Introducing myself!

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    • #68979
      Avatarpixlbrain
      Participant

      Hey everybody! After reading a very interesting an informative thread on marketing, I decided to join the forum in the hopes of getting some advice from some of the vets here. 

      I have extensive experience working in post production. I spent the better part of the last 10 years working as the lead 3D artist at a local post house, where I also did a lot of compositing on spots for Ford, Microsoft, and other clients. 

      Just over a year ago, I left the company, and decided to go out on my own. Since then, I've done a lot of motion graphics spots for various companies, including VML, Extreme Reach, and others. 

      I've always been passionate about film and video, and in Feb, I was finally able to pick up a camera. Since then, I've slowly been building out a kit. 

      I've started writing my first film, and will be working on a short film in the upcoming months as visual effects supervisor. 

      Something that I've always struggled with, is figuring out where to find clients. I'm shooting lots of videos on my own, trying to build a cinematography reel.

      I know that marketing is key, and I'm willing to cold call people, but from past experience, it seems like a massive amount of work, with little chance of actual pay-off. 

      I have no budget for marketing, and in all honesty, have no budget for really anything. I'm curious what you guys think my options are? Any tips that could be provided would be most appreciated!

      Also, if there are any of you in the Seattle area, I'd love to pick your brain a bit. 

      Thanks in advance!!

      Brian

      Owner of Pixlbrain Digital

      Home

    • #208294
      AvatarDaniel Bruns
      Participant

      Hi Brian,

       

      I just watched your portfolio of work and I must say that I'm impressed! I am all too familiar with the sheer amount of hours that go into making excellent 3D models, textures, shaders, rigging, and animation. It's a tough, but rewarding job! I'm also quite impressed by your obvious skill in After Effects. Many of your titles were sleek, professional, and creative to say the least. Keep up the good work man!

       

      When it comes to getting video work, I've found that your best asset is the convenience of your location. In my opinion, most companies that want video work done are going to look local first, or pick a local company before reaching out to people who live outside of the community you're in – especially if you do a lot of filming. That being said, I'd think a good way to get jobs within your community is to get involved in the kind of groups where people who can make good productions and companies that want good productions get together. When I worked in South Dakota as a filmer and animator, the group I worked with were members of the American Advertising Federation. The AAF has a local, regional, and nation-wide competition for the best advertisements (including video ads). They also put together dinners where they have speakers from big corporations and from big advertising agencies pass on the wisdom that they have accumulated in their time in the advertising world. If you're interested, there's actually a club right in the Seattle area: http://www.aafseattle.com/.

       

      You could also become a member of the Small Business Administration or the Chamber of Commerce in Seattle to get more connected with the movers and shakers in the business industry in your area. If nothing else, being a member of these groups can give you some instant credibility with certain customers and businesses!

       

      Another route to try would be checking out online job boards for freelancers. There are many great sites out there such as Behance: http://www.behance.net/joblist, Elance: https://www.elance.com/, and especially for you, Motionographer: http://motionographer.com/jobs/, and Studio Daily: http://jobs.studiodaily.com/home/index.cfm?site_id=1947. With these kinds of websites, it's best to start out small (bid low), and work your way up once you gain a reputation on the site. However, having seen the strength of your current portfolio, I feel confident that you could ask for a fairly good rate right off of the bat. Once you've gotten a few bites due to your rate and quality of work, I would start charging clients more in the future until you're comfortable with the amount of bites you're getting for the price.

       

      Either way, just getting some kind of job is always better than nothing. You'd be surprised where a good video for even a small client can lead! Even in today's world, word of mouth certainly goes a long way!

       

      All the best,

       

      Dan

    • #208299
      Avatarpixlbrain
      Participant

      Awesome tips Daniel! Thanks!

       

      And thanks for the compliment regarding the work that I've done. There more stuff that I'm trying to get a release to post, most of which is more AE work (Web ads for Extreme Reach, and T-Mobile). 

       

      I've never managed to have any luck with any of the "freelancing" sites. The problem with them is that they are flooded with people and studios from india, who undercut everyone else, a give people a false sense of low value for what we do. It's infuriating to say the least. 

       

      I've never looked at behance, so I'll definitely check that out. I've heard of both Motionographer and Studio Daily before, but had no idea they had job boards, so I will definitely check those out. I'll also get myself registered with the AAF, and see where that goes. 

       

      I may not be the cheapest person in town, but I feel that my experience in this industry justifies my price for post work. I'd charge less for straight video work (shooting mostly) as I'm less experienced with that. I have most of my own gear that I've slowly been building up, but will likely have to rent some lights if I do manage to get a video gig (but that's not an issue). 

       

      I realize that in order to get some more video work, I need a cinematography reel, but I'm honestly at a loss for what types of things to shoot to build it up. Are there any suggestions you might have that require minimal to no crew to accomplish, but look fantastic? I've been building a list of reels to use as reference, which I would be happy to post. 

       

      I've had most of my clients come back for more work (as well as my clients clients approach me directly), so word is getting out, albiet a bit slower than I would like. What are some effective marketing techniques other than straight networking, that you have found that worked?

       

      I realize this is a lot of help to ask for, but I plan on sticking around these boards for quite a while, and will happily help coach people with the things I have learned in my experiences. 

       

      Thanks again for your time to answer my questions!

       

      Brian

       

       

    • #208307
      AvatarDaniel Bruns
      Participant

      Hey Brian,

       

      No problem man. You're honestly very talented at 3D work. I'm very serious about that. I've seen a lot of demo reels and worked with a lot of "professionals" in my day and have found that there are very few people who have the commitment and talent that it seems you have. The ones that do usually go on to work for broadcast stations, television networks, or fairly major films (or become a hidden gem in their community). You're good, and don't let anyone tell you that you're not worth a solid wage in this industry.

       

      With that said, I think the best help I can give you is with your cinematography reel. I just recently searched the interwebs for the best reels in order to make one of my own and can tell you what I learned in the process. Just like any of us, clients tend to appreciate the flashier shots in a cinematography reel even though they may not actually be the most challenging. By this I mean crane shots, dolly shots, stabilizer shots, and timelapses of beautiful nature scenery or of something in action. In a nutshell, they want your reel to look like it could have come straight out of a Hollywood movie. I can't tell you how many clients I've been able to get interested in my work solely off of a fairly simple timelapse shot that I've done. Even if I take the time to relate to them what made an outdoor shot of an actor so technically impressive, they still only seem to ask me about the timelapse and dolly shots that I've done. As such, I would focus on putting beautiful nature shots and timelapses in your reel.

       

      Hope that helps!

      Dan

    • #208308
      Avatarpixlbrain
      Participant

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Daniel!

       

      As far as timelapse stuff, how do you recommend I go about that? Motion slider with a remote shutter for the camera? Or are there other ways to go about it? Getting a nice slider would take care of most dolly shots, and getting a motion controller for it would be REALLY useful. 

       

      I planned on picking up a jib in the future, but need some more work to come in before I can afford to purchase one. Is there a length that you recommend I get? I was thinking an 8ft jib to start (there are a few that are quite affordable on amazon). Are there any jibs to stay away from in general? I don't want to spend a ton of money, but I don't want to buy garbage either. 

       

      I've beeng about building a crane as well. Might do that just to practice, and so that I would have something to start with, so I can spend the $250 on a stabilizer instead of a small jib. 

       

      Thanks again for taking the time to help me out!

       

      –Brian

       

       

    • #208336
      Avatarpixlbrain
      Participant

      Hey, here's a question….

       

      Does anybody have any experience working with the Varavon Sliders? I was eying the Konova, but have heard that the motor addon has lots of issues. 

       

      I really like the way the motors on the Varavon are set up, and it's roughly the same price as the Konova. Thoughts?

    • #208338
      AvatarDaniel Bruns
      Participant

      Hi pixlbrain,

       

      Just got back from a vacation in California.

       

      Motion slider dollies are definitely the way to go if you want to do some nice motion timelapse work. If you're looking for a regular slider dolly, I would recommend the Edelkrone SliderPLUS Medium doll: http://www.edelkrone.com/slider-plus. This dolly is amazing because it is only 15 inches long, yet it can travel 2 feet in distance which is about as much as anyone would typically need for a nice dolly move. In addition, the dolly is made of very lightweight material so it is easy to carry around. It debuted at NAB this year with some pretty high accolades. If you look at the video examples, the dolly also seems incredibly smooth which is absolutely essential for any slider dolly.

       

      As for motion timelapse dollies, I would recommend the dolly I use – the Dynamic Perception Stage One Motorized Bundle: http://www.dynamicperception.com/products/stage-one-complete-motorized-slider-bundle. It has 4 feet of dolly movement, a motion timelapse controller that lasts for hours and hours, a long-lasting battery, a timelapse cable that fits into your camera and the ability to expand your track if you need more distance. The website even has a number of helpful training videos to get you started. Overall, it's been a solid performer for the kind of documentary productions and nature cinematography that I do, so you may want to check it out.

       

      In addition, I've been rather impressed with the videos that have been made on Kessler's sliders and motion control systems. Though they're much more expensive than Dynamic Perception and are almost the same product, there are many Kessler fans out there who would vouch for the credibility of a Kessler Elektra Drive and Pocket Dolly system: http://www.kesslercrane.com/category-s/125.htm. I've used a Pocket Dolly before and there's no doubt in my mind that their build quality is excellent. They are also constantly innovating and improving their designs which is always a good sign in a company. If you have a little extra money, this may be the system for you.

       

      Unfortunately, I don't know much about the best and most efficient jib arms on the market today. I personally don't use a jib arm very often since slider dollies, timelapses, and Steadicams seem to be all the movement that I typically need. When it comes right down to it, hauling around a heavy peice of equipment for the possibility of one or two shots is not really worth it in my experience. However, if you have easy access to a location and an experienced crew, a jib can definitely be a nice addition to your shooting repertoire. As such, I would recommend something simple.

       

      I wouldn't pick up a jib of more than 8 feet since it will force you to carry a ton of weights to counterbalance the camera and the main arm (which will be tiring on your arms). Believe me, weights are never fun to carry around! Also, I would try to grab a jib that can easily be setup and broken down on the road like the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler ($599.99): http://www.kesslercrane.com/product-p/pocket_jib_traveler.htm. This jib arm can collapse down to 27 inches with a distance of 72 inches when fully extended making it easy to use for run and gun style shooting. You can even get a soft case for it for another $60. It might be worth checking out for you.

       

      I also like your idea of building one of your own. I've built a number of rigs back when I first started so, it's near and dear to my heart. However, it's not the easiest thing to do if you don't have a lot of building experience. Thankfully, there are plenty of websites out there with very detailed plans showing you how they are made. My favorite has always been the Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build book: http://www.amazon.com/Killer-Camera-Rigs-That-Build/dp/0240813375/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374533654&sr=1-1&keywords=killer+camera+rigs+that+you+can+build, however there are plenty of other designs that could honestly be even easier to make than that. A quick Google search will yield quite a few results!

       

      Thanks,

       

      Dan

    • #208339
      Avatarpixlbrain
      Participant

      Thanks for all the information Dan! I've been eying the Edelkrone slider for a while, but sadly, it's outside of my budget for the time being. I've heard really good things about the Varavon and Konova sliders, both of which are bearing based (I think I'm going to stay away from anything that's friction based), and a 39" varavon is $256 bucks, so I think I'll START with that. 

       

      I've been doing a lot of research on jibs, and I really think that I could build a decent one (between 4 and 8 feet) for relatively cheap. I could probably do most things with a slider, but there are times when a jib is irreplacable. 

       

      I probably should mention that I'm shooting on a NEX-5N (and loving it, btw). 

       

      I've heard good things about many of the cheaper "steadycam" rigs. Are there any particular models that you like? Obviously, the Merlin's and Glidecam's are the gold standard. I'm wondering if there are other models that are as smooth, but cost less money. I'm even contemplating building my own electronically stabilized gimbal rig, but it's still twice as much as some of these handheld systems. 

       

      Thanks again!

       

      Brian

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