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Ive been reading some forums about selling footage and people undercutting each other thus driving the price down. Obviously, footage cost depends on how common the piece is and availability.

 

In the same vain, what do people think is a fair price to charge, as an experienced underwater cameraman when hired. I'm interested in pay rate, for day or dive? Should equipment hire be seperate? More for overnight?

 

My plan for this year is to move more into contract work for TV companies, production houses etc, a: I don't want to overcharge and be laughed out, b:undercharge, and be taken for a mug, but also I want no part in de-valuing our work.

 

I realise everything is case by case, but I would be very interested in some discussion.

 

Fatfish.

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HI FatFish..

 

In the last few months, I have let go of 2 deals in selling footage due to them wanting it for a bargin price. It's hard to let the easy money go but it's their loss.

 

I spent hours and $$$ getting the stuff and I feel insulted when people say we will give you a couple hundred for 10 mins off stuff.

 

Day rate can depend on many things like your skill, equipment and what's it for but you should be asking for a few hundred dollars per day.

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Steve attached a scale of pay here a while ago, perhaps he will see this post and attach again.

 

Would be great to see some interest and discussion on it, we could then pin the topic as a sticky....

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I'm just interested to see if theres any union or standard set.

 

I know if your part of a medi production union in europe then there are set minimum rates for camerafolk, would be good to know how to get hold of these, hopefully steve can send us some. So if a studio/production house/man in the pub asks us we can say, wth a level of certainty ande confidence, what were worth.

 

The difficulty is, i suppose, that the quality of the piece depends on the individual viewer. Seeing a whale shark shagging, to us is worth a million, but I reckon my mum would probably change channel and watch Corrie (crap uk soap op for last 40yrs)!! Shame on her. <_<

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OK, some figures from the real world for you that I don't mind sharing ...

 

Over the last couple of years I've done a handful of TV and promo jobs here in Thailand and charged 25,000 baht per day, including my Sony VX2000 and Gates housing. At today's exchange rate that's US$660. I didn't have much difficulty getting the larger companies (MTV etc.) to accept that price so maybe I've been a little cheap.

 

When I'm HDV-equipped I will charge more than that for HDV work and probably continue to offer a lower rate for SD work even though it'll be the same camera.

 

When you quote you should specify that expenses are extra (travel, accomodation, tape stock, meals etc.) and you should quote them a price for days spent travelling or waiting around (not working) because of delays. I have been told 50% of your full rate is normal for this but I have quoted 40% until now. If you get a chance to supply a written quote then put in a cancellation fee for a cancellation of the job by them within a certain number of days of the booking. It's called a "kill fee" by some.

 

When these jobs come along they nearly always phone and immediately ask you your day rate, so you need to know your figures in your head. If it's complex then always give yourself a chance to think and get back to them rather than plucking a figure out of the air and regretting it.

 

Nick

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Okay; here it is again. I applaude anyone who refuses to sell out for a cheap credit or bragging rights. I recently sold some footage for a reasonable price to the History Channel and enjoyed seeing what they did with my raw footage when the show aired. However, the credit scrolled by so quick I had to go almost frame to frame just to catch the name. Never the less, your footage is worth the time, expense and money you put into getting it. Hold a hard line. If they are legit they won't try to drag you down. When I told these producers my price they didn't even try to haggle and I got what it was worth to both myself and them. Here's the original doc that I received awhile back from Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions. He is a great guy and has provided me with some very real advice early on. Any thanks for these rate guidelines should go to him not me.

Steve B)

rates.tiff

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Thanks, fatfish, for starting a thread I was too chicken to start myself. As a new guy trying to break into the industry on a much larger level, I have MANY questions about pay and day rates.

 

My mentor since breaking into the business has been Mark Stanton, host and producer of a popular New England-based show called Divers Down Television. He's been doing it for the better part of 20 years, and I go to him with many of my trials and triumphs. Mark was very keen to impress upon me the absolute importance of not undercutting the industry and as a result, hurting all of us. There have been several advertising and sponsorship deals that I have since turned down because I knew it would hurt me (and all of us) in the long run. I winced, but I'd rather have a sound night's sleep than blood money.

 

Having said that, my question is this: if a big-exposure job was offered to you - and I mean as a new guy looking to get his name in the running - would you take it if it paid peanuts but would launch you into contention on a national and even global level?

 

I welcome tirades and quiet, mature rebuttal on this equally. Thanks for the continued help and advice, folks.

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Ok, so you have this HD camera, and you have some footage under your belt, how do you next market your services? Paste up footage to a website and offer your service for hire? Paste short clips, categorize it, the offer to sell the footage? To that end, wouldn't buyers want exclusive rights? etc, etc

 

Thoughts?

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Dave,

Get ready for a long haul. Its not as simple as just putting up clips on your site and then waiting for the phone to ring off the hook. It takes a lot of time and efforts relating to marketing your skill and wares as well as the networking etc. I used to do a huge amount of that kinda stuff in the early days and found it was taking up about 65% of my time. Time I'd rather spend in the water. BUT, meeting the right people at the right time is just something that happens at the most unimaginable times. The first pro gig I got was from a contact in Tenerife. I used to live there doing the regular video gig with some dive shops. A guy diving with us one day with a camera turned out to be Finlands leading natural history film producer on a recce for an EU sponsored production. Three years in the making Wild Wild Canaries ended up with 12 minutes of my underwater footage and went on to win awards around the European Festival Circuits.

 

Its all about making the right contacts. I'd suggest a mail shot to some local smaller production companies to start. Waiting for the "big boys" is always something we continualy hope for. Make a name for yourself in the lower echelons of production entities and, if you are any good, the word will spread.....but not overnight. Once you ahve a couple of good pro credits to your name, up the ante and start contacting larger production houses. Maybe produce a short film of your own etc etc and market that through festivals around your home area.

 

Rates wise it is difficult to nail any one rate. Underwater footage, in its own right, is difficult to hammer down and there's no real second chance for those behavioral shots, not on a single dive anyway. I normally (DV Rates) sell on a sliding scale from $20 a second for generic underwater scenes etc up to $125 a second for rare, hard to find underwater footage - 2 tiger sharks ripping apart a Manta Ray in Yap for example.

 

Day rates vary. I'm normally charging $650 a day for DV filming with specific shoots going up to $850 a day. These rates are due for revision as I prepare for the Z1. I also vary my services offered and have a different daily rate option for the following:

 

1) Camera operator + Housing / Camera + W/A lens + Ext. Monitor.

2) Camera operator (+ all of the above) + Underwater Lighting + Camera Assistant

3) All of the above + Field Edit and string out plus EDL for the project.

 

I see by your avatar and 'handle' that you are also a tech diver. That puts you into a completely different realm. Its very likely that you could be involved in commissions to film deep wrecks, images of which have never been seen since its demise. That in itself provides for a certain level of financial bargaining power on your behalf.

 

The only thing we all ask is that you stick to your guns and not offer yourself in return for credits. That, in the beginning, may sound attractive and an easy way to get your name in lights but it undermines the integrity of others who try their best to make a living in this game.

 

I was recently approached by an 'Asian' Concern who were looking for new footage from Palau, my base, for a promotional travel based programme. The person contacting me was boasting that the end product would be seen in 16 million homes, over 30 countries around the world and generate huge interest in Palau as a destination for divers ............ blah blah blah. You get the idea? They wanted the footage for free in return for end of programme credits. This was no small entity either. One of the largest in Asia. I wrote back to them pretty much just pointing out that as a media distribution agency I found it difficult to comprehend the reasoning behind their project. How could they expect to make a really professional project, in HD, and expect at the same time that the base element of their product, the underwater footage, would be available free of charge. Do they think that I do what I do, along with the investment of tens of thousands of dollars, just for the fun of it? As a hobby? ............Needless to say I never heard from them again. Stick by those guns and I'm sure the right results will come in the end. Turning down certain jobs will in the end actually enhance your 'reputation' as being a straight shooting, no nonsense professional.

 

Cheers,

Mark.

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Mark,

Beautifully put! Way to go! I also had that same Asian concern contact me and they received roughly the same reply. This is not an easy business and it is heartening to hear so many voices united to get what they deserve rather then sell out for bragging rights.

Congrats on your ethics,

Steve B)

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Great info.....

 

In the past I have done plenty of National and State sales seminars and I've always shown how charging more increases sales due to perception of value. Doubling your price and losing half your clientele base as a result is a very profitable thing to do.

 

I haven't gotten into serious deco/trimix stuff yet, as there is so much to see using recreational open circuit profiles, but I can do bubble-free runtimes of 6-8 hours depending on water temperature.

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if a big-exposure job was offered to you - and I mean as a new guy looking to get his name in the running - would you take it if it paid peanuts but would launch you into contention on a national and even global level?

Peacedog, in my experience if a company is trying to get your professional services for cheap or even free, they're not really worth dealing with. As others have said, they go on about the publicity you'll get from credits, links, whatever but it rarely comes to much. If it's a job that can really launch you into contention, as you say, then they'll be expecting to pay you the proper price. If you don't quote them a proper price for the job they'll probably think the quality won't be right.

 

Mark, it's good to know I've been in the same ball park as you for SD work :D

 

Dave, why don't you write an email to Leigh Bishop at www.deepimage.co.uk. He's primarily a stills photographer but him and Carl Spencer are getting heavily into video since Carl got a Phenom. They may well need another videographer for some of their projects and the fact that you've got the same housing can only help. If you're not into the deep stuff like them then they may appreciate a support diver with HDV capability.

 

Nick

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Thanks, Nick. You're backing up something I've already been thinking. I'm sticking to my guns!

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Sorry Dave,

To answer your question regarding rights etc. Most agreements are based on non-exclusive world wide rights in perpetuity. If a client wishes to buy copyright the price is obviously adjusted accordingly to what you set as your standard. You would do well to draft up some standard outlines for footage sales and go through it with an entertainment industry savvy lawyer to cover all bases.

 

Whilst in the drafting mode I also suggest you look at getting model releases for anyone who may appear in any planned productions. Above all cover your arse with all soundtracking licence issues and make sure all releases get signed and dated. You can't be too carefull when it comes to the paperwork.

 

You only get one chance to impress and its those first impressions reaching potential commissioning entities that will determin your longevity in this game.

 

Cheers,

Mark.

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OK, I know what the next question is. "So how would I price a sequence for sale should the client wish the ownership / copyright"?

 

Again I would use a sliding scale based on the technical difficulty of the shot mixed with the rarity of its contents. There is no easy way to allocate a price in this matter so I would suggest that if a client was to make you an offer then debate around that offer if you judge it to be fair or not.

 

To give you an idea of image value I have a friend who was fortunate enough to be at the scene of a dead whale carcase being ceremoniously devoured by multiple tiger sharks here in Palau. The great thing was that the carcase had actuallyy washed partially ashore so the scene could be filmed from land etc, he didn't have a tripod and was shooting with his camera locked in his Gates housing, but what a great opportunity for locked down images had he had his tripod with him. So there he was filming all of this and even wading into the water with the tigers he got some awesome footage. Now here's the down side. In all his haste to get the topside shots down he left the correction filter flipped down adding a nice rosy feel to his images......what a muppet!!!

 

A few month later I was having a chat with a visiting exec from NG and invited him to take a look at the footage anyway. He informed my friend that IF he had not have left the filter in place then the footage would be worth somewhere in the region of $7000 per minute......and he had 10 minutes of footage.......a good pay day in anyone's book.

 

Cheers,

Mark.

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I'm amazed that he could not tell that the ur filter was on. There is a difference between what we would call standard clips for sale and the type of 'once in a lifetime' clip such as your friend almost got. A breaching Great White can sell for far more than a mimic octopus walking along the sand bottom. Most film companies would not have bought the entire 10 minutes of your friends footage. They have budgets too. They would have wanted to look at it all but then told him that they wanted just certain points between the timecode. Of course, while I have never earned or shot a 7000 a minute worthy clip, I suppose it is a good idea to go in knowing what a clip might be worth based on its rarity, action and behaviors. Keep in mind, there also needs to be a company that is interested in it for a project they may be working on. One thing I never waiver from, I always keep the rights to my own footage for future sale or use. That is something I have never relinqueshed when I sold something.

Steve B)

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It is my experience that existing footage or photographs have only minimal value.When footgage does not already exist and you are commissioned to get it - that is when clients are willing to pay.

 

This rather mundane picture of a car on a road was charged at around £14,000 in the late 'eighties, but that included the rental of the Porsche, the rental of the telescopic crane with camera platform, and the rental of a section of an uncompleted motorway from its constructors (plus film transport and lunches!)

post-4197-1152805053_thumb.jpg

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Steve,

No external monitor and the adrenalin of the moment resulted in the error made by my friend. He was pretty much just trying to get lots of movement in the sequences to reflect the raw power of the events and as such was not maintaining any visual controls through the viewfinders etc.

 

John, I concur. Stock footage sales are few and far between. Mainly smaller production companies lacking the production budget to send a crew to get what they want tend to be the main clients. Those with a budget will take footage from stock only if after their shoot they are still lacking in certain imagery.

 

With the ever changing formats being introduced at such an alarming rate these days I am now sitting on about 100 hours of good DV footage 4:3 PAL in origin. The outlay in time, effort and obviously money to get this stock has almost now been in vain. I find it very hard to believe that there is a market for this stock as we move into the HD era. In six years is anyone gonna touch HDV? The next format will alienate the stock we shoot today and make obsolete our investments.

 

I think the only real way to look at making something in the footage wars would be to go with the RED CAMERA shoot in 4k and down convert to HD standards, or the clients needs. Then when 4k becomes the format in about ten years you'd be sitting on a pile of available stock in that format...........anyone got $60k to adopt that system?? :lol:

 

Cheers,

Mark.

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I have been messing around with upconverting mini DV 4.3 to HDV size but even though you can do it, the 4.3 is the problem as you have to zoom in to fill the 16.9 area or stretch the 4.3 to fit distorting the pic.

 

Maybe another way would be to play the footage on a high res LCD screen and then shoot the screen with the HDV camera on a tripod. I'll give it a go and see how it looks.

 

I once got $300 AUS per second for a TV commercial. They also wanted to play the ad in the cinema but the very clear shallow underwater MINI DV shots looked bad when shown on the big screen. I suppose that's were HDV would be handy.

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Hey Wagsy, no there are better ways. After upconverting your SD footage to 1440/1080i, letterbox it. Check out my two reviews on Resizer by Digital Anarchy and Magic Bullets Instant HD. I found that both worked very well and cost little. They can be found on the www.kenstone.net Final Cut Pro editing site.

Let me know what you think.

Steve B)

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Hi Steve

How was your trip?

 

I downloaded Digital Anarchy for Premiere Pro but I think I found a easier way for PC users.

 

1: Encode out a Aspect HD cineform avi 1440/1080 1.333 from a 4.3 mini DV tiimeline.

 

2: Open it up in a Aspect HD cineform avi 1440/1080 1.333 timeline and increase height and width to 133% and bingo it fills the wndow. You loose abit from the top and bottom but it's not bad and there is no rendering if you do this as it's in real time still.. Still not a good as the ture HDV though but Oka.

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Just because you have a truckload of large bull sharks in a feeding frenzy around your legs is not good justification!

 

:lol:

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The best I've done for stock was US$100 per second for 5 seconds used in the closing credits of a Britannic movie.

 

Mike, I know how you feel. I'm sitting on a huge pile of good stock footage that's never really seen the light of day. Should have got my DVDs out quicker.

 

I suppose at least SD is going to be useful for web delivery pretty much indefinitely, but nobody really pays for that.

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Nick,

Don't be surprised....there is still a market for SD footage, especially when it fits a need that may not be avalable in HD. Add to that the fact that SD can be upconverted with improved resolution using Digital Anarchies Resizer or Magic Bullet's Instant HD. I am not a PC user but my partner, who uses a PC said his 'Procorder' does the job as well.

 

Wags,

The trip was fine, the humidity was unbearable. We stayed one week at Dumagette and one at Puerta Gallera. While the water was a warm 84, the people and service excellent and the resorts and food just fine, in terms of the marine life we saw, we didn't see much that we couldn't have seen in far greater numbers and frequency in KBR or Bali. Andy at Puerta Gallera was an excellent host and the divemasters all did their best. For me, it was my first time back in the water after back fusion surgery last Sept and, other than leg cramps the first day, it felt great to be able to dive again as well as get used to the new housing and cam

Steve B)

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