When this time of year rolls around I get ready to travel and shoot footage for intro videos, commercials, player features and to shoot plenty of stills. We capture the content for fall sports in the summer. Then we spend the months leading into football and basketball season creating the designs and videos that schools market with.
It's an exciting time of year around Old Hat World Headquarters. Every year we do bigger and better things and I'm excited to try and top everything we did last year.
The Part Where We Talk About Gear
One of the things we've done in the past year that has helped me tremendously is organizing our gear for those shoots. Since we moved Old Hat into a new space we have a legitimate gear closet now. Things are still a little messy, but they're 500% better than our previous situation.
(Just some of our gear that's in the closet right now. Oh how I love thee gear closet. Let me count the ways...)
We used to keep all of our gear in a small crawl space underneath some stairs. This was not exactly ideal for getting access to everything. I think Deb liked it the most, since it was right next to her desk and she enjoyed the way I stacked boxes around her. :)
When scheduling a shoot for a client there are several things to consider. Are we shooting stills or video or both? The equipment requirements for a still shoot are different than the requirements for a video shoot. There is some overlap in what to bring but of course there are differences that must be accounted for.
Stills require strobe lights, or strobes for short. These lights fire off a burst of light that illuminates the subject then fades away to black again. Video requires continuous lighting or lights that stay on the whole time. Despite what some clients might wish, you can not shoot video and stills with the same lights. Not if you want it to look good anyway. (There's a gray area here, but for the most part this statement shall be taken as truth.)
The Part Where We Talk About Big Ideas
(Hey, I think I can see Quentin Tarantino from up here!)
Dustin's Rule #1 - Almost everything you want to shoot requires more lights than you think it does.
It's important to keep budget and expectations in line with each other when on a shoot. Here's a behind the scenes photo from the set of the movie Django Unchained. They were creating the illusion of moonlight to shoot some night scenes. All it took was a couple of massive cranes, several very large generators and a couple of light banks big enough to light an entire field. Something to keep in mind next time you have that brilliant idea for a night shoot.
On the flipside of that, I've shot plenty of intro videos after dark. On those shoots we were lucky enough to have equally large football stadium lights at our disposal. So there is that, but just saying... be sure and temper your expectations to your resources.
Dustin's Rule #2 - Almost everything you want to shoot requires more room than you think it does.
Sometimes clients want to shoot on green screen. It's an excellent way to add special effects and graphics to your videos that aren't possible in a practical sense. We do a lot of that at Old Hat. However, it always takes more green screen than you think it does.
Above is a behind the scenes photo of a scene from The Matrix. We've got guys up in the air on wires, crash pads, bullet time cameras, etc. Lots of stuff going on to create the illusion of this shot below.
So, make sure you have a big space to shoot to go along with your big idea. Personally, I like big spaces to shoot and I cannot lie. You other video shoot people can't deny.
Ok, now that we've made that reference I'm going to wrap this up for now. Make sure and hire us to come out and shoot videos for you this summer. If this blog has taught you anything it's that I promise to rent or ship obscene amounts of lighting and then set it up in huge rooms to shoot. Or to make whatever you have work and still look awesome no matter what the obstacles. One of those two. ;)
Know what's difficult? Running a business. Raising children is tough, sure. But the results of your failures aren't quite as immediate. If you screw up in raising your kids, you probably won't realize it until they're meth addicts or shooting at people from a clock tower. Running a marathon is difficult. But it's difficult for 18 weeks leading up to it and then for 4 hours during (or if you're a complete stud like me, 3 hours and 35 minutes). Running a business is always difficult. It never gets easy. No matter how well things are going, there are always new challenges. Back me up here, Trip Durham! And if you screw up, people lose their jobs. If you screw up BIG, you lose everything.
One of those difficulties we face every year is how to be properly prepared for the onslaught of "busy season" for the upcoming year. Right now we're in our "dead season" which doesn't mean that we don't have lots to do. It just means that compared to August, September and October, the spring months are a breeze. But Old Hat has been around for 9 years and each year we have seen exponential growth in the amount of work that we have coming in. And it seems like each year we are understaffed through those busy months. What I am faced with each spring is making sure that we are properly staffed for that time period but not OVERstaffed. We don't want to be put in a position where we have to lay-off someone after the busy season ends because we don't have enough work. We also have to decide when to bring in new people in order to train them and have them ready for busy season. If we hire too soon, we're putting money toward an unnecessary payroll expense for someone that doesn't have anything to do. If we hire them too late, busy season comes and they aren't properly prepared. So every May/June, we have to decide who we're hiring, how many people we're hiring and when to bring them on. Hire too many and we spend too much on payroll and profits suffer. Hire too few and everyone is miserable all fall because they're working too much.
Growing is painful at times. And even though you can analyze past successes and failures, study your numbers, etc... it's all just a big guessing game. Sometimes I guess right and sometimes I guess wrong. I've gotten better at it over the years but last year we had the biggest jump in growth we'd ever had and there was no way to know it was coming. It seems to have just happened. Do I prepare this year for that level of growth? Or do I prepare for what we had typically done in prior years? Or is this the year where it all levels out and we hardly grow any?