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  • Staying resilient and reinventing ourselves

  • jim brodie

    October 30, 2020 at 2:24 am

    Good Afternoon. With the Covid-19 tsunami sweeping the world I thought it would be interesting to compare notes on how everyone is staying resilient and reinventing themselves to stay afloat. I’m curious what others have found to be a small piece of the silver lining in this devastating event that is hurting many of our friends and family. In advance, I extend my condolences to those who are still suffering from its fallout and I wish that everyone reading this remain healthy and in good spirits!

    After completing one of the few projects I’ve produced this year I am taking a long look at what areas of the business am I missing and what are some new areas I could pursue. In the past I’ve concentrated on corporate, educational, promotional and explainer videos for NGOs, corporations and government agencies. With many of these sources drying up here is what I’ve considered:

    Virtual Reality Tours for Real Estate Companies is in high demand right now

    To investigate this idea, I phoned my favorite real estate agent to learn who they hire and what they pay for a short video 90 secs or less and a couple dozen stills. I was surprised to learn (and this in Canadian dollars) that they pay between $170 to $225 for the shoot and edit per house sale. The field production is done in usually 1.5 hours or less with a DSLR and 360 virtual camera such as the Ricoh Theta Z1. Realtors will pay another $125 if you throw in some drone footage. You are lucky to cover 2 -3 homes in a day depending on the time of year because most shoot with available light only. Conclusion: its not worth the effort and time. I suppose with multi-million dollar home the rates could be much higher.

    Tribute/Commemorative Videos

    My second idea which I’ve discovered after being asked to do a commemorative video for a family who lost their 24-year-old daughter to a crippling chronic disease. It was a powerful tribute and I was told that it had a very healing impact on their friends and family. I also found the project uplifting to work on.

    Without being morbid, it opened my eyes to the fact that there are a lot of families right now that can’t grieve appropriately in a group, much less attend a funeral. Some may be open to the idea of producing a powerful memorial for their lost loved one. Has anyone else explored this type of narrative commemorative filmmaking?

    A third idea is to pitch clients on ways we can re-purpose or reinvigorate an older video with some re-editing, vibrant stock footage and some of their own smart phone material. No contact is needed.

    Finally, my third prospective approach is to do short 15 to 30 second mobile phone formatted professional messages for clients. I’m not sure who are the best people to pitch; the companies themselves or their marketing or PR companies that serve a variety of smaller clients who need promotional or explainer videos.

    I’d be interested to hear how others are staying busy and what new trends they see are emerging in their marketplaces. I’d like to stay in the field of video production until I can no longer sit upright in a chair. I look forward to the responses in starting this discussion. I’ll share more ideas as I progress on my search.

    Stay Healthy,


  • Mark Suszko

    October 30, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    You left out what I think is an important service; oral history interviews. This is not flashy work, but it has lasting value; getting people’s memories and thoughts captured, before they’re gone. And you don’t need a huge gear investment or a lot of talent to get started. One soft light, a lav and a shotgun, and some patience in asking leading questions are the fundamentals. With elderly folks, indirect lighting is easiest on their eyes, and a soft box is also more flattering to the face.

  • jim brodie

    October 30, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Yes that is a good one, but up in Canada we are little restricted in who can go into senior’s homes and the window on shooting interviews outdoors has about closed because of the cold weather.

    Your suggestion also brings to mind legal depositions. Is there any market for these kinds of things or has this been replaced by smart phones?

  • Tim Wilson

    October 30, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    We used to make a bunch of money in real estate video in the 90s, but saw it start to crater by the end of the decade with DV. I can’t even imagine trying to make REAL money in it these days competing with phones. Yeah, drone expertise can add a little, but I’m even seeing realtors with pocket drones doing some pretty good stuff on their own. Not as good as we’d make it, but for them, it doesn’t need to be. We used to have a TV show for this stuff. Now, it just needs to be good enough to be better than the average at Zillow.

    There are folks in the COW who’ve made a living with memorial videos, and I think you’re right that interest might be higher now. My uncle died early in the pandemic, nothing related to Covid, but his family wasn’t allowed in the hospital, and there was no funeral because public gatherings weren’t allowed. I’d love to have seen a memorial video in this context, and I know the rest of the family would too. It’s been months, and it still doesn’t feel quite resolved.

    The question I’d have is, how do you pitch it? I’m not sure where you could draw a crowd to tell them about it. Facebook? Maybe NextDoor if you’re trying to make it local.

    The biggest single transition for reinvention that I’ve seen is developing expertise in Zoom production. That includes things like building mini flypacks so that subjects have the right lights and backdrops in hand, and coaching them through setup. The Emmys sent out over 130 of these, and the medical education company that my wife works for just sent 8 of them to the faculty for their newly virtualized fall training session for chief residents in family practice.

    The former live events producers helping them put this together then managed the live streams, ran the breakout rooms, and a variety of AV functions not entirely unlike what they did before, using the same kinds of switchers, graphics, etc., but with the inputs coming in from multiple locations over IP, rather than cabling in a single room.

    It turns out that now is a good time to be pitching this, because people have found the limits of running their own Zoom meetings, and are looking for help raising their game.

    But we’ve even found for things like commercial production that the director can be offsite, managing it remotely. It feels like the more expertise you can develop, the more ways you can apply it.

    The guys I’ve seen be really successful at it are taking time off to seriously train themselves. People on the receiving ends of pitches are able to tell pretty quickly who knows what they’re talking about, again, because unlike a lot of other production scenarios, they’ve tried some stuff and know what DOESN’T work. You just need to show them what DOES work.

    The challenge is always going to be for making pitches outside your current contacts. The knocking on doors scenario is gone forever, I think.

    But especially for helping your current customers with remote production, I think you have some opportunities if you can give them even the barest idea of how much better you can make their lives by relieving them of this burden.

    This is of course the issue with real estate video right now, where your primary competition is realtors who are actually enjoying doing this work themselves, above and beyond the guys who are willing to do for $100 dollars what we used to charge $1500-2000 a pop for as our MINIMUM price in the early 90s.

    This is a great topic, though! I’d love to hear more about how people are having to reposition themselves, new skills you’re picking up, etc.

  • Bill Davis

    October 31, 2020 at 2:21 am

    Definitely re-invention time.

    I’ve been super lucky in that I’ve been “home based” for far more than a decade. But even with that, I had to buckle down and adapt a lot in March to May in order to keep competitive. One huge boon was finding and getting involved with Alex Lindsay’s Office Hours daily Zoom — joining the panel early. It was like a master class in all sorts of remote workflow technologies. I didn’t know much about NDI, OBS, MIMO Live, unreal Engine, AWS Elemental, AKAIMI or VMix when I started, but simply listening to the discussions there, my understanding grew fast.

    At the same time, the OH folk were exploring how to maximize our WFH telepresence.

    I initially participated by installing a simple webcam rig in my voice booth, but realized I needed to do better if I wanted to project a real professional presence. So I bit the bullet and invested in re-configuring my entire edit bay for an improved remote access telepresence. I installed a BlackMagic 6k camera, ATEM mini switcher, neutral roll up background, and added lighting and sound improvements.

    It took me most of 3 months to wire and dial it all in, but as my web presence got more and more professional, my clients started noticing, they started asking me to consult on their rigs.

    I got gigs recording their business meetings and turning them into edited presentations.

    And my Office Hours responsibilities increased as well, and I got chances to act as a substitute host and have made dozens and dozens of new contacts with fellow professionals all over the world.

    To the point where I’ve been asked recently to join with virtual crews helping with some pretty high profile web seminars.

    And these are composed of players often half a world separated, all collaborating in real time virtually.

    This is not the old “fly packs in a ballroom” mode of live gigs. That’s gone bye bye.

    The point of all this is that this pandemic has been a HUGE global industry disruptor.

    Things won’t be going back to “normal” for years if ever.

    And that kinda means adapt or fall behind to my thinking. Seriously I’ve been up at 4-5am EVERY Single day since March trying to stuff my head with new things I think are going to replace the old ways.

    My advice? Dive in and swim hard if you want to remain relevant. Pick some areas that look like they have a strong future. What? Up to you. If I was younger it would be stuff like Swift, Unreal, Dolby Atmos and Vision, and grokking collaborative distribution tools like Frame.Io, Vimeo and (well maybe) YouTube.

    Mostly I’d be ready to do my best to maintain gainful employment while leaving the house as little as possible. Cuz that’s going to be the new normal for a long time.

    My 2 cents.

  • Herb Sevush

    November 1, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Interesting to hear how your adapting Bill, plus I haven’t seen the verb “to grok” used in this millennium and I thought it very sweet.

  • Tony West

    November 1, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    Hi Jim, as Live Sports is a big part of what I do, I was getting prepared for huge changes as I really didn’t believe sports could overcome this for a long time. I was wrong. Sports figured it out and I returned to work inside the bubble. Sports has shown society the way forward in the past (Jackie Robinson comes to mind) and I believe it’s doing that now. MLB, NBA and NHL all completed their seasons, so the lesson I took from that is, you can beat this thing if everyone is on the same “team” and page. So rather than change what I do, I’ve focused more on HOW I do what I already do. If we can pull off these massive sporting events with over 100 cameras surely smaller productions can be done safely also. When I work outside the sports bubble I follow the rules as if I’m still in it.

  • jim brodie

    November 2, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Tim,

    Those are great options… I was wondering where you would start to find training to manage and direct more visually dynamic Zoom meetings?

  • Venus Goyena

    December 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Hi. I am a newbie here and still learning my way around. Found this topic interesting as I am also in the transition period as well doing part time freelancing for social media management and virtual assistance services.

    I am working in the Aviation Industry and most of us in this sector have felt the impact of this pandemic. Since then there were a lot of free time and I had to find other ways to keep myself busy and productive. I started taking online courses and enjoyed working on freelancing. Currently working on my website (, writing blogs and just finished a social media management project. Joining forums also gives me an idea and new learnings about this field. I would say this is my way of reinventing myself.

    Thank you for sharing this post.

    Stay safe.


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