Friday, July 27, 2018

Production Hack: The Foam Washer

Okay, this is a simple hack, even dull by most standards, but it's the hack tool I use more than any other.  Because it's almost always attached some piece of gear, and it actually works.

I had connections that slip.  Turn. Droop.  Fall off.  Too many 1/4 inch screws don't have sufficiently sticky pads to keep things from slipping/twisting/spinning.  When I attach two pieces of equipment together, I want them to stick.  In place.  You know, like a locking washer would do.  But we don't have locking washers in photography, we have pads that harden and become smooth.  So here's a $7 solution.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hurricane Images Interview Demo

In the beginning I thought demo reels were a waste of time-- both as a producer and a viewer.  Showing just the best bits, there's so much more that determines whether a video is good-- story, editing, and performances.  As a photographer, I would post links to the top 20 images from a single wedding, so that couples could get a real sense of that to expect.

But lately I've decided that they do have some purpose.  Yes, there's showing your very best bits quickly and concisely, but more helpful I think is to show "boring" things in interesting ways. 

Unless your interested in the subject matter, interviews are pretty boring.  But they're also the centerpiece of many commercial videos and documentaries.  They're vital to Kickstarter/Indiegogo/MicroVentrues campaigns, tutorials, and company intros.  If you're a business owner, entrepreneur, or artists, you should be paying close attention to the quality of the interview technique.

We created our Interview Video Reel so that prospective clients could quickly see what our work, and learn a little bit about what makes an interview stand out from the technical standpoint.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Video Hack: smallest tripod, smallest light stand

Sometimes we work in cramped places.  Back when I discovered this hack, practically no one was using suction cups in photography/video production.  In fact, the one you see here was designed for glass workers.  It can grip up to 70 pounds.  It cost roughly $50.  I most recently used it in Hurricane Images Biomonitoring CA video.  Beware of the cheapo units, check the weight rating, and look for one with an indicator that shows when it's losing suction.  Mine has a red line on the pump.

New Visions

This blog (in its on-again, off-again manner) has been many things.  Four years ago, it started as a chronicle of 100 days of photographic learning.  It morphed into a journal of my process of becoming a professional photographer/videographer with its "Going Pro" series.  (We've reached our 1 year anniversary as a company, in what is still a work in progress.)  With a more active Hurricane Images blog, which focuses on posts designed to help potential business clients, this humble highlight of blown images has become more difficult to focus on, and bring into focus.

Moving forward into year 2 of Hurricane Images and year 4 of this blog, my intention is to have this be a place for photographers and videographers: a home for tips, reviews (though I try to buy as little equipment as possible), and techniques and approaches for both hobbyists and professionals.  Let's see if we can move our craft forward.

So here's to the new year.

Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Evaluate A Video Proposal

You’ve committed to making a video, estimated the cost of your production, and posted a request for proposals.  Within the hour a handful appear in your Inbox… the question is... how to choose?  You may like the videos that the company produces, but you still need to know the cost.  The numbers seem... squishy.

Unfortunately, there’s no standard format for production proposals; quotes can come in different forms and formats.  All of them have strengths and weaknesses, but some are riskier than others.  A good video proposal should give you either a precise cost or a specific range of costs based on preferences you control, as well as information that describes the video in a way that's consistent with your vision. 

There are three main types of production proposals:

The first is  a Rate Card.  Rate cards provide the hourly rate for an activity, sometimes with an estimate of how long the activity will take.  Unfortunately, they’re often a poor estimate of the final cost, and they present the greatest financial risk to the client.  Worse, they can signal that the production company doesn’t stand by the quality of their work.  Not only are time overruns frequent on every project, but edits and changes based on your feedback will come at a price.  However, there are times when a rate proposal is the best choice. If both you and the vendor agree that there will be a lot of back and forth on the project, than an hourly rate may be the most reasonable approach.

In most cases, though, I recommend one of the two other proposal types.  For the skinny on these, jump on over to our main blog at Hurricane Images Inc. and read our guide to evaluating proposals. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

What Does a Corporate Video Cost?

What's it going to be? A Yugo or a Lexus?
This is the most pressing question most companies have when it comes to producing a video.  Frustratingly, that question is roughly the same as:  "What's it going to be? A Yugo or a Lexus?"

That's probably an overly judgmental comparison.  In truth, though, the car buying comparison is one you hear a lot when it comes to the question of "how much will this video cost?"  A not-so-practical friend says, "I've saved some money-- what kind of car should I get?"  The answer, of course, is impossible without knowing how much money they've saved.  And what kind of car they want.  A $500 beater may be exactly what they need; or a $50,000 Tesla might be the only car that suffices.

Even though you can't answer that oh-so-common question, there are six factors that go into the cost of your video.  The most predictable of which is the cost of filming.

#1:  Filming

Your  filming costs depends on two things: the number of days and the size of the crew.  If the production elements are well planned or coordinated in advance by you—or the shoot only involves one person on camera—you may well get away with a single videographer setting the lights, recording audio, and doing the camera work.  For a mid-range production, a one-person shoot will cost between $125-$200 an hour, or $500-$1,000 a day.  This includes all of your equipment costs.  As the shoot becomes more complicated, more crew is added to organize the day.  Each crew member will range from $350/day to $700/day for a corporate video shoot.  A mistake companies sometimes make is trying to estimate the number of hours by the amount of time they anticipate filming.  Not only are the filming hour usually underestimated, but the cost of prep, travel, setup, and break-down are typically forgotten.  Most shoots will include not just the main subject, but 2-4 hours of B-roll as well.

But filming may not be the biggest cost you face when you hire a production company.  Read up on the other five factors on our company blog, Hurricane Images Inc. Blog, as well as tips and tricks for reducing your costs and getting the best deal possible.