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Got a call from a potential recording client.
Old 4th April 2017
  #1
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Got a call from a potential recording client.

I got a call from a potential recording client. They wanted me to do a recording, both audio a video, of a concert in a town 50 miles from here. I gave them our daily rate but they said they only wanted to pay for the time to do the actual recording and not for a whole day. They also asked if our price included PA and lighting and, of course, I said no. They said they did not understand why it would cost so much to do a "simple recording and video". At this point I never know what to say except that it is not so simple, that it involves traveling, I have a crew of three including myself, that it also involves post production and setup and tear down.

Are people so naive that they think that some one would travel over 100 mile RT, do a concert recording with audio and video and only charge for a 1.5 hour concert???

We get calls like this on a monthly basis. It is disheartening to say the least. Everyone has reason why they need this done and why we should do it for nothing or for a ridiculous amount of money. It seems like people have the idea that because you have the equipment and the expertise that you are just sitting on your hands waiting for them to call and want to donate your time and expertise for the "cause" or for the "greater good of mankind".

Are others seeing this phenomenon?

Just wondering.
Old 4th April 2017
  #2
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

https://youtu.be/eBPo0t69bi4

Sic semper imbecilli...

My standard response to the "why the daily charge, it's only an hour" thing is to make a counter-offer saying I can give them the single hour at their rate if they can live with doing the event in my spare time...in 15 minute increments on different days, subject to last minute re-scheduling for clients who pay the daily rate.

Last edited by Wyllys; 4th April 2017 at 02:10 PM..
Old 4th April 2017
  #3
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Maybe it's your willingness to disclose a 'daily rate' (or 'hourly rate') quite early in the discussion that unknowingly opens the "bargaining mode" in the customer. The instant response to a cost/time figure is how to minimize that rate to the lowest possible. It becomes a horse-trading exercise in very short order.

It's why we get fidgety and irritable when our taxicab gets caught in traffic...and our minds instantly gravitate to the alternate route(s) the driver should have taken....

Your dentist doesn't quote like this, nor does your plumber or electrician (if they do, it's based on a much smaller unit of time....interestingly of the order of 1.5 hours usually !) Maybe you quote hourly on the basis of open transparency and disclosure...but it sets up the wrong mindset in this type of customer.

Consider simply giving a single 'whole-job' figure, which encompasses all those components you've listed, and hint that you'll work with the client to reduce them somewhat if they baulk at the figure, but are generally well-disposed to go with you anyway. That's called gentlemanly wiggle room, and may see your crew getting fed at the venue, or overnight accom. thrown in, etc

You can later list all those components if they ask for a breakdown, and perhaps a total summary of hours before and after the event.

Just an alternate way of giving them the same information....and you could also invite them to seek competitive quotes and then come back to you later (although they've probably employed the same schtick with your competitors....)
Old 4th April 2017
  #4
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Maybe it's your willingness to disclose a 'daily rate' (or 'hourly rate') quite early in the discussion that unknowingly opens the "bargaining mode" in the customer. The instant response to a cost/time figure is how to minimize that rate to the lowest possible.
Nope, it's on the shopper, not the merchant. But I concede I won't give a quote before getting complete information on the project.
Old 4th April 2017
  #5
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Plush's Avatar
These kind of calls have always plagued recordists. I don't know why the customer sees the work as time limited to the concert itself. They are not really thinking are they?

This does not really make sense since they themselves do a lot of pre-concert planning, rehearsing, and logistics work with the venue.

I never quote an "all-in" price that might include, for example, recording, mixing, editing, post work. In the case described, a day rate or a half day rate is proper with mileage added on.

Then the mixing and editing is charged later as a separate expense.

If they cannot pay that rate, then the recordist should not do the job.
Tell them to find a grandfather with a hand held to do the work.
Old 4th April 2017
  #6
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Maybe it's your willingness to disclose a 'daily rate' (or 'hourly rate') quite early in the discussion that unknowingly opens the "bargaining mode" in the customer. The instant response to a cost/time figure is how to minimize that rate to the lowest possible. It becomes a horse-trading exercise in very short order.

It's why we get fidgety and irritable when our taxicab gets caught in traffic...and our minds instantly gravitate to the alternate route(s) the driver should have taken....

Your dentist doesn't quote like this, nor does your plumber or electrician (if they do, it's based on a much smaller unit of time....interestingly of the order of 1.5 hours usually !) Maybe you quote hourly on the basis of open transparency and disclosure...but it sets up the wrong mindset in this type of customer.

Consider simply giving a single 'whole-job' figure, which encompasses all those components you've listed, and hint that you'll work with the client to reduce them somewhat if they baulk at the figure, but are generally well-disposed to go with you anyway. That's called gentlemanly wiggle room, and may see your crew getting fed at the venue, or overnight accom. thrown in, etc

You can later list all those components if they ask for a breakdown, and perhaps a total summary of hours before and after the event.

Just an alternate way of giving them the same information....and you could also invite them to seek competitive quotes and then come back to you later (although they've probably employed the same schtick with your competitors....)
All valid points.

I usually invite the client to disclose what it is that they want. Then I give them my estimate of the cost. Traveling to a city 50 miles away, setting up, doing the concert recording, tearing down, driving back 50 miles to home base and then the loooooong post production process is something I need to get paid for. Clients seem to forget all the extra time and only want to concentrate on the 1.5 hour concert. I guess I could just give them our "daily rate" and say it is just for the concert.

We worked with some concert providers in the past who spent vast amounts of money on glossy programs, banners, promotional materials and putting up the guest artist in a luxury hotel but when it came to recording the concert they were nickle and dime'ing me to death." Well can't you just use this or maybe go with lower resolution files or does it really take three people for two cameras and the audio can't one person do both cameras and the audio all at the same time?" Penny wise and pound foolish is what my Dad would say. The concert is over in 1.5 hours the video and audio files last forever.

Maybe I see things differently since I have to provide the services.

FWIW
Old 4th April 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
The concert is over in 1.5 hours the video and audio files last forever.
FWIW
That is an excellent point, Tom! How much is a beautifully captured permanent record of a very transitory (hopefully wonderful) musical event worth? As the Master Card ads say, "Priceless".
Old 4th April 2017
  #8
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The buyer haggles over the price, saying, "It's worthless," then brags about getting a bargain! Proverbs 20:14 NLT
Old 4th April 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
They said they did not understand why it would cost so much to do a "simple recording and video".
Ask them if they understand why an aged filet mignon costs $60 but a quarter-pounder costs $3. If they don't, then invite them to whip out their iPhone and do it themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Are people so naive that they think that some one would travel over 100 mile RT, do a concert recording with audio and video and only charge for a 1.5 hour concert???
Yes.
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Old 4th April 2017
  #10
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I'm no any good at client education, esp when it will look to them like I'm trying to overcharge them. I just tell them that I don't think I'm a good fit for them, and that they should maybe find someone closer to home and cheaper. I have yet to find a client or potential client who understands my worth or the worth of someone like me who hasn't been righteously burned a few times by using people who didn't know what they were doing, were not prepared, had minimal commitment to the job and a not-great attitude to boot. Experience seems to be the only bonafide teacher of this subject. There is always wishful thinking that they will find the new "rough diamond"--the super-talented and knowledgeable kid who can make their cheap gear produce great results for pennies or to "build their reel". It happens, once in a long while, but that kid, having done well for a few clients on the cheap is then going to want to move up the economic food chain, so they'd have to get lucky again for next time. Nobody is that lucky.
Old 4th April 2017
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
All valid points.

I usually invite the client to disclose what it is that they want. Then I give them my estimate of the cost. Traveling to a city 50 miles away, setting up, doing the concert recording, tearing down, driving back 50 miles to home base and then the loooooong post production process is something I need to get paid for. Clients seem to forget all the extra time and only want to concentrate on the 1.5 hour concert. I guess I could just give them our "daily rate" and say it is just for the concert.
It may be that you're expecting too much in terms of the potential clients' ability to equate the time and effort you spend, with the results you're able to deliver. After all . . . "Traveling to a city 50 miles away, setting up, doing the concert recording, tearing down, driving back 50 miles to home base and then the loooooong post production process" is something that this person has never done themselves, and these are things that you're in the business of REMOVING from your clients' lists of worries. So it's a paradox to expect them to think about the job this way when discussing pricing - because if they could, they probably wouldn't need your services.

I usually start the discussion of pricing in the "statistical/historical" realm . . . that is, "here's the level of quality that my clients expect me to deliver, and for situations that are like yours, the total charges come out in the ballpark of xxxx the overwhelming majority of the time." The response is invariably an explanation from the potential client that their situation is different from everybody else's, and the differences correlate exactly with the factors that should make their project cost less. I can then use this to focus on the fact that we are of course transparent in our billing and show fully itemized charges . . . and explain that it indeed may be possible that their project is one of the ones that ends up being less than most others. I then reiterate that I'm merely disclosing what I've seen based on my experience . . . and that it wouldn't be forthright to present anything other than what I honestly think it will cost to deliver what they want.

This approach reassures the potential client against what is likely their biggest concern -- that what they will pay is in line with what everybody pays for such services. It also helps them to consider whether or not they want what they want you in terms of quality and experience, not merely in terms of price. Either they're fundamentally unreasonable and will never be a worthwhile client . . . or they're truly more of a Hyundai type of customer right now and simply find themselves at a BMW dealer. The latter frequently find their level of expectation changes in the future, and will appreciate being educated about what quality costs and who can deliver it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
We worked with some concert providers in the past who spent vast amounts of money on glossy programs, banners, promotional materials and putting up the guest artist in a luxury hotel but when it came to recording the concert they were nickle and dime'ing me to death." Well can't you just use this or maybe go with lower resolution files or does it really take three people for two cameras and the audio can't one person do both cameras and the audio all at the same time?" Penny wise and pound foolish is what my Dad would say. The concert is over in 1.5 hours the video and audio files last forever.

Maybe I see things differently since I have to provide the services.
I absolutely agree with you here . . . but (forgive me for being blunt) that stuff is the concert providers' business, not yours. I'm certain there are indeed shallow, superficial people in the world who don't have the attention span to see a concert's quality in any way other than the slickness of the promotional material . . . but I truly believe that most people aren't that way. Usually, it's that nobody has taken the time and effort to show them how much high-quality audio and production can improve the event, and communicate their work to a bigger audience. It of course costs money from the promoters' point of view, but it also requires patience and generosity of spirit from the production team, and we shouldn't lose sight of that.
Old 4th April 2017
  #12
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The discussion calls to mind a caricature of client mentality I have developed over the years: at one time you could buy a cheap camcorder that recorded directly to DVD. Producing a disc involved no more mechanics than pressing a red button to start, and pressing another ("MAKE DVD" ?) button to spit out a disc that Uncle Bob and Aunt Ethel could pop into their set top players.

The technology has advanced, but the mentalities I sometimes encounter have not: why can't I just show up, press a button, stand around for 1-2 hours, then hand over a disc or file, and charge for the 1-2 hours? Load-in, load-out, running mic cables, and driving dwarf production time. Post-production, especially if a project calls for video, swells my time by an order of magnitude.
Old 4th April 2017
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrReid View Post
The discussion calls to mind a caricature of client mentality I have developed over the years: at one time you could buy a cheap camcorder that recorded directly to DVD. Producing a disc involved no more mechanics than pressing a red button to start, and pressing another ("MAKE DVD" ?) button to spit out a disc that Uncle Bob and Aunt Ethel could pop into their set top players.

The technology has advanced, but the mentalities I sometimes encounter have not: why can't I just show up, press a button, stand around for 1-2 hours, then hand over a disc or file, and charge for the 1-2 hours? Load-in, load-out, running mic cables, and driving dwarf production time. Post-production, especially if a project calls for video, swells my time by an order of magnitude.

We worked with the same group for 22 years. Their director was always willing to talk about options and wanted to know how they could continue to get the best quality for the best price. She never intruded on our procedures or ways of doing things. It was a good working relationship. She retired but we continued to do the recordings. The new director thought she knew everything about everything and we started to have some friction. At one point she decided to do a concert with a short projection piece. The venue decided that the only place they could setup the video projector was where we normally setup. So we had to do a completely different setup and the director also turned out all the lights in the auditorium but still wanted us to video the choir. I doubt we had 15 foot candles in the auditorium. The cameras were good but not good for low light situations. The footage turned out very noisy. The director got upset and said we did not know what we were doing. Then she said "I can take excellent videos of my children playing in the back yard and YOU, as a professional, cannot take simple video of a children's choir and have it come out OK. That was the start of the end. She got very unreasonable even though I tried to explain that bright sunlight was much different from 15 foot candles that we had to work with. She said she knew better.

We soon parted company.

Unreasonable clients can be hard to work with. Even if one has the patience of Job they still can get under your skin. The ones that are the hardest to work with are the ones who want cheap rates and commercial TV quality.

Oh well I guess that goes with the territory.

FWIW
Old 4th April 2017
  #14
We have a flat rate for an event. We take what is needed and do a bang up job. They pay us or we don't do the work. We are not cheap. All of our business is repeat or by referral. Simple and hassle free.
Old 4th April 2017
  #15
I've offered various services over the years... recording, IT consulting, flight instruction, aircraft ferrying, firearms instruction, and the only model that's worked for me is to charge by the man-hour for the work being done. I only offer a "daily" charge for the travel to/from an airplane ferry job, and that's fixed at 6 hours of the pilot's time. Like an attorney, I log and bill for the time I spend working on the project, whether the "work" is recording, setting up, tearing down, mixing, or sitting and thinking about how to set up for a particular performance. With some projects I'll take on risk by forgoing payment up front for a piece of the action afterward. It's funny that when I offer that option how many people decide to just pay me up front.

And "tire-kickers" are the same no matter what service they buy - always trying to get the lowest price.
Old 4th April 2017
  #16
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ionian's Avatar
It does amaze me to an extent how little a client can actually know. I mean, when you do this day in and day out you may not realize how little some people know.

Somewhat related is that I had a girl who had made some music tracks at home with Garage band but wanted to track a few vocalists on her songs. She called me to record the vocals on her songs, haggled a bit over price but eventually I got her to pay explaining that she obviously saw the value in recording vocals professionally instead of using the built in mic in her laptop and garage band.

So she shows up for the session with the singers. I had gotten there earlier and prepared for the session. She's instantly impressed with the baffles, multiple mics set up for comparision, personal mixer for the headphones, the whole nine yards. What most of us would consider a standard recording session.

So I tell her that's why it costs money to do this and what did she expect? She tells me flat out, "Oh, I thought we'd just do it in a room somewhere and you'd hand the singer a microphone".
Old 4th April 2017
  #17
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bitman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
It does amaze me to an extent how little a client can actually know. I mean, when you do this day in and day out you may not realize how little some people know.

Somewhat related is that I had a girl who had made some music tracks at home with Garage band but wanted to track a few vocalists on her songs. She called me to record the vocals on her songs, haggled a bit over price but eventually I got her to pay explaining that she obviously saw the value in recording vocals professionally instead of using the built in mic in her laptop and garage band.

So she shows up for the session with the singers. I had gotten there earlier and prepared for the session. She's instantly impressed with the baffles, multiple mics set up for comparision, personal mixer for the headphones, the whole nine yards. What most of us would consider a standard recording session.

So I tell her that's why it costs money to do this and what did she expect? She tells me flat out, "Oh, I thought we'd just do it in a room somewhere and you'd hand the singer a microphone".
She must not watch too much TV or music videos. Where everyone has cans, u87 ,a pop filter and one hand on one earpiece with that big ooh look on the face. - Doesn't she wanna be a star?
Old 5th April 2017
  #18
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I will usually ask them what it is worth to them and try to find out how the end product will be used.

Often times I discover that they really want this to be used for an important goal or for some very personal and sentimental purpose. Once I know that, I simply say, so my years of experience and VERY reasonable rate are too much to guarantee that your project is done correctly? Then I usually follow it up with something like ...."well if you can get it cheaper and not done as well, then it must NOT be worth that much to you after all". Sometimes they hire me and sometimes they don't. BUT, I have had a few that called me to "fix" a crappy project that was done cheaper than my rate, at which point I give them a different and higher rate because..."it is going to be harder on me than if I had done it from the beginning".

May not be the strategy that works for you, but I can't stand haggling, so I simply try and minimize my exposure to it as much as possible. Years of working in retail made me hate haggling. You would be surprised what people will haggle about. For me, one of the last straws was when some dude got miffed that a can of veggies had a dent in it and he wanted it for less. Since then, I decide to simply walk away when somebody try's to get a "good deal".

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Old 5th April 2017
  #19
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by foamboy View Post

May not be the strategy that works for you, but I can't stand haggling, so I simply try and minimize my exposure to it as much as possible. Years of working in retail made me hate haggling. You would be surprised what people will haggle about. For me, one of the last straws was when some dude got miffed that a can of veggies had a dent in it and he wanted it for less. Since then, I decide to simply walk away when somebody try's to get a "good deal".

fb
Last week at a wedding I was playing, I was setting up my keyboard and the wedding planner is near me and we're talking about the bride and she lets it slip that the bride is difficult. I agree and told her that the bride had changed her wedding music every week for the past two months.

So the planner tells me that earlier that day she had overheard that when the bride and her mother stopped off to pick up the dress, apparently the bride had gone over the dress with a fine tooth comb until they found a defect - any defect - so that the mother could demand the dress for free. Ultimately she said that the woman who made the dress gave them a discount.

What a way to start your wedding day - trying to rip off someone who made your dress. It's amazing how shameless people can be.
Old 5th April 2017
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
Last week at a wedding I was playing, I was setting up my keyboard and the wedding planner is near me and we're talking about the bride and she lets it slip that the bride is difficult. I agree and told her that the bride had changed her wedding music every week for the past two months.

So the planner tells me that earlier that day she had overheard that when the bride and her mother stopped off to pick up the dress, apparently the bride had gone over the dress with a fine tooth comb until they found a defect - any defect - so that the mother could demand the dress for free. Ultimately she said that the woman who made the dress gave them a discount.

What a way to start your wedding day - trying to rip off someone who made your dress. It's amazing how shameless people can be.
Yeah, but see my point is this....if I were the dress designer I would have called the mother out. I would have said something to the affect...."so let me get this right, this is THE most IMPORTANT day in your daughters life and you are haggling over this minutiae?" I tell you what, why don't you go somewhere else and get a dress today, and I will see you in court!" THAT is how MY conversation would go. I get that so many industries operate on referrals, but who the hell wants a bunch of referrals who are probably JUST like the a$$hole that gave you the reference?

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Old 5th April 2017
  #21
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Just tell them to go try the cheap option - it's no skin off your back. Hang up the phone.

9/10 you get a call back along the lines of ......So we got somebody do do the job...but it wasn't what we wanted....any chance we could book you - you seem to know what you are talking about.

Hang up the phone.
Old 5th April 2017
  #22
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In the days of the garment trade there was the "inside man" and the "outside man." Inside man made the goods, outside man got them bought. RE's need an outside man. It is antithetical to most RE's to haggle and sell. It is just not our long suit. Give us the gear and we will, hopefully, make you a good recording. But an outside man deals with the cheapskate who beggar description. He gets the business for the inside man. BTW, inside man and outside man do not like each other very much. LOL Each figures the other guy really doesn't do much.
Old 5th April 2017
  #23
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Thread Starter
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies.

I think today part of the problem is the "let's record everything on our cell phones with the "100 megapixel sensors" and it will be fine for what we need" approach to concert recordings. I was at a wedding recently and I think everyone had out their cell phones/tablets recording the event. There was also a professional photographer and videographer shooting the event. I guess I remember the days when there was only the paid photographer chronicling the event. Now it seems that there are 100 or more people all doing their own recordings - so my question is why is the pro photographer and videographer even needed? The answer is of course that they KNOW what they are doing and are getting the shots that no one else is getting and it will make sense and be something to remember long after the cell phone videos have been erased or recorded over.

FWIW
Old 5th April 2017
  #24
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We actually have a great "demonstration reel" of potential end products (both video and audio) at our disposal...namely YouTube and Soundcloud, to name but two. It doesn't even have to be our material...although ours should be woven in there at some point, for comparison purposes.

If you spend a few hours researching these platforms for the kind of concerts/material you typically record, you'll doubtless come up with examples from right across the quality spectrum: from the 7th row, handheld-shaky single iPhone video with interjecting adjacent audience chat and distorted/mono audio...to multi-camera well lit, well edited concert videos (with pristine stereo sound). Most likely ours sit somewhere in the middle, depending on our equipment, crew, ambient lighting, permission to site cameras appropriately and so on.

It wouldn't take much to assemble a variety of 4 or 5 such videos, and show snips of these to potential clients. You could point out the compromises made in each, the crew size involved, the factors inside and outside your control at the concert which are gonna affect final outcome quality.

Somewhere in this 'showreel' of others and yours is ample room for the client to say what they're going to be happy with, what they might like if it were budget-no-object, and what they wouldn't accept under any circumstance. Similarly you can indicate which quality level you typically operate at, and below which you won't take on the job...for professional credibility and job-satisfaction reasons.

At least then you'd both be quickly on the same page as far as deliverable quality goes. The imponderables are the editing processes/post-production time required to deliver the slick result, as well as the likely unknown quality variables on the shoot night (eg lighting, camera positions)

This is all aimed at reducing the "known unknowns" and giving a better basis for the client understanding your pricing structure, based on tangible examples from the social sharing platforms
Old 5th April 2017
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies.

I think today part of the problem is the "let's record everything on our cell phones with the "100 megapixel sensors" and it will be fine for what we need" approach to concert recordings. I was at a wedding recently and I think everyone had out their cell phones/tablets recording the event. There was also a professional photographer and videographer shooting the event. I guess I remember the days when there was only the paid photographer chronicling the event. Now it seems that there are 100 or more people all doing their own recordings - so my question is why is the pro photographer and videographer even needed? The answer is of course that they KNOW what they are doing and are getting the shots that no one else is getting and it will make sense and be something to remember long after the cell phone videos have been erased or recorded over.

FWIW
It's a good comparison Tom...the Polaroid Land camera version vs the full fleged Nikon pro device ! However, what you haven't fully pursued is the valid right for both to exist simultaneously, and not get in each other's hair/turf.

The cell phone videos/photos are the modern equivalent 'good enough' Polaroid shots, which will be enjoyed by the guests..and might even be shared on social media sites (if only to prove that "I was there" !) The bride and groom might never get to see them, or perhaps only in passing at a barbeque a few months hence.

The pro-shot videos and photos are the 'keepers' for the bridal couple and family...and likewise these won't likely be shared with the friends/guests. This work is destined for the family albums, the work-desk 6x4 photo frames, etc

Both modes can co-exist, they are different quality levels, different projected lifespans, different sharing mechanisms....and different end-consumers.

The only problem arises at the wedding when the amateur photographer starts infringing on the limited time/camera locations of the paid professional...and either etiquette prevails, words are exchanged or a fist-fight ensues ! Sure the increasing quality of the cellphone videos means the quality gap is decreasing...but what remains is the expertise of the paid photographer/videographer.

You could argue that if every cellphone-toting guest shared their individual captures of the event to an uber-editor, the net result could be unprecedented 'coverage' ...exceeding that which a single pro (or even a small crew) could obtain. However, 50% or more of it would be shaky, chat-interrupted, mono, non-matched...so a nightmare to stitch together.

The 2 camps can co-exist, at least at weddings, neither threatens the other...and the end uses of both are served admirably !
Old 5th April 2017
  #26
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
We actually have a great "demonstration reel" of potential end products (both video and audio) at our disposal...namely YouTube and Soundcloud, to name but two. It doesn't even have to be our material...although ours should be woven in there at some point, for comparison purposes.

If you spend a few hours researching these platforms for the kind of concerts/material you typically record, you'll doubtless come up with examples from right across the quality spectrum: from the 7th row, handheld-shaky single iPhone video with interjecting adjacent audience chat and distorted/mono audio...to multi-camera well lit, well edited concert videos (with pristine stereo sound). Most likely ours sit somewhere in the middle, depending on our equipment, crew, ambient lighting, permission to site cameras appropriately and so on.

It wouldn't take much to assemble a variety of 4 or 5 such videos, and show snips of these to potential clients. You could point out the compromises made in each, the crew size involved, the factors inside and outside your control at the concert which are gonna affect final outcome quality.

Somewhere in this 'showreel' of others and yours is ample room for the client to say what they're going to be happy with, what they might like if it were budget-no-object, and what they wouldn't accept under any circumstance. Similarly you can indicate which quality level you typically operate at, and below which you won't take on the job...for professional credibility and job-satisfaction reasons.

At least then you'd both be quickly on the same page as far as deliverable quality goes. The imponderables are the editing processes/post-production time required to deliver the slick result, as well as the likely unknown quality variables on the shoot night (eg lighting, camera positions)

This is all aimed at reducing the "known unknowns" and giving a better basis for the client understanding your pricing structure, based on tangible examples from the social sharing platforms
A GREAT IDEA...THANKS!

I sometimes wonder where these people that are our potential clients get their ideas about how much something should cost and how good the production should be.

We had a potential client who directed me to a clip on YouTube and they said that is what they wanted in terms of quality. It was very well done concert recording from a European Broadcast network and was a "multicam well lit concert recording" with even a camera man in the back of the orchestra wrapped in a black cloth who was doing shots of the conductor. I said it was doable but wanted to know what they had in mind for a budget. The person who was asking for the estimate, who was sitting in my studio, looked at me and with a strait face said "well I assume no more the $250.00" and with a strait face I told him "I assume you mean per minute. His look was priceless.

"What do you mean per minute" was his reply and I said well for what you want it is going to be expensive and $250 a minutes come out to $15,000 per hour which is about what it will cost. Now, let talk about what is possible and what we can do for you.

I will never forget his look.

FWIW
Old 5th April 2017
  #27
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
"What do you mean per minute" was his reply and I said well for what you want it is going to be expensive and $250 a minutes come out to $15,000 per hour which is about what it will cost. Now, let talk about what is possible and what we can do for you.

I will never forget his look.

FWIW
You could anticipate this, and head it off at the pass, by simply outlining the up-front staffing/crew, travel, post-production hours etc. Then after delivering this list, you'd ask for their budget.

It would then become a simple, but painful, process of long division via calculator...whereby each 'component' gets hammered into the ground on a $/hour basis...and their initial estimate becomes the laughing stock that it is.

However, to be fair, I also think there's a general unawareness out there of how much good audio or video production does (or should) cost...and often the client doing the asking has been delegated the job by the fundraising wing of the local choir or orchestra...and you/we happen to be the first candidates on their enquiry list.

Even if we're no.2....and the first was high-school kid with ZoomH5 and friends with Panasonic handicams....it's sometimes a case of being gentle with them, in their complete inexperience (hence my YouTube suggestion above)
Old 5th April 2017
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
It's a good comparison Tom...the Polaroid Land camera version vs the full fleged Nikon pro device ! However, what you haven't fully pursued is the valid right for both to exist simultaneously, and not get in each other's hair/turf.

The cell phone videos/photos are the modern equivalent 'good enough' Polaroid shots, which will be enjoyed by the guests..and might even be shared on social media sites (if only to prove that "I was there" !) The bride and groom might never get to see them, or perhaps only in passing at a barbeque a few months hence.

The pro-shot videos and photos are the 'keepers' for the bridal couple and family...and likewise these won't likely be shared with the friends/guests. This work is destined for the family albums, the work-desk 6x4 photo frames, etc

Both modes can co-exist, they are different quality levels, different projected lifespans, different sharing mechanisms....and different end-consumers.

The only problem arises at the wedding when the amateur photographer starts infringing on the limited time/camera locations of the paid professional...and either etiquette prevails, words are exchanged or a fist-fight ensues ! Sure the increasing quality of the cellphone videos means the quality gap is decreasing...but what remains is the expertise of the paid photographer/videographer.

You could argue that if every cellphone-toting guest shared their individual captures of the event to an uber-editor, the net result could be unprecedented 'coverage' ...exceeding that which a single pro (or even a small crew) could obtain. However, 50% or more of it would be shaky, chat-interrupted, mono, non-matched...so a nightmare to stitch together.

The 2 camps can co-exist, at least at weddings, neither threatens the other...and the end uses of both are served admirably !
I agree with all you have written.

The problem is that it is very distracting to the bride a groom especially if, as in some instances , the cell phone photographer decides to "move in" for a close shot in the middle of the vows. Been there seen that. It is also hard for the pros to get the shots they need when there are 25 people standing around the bride and groom after the wedding all asking them to say "HI" when the pros are trying to get their shots. There has to be a better way.

At one wedding I was at the bride and groom told the "audience" that they would stay around after the pro photographer and videographer had taken their shots and then the "audience' could take their shots. The best man and the groomsmen were stationed around the bride and groom to ward off the people who just could not wait.

Just before we stopped doing the videos for one of our major clients the cell phone/tablet audience really got out of hand. They were taking pictures of the orchestra members from the front row, walking up to the stage, using flash photography and generally making it hard for the youth orchestra members to do their playing. I know every parent wants to get personal videos of their Johnny or Jill playing but it is distracting and wholly unprofessional.

FWIW...
Old 5th April 2017
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
.... The only problem ....
I know of a problem beyond that one... beyond believing, really....

I audio/video recorded a wedding last October, the whole nine yards at a ritzy resort. The bride danced with her father to a special arrangement they'd worked out with the slick jazz band, the guitar player sang a customized tune especially put together for the occasion. I charge two things-- a rate for capturing everything, and a per/minute rate for however much they'd like turned into a video... well...

They paid me the "capture" fee that evening....

.... and then....

After six months, I got ahold of them and told them I would usually at this point clear the cards, there being no activity on this project for SIX MONTHS...

I think they are not interested in the wedding video because maybe they both realized they made a big mistake? Is there some way to include in the contract they must be happy they did it? Hmmmm....
Old 5th April 2017
  #30
KEL
Lives for gear
 

Not knowing what kind of concert this was, and what was discussed for production values makes it difficult to assess how far out of line the potential client was in their reaction to price. Some clients can clearly & instantly know the difference between poor inexpensive promotional materials or an ill prepared show but then have pedestrian tastes about sound, lights or video. The cell phone reality show era has diluted quality to a point where acceptability levels have really fallen.

I also know some providers of video production to have very few options or pricing tiers and cannot do many jobs without their standard MO production. I understand both sides but a provider should have some simpler options with examples of what that might look & sound like. The most basic package should still be something you'd be proud to put your name on but perhaps nothing you'd show off in regards to fancy editing or multi angles. Being the professional, if you cannot imagine a simpler effective way to trim the production and price down then that's the starting tier...for you. And, that's a decision you have to make when quoting. I've done and seen more than a few one-man operations with a couple angles of lock off cameras and doing audio too. Many of the newer generation of lower cost 4K cameras can be operated via wifi, focus, wb, zooming start/stop. I find the option to push in on 4K footage a simple way to give a two camera(or camera op) feel. I'm quite impressed with the $800 Panasonic cameras these days.

I find it pretty easy to explain to people your investment in tools or that if the concert is 1.5 hours, you'll have to spend multiples of that while finishing it.

Still, you'll encounter clueless clients. In my days where I absolutely needed,and took every job so my car wasn't repossessed I had to put up with many. As I matured and rose up the food chain, it was a relief to say "sorry, my services and quality may be out of your budget" . There are still headaches but it's nice to see an extra zero or three on the check
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