Posts Tagged ‘production equipment’

Is It a Scam?

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I received an email a few days ago from an individual interested in purchasing a large quantity of videotape. I quickly scanned the email. It was odd, but I justĀ  assumed he made an honest mistake. After all, we are a video production company, not a supplier. I responded and recommended a reputable supplier that I have used several times before.

After sending the email, I looked at his original message and read it more carefully. The more I read, the more suspicious it sounded. First, he introduces the email by giving his name, but does not tell me who he works for and what position he holds. Second, he doesn’t seem to know whether I am a video production company or an equipment supplier. If he obtained my email address from my website, then he would easily see that Parc Entertainment is a video production company. Third, if he is a professional in the production industry (as he indicates both from the content of his email and his email address) then surely he would be aware of the production supply businesses that are out there. And finally, there’s something about the way the message reads that throws up a red flag. The grammar isn’t quite right and some words are misspelled. Here’s the original message I received:

GOOD DAY,
I Am …,I Want to Order The Product Bellow.

SONY DVCAM TAPE PDV184N …………………….

165UNITS

I Will Like You To Get Back To Me Now With The Total Cost Plus Sales Tax.I Will Forward My (Visa Card) or (Master Card) Details For Payment As Soon As You Email Me Quote..

If you don’t have the tapes or you are a video production store,Videographers or photgraphers and you have a supplier that you can help us place a special order overnight and we can offer $3 on each unit for service render fee and make payment upfront before you place the order.We want your store to help us order from any supplier you know because we are busy in our production film field.

Get Back To Me Soonest on email.

After sending my response, recommending a media supplier, I received this email…
Hi Clint,Thanks for your email.I want to know if you can help us place a special order for 165units of sony tapes and we will make payment upfront plus tax and give you extra $3 on each unit for service render fee.Pls render us the favour because we are kinda busy on a film location field.
This second message deepened my suspicions. First, in my experiences in production, I have never heard someone from the industry refer to the set as a “film location field.” More common expressions are “on set,” or “on location,” Second, why would someone in the production industry insist on paying extra to purchase video tape through a third-party? In my response to this email, I again recommended a supplier that I have used before and stressed the fact that he would save both time and money by going directly to this particular company to purchase tape. Here is the third message I received from him…
Clint,I know it will save me money but i will appreciate if you can get us the units through your company and we will keep you in our record for future business on video production contract.
In my final message, I politely thanked him for his willingness to keep my company in mind for future reference, but would be unable to help him with his request. I found it odd at how determined he was to purchase tapes through me, even after I mentioned how it would save him money by going to a supplier directly. I never heard back from him after that.

So, what is your verdict? Do you believe this to be a scam?

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The Numbers Game – Part One

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

budgetI talk with many prospective clients who express interest in producing a video for their business. When all the discussions are over it’s time to sit down, fill out my budget, and submit the proposal to my contact. The cost of a video production is affected by several factors and so the budgeting process must be thought out very carefully. Otherwise, it can be easy to overlook certain items.

I have created a spreadsheet that itemizes just about everything that one could possibly have on a shoot. Those items are divided into categories for easy reference (Creative Fees, Crew, Per Diems, Travel, Editing Fees, etc.) One column lists my estimated costs and another column lists my actual costs. That way, at the end of the shoot I can compare both columns to see how accurate my original estimate was.

The main thing to do when budgeting a video shoot is to prioritize. In part one of this two-part series, I want to cover what I believe are your top priorities when creating a budget. In part two, I will go over those items in the bid that can easily be overlooked. Here are my suggestions:

Estimate Your Time

Start with yourself. Think about the amount of time that you will spend on this video project. Obviously you want to include the amount of time in production , but you never want to neglect the time you invest in the pre-production and post-production stages. Pre-Production includes conceptualization and scripting, scheduling the shoot, meeting with the client, scouting, meeting with the talent, and meeting with your crew. You’ll spend more time in pre-production than you might think, so budget accordingly. Post-production not only includes the time to edit, but it also includes your time to record the voice-over, meet with the client to go over the edit and make necessary changes. I always like to pad my post-production budget to account for revisions the client might ask for.

Estimate For Your Crew

After you ensure that your time is reflected in the budget, you want to allocate monies for your crew. Surround yourself with quality people and the entire project will turn out much better. Think about how many people you will need and how many days you will need them.

  • If you aren’t as confident in your skills behind the camera, consider hiring a DP to handle the technical aspects of lighting, framing, etc.
  • If you aren’t as confident in your abilities to manage the project and handle all the logistics of a production, consider hiring a producer.
  • If you have on-camera talent, you might consider hiring a hair/make-up artist.

Aside from actual shooting days, will you need the crew to come in early for a tech scout? If so, make sure they are paid for their time. And don’t forget your post-production crew.

  • Will you need an assistant editor to help you with the final cut?
  • How about an audio engineer/mixer to record the voice-over?
  • Will you need to hire a graphic designer to create a custom disc label and DVD warp-around?
  • Will you need to hire a composer to write a custom music track?

Estimate Your Equipment

This is where you need to factor in the costs of any equipment rentals your shoot may require. Budgeting for a dolly or a camera jib will really increase the overall production quality of your video. In this category you also want to factor in the cost of your media:

  • tape stock or solid state media cards
  • hard drives
  • blank DVDs (for when you need to send your client copies of the video for review)

Check back in on Monday, August 10 for part two on how to create a video production budget.

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Preparing For a Video Shoot

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I’ve heard it said that video production is 75% furniture moving. There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Shooting on location can be a very intrusive process. There’s a lot of people, a lot of gear, and a lot of commotion. A lot of re-adjusting takes place while on location to make room for the camera, the lights, the crew, etc. Many times I will arrive on location to shoot a corporate video and my client can’t believe the amount of gear my crew and I have brought with us. If your company has hired a video production company to come out and profile your business, it’s important to know what to expect and how to prepare.

In previous articles I have gone over important tips for mapping out your entire production project and scheduling individual shooting days. In this article, I would like to give some advice on how to prepare your office before the production company arrives.

Coordinate

If you work for a large corporation, more than likely you will have to reserve areas of your office in advance. Talk to your office manager. Make sure he/she has the video shoot written on the calendar. Find out which rooms in the building are available and which are not. There have been moments when my crew and I spent valuable time just walking around with my contact trying to find available rooms in which to shoot.

Communicate

Make sure other employees in the office know about the shoot well in advance. Let them know what’s expected of them. Let them know which areas of the office the production company will be using. Make sure that everyone comes to work that particular day dressed appropriately. There have been days when my crew and I have arrived on location, only to discover that no one else other than my contact knew we were coming.

Think Aesthetically

When conducting employee interviews or client testimonials, a video production company will seek out those places in your office that look the best. Usually, a producer and/or director will scout your offices before the shoot, but budget constraints can sometimes prevent a tech scout. So that means it’s up to you to have areas in your office prepared before the production company arrives. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Look for areas in your office that have character and color. Conference rooms are usually bland and therefore not a great option for conducting on-camera interviews.
  2. If you have to use a room without much color, can you bring items in from other areas in your office to dress up the set? Artwork, plants, pictures, books? Look for anything that can support the look and the subject matter of your video.
  3. Remove any unwanted posters, etc. from the room. Look out for anything in the background that advertises someone else’s brand.

Think Spatially

As mentioned previously, video production can be intrusive. The crew will need furniture and other items moved in order to make room for equipment. Find those areas in your office that provide the most space in which to work. Find out what furniture can and cannot be moved. Also, make note of the most convenient elevators, service ramps, loading docks, etc. to help the crew maintain efficiency as they move in and out of the office.

The most important part of the video production process happens well before the camera starts rolling. A well executed pre-production ensures a more enjoyable and efficient production experience for all involved.

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