How I Process My Photos As Of 2013

I’ve had a few people of late ask me how I process my photos. So, I thought I’d wright a quick blog post explaining my process–what software I use and when. I do all my photo work between Lightroom and Photoshop.

For the people who assume I use Photoshop for everything and just use Lightroom as a catalogue, I don’t; I do 80%-90% of my work in Lightroom, but I send well over 50% of my images to Photoshop. Even though I use Photoshop for over half my images, I tend to just use it for quick simple things that Lightroom  can’t do or can’t do well.  I haven’t used Photoshop as my primary image editor since I stopped working for a company that did  fashion catalogs.

As an example of my workflow, take a look at this photo I took during the Dallas media dubbed icepocalypse.

Image directly out of the camera
Image directly out of the camera

I took this photo of a road construction site while driving home. To look at it now, it’s nothing special. When I imported to Lightroom I considered this photo to be a disappointment. It looked nothing like what I was expecting.

Image after Lightroom edits
Image after Lightroom edits

After importing to Lightroom, I started fixing the blown out highlights, lens distortion, saturation and overall exposure to turn the photo I came back with into what I was seeing when I took it. Then I started playing with the HLS editor to give it that magical Narnia looking touch, but  with all those color edits, I started to bring out distractions in the images–mostly having to do with the graffiti in the bottom left of the photo.

Image after Photoshop
Image after Photoshop

On to Photoshop to quickly remove the graffiti with an adjustment layer and 3 minutes with the clone stamp tool. Now that I have removed that distraction from the image, I took 30 seconds more to remove some noise, then saved the photo back to Lightroom as a PSD.

How Blacklist Word from YouTube Comments

For those who haven’t heard YouTube just rolled out a new comment system.  They still have a few bugs to work out, but I’m not here to complain. I’ll let the guys from LittleshyFiM explain Everything Wrong With Google+ Youtube Update in 1 Minute or Less and leave my comments out of it. Hopefully Google get’s most of these problems fixed quickly.

All problems aside they did add a few nice features. As I write this I work for  TouchStorm (I have since started a YouTube Channel Management Agency that does better quality work than TouchStorm)  doing YouTube optimization for a pretty big brand. A brand that doesn’t want it’s image tainted with profanity, racial and sexual slurs. S00… Part of my job is monitoring comments and removing said offensive dialog from the conversations taking place on the brand’s channel.

The new comment system problemed tho it may be, made a large part of that task easy.  I now have the ability to blacklist words, blacklisted words are added to a que for you to manually audit. If You’re blocking profanity don’t skip the manual auditing, Just in case Dick Van Dyke or Willie Nelson leave a comment on one of your videos.

Setting up a Blacklist of Words on Youtube

In your youtube dashboard go to Community and click Comment settings and list any words you want to blacklist.

Working With a Video Production Company in the World of YouTube?

NOTE: This was originally published in September 2012 on the Mean Creativity blog. As that site is no lounger maintained it was re published here. My rates and types of projects have changed, but not my billing philosophy.

Mason_sasha_lighting_demo

I work mostly with small companies and start ups doing what we will abstractly call “marketing”. Most of the time, I end up doing online marketing and media production. My background is as a photographer, cinematographer and editor; so I tend to make original videos and photos big parts of a social and search marketing strategy. That’s not just because I have a production hammer and think everything looks like a nail as a friend once accused me of. It’s because video is a huge part of online marketing.

It may just be my clients, but I feel like a lot of people are just clueless about how to work with a video production company. Every time someone comes to me wanting video I have to give them the third degree just to get the information I need to give an estimate. So I wanted to write a quick post explaining some of the problems I’ve run into and what my solutions have been.

How Most Video Production Companies Bill?

Most people who work in video (myself included) don’t like tracking time on set. Instead of billing hourly, most of us work on a flat day or half day rate. Most of the time, gear is billed as a fee of 5-10% of the value of the equipment. Editing is typically as a package–something like 20 hours of editing for a discounted rate. Then, after the first 20 hours, editing would be charged at a normal hourly fee around 20% greater than the package would have equaled if you were adding the number of hours. There are fees for writing, prep days and casting as well.

What it takes to do a video right.

So if someone calls me wanting a 1 minute interview with 4 of their clients in 2 locations talking about how wonderful they are, I’m thinking, “Okay 2 locations, 3 hours at each place it’s a full day. Well we’re shooting on a DSLR  and with lenses the kit fee is $800. Lighting and audio gear comes to a fee of $800 and you’re going to need some stands, gels and that type of thing coming to an other $150ish. I’ll need to pay a production assistant something like $120-$450 depending on experience. With the cost of hiring a camera operator (or paying me to run camera) and a 10 hour editing package comes to around $2,300. But it may be a little more or a little less depending on the project.  Add a half prep day $500 for me to get everything scheduled. This also helps compensate for my time on the phone and replying to emails.
That brings the cost for the video to around $4,750.”

Oh I’m sorry is that too much?

We could go cheap on the lights, maybe cut some gear, shoot in only 1 place (so that the full day becomes a half day) and if the client is clear about what they want and behaves themselves on the number of changes the edit could be done in 10 hours to get the rate to a about $2,900. But that’s still a lot to a start up with say 750K in investment. I’m asking for .25% of all the money they have.

So, as a video production company, I can’t bill less and maintain the quality we both want. I spend an average of a half hour a day on 5 separate days on the phone or sending emails before we even have a contract. I’ll spend at least 3 hours getting the crew and gear ready.  Then I’ll spend a day or at least part of the day on shooting and 2 days out of the next week editing and encoding to send you the video.

The Workaround!

We have some costs set in stone in terms of gear, but those costs are the same if the gear is used for 1 hour or 10. So, let’s say we’ve cut everything we can cut and gone with the $2,900 video and you’re still not sure about it. I say, “Let’s shoot more!” Once you cross the threshold of 4 hour,s you’re paying the crew for a full day. It doesn’t matter if it takes 4 hours and 15  minute or 10 hours, we bill the same amount. Let’s work to come up with 1 or 2 simple video concepts, we could do 4 or 5 if they’re really simple like these product videos I did for Wasp Barcode.

So now you’re spending more than you were spending before. This won’t fix the problem if you simply don’t have the money. If you’re more concerned about bang for your buck, this is the best way: Spend an extra $1,000 or so for more editing and an extra prep day for me to help you come up with concepts for the videos and go over production logistics, but come out with 3 videos. For you $2,900 may be too much for 1 video, but $3,900 may be the perfect price for 3.