I would be carefull in “maxing out your credit card”. You can go into huge debt while trying to make this work. Even though most of America likes to go into debt to get stuff they can’t afford and then get into trouble (a discussion for another day).

      I would work with some talented wedding video companies as well as some corporate video companies to get experience and see how they run they company. Offer your services on Craigslist.org or call these companies up directly. I know we are always looking to train people and give them experience in exchange for work. My advice…start off slow but learn fast. Don’t think you have to purchase every amazing piece of equipment you had your eye on (the newest HD camera). My first project after starting a small video company was for a car dealership. We didn’t own a camera (had to rent one) and used a cheap program to edit the tv commercial on (it cost $100). We eventually purchased several video cameras, mics, a crane, tripods, cases, computers, lighting, editing systems, etc. I would start small and maybe commit to saving the profit from the first 5 weddings and buy a camera. You can always use available sound at a wedding. I have a few Apple computers I edit with but started with a cheap desktop and $100 editing program and built it up from there. Generally you don’t need lighting for a wedding video, so don’t bother with that yet…you can always rent that.

      The most important thing is confidence while you get the experience. Always ask questions and don’t get cocky. Set up a budget for yourself and don’t be afraid to buy some materials (like this magazine or other e-books) that will help you build your knowledge. I am always looking for new ideas and I’ve been doing this for several year.

      Hope that helps.

      Check out my site for other helpful I deas. http://www.ImproveMyVideo.com

      Jeff

    • #179338
      Avatarbirdcat
      Participant

      Unless you are really better than most at shooting and editing, I would be careful going into the wedding video business in a big way before getting some experience under your belt. You’re playing with peoples lives here – If you screw up in a big way, you could wind up ruining what should be a happy day for a couple.

      Rather than start out on your own, I would second camera for an established videographer for a couple (and see how he edits them as well) before offering that myself as a paid for service (unless you’re planning on going the bargain basement route for like $300 for the whole thing – Then they’ll not have a leg to stand on if it’s not up to snuff).

    • #179339
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      I bought my first camera in May of 1998. That Sony Dig8 camera did about 20 weddings for me. I knew that I couldn’t begin to ask for much with a consumer camera but every one of my clients were happy with the quality of picture and sound. Yes, I wouldhave liked to have had a better camera but I’ve been able to impress myself and those who watch mywork with the SteadiCam Jr. more than anything else. I’m sure that if I got a professional looking camera that I would have impressed the clients with first impressions. But, there’s something about the creativeness of ashoestring budgets that makes me want to say “Haa” to those snooty elites and there $40,000 cameras that sit on a pan and tilt head that cost more than my entire production equipment stashed in my garage. Which by the way I have had the privilege of using and have found myself explaining that to my employer that, “HE WASTED ALOT OF MONEY THAT THIS HERE BOGAN CAN DO JUST AS WELL!!” Sorry for that outburst.

      Yeh, you will need to purchase wireless mics (I got one from B&H for less then $140).Invest in agood tripod (don’t settle for a cheap $100 one). More than likely this tripod will last you for the next 3 or 4 generation of cameras that you go through. If you decide to go with a consumer type camera look for ext. mic inputs and even LANC control options. Weddings often mean a lot of time off the tripod so consider a Steadicam or a Fig Rig. Anything that will set your creativeness apart from any other videographer out there is what you are looking for. I doubt that you will need fancy animations and special effect so your editing software can be very basic. You will want to layer video and audiotracks for lower thirds and possibly some split screen effects but mostly direct takes and cross dissolves will be what you need 95% of the time. (FCP Express will work, I use Sony Vegas and love it). DVD authoring is another animal but a necessary one. I use a printable DVD’s that I can get from Costco. With my HP 580 Printer I can create nice looking colored DVD faces. While were speaking of printers make sure you print some business cards.

      Good luck.

    • #179340
      AvatarSteveMann
      Participant

      I am in the beginning phases of opening a Video Production business. I figure I will being with wedding videos since the I should be able to book few regardless of my experience. After establishing a portfolio and having my card floating around the area, I plan on moving along and expanding to other areas of the business. I have been reading a lot but really am interested in what you all have to say.

      If you can – rent. The usery rates of credit cards is a suicidal spiral, regardless of the purpose.

      Where are you located? There’s likely to be a WEVA group in your area and the established videographers are always interested in using people like you for second camera.

    • #179341
      AvatarDamian Lloyd
      Participant

      Here’s a thought, un(in)formed enough that I can’t really call it advice. What about buying the stuff you can’t rent locally? In my area, I can easily rent a camera, but lighting instruments or professional-quality microphones are rare or unavailable.

      Typically you spend more time editing than shooting, so maybe it’s a good idea to plough your dough into a good NLE that you’ll own all the time, and rent a camera for the occasions when you’ve got a gig.

    • #179342
      AvatarAnonymous
      Guest

      Here’s a quick laundry list..

      HD Video Camera (everyone is going HD so this going to be the norm)

      Wireless Lapel Mic

      On Camera lighting

      Tripod (don’t buy a cheap one..)

      Computer for editing (if you are a PC, get a quad core or i7 processor with 8 GB Ram and 1 TB memory with a 512 MB Nvidia graphics card and a decent Monitor )

      Headphones

      Buy your equipment so it becomes your best friend..Also, readup /watchon how to shoot weddings/camera movements but only as reference guide, in the end you will have to find your own style..get some experience, respect those who have been in this business a long time..Remember this is an important film for the couple

      some of the projects we do arere-editing wedding movies shot by amateurs who right off the bat charges an arm and a leg for a pretty stale and boringwedding video..it ruins the business for everyone…Good luck

    • #179343
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      Read “Entry Level Video Business” and “What’s It Cost to Produce the Average Wedding” for some ideas, thoughts, tips and insights.

    • #179344
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      Wazzu,

      Before you jump into the biz you need to take some time to really plan out what your business plan and goals are. You say you figure you’ll go into it by shooting weddings, have you ever shot one before? Have you done any research on how to set up the shoot with your potential customers, plan the shoot, set up a minimum equipment list, set up a shot list, plan the actual shoot, what will your editing-delivery turnaround time be and how much to charge for your services? That’s a good deal of info to not be aware of.

      Birdcat and the others are correct, Wedding Video shoots are exceptionally stressful and screwing just one up can kill your reputation. If you can, intern or apprentice under someone currently in the wedding video business. You may find that you don’t like shooting weddings. I’ve shot a number of them as a photographer and videographer and I try to avoid them as much as possible. I applaud your excitement level, but your naivete’ will cause you tons of grief.

      I thoroughly recommend you research this as a business before you spend any money on gear or anything else! If you don’t have any experience shooting video at all, Anyone in the forums can attest that shooting a proper video to be sold commercially takes more than just picking up a camera and shooting. And for goodness sake please don’t jump on a gig just because someone wants ‘a student shooter’. That’s just code for they ‘don’t want to pay anything for the job’ and if you botch the job (cause at this stage you will), unless you’ve taken the time to learn what to do and make your mistakes when they won’t count as much.

    • #179345
      AvatarGrinner Hester
      Participant

      1. Staff for places until you gain your own client following.
      2. Freelance long enough to know you can afford an overhead.
      3. Build your business around the clientele asking you to. Finance nothing. Buy as ya go or just keep freelancing.

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