Rants of a Digital Bard

OMG! Who gave this idiot a blog?

Queen of Diamonds – Day 2

The original plan was to use Vimeo or some other service to upload footage so that I could download it and work from home on my computer.  I don’t have a laptop and I haven’t gotten around to installing Adobe After Effects or any of my other tools on my fiance’s laptop yet.  So when I came back on saturday morning, I brought my computer with me and decided to set it up at UMKC and do my work from there.  The rest of the editing team were all set up on laptops, except for Merlin who also had a Mac in his sound editing studio.

When I got to UMKC I processed the rest of the footage from my camera and got it backed up onto my computer and a portable USB hard drive.  When the rest of the editing team got there, they copied the footage to their laptops and started working on the editing.

None of us had ever edited a complete film before, but I’ve been doing a lot of small stuff over the past couple years and I’ve developed a work-flow for getting my projects done as easily as possible.  I suggested that Zach and Jess drop one clip from each scene into Vegas, even if it’s not the perfect clip, and build the entire story.  We’ll watch it and then make decisions on what scenes to drop.  That would give us a current length of the film. It was 22 minutes.

The final film had to be 7 minutes max plus 1 minute of ending credits and a 20 second starting clip with bars and tone and the 48 hour logo for 8 minutes and 20 seconds max.  So there was a TON of editing work ahead.  To make it even harder, since we had recorded the sound seperately, we had to have the footage edited and ready for Merlin to do sound and we had to note which takes we used in editing for each scene so that he could find the correct sound.  Fortunately, Merlin had a lot of experience with Vegas since he used it often in his daily work.  But he used version 6 and the editing crew were all using a trial version of 9…  Begin the pain…

Jess made a shot list and notes on how long each shot should be to fit in the 7 minutes.  Noel and Zach started in on the editing.  Merlin imported all the sound he recorded during the day and worked on getting it ready to put into the footage when Noel and Zach were done.  He also installed version 9 of the Vegas trial on his Mac where he does his sound editing.

I did some “post work” on some of the clips in After Effects where we had lighting issues and the clips needed to be color matched to other clips in the same scene.  I also worked on the ending credits and a title graphic.  We had planned to do a 20 second title sequence, but we had to fit 22 minutes of story into 7 minutes, so it was decided to just put a title graphic over some of the footage instead in order to use up the full 7 minutes to tell the story.

Between 1am and around 8am, Zach, Noel, Merlin and Jess worked on editing.  Occasionally one of them would take a 10 minute or 30 minute powernap and then it was right back to work.  And although I’d had only 2 hours sleep in the previous 30 hours, I couldn’t sleep.  At first I had too much adrenaline because this whole thing was very exciting… Later I was hopped up on too many energy drinks and caffiene.  Besides, I have a hard time sleeping anywhere but my own bed.

As the production manager, this was actually Tanya’s time to shine.  She was the group’s cheerleader and slave driver. Keeping everyone on task and making sure everyone was properly fed and hydrated.  I started to crash a bit around 3am and if she hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have gotten much done.  Jess’ girlfiend Rachael also came in and helped with cheerleading.

By noon I think they had managed to get it edited down to around 11 minutes, so it was just a matter of tweaking a few seconds here and a few seconds there to get it to 7 minutes…  At that time the hand of fate started to bitch-slap us around.  They started having problems with Vegas.

As good as Vegas is, I don’t think we were using it right in the editing process.  Noel and Zach would edit a scene and then give the Vegas project to Merlin to do his sound thing.  But Merlin was working on the Mac versi0n while Noel and Zach used the Windows version.  And there were issues when giving the project files to Merlin that eventually started causing Vegas to crash on the Mac.  Every time it crashed, it took about 20 minutes for Merlin to recover things and move forward.. then it would crash again.

My personal work-flow is to edit a scene to where I want it, render it out and then use the individual renders in the final project to render the entire movie (when I do home movies).  I think Merlin was working with all the project files at once instead of pre-rendered scenes and that was what caused Vegas to crash all the time (that and I’ve read a lot of stuff today about the Vegas trial cashing a lot on the Mac).  Every time they asked me to do something, I did my editing, rendered it out and gave them back the ready to use rendered footage.

By 5pm panic set in and we were still at 8 minutes plus very little of the sound work had been done.  None of the sound effects had been put in or the beautiful score that had been composed for this project.  At 5:30 we decided to just render out individual clips of each scene then give everything to me and I’d render out the final on my computer in After Effects.  We still had 34 seconds to cut at that point and Jess gave me the places to cut in AE and I rendered out the final film.  However, a little bit of a miracle happened while I was removing those final seconds… Merlin got Vegas working and was able to render out the whole thing on his machine.  Which is what we ended up turning in at the last minute before the deadline.

We didn’t get the narration in or the individual music componants… and none of the sound effects… but we did get a 7 minute movie with 52 seconds of credits and a 20 second intro turned in on time.  And it has some really amazing acting in it.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Touchy feely..., Videography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Queen of Diamonds – Day 1

We left the bar and headed over to UMKC.  Kyle, the writer, was working fast and furious.  After we got there, Jess informed us about the basic “gist” of the story and gave us an idea of where primary filming would need to be done.

The goal was to have Kyle finish the main draft of the script by midnight which would be emailed to the entire team.  A final draft would be sent out at 2am.  The actors would meet at 7am Saturday morning to get instructions from Jess and do their initial read through, etc..  At 11am we’d start initial filming at our primary location with one planned 3 hour break and hopefully complete all filming by midnight.  At midnight the editing team would start putting it altogether for an initial screening of the final draft by 2pm and then delivery of the final project to the contest people around 6:30pm (the hard deadline was 7:30pm).

As I had mentioned, originally, I was just gonna do the motion graphics work and some light effects.  And I was hoping to be around to do some behind the scenes filming now and again.  Over all, I expected I’d have to do a few hours of actual work, a few hours of watching the process unfold and I’d get more than a couple hours of sleep… Life is funny…

I stayed with the group at UMKC while Kyle wrote the script.  We left briefly for a half hour to check out the primary filming location, a nice old house where the sound editor lived.  At a few minutes past midnight, Jess and Tanya had the main draft of the script and emailed it to everyone in the group.  The film team and I discussed the basic plan of attack and ironed out some of the editing questions.  Merlin, the sound editor, was familiar with Sony Vegas as he used an old version in a lot of his work.  So it was decided that the editing team would download and use the Vegas 9 trial version to edit the whole film.  Zach and his buddy Noel, who were the primary editors, had downloaded it a few days before the festival and edited together a HILARIOUS 2 minute viral film.

At around 2:30am I headed home to get a few hours sleep before principal shooting began at 11am.  There was a bad storm, so my 90 minute drive home took a little over 2 hours.  I was still pumping with adrenaline when I went to bed, so by the time I got up at 8:30am I had only slept for about 2 hours.  I was a little late getting out of the house and I got a little lost in Kansas City, so I didn’t get to the shoot location until a few minutes before 11am.

Things were a little chaotic when I got there and we didn’t actually start shooting anything until almost 11:30, but once the ball got rolling, most things started to fall into place.  I mentioned earlier that Jess and Tanya are very organized people and thank goodness.  Had I been in charge of shooting instead of Zach and Jess, we’d still be shooting today, a full day after the contest period was over.  I kept wanting to shoot at different angles, in different light, etc…  Some of the actors worked on the weekend, so we had them for a limited time.  So it was important to get just 2 or 3 takes per scene and move on.  Especially given the time limit of the whole project.

Jess and Zach had a pretty clear vision for the film, and like I said before, Zach has a “photographer’s eye”.  While I did do a little bit of the filming, when I look at shots of the same scene that Zach did versus what I did, I am amazed at what I don’t know about how things look on camera versus the naked eye.  I learned a lot from Zach about that.

I mentioned earlier that the entire cast were fantastic, you can definitely tell that they are indeed “professional actors” and not people who act (or overact) occasionally.  But I have to single out Stephanie, the lady who played the main character, as one of the most amazing actors I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  Having only known her during the shooting process, I find it extremely difficult to seperate her from Abigail, the main character in the film.  She was just so convincing with not even a hint of overacting in any of the scenes.

It’s funny because when I first met the group, there was a lot of talk of “if nothing else goes right, we’ll still have the best actors of any film at the festival” which I took at the time as bragging and over-confidence.  But now, after we’re finished with filming, I can see that it wasn’t “over-confidence” at all.  Indeed, they were all fantastic.  And incredibly well prepared.  When we were ready to shoot every scene, they knew the lines and because they had worked together so many times before, they “ad-libbed” smoothly.  It was just like eavesdropping on a real conversation.

Shooting went pretty well.  We kept running into time issues, mostly from shooting too many takes in some cases (mostly my fault) and from how long it took to set up for each shot.   In retrospect, given the time crunch of the contest, the whole thing should have been shot hand-held.  Setting up the tripod and changing angles took longer than just walking a few feet or crouching/standing up and we could have got a few more takes in (my preference).

After shooting most of the group scenes where we needed the main group of actors together, we started on some of the smaller individual scenes.  Several of the actors had day jobs they had to do, so we only had them for limited amounts of time.  But Jess and Tanya had worked out a shooting schedule.  We moved from the house to the second location to film a lobby scene… then a third location for a doctor’s office scene… then a high school football field for a bleachers scene.

While we broke for a late lunch/early dinner, I went back to UMKC and backed up the footage we shot and started the preprocessing of the AVCHD video from my camera into editable H.264 footage.  The final product had to be delivered as SD, so I downconverted the resolution from 1920×1080 to 960×540.  Merlin, our sound guy, recorded the sound seperately on some professional sound equipment.  My camera records stereo sound, but I don’t have a mic for it and Merlin didn’t have anything to hook up his boom mic’s to my 1/8th inch jack.  And he got much better sound from his own equipment.

After the break, it was back to the house to do the final shooting.  The original schedule was to finish shooting by midnight, but we actually finished at 11:15pm.  So I headed back to UMKC to process the rest of the footage while they cleaned up Merlin’s house. (Once again, Dave manages to avoid house work.)

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Touchy feely..., Videography | , , , , | Leave a comment

48 Hour Film Festival – Queen of Diamonds

Well, that was a very exciting experience…

A few months ago, a friend on mine (Mark, aka IronStriker) was doing a lot of talking about indie films and it peaked my curiosity.  I’m not all that interested making my own indie film, but I have always been curious about the process and I love to learn all I can about film making.  So I started doing some research and hanging out in some online indie forums.

I also did a search for anything going on locally in my area (I live in Topeka, KS) and ran across the 48 Hour Film Festival. After reading about it on their web site and seeing that they were coming to Kansas City, MO (about a 90 minute drive), I decided to sign up as an team member.  Essentially, you post what your experience is and what you would like to do and if any team leaders need extra help, they can contact you.  I figured someone might need some help with doing the title sequence and ending credits.

Although I started getting emails from the 48 Hour group weekly, I had pretty much forgot about it after a few weeks.  And I started ignoring the emails after a month or so.  But about a week ago I got an email with 48 Hour in the subject and it wasn’t from the group, it was from a team leader.  He was asking what I was “able” to do and how much I was “willing” to do.  After a couple of emails back and forth, I decided to join his team and he accepted.

So, Friday, July 31st, I showed up for the opening “ceremony” and met Jess, the leader of our team (Go Team Earthquake!) and most of the rest of the team.  It was held at a small downtown area bar in Kansas City.  There were 15 total teams this year and I think about 80 people showed up that night.  About 20 of which were from my new team.

Jess and his friends are primarily “theater people” from the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC).  He got his master’s degree there and teaches in the theater department at the school.  Most of the group also does some Television and Film work as well, but mostly they do theater.

Essentially the 48 Hour Film Festival is mostly what it sounds like, you have 48 hours to make a film.  At the kickoff they give you a genre (Drama, Comedy, Horror, etc…), a line of dialogue that has to be used, and a prop that has to appear.  All of the creative process; writing, filming, editing, etc.. has to be done within that 48 hour period.  You can’t use any stock footage or pre-filmed stuff.  The finished film has to be between 4 and 7 minutes long.

Our team included a very talented writer who writes radio dramas on a regular basis, an incredible composer duo, a professional lighting expert, a professional sound expert, a professional costume designer/makeup duo, and some of the most talented actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Jess and his assistant Tanya are incredibly well organized and handled the production process which was mostly wrangling the rest of us and getting stuff done when it needed to be done.  Jess and Tanya had worked up a schedule a couple days before things got started so that the process would “hopefully” go smoother.

At the kick off we got our genre, which has “Holiday Film”.  A line of dialogue, which was “So, what’s your story?”  And a prop, which was a rubber band.  The writer took off immediately after we got all the info and headed to UMKC to start writing a script.  Jess had reserved several rooms there for us to use for the weekend.  The rest of us followed after a short toast by Jess.

My original role was to just do the title sequence, the ending credits, and any effects or compositing work that was required depending on the story and what footage was shot.  However, that changed during the kick off…

I brought my personal camcorder with me because I wanted to film some stuff myself “behind the scenes”.  I was extremely interested in the entire process of making an “indie film”, so I planned on being there during as much of the process as I could to soak in as much knowledge as possible.   After pulling my camera out of my bag to film some of the kick of process, Zach (the D.P. and camera guy) started asking me questions about it…

Zach is an amazing photographer.  He does a lot of theater posters and like all great photographers has a great “eye” for esthetics.  He is also incredibly knowledgable about PhotoShop.  But he hasn’t done a whole lot of filming and is not very experienced with camcorders.  I’m not an expert by any means, but I’ve been doing a LOT of work with my camcorder and reading voraciously about every aspect of filming (lighting, composition) and the process of shooting footage.  So after about 15 minutes of conversation with Zach, we decided that my camcorder would be used as the primary camera for filming and I would work as his assistant during the filming process.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Touchy feely..., Videography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gonna be a long weekend

I joined a team for this weekend’s 48-hour Film Festival in Kansas City, MO.  I will be working on graphics, titles, special effects, etc…  Taking my camera long with me to film behind the scenes stuff.

Should be fun.

July 31, 2009 Posted by | Videography | , , , , | Leave a comment

My Dream Stock Footage Site…

My dream stock footage site would have the following features:

Allow the artist to set the price for clips.  Allow creating “bundles” of clips and allow the artist to set the price for bundles. Pay a minimum of 50% royalty on sales.

Mobile device friendly site.  A lot of producers I know have iPhones and would kill to search/browse clip libraries without having to crack open the laptop.

Allow me to create a “brand” and apply that branding to my portfolio page and all of my clip pages.  Almost like a mini-store for my clips within the main site.

Allow me to have a blog on my portfolio.  More importantly, allow me to have a VIDEO blog on my portfolio where I can produce tutorials on how to use my clips or ideas on using my clips.  Something integrated into my portfolio, not just a link to YouTube or Vimeo.  And allow me to upload a show-reel to my portfolio.

Allow me to embed clip previews on other sites, such as my blog so that I can drive more buyers to my portfolio.

Allow me to create time-sensitive discount codes for my portfolio.  So I could create a discount code for 5% off of all my clips and that 5% comes out of my end, not the sites.  This would aid me in marketing my own stuff.

Allow me to upload different sizes and encoding for my clips and set different prices for the sizes, but show it all on the main clips page.  (RevoStock already does this and Pond5 “sort of” does this.)

For buyers, have a “My Studio” feature that allows them to place purchased clips in their “Studio” and do things like re-encode them in another codec, resize them, trim them, etc.

Allow artists to edit the data for their clips, even after they’ve been submitted and approved.  (Pond5 and RevoStock both do this.)  Allow artists to download all of the meta-data for their portfolio.  (Pond5 does this.)

Provide artists with sales data.  Most popular clips over a given period by both dollars and downloads.  (Pond5 does this.)

Daily notifications of sales at the end of day.  When rejecting a clip, please include the original uploaded filename in the rejection notice.  Do not delete the clip and make the artist re-upload it if there is a problem that can be fixed without re-uploading.

Support both FTP and Web uploaders for submitting footage.

Flexible limits on both clip length and file size depending on the content.  Not hard limits.  (Pond5 does this.)

Automatic monthly payments when the payout limit is reached.  Reasonable minimum payout. (Pond5 leads the pack with $25 minimum.)

No exclusive contracts or exclusive vs non-exclusive pricing.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography | , | 1 Comment

Can Stock Photo, friendly folks but ugh…

A friend on Pond5 notified me when Can Stock started accepting footage recently.  They’ve got a pretty good reputation in stock photography, so I decided to sign up and give it a try.

Finding footage on their site is a horrible experience.  But I don’t think most of their sales come from their own web site.  They offer their entire catalog through Fotosearch.com which has a TON of buyers.

They set the prices on clips, but they offer 50%.  I haven’t actually sold any footage through them yet, so I don’t know what Fotosearch sets for their prices.

Quite honestly, the submitter interface is easy to use, but not artist friendly.  But footage is still a work in progress with Can Stock, so it’s getting better.

They accept footage encoded in most codecs as long as it’s in a .MOV wrapper (just like Pond5) which makes uploading a lot of stuff with alpha real easy.

But the main reason I like them is the staff there are ultra friendly.  They answer questions quickly, answer you directly and are always looking for suggestions.  Reminds me of the good ole’ days with Pond5.

For most people, Can Stock probably isn’t mature enough yet for submitting unless you like getting in on the ground floor.  Footage sales are slow (I haven’t sold anything yet), but it’s a maturing site that keeps getting better.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography | , , | Leave a comment

RevoStock, getting better

I think RevoStock is one of the oldest stock footage sites on the net.  It’s certainly the first one I ever encountered when I first got into the business.  But it’s one of the last I actually joined because they make you take a stupid test in order to sell through them.

The site looks very professional, but it’s not a “clean” interface by any means.  It’s very cluttered, although it’s not a complicated site to use.

At present RevoStock sets the price on all footage.   And they pay you 60% for clips that are exclusive to their site and 45% for clips that are not.  The goal is to get you to submit unique clips to RevoStock only, but the extra 15% isn’t really worth it.  If you are not uploading to more than one site, you’re losing way more money than 15%.  Their pricing is also really convoluted as clips are given “levels” based on how many times they sell (the price goes up as a clip sells more). It’s a tad confusing.  Rumor has it they are going to allow artists to set their own prices, if they do… Watch out Pond5 because RevoStock has a huge customer base and can seriously compete as most artists join.

RevoStock only supports clips encoded with PhotoJPEG and MotionJPEG.  They do not accept clips encoded in other formats, which I think hurts them.  They also limit  clips to 20 seconds which also hurts them.  I have a number of very big sellers on Pond5 that are 30 seconds and cutting them to 20 seconds ruins the clip.

The submitter interface isn’t nearly as good as Pond5’s, but it’s still pretty good.  And like Pond5 you can edit clip information even after a clip has been submitted.  Unfortunately, they don’t save the original filename so it’s harder when the first frame of a clip looks the same or similar to other clips in your portfolio.  They do let you upload your own still for the preview image which is pretty cool. They also let you upload different sizes for your clip which are offered on the same page as the original.  This is actually better than ShutterStock which automatically resizes clips and the artist loses control of the quality.

The RevoStock staff seems pretty friendly on their forums.  They love feedback from both artists and buyers and they have open conversations with people.  Although, they’re a little slow to respond at times.  I’ve made a few suggestions and the answers I got back were friendly, but I felt like they were “blowing me off”.  But that could just be me…

I think at one point they were actually the “Stock Footage Champion” before Pond5 really became popular.  And from the posts in their forums of late, I think they realize it and are working to get back to #1.  They seem like really nice folks and although I think the whole “exclusive” thing is a crock, they are still very artist friendly.

And in case you missed it before, they have a HUGE customer base.  So they SELL A TON OF FOOTAGE.  RevoStock should definitely be on your list of sites to sell through.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography | , , | Leave a comment

ShutterStock or ShudderStock depending on your point of view

ShutterStock started out as just stock photos and artwork, then added footage later.  And from an artist point of view, if you only do stock footage, the tools and features of the site make you feel like footage is the “red headed stepchild”.  The submitter interface feels like an afterthought and certainly isn’t nearly as friendly as Pond5, RevoStock or several other sites.

ShutterStock sets the prices on the footage they sell and they only pay 30% for per clip “downloads”.  They offer subscriptions and they pay even less if a clip is purchased through a subscription.  Definitely among the lowest in the industry.

Besides rejecting clips for technical reasons, a reviewer may also judge the “value” of a clip and decide that the clip you uploaded isn’t “stock worthy” and reject it because they simply don’t like it.  With dozens or more reviewers, that means you get a dozen or more opinions as to what is “stock worthy” and what isn’t.  If you get a clip rejected for this reason, you can usually wait a week, re-upload, re-submit and have it pass from a different reviewer.

And yes, I said “re-upload”.  If a clip is rejected, it’s deleted by the system.  Even if it’s a keywording error, you still have to re-upload the clip.  And if you have more than one clip rejected, you have to guess what they were.  The original filename is lost, all you get if the number they assigned to it.  The submitter interface is really not very friendly.

Most of the artists who participate in the forums are pretty nasty and not very helpful people.  Most of them only use the “photography” side of the site, but they have no problem jumping in and giving their opinion in any thread.  Not all of them are that way, certainly there are a number of friendly people. But I have found the majority to be mean and unfriendly.  Including some of the staff comments I’ve come across.

So why submit there if the site is that bad?  Because, like Wal-Mart, they SELL A LOT OF FOOTAGE.  They’ve been in the business for a very long time, they have a HUGE number of buyers.  If you have a good number of clips with them and they are popular, you can make a lot of money with ShutterStock.

Unfortunately, the people who run ShutterStock realize this and know that they don’t have to treat artists fairly or even well.  Oh sure, there are individuals at ShutterStock that are nice helpful people, but not anyone who makes any of the business decisions.  ShutterStock is all about business and making money.

So, yes, because they know how to get buyers and how to make money, I keep my account active and I am increasing the size of my portfolio there.

Btw, I want to make it perfectly clear that nobody from ShutterStock has treated me badly.  My opinion is based on a comparison of how they do things versus how other sites do things.  They pay low, reject high, and from reading thousands of posts in their forums over the past few years, they have an unfriendly tone to their posts.  The overwhelming majority of comments I read on other sites about ShutterStock are negative… with one glaring exception… they make people a lot of money.  Which is why artists continue to submit and deal with them.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography | , , | Leave a comment

Pond5, the disputed leader and champion

Pond5 is my favorite site for selling stock footage.  The crew there has always been helpful, friendly and listen closely to contributors.  It’s a friendly relationship, not a confrontational one.

Pond5 lets you set your own price for each individual clip you upload.  They have a minimum of $5 for anything smaller than HD and a $10 minimum on HD.  There is no upper limit.  And they split each sale with you 50/50.  This is the second best payout among footage sites.

Pond5 only rejects clips for technical reasons or if you violate their content terms.  They DO NOT pass judgement on what is “sellable” or not, they let their customers decide what sells.  I have seen some stuff that I think is horendous, but it has still sold.  Pond5 truly understands that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.  As a result of this liberal policy, they have grown to be the biggest artist contributed site on the net despite a number of sites having been around longer.

The Pond5 web site looks very professional and has a simple and clean design.  Emphasis is on getting clips in front of buyers and not hokey stuff that is “nerd cool” but serves no purpose to the experience.  Buyers and artists have clip bins that can be public or private and each clip page has nearly complete technical data on each clip.

They support more codecs than any other site, which is EXTREMELY artist friendly.  Of course, they prefer PhotoJPEG and MotionJPEG, but they still accept Apple PNG, Apple Animation, and MP4.  Plus, if the sound is relevant to the clip, they accept clips with sound.

The management tools for artists to manage their portfolio are THE BEST of any site.  It’s very easy to quickly make changes to pricing on just one of your clips, a group of clips or all of your clips.  All of the data for your clip is editable, even after it’s been submitted.  And you can download a CSV file with full data on your clips (number of views, number of sales, price, original uploaded filename, etc..).

The Artist Resources are steller.  You can get reports on the best selling clips for the last week and the last month sorted by dollars earned or number of downloads.  You get a complete breakdown of the most popular sizes being downloaded as well as the average pricing of clips for each size.  No other site gives you as much information to help you in your own marketing and clip production.

If you submit a clip and it is rejected, they do not delete the clip.  They leave it so that you can correct any mistakes if there is a correctable mistake.  So you don’t have to re-upload it.  They also store the original filename in their database and let you view it, so that it helps you with your own book keeping.

They send you email notifications of accepted and rejected clips when clips are reviewed.  And you get email notifications of any sales.  They delay processing of sales by a few days so that buyers have a chance to notify them of any issues that might require a refund or if the transaction is fraudulent.  But this is actually a great system because you don’t end up with a bunch of refund notifications on your account.  The only downside is that the tally process is somewhat manual and sometimes they forget to do it for a day or two.  So you if you sell clips on a regular basis, a few days may go by without any notifications.  It’s excruciating for someone with little patience. 🙂

It’s not all roses, however…  The site is not mobile device friendly, so browsing for clips on your cell phone or iPod/iPhone won’t work.

When the site was in beta and for the first year or so after beta the Pond5 staff communicated almost daily with the artists.  Now that the site has matured, the communication is much less frequent.  Pond5 has grown considerably with lots of new faces and they have announced some great new (and highly anticipated) features, but many of us who have been with the site for a long time miss that dialogue.  They are still SUPER FAST at acknowledging and fixing bugs, but the daily conversations about what they’re doing and what we want to see are a thing of the past.

Depending on your viewpoint, another annoyance is that they don’t do very much policing of search keywords.  So it’s pretty easy to slip popular keywords into your clip data in order to get it viewed more often in searches.  From a buyer point of view, it’s gotta be very frustrating to do a search on “christmas” and have a dozen or more clips show up on the first page that have nothing to do with Christmas or any other holiday.  Many sites have the ability to report keyword issues on each clip page, but not on Pond5.  For the moment if you have an issue, you have to contact the staff through their messaging system.

By far, in my opinion, this is the best of the stock footage sites from an Artist/Submitter point of view.  They are fair, they let artist set  their own prices and they treat artists with respect and we are treated as partners.  Very refreshing compared to most other sites.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography | , , | Leave a comment

Sell your stock footage online

I get a lot of emails asking about my opinion on the various stock footage sites through which I sell.  And occasionally I even get an email from a stock footage site asking my opinion on what they can do better.  So, I thought I’d post about what I think of various sites I use and also what my perfect stock footage site would be.

I’ll seperate each site into a different post to make things a little easier to read.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography | , | Leave a comment