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Stab

The problem of sharing knowledge about camera's and editing.

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the topic brings up interesting conversation.  IMO the only real damage to the industry is that since there are so many desperate new people coming in with just enough knowledge to appear professional, trying to break through they end up giving off the appearance of knowing what they're doing, and offer a very low rate (or usually free) and take the work from the bread and butter sector. (stuff like a promo video for a new independent company).  

 

We got undercut this summer on a job that we were doing for cheap as it is.  we had 3 men on the ground with cameras, they had 8.  all not being paid, all with vague understanding but with very little artistic flare.  I think they thought they could produce something better than us due to having a bunch of expensive Canon L lenses and squeeky clean 5dmk3's.  Turned out their piece was rubbish and it never even got used.  Imagine what would have happened if I had been binned due to the saving the client could see from taking on the other guys.  me and my guys would have been out of pocket, the client would have a lower quality video documentation, and the guys who shot for free have lost money due to their expenses not even being covered.   I imagine this happens regularly!

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You can spend years buying gear trying to master your skills but unless your good at the biz & people skills, it will be tough to make a decent living.

 

This more or less sums up the whole topic. The kind of grumpy old school way of thinking presented in the OP (in case it really was made sincerely rather than in troll mode) is not likely to be the key to success in today's world. 

 

I don't think the video biz is much different from the photography biz in the sense that the gear and knowing how to use it is just a small part of the whole equation. I also believe that the stats are very similar as they are in most other businesses. According to which in the US alone, for example, 50 per cent of the new enterprises go out of business within the first two or three years, and after the the first seven years, the number rises all the way to 90%. 

 

The reasons for the failing businesses have been studied and listed, too, and the gear, along with knowing how to use it, apparently don't make it even into the top 10 list of reasons. One of the key reasons is indeed incompetence, but not that much technical incompetence, but business and social incompetence.

 

 

We got undercut this summer on a job that we were doing for cheap as it is.  

 

So in other words, no real damage happened, and someone kinda did you a favour, didn't s/he.

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The reasons for the failing....business and social incompetence.

 

This. x5.

 

My wife did media production once for a business/social group of women starting out in entrepreneurship, and dealing with the earnest but wholly misguided people in that circle was beyond ridiculous.

 

We still do a lot of work for small business, and you can tell in 10 minutes which folks can actually do their job and which folks are on their way to failure.

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LOL.. kudos to you Stab for being so candid, I've certainly worked with people that seemed to have that same philosophy, especially back in the analog days. In the end though, you don't need to worry about keeping secrets or trying to use a technical advantage to get work, there is no substitute for experience and talent. It's good karma to share what you know, some of the people you help will be clients some day, and there will come a time when you yourself will need help from someone. 

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Stab, the same is for music: people buy a 50$ mic, a 200 $ PC, download an unstable, cracked version of a recording software and start to call themselves "mixing engineer", "producer" or "artist".

But I'm not minimally worried about them: as a long time musician with more then 10 years in recording (first as musician, then as recording engineer) I just think that they have a different "target" from mine. Let them have fun! Let them have some cash for their holidays!

I mean, come on... I'm not Quincy Jones or Chris Lord Alge (neither Tony Maserati), I have a lot to LEARN FROM other people, but I have some dozens album recorded and mixed for national and international labels, so why would I care about some bedroom warriors? 
I'm sure that some of them, if persist, in some years will be stellar artists and possibly will produce some great music I will enjoy...

But they are not stealing my clients, even if I help them with some advice about a compressor that make the same work of an 1176 for 1/3 the price... 

It's not the gear, it's years and years of experience (and talent!) that make the differences! 
Trust yourself, work hard, be curious and share your experience with people that love your same things: this is the life, you will be happier! All other things are a waste of time.

 

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You must have very low confidence in your own ability to come out with this stuff.

My clients don't come to me because of my secret tools. They come to me because I put much emphasis into the ideas and for my very stylised, visual style. They come to me for MY vision and how I apply that vision. My tool selection is just an ingredient of that vision.

People who work with me share information, talk to each other, borrow stuff, debate, exchange skills, ask for advice - because we are collaborators who have strengths and weaknesses, and we help each other to make better stuff. This is simple, basic networking - you never know who you will need in future!

I have no issues writing a blog post telling the whole wide world of amateurs and professionals about my entire music video production structure - from style to logistics. I'll be happy sharing because they will never have the same vision as me, and most importantly they may have something to share too which I can learn from and apply.

The secret sauce is your very self. Your ideas, your style, your personality, your skill, your results - it is this that clients buy. Have confidence in this and what everyone else is doing doesn't matter.

If nobody shared, nobody cared ;)

100% agree with you!

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My first hire in the media bizness (so long ago I still had baby fat hanging off me) involved working with a local hometown idiot that had purchased his way into the profession.  Back then, that was the key that unlocked the gate to such a career.

 

So, he had a 6 figure investment in all this prosumer gear and couldn't do anything worthwhile with any of it other than show up and turn it on.  Nothing creative happening at all.

 

Funny thing was, he was very protective of his so called abilities and guarded his imaginary secrets of production like they were some sort of invaluable patent to success.  I just remember thinking, "Um...no Larry, a star wipe isn't anything special."

 

I quit later that week.  Man, he was ticked-off when I walked out on him!  One of the better decisions I made in my career, even though he made me feel like I was two inches tall on the way out the door.

 

Point is, you succeed in a collaborative business by, you know, collaborating.  Especially with people better than you.  If you don't, you won't.

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It's not just talent and ability, but professionalism that goes a long way to building and maintaining business relationships. Being on time, being polite, calm under pressure, attentive to deadlines are all things you won't be able to buy with the latest lens or steadycam. 

 

I'm sure there are talented folks who never make it due to their attitude and way of conducting business. 

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Look Stab you are exactly the person that you are worried about.  

 

I don’t post much on the internet but this idea is so misguided I had to come out and say something.

 

I’ve been in the business for 14 years now and I thought that with FCP v2 and miniDV as a tape format the industry would explode within 2 years and belatedly it has, but not how I expected it to.  It was DSLR’s that really changed the game.  No one is transferring film to miniDV so they can cut film jobs in FCP, people are now shooting with digital negative!  The Blackmagic cameras are absolutely amazing because they are giving people digital negative for less than what we used to pay per hour to grade film negative.  

 

We used to pay $1,400 an hour to grade negative in a DaVinci suite but now resolve is free.  The burden is on operators and artists to add the value.  Now that everyone is shooting digital negative we have added a grading suite to our post house and we bill ‘only’ $1,000 and hour to grade jobs.  We have one of Australia’s most sought after colourist in our employment and they are busy, even at $1,000 an hour.  Any director or DOP can now grade their own jobs in the same software we use (for free I might add, you don’t really need the desk) but the top end directors and DOP’s understand the value a professional colourist brings to the job.  Our colourist’s are happy to share their tips and tricks with me, an editor, but also our assistants or anyone that wants to know because their unique skill and mastery of their craft will keep them in demand even if I were to leave and offer grading at half the price.     

 

A lot on people new to the industry find the Blackmagic raw footage difficult to deal with because that have never graded actual negative or dealt with a digital negative work flow.  Everyone just chucks on a LUT and called it a day while a real colourist can dial in any look you want, live, with clients in the room and match the look between all the shots.  Experience is where the values is and everyone I know shares their experiences.    

 

Some of the advice offered on the web is incorrect or misguided but its amazing what someone like Shane Hurlbut shares for nothing.  I’m sure his paid subscription is amazing but you can lean pure gold from him for free.

 

A influx of “new kids†to the business offering services at a significant discount to us is going to erode our profitability.  They/You (Stab) already have.  As richg101 said a lot of these people do a shocking job and won’t get rehired but we still suffer because clients demand we cut our rates to compete.  Sure we’re delivering jobs shot on Alexa with Cooke S5’s professionally graded from the camera RAW, at a quality that is the same as when we worked with 35mm, but something shot on a 5D roughly graded from the h.264 looks 90% as good (sometimes 99.9%).  Most clients can’t tell the difference and don’t want to pay the difference.   

 

I’m not complaining, in fact this has been great for me on personal level because I’ve been able to get my personal projects up to the same quality as my professional ones.  Professionally I’ve never been busier.  Sure budgets are dropping but there is more work than ever before, with the web there is a much higher demand for video content at every level.  I’m always going to share all of my secrets because we all learn together, I’ve learnt a lot about DSLR’s and the like from the people on this site (respect ANDY LEE) and I really appreciate it.  I’ve just started my own blog to share my knowledge with people other than my assistants and to help me solidify the lessons I’ve learnt from my professional experience.  

 

People I’ve worked with and helped are now all over the world working in different parts of the business.  I helped an friend get his head around the basics of shake and now he’s VFX artist at D-Neg having worked on the latest Avengers movie.  An ex-assistant is the post supervisor for a company that cuts both movies and TV series work, she’s a good friend and back in the day I helped her and I know she’d do the same for me if I so required.  This business is all about the connections you make because you really never know where the next job will come from.  If you turtle up and withhold knowledge why should anyone share their knowledge with you, or hep you when you need it?  

 

There is no problem sharing your knowledge with others it makes you a better artist as you debate different ideas, experiment together and get inspired by others creativity.    

 

Stab you seem to have experience behind you so don’t worry about the new kids just worry about the next job.  I always wonder how I can make the next job so amazing that people will be beating down my door just to work with me.  Experience means your next job is better than your last so just think of the head start you have.  You have the head start of experience so please help new people learn the ropes, others have done it for you so don't turn you back on the film making community.            

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Interesting replies everyone! Nice that everyone has a different view on this.

 

I admit that I slightly exaggerated what I wrote in the OP, to get the discussion going. I do believe in sharing knowledge and being helpful to people. I am not the twat that I seem to be if you only read my OP.  :P

I have shared all my knowledge and gear in the past with everyone who was interested after watching my work. Why? Because I have also learned so much from 'the internet', aka people who shared their knowledge.

 

But, to get back on topic, I do (still) believe that it is not a good idea to put everything 'out in the open'. Let me elobarate that my concern of sharing all the tips & tricks especially applies to 'easy entry markets' like Wedding Films, Event shooters and basic corporate stuff.

 

Of course a well seasoned DOP doesn't use a GH3 + Filmconvert and became the man he is today because of his years or even decades of learning and experience. Of course sharing some tricks doesn't hurt someone who is a professional color grader with years of experience. These jobs are hard to get into and it takes not only years of experience, but also the knowledge of complicated software, dealing with many people and 'networking'. I understand your critics on my views, especially when regarding these professions. Maybe I should have made it more clear that I am aiming at easy entry businesses.

 

However, it is a fact that more and more average Joe's who study 'communication' end up buying a DSLR, download Premiere and start a website called 'Joe's Wedding Films'.

 

And AndrewS you are right, I am / was one of them. I did the same 4 years ago.

Invested a couple of thousand bucks with a friend, called ourselves a business and we even got some jobs! Now, years later and more specialised and more experienced, I know that I have an advantage over the new starters. But I also see 'how fast it can go' in these markets...

 

And of course, 90% of the guys who started like me will stop after a year or 2. They accept that they don't have enough talent or that they simply underestimated they 'business part' of it.

But 10% will do fine.

 

That means there are more and more competitors in the Google search results. If some of these guys spend time and money on SEO, they might even surpass me in the results, without even having touched a camera yet.

Then, if they read some tutorials and tips of what other people use, they are not far away from producing a decent result. As good as my films? Maybe not. But 'good enough' is already what gets you going in this world. Especially when dealing with non-professional clients like couples who want a wedding film.

 

So if Joe's Wedding Films show up in Google, their image looks fine and they manage to produce 1 or 2 decent films, they are in for a lot of business. Especially if they offer cheap prices.

 

This is what I see all the time around me. I know that I'm producing good films, but I also see couples 'settle for less' because aparently it is 'good enough'. They receive an uninspired, boring wedding film with shaky 25p shots with no story telling, but hey IT LOOKS GOOD. At least 2-3 years ago these films wouldn't even look good. But now, within a week of reading online you know exactly what to buy and use to get some great looking footage. Because everything is out in the open to find.

 

I'm just saying that we are making it easier and easier for Joe's to 'steal our work'. And of course you could say, 'focus on high end clients and deliver stellar results'. That's what I'm trying to do.

But to make a living, I wouldn't mind getting some of the 'good enough' clients as well as they make up a much larger share of the market.

 

TLDR:

We just make it too easy for an average university student to start a video production business and produce decent results in a short period of time. Therefore the market is getting flooded with new startups, from which maybe only 10% 'succeeds' but that is still a lot of competitors gaining territory every year. As this will only get worse with upcoming technologies, self shooting, stabilizing, 8k camera's with 1.4 lenses and easy drag and click editing software. We are in for a storm of competition in easy entry markets. 

10 years ago making a wedding film looked 'complicated' to 99,9% of the people and they would never burn their hands on it. Now I assume that if you ask 100 hipsters on the street if they could produce a nice wedding film, that 80% would say 'yea I probably could'. 

I know that they can't. But within a short period of time, they would. Will it be as good as mine? Of course not. Will it be good enough to get some clients who think it is 'good enough'? Yes. 

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You're talking about wedding videography - but it already happened to wedding photography some years ago.  The market is saturated with wedding photographers now and making a living from the business is getting harder.  Prices have been driven down and customers expect me and my wife to spend 12 hours at their event rather than the 5 hours we spent ten years ago.  More pictures, more editing time.

Things change and you cannot put the genie back in the bottle I'm afraid.  With weddings the vast majority of couples are not clued up enough on the difference between okay and good.  That is where we have to market ourselves - showing that we are better.

I started making short films alongside shooting stills at weddings two years ago.  It's damned hard work - I use GH2's with MF lenses mostly.  I'm not in competition with decent videographers - 90% of the weddings I used to photograph did not have a videographer anyway.  I was looking for a way to make a bit more money from weddings.  This has worked, but we still struggle now to get enough bookings.  Weddings are not the cash-cow they once were that's for sure.

 

Just to add that I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm anything special.  If someone new can do the job as well as me that's my problem.  You will not stop new people coming to an industry when the technological barriers are dropping.  Look at design and printing too......

 

Jim

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But, to get back on topic, I do (still) believe that it is not a good idea to put everything 'out in the open'. 

Maybe I should have made it more clear that I am aiming at easy entry businesses.

 

No, not really. That was clear in the OP, too, and maybe you don't see it, but you're pretty much repeating the same talking points in this post all over again. The responses you got are still pretty valid. Whether it's about higher or lower end jobs is not that relevant.

 

So if Joe's Wedding Films show up in Google, their image looks fine and they manage to produce 1 or 2 decent films, they are in for a lot of business. Especially if they offer cheap prices.

 

That's just how the cookie crumbles in the mid 2010's. Better get used to it.

People do understand and even share your frustration, but looks like you're still missing the point presented in many of the responses above.

 

This is what I see all the time around me. I know that I'm producing good films, but I also see couples 'settle for less' because aparently it is 'good enough'. 

 

I'm just saying that we are making it easier and easier for Joe's to 'steal our work'. And of course you could say, 'focus on high end clients and deliver stellar results'. That's what I'm trying to do.

But to make a living, I wouldn't mind getting some of the 'good enough' clients as well as they make up a much larger share of the market.

 

As noted by yourself, only a few of the newcomers  â€“yourself included back in the day– make it past the first two or so years, and only 10% or so make it past the five or seven years mark. That has virtually nothing to do with how easy it is to acquire basic knowledge (but not experience and perspective) these days. It just speeds things up a bit.

 

Just forget about the gear and sharing your stuff for a moment, and think about your own CODB. After you're counted in all your expenses, I mean all of them, and even your profit margin, which are all likely to rise as you move forward.

Do you still think fighting for the few 'good enough' clients against the undercutting newcomers is a sustainable business model in the long run? Do you really think those 10% that are still in business after seven years have made it by taking part in 'the race to the bottom,' or have they maybe found a way to do something different? 

My money's on the latter option. If they wish to succeed and grow, they'll just have to up the ante at some point, or find something else to do.

 

People do know how frustrating it can be at times, but making ends meet is no easier than it was before. The playing field has changed quite a bit, but it's not about the gear. Today sharing and collaborating is the new norm, whether we liked it or not. It's essential for our success in the long run. It's way too late to worry about the hoards of newbies with fancy and inexpensive new cameras (or the tools of some other business).

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I think you are right Quirky. Maybe I've spent too much time thinking about this and everyone else here has already accepted the fact that the market is flooded with newbies. 

I'm just looking for things to have 'the (cinematic) edge' over everyone else. Actually I think that we 'seasoned, talented entrepreneurs' on this forum might already have that, but somehow it seems foolish to me to spread all our hard gained experience and knowledge around like free candies.

Every company has their 'secret ingredients' as you wish. Nobody knows still what all ingredients of Coca Cola are. And for a good reason. Other brands might come close, but nothing tastes like Coke. 

 

The difference is that we as creative film makers like to help each other. And I still do. I don't see fellow film makers, directors and DOP's as competitors. However, I see wedding film and corporate film producers as competitors. And I hope the latter category sticks to their 7D :)

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Hey Quirky, I wasn't being a troll, I was talking about myself, I stopped looking for Clients a long time ago (though I wish I had a few, but would know how to go about getting them), and just started designing things for myself, I wasted a lot of time with the wrong people, and have spent numerous years honing the skills, though the problem with trying to be a perfectionist with all skills is cutting off & letting go of details no one will even notice. Jack of all trades master of none? I can't be sure, I have a lot of skills in many areas, but am I doing anything really ground breaking? I see more flaws in everything I do than other people would notice, except maybe people who make stuff, but its a personal journey, no one knows the limitations you had when making a particular piece, we all know what we would do to improve thing, or what we would like to introduce next time, I've yet to use a 35mm camera for anything serious, I believe I need a little more gear to iron out some issues, but at some point I will also need to involve others, as I cant make some things without some subjects(people). Do I really want to be good at the biz, I'm not so sure I do, would like to earn some decent cash, to put other ideas into action & have a better range of projects, hopefully one day things will snowball, but at the moment I mostly give everythng away, be that photo's, music, video's or  ideas, getting paid for stuff seems to be the hard part.

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I'm just looking for things to have 'the (cinematic) edge' over everyone else. Actually I think that we 'seasoned, talented entrepreneurs' on this forum might already have that, but somehow it seems foolish to me to spread all our hard gained experience and knowledge around like free candies.

Every company has their 'secret ingredients' as you wish. Nobody knows still what all ingredients of Coca Cola are. And for a good reason. Other brands might come close, but nothing tastes like Coke. 

 

You make an interesting point... except the analogy is flawed as many many blind taste tests show people can not tell the difference between Coca Cola and its competitors. 

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