By placing a client’s video on your site, you are providing a service that can generate additional income. You can encode a video easily and quickly (most editing tools have multi-format encoders built right in and are as simple to run as a single mouse-click). Once encoded, the file is uploaded to your site using an FTP (file transfer protocol) program. (For more on how to post or embed video in your website, see Jan Ozer’s tutorial, Linking Video to Your Website.)
How much can you make by renting webspace? That is totally up to you. Rent it by the megabyte, rent it by the month. Whatever you charge is pure profit, beyond what you pay your ISP. Just make sure that you pay yourself for your time.
Using this same idea and method, you can also use your website to save you time. How? By uploading your edits, montages, and other client video projects to your site. Letting them proof your work online spares you and your client an in-studio visit or eliminates mailing a DVD. They can view the video at any time and if you send them the direct link, all your client has to do is click and view.
Now that the proof has been viewed and approved, take the opportunity to pitch the rental idea. If the client has spent several hundred dollars or more for a montage, chances are that the offer of keeping it online and available for all of their relatives and friends to view at any time may be worth an additional $25–50 for one month of service.
A word of caution: if you become successful in your renting, there is the chance that you could exceed your monthly bandwidth allotment. Check with your web host before you get whacked with “overage” charges. If your current host is bandwidth-challenged, there are many reliable companies that offer 100GB or more of monthly bandwidth for seven or eight dollars a month.
Power struggle: I recently shot an outdoor high school graduation at a rural satellite campus for a private school. A tent with a seating capacity of over a thousand had been set up for the event, there was AC power for the sound system, a couple of fresnel lights had been set up for the stage, and the outlet was within three feet of where I was to set up. What could go wrong? After I set up all of my equipment (camera, 9" monitor, audio mixer, and wireless receiver) and turned everything on, I noticed that my monitor didn’t look right. The picture was compressed with a horizontal line running across the top third of the screen. So I broke out the back-up monitor—same problem. I checked the camera and the picture looked fine in the viewfinder. I recorded a bit of video and played it back; again OK. Then the proverbial light bulb lit up. The camera’s on-screen voltage monitor was showing 12.1 V, within the normal operating range, but my power supply normally outputs 13.4–13.5 V. Some quick math told me that the convenient AC line was only supplying 108.5 V. Most AC-powered equipment can handle 110 V without any problem, but with the voltage level below that, it is understandable why the monitor looked the way it did.
Normally I’d just run with it (everything else was working properly), but I just happened to have one of those UPS (uninterruptible power supply) battery back-up systems in the equipment trailer that handles brownouts (basically, that’s what this was—lower-than-normal line voltage). I plugged it in and the problem disappeared. Why did I have a UPS in the trailer? I’ve run into some pretty poor wiring in some older venues and don’t trust running tens of thousands of dollars of equipment to 80-year-old wiring!
Insurance update: First, the 4EVER Group has made available to its members low-cost liability and equipment insurance. Second, I’ve come across wording in standard equipment insurance (also called “inland marine insurance”) that many people are not aware of. Almost all insurance policies contain the clause “equipment disappearance due to unexplained acts are not covered.” What this means is that, in most cases, a theft of equipment while on a job that does not involve a break-in or other physical damage is not covered. The insurance carriers I contacted said that the clause is there to prevent fraud. Some insurance companies will, however, evaluate each incident on a case-by-case basis. It also helps if you file a police report and have proof of ownership (with serial numbers). Review your policy to see if you are covered before something happens.
Quick Tip: Keep your DVD (or tape) label files, especially if you do many school events. Chances are you will be doing the same performance or event at different schools and can save time by re-using label designs. If you insert movie-style scrolling credits for your productions, have the people that produce the event’s programs forward you an electronic copy. Most titling programs allow you to copy and paste, which will save you countless hours of typing and eliminate the likelihood of typos.
Ed Wardyga, owner of Keepsake Video and KVI Media in Rhode Island, has been producing event video since 1989, specializing in stage productions. He runs the website www.theGadgetBag.net and is the recipient of the WEVA Walter Bennett Service to Industry Award.