Chaser Video: Marketing, Rates, Licensing, Doc, Sources

Joined
Apr 16, 2004
Messages
1,613
Location
Austin, Tx
Video Professionals: I find it odd that for all the large number of chasers and threads on Stormtrack there seems to be very little discussing one of the fruits of chasing...VIDEO. I did a scan using the search function and found nothing. Now I know that this has been discussed on wx-chase but I think it is time to update and add to Stormtracks archives. To this end I'll try and come up with some questions regarding this topic and you can provide information about how you do it or know it is done.

1) What type of rate do you use or believe chasers should use when selling video? Explain the different situations.

2) What type of contract do you typically sell your video with, and what clauses? Do you use in perpetuity for any use, or do you only provide one use? Can you provide sample contracts for others to use or learn from?

3) What form do you usually provide your storm footage in? Do you use mini-dv, or dvd, etc?

4) Do you just provide a copy of a master reel for review, or do you somehow watermark it perhaps with a timestamp and then you send the real master after they have purchased it?

5) Are you worried about buyers taking video out of sequence or using it without permission, etc? Do you have any recommendations on how to prevent this practice of using your video without permission?

6) Do you have any sources that purchase video that you are willing to share?

7) How do you typically market your video?

8. Do you submit your work with the copyright office? Do you think you need to?

9) Do you use a lawyer to assist in handling these issues.

10) Are you aware of any stock agencies or production companies looking for storm related video?

Please feel free to add any other that I have left out. Also if this is listed elsewhere in ST archives please provide a URL to some of this info for others.
 
Stuart,

I leapt on the bleeding edge and decided I wanted to have High Definition content. Chasing has become so over saturated in the plains that great footage is not worth very much. My hope was that HD content would command a premium.

The simple fact of the matter is that very few local stations are in a position to produce or air locally produced HD content. The stations have upgraded to the point that they can rebroadcast network provided HD content, but nothing locally.

I believe there will be an exploding documentary opportunity as HD reaches a broader audience.

HD is an alluring mistress and once you have seen it, it is sometimes hard to watch a DVD.
 
I don't actively solicite video for sale, but I have in the past, so technically I'm a professional :lol:

Originally posted by Bill Tabor+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Bill Tabor)</div>
1) What type of rate do you use or believe chasers should use when selling video? Explain the different situations.[/b]

A per-second rate. It's the only way to make money. Selling in bulk (30sec/min) is where you get ripped.


Originally posted by Bill Tabor+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Bill Tabor)</div>
2) What type of contract do you typically sell your video with, and what clauses? Do you use in perpetuity for any use, or do you only provide one use? Can you provide sample contracts for others to use or learn from?[/b]

I'm not very schooled here. Suffice to say my standard rate is encompassed by a one-year, non-exclusive contract.


Originally posted by Bill Tabor

3) What form do you usually provide your storm footage in? Do you use mini-dv, or dvd, etc?

Digital 8. Though I have sold on both VHS and VHSc formats.


<!--QuoteBegin-Bill Tabor
@

4) Do you just provide a copy of a master reel for review, or do you somehow watermark it perhaps with a timestamp and then you send the real master after they have purchased it?

I either had the producer visit me personally and gave them a screening of the tape, or I charged $500 on the spot to let a producer take a copy with them for reviewing. Whether or not they chose to use the tape, the $500 was non-refundable. If they chose to use the tape, then the standard per-second rate was added onto the initial $500 for whatever amount of material they used. Needless to say I never got any business this way, but when your top priority is not getting ripped off (instead of just making a sale) it doesn't really matter if you sell or not.


<!--QuoteBegin-Bill Tabor


5) Are you worried about buyers taking video out of sequence or using it without permission, etc? Do you have any recommendations on how to prevent this practice of using your video without permission?

My answers are "yes" and "don't sell video".


Originally posted by Bill Tabor+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Bill Tabor)</div>
6) Do you have any sources that purchase video that you are willing to share?[/b]

Nope. (I don't have any sources)


Originally posted by Bill Tabor+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Bill Tabor)</div>
7) How do you typically market your video?[/b]

I only sell my own videos from my website, so there's not much marketing there. I basically just let the customer know who I am, what it is I'm offering, and what is included on the video. That's about it.


Originally posted by Bill Tabor

8. Do you submit your work with the copyright office? Do you think you need to?

I did once, years ago. But when you're the kind of person who moves a lot (as I did back then) it's pointless to go through the LOC because they take six months to reply and they never tell you if they even received your copyright request. If you move before you receive their reply, you have to resend it and that's another six months of waiting. I don't think a person needs the LOC copyright stamp to win a infringement case. Using the standard copyright logos and text is proof enough, and much easier and faster. True, you could be entitled to more benefits in an infringment case if you had the LOC copyright, but IMO it's not worth the half year's wait. Of course I'm no expert.


<!--QuoteBegin-Bill Tabor
@

9) Do you use a lawyer to assist in handling these issues.

No. Like the marketing thing, it takes money to make money when dealing with lawyers, and I just don't have the capital lying around.


<!--QuoteBegin-Bill Tabor


10) Are you aware of any stock agencies or production companies looking for storm related video?

Pioneer Productions is a big favorite among chasers, but they have their regular customers that they will solicit so getting your foot in the door with them will be a 100% self-effort. It's not what you have, it's who you know. But everything in this world is.
 
I am going to sound rude answering it this way Bill. I consider you one of my buds, but I am just going to be frank here. ( I sure hope Frank doesn't mind!) :wink:

Anyone that IS licensing their video on a regular basis is not going to tell you (publicly and maybe not privately) all the details your asking for. Why is that? I can only speak for myself, but I am sure this holds true to some degree for anyone else that does it on a regular basis.

A LOT of work goes in to researching markets for it, emailing tons of people, TONS of phone calls, time and money spent sending out demos etc etc etc. Frankly, why would anyone come and give their work away for free. It's not impossible to find out this information, but I feel if someone wants to do this, they should be willing to do like the rest of us that DO it and put forth the efforts to learn gain this information on their own. Alternatively, you could sign up with one of the "agents" that are floating around and have them do all that for you for a %. If it's worth doing, it's worth putting in the footwork for.

The mom and pop store down the street isn't going to tell you what supplier they get their merchandise from so you can go and get it and undersell them. Again, I don't mean this in a rude or condecending way WHATSOEVER, it's just the nature of a business market. It's like asking Coca Cola for their secret formula so you can make your own drink.

No one contract I have ever did with anyone has been the same. They all vary depending on what the material is, and what they are using it for, and quite frankly, what other benefits there might be in it for letting them license it.

That said, I have pointed a few in the right general direction, but I won't ever give specifics of who I deal with because I think I am doing them a better favor by helping them to learn on their own, rather than just hand over all the answers. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing some work of your own for. Teach a man to fish, you know...

Some tips:
1) Never, EVER let your original out of your hands, EVER. If you do, command big $$$ for it. Make a digital copy of it and send that instead.

2) If your not AT LEAST shooting Digital8, then don't bother. Cheap, low end consumer cameras pretty much all now shoot Digital8 or better, so if you seriously want to market your stuff, you should at the very least move up to Digital8 or DV. The reason is digital can be copied many times with little to no loss, something you just can't do with analog, even Svideo.

3) Never sign anything that gives your ultimate end rights to the material away, EVER. IF they want that, they pay BIG $$$ Remember, if you sign your rights away, you can't even put a video grab on your website from that material. And by BIG $$$ on this I mean a check with 5 or 6 zeros behind a number for complete rights. Once you sell it like that, it's no longer yours whatsoever for any use at all. What you shot is unique. If someone wants complete rights to your video, then they need to pay to have those rights for uniqueness. Remember them having complete rights, also gives them the right to sell it to someone else.

4) Never give anything to any news outlet without stipulating a 10-day only license.

5) Never license anything to a production company for use outside of a specific production. Each production should have it's own unique license, even if it's the same footage.

6) Producers/editors WILL edit it/chop it up, use it here and there in the program. If that is a concern for you, as Shane says, don't license out your video. It's going to be the rare situation you can get them to take it as is and not cut it up.

7) If you licensing it to a local TV station, license it for 10-days only and stipulate NO SATELLITE FEEDS. They often don't have the budget to pay very much for it, only a fraction of what you can get on a national level. Thus, for the cheaper price for local use, never let them send it satellite. If it's going national, the networks have the $$$ to pay for it.

8 ) You can license out older material, or daily type stuff to different people as stock video with unlimited usage to the licensee, but STILL keep the ultimate license for yourself.

9) Do yourself and other chasers a HUGE favor and edit out anything that is going to make you (or other chasers) look like a dumbass before releasing it.

10) ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get it in writing! ALWAYS. Before the whole process is done and you get paid, your inevitably going to deal with certain individuals. Those you made the deal with, work with MANY sources and TONS of video. They won't remember the verbal terms in the long run (either accidentally or intentionally). And read EVERY WORD on ANY contract you sign and make sure you agree with it.

11) Realize that in most cases, you probably won't see your money for AT LEAST 60 days, and often longer. You might get it right away from a local station. Networks you will wait, production companies you will wait. It's just the nature of things.

12) Never take their first offer. Guaranteed they will always go higher, if even a little bit.

13) If you want to do this long term, NEVER piss off the producer. Once you have done that, you can kiss that outlet goodbye forever, and maybe others too. They talk. On the other hand, being easy to work with can reap you longer term rewards, as Shane says, some have certain chasers they like to work with and that is why. Everyone likes someone that is easy to work with. So don't be an ass about it to potential buyers. It doesn't make you or the chasing community as a whole appear in a good light.

14) Realize there are a few in the "severe weather video business" that will do their best to shut you down and blackball you. Competition after all. Some play fair, other's don't. Just keep after it. Producers know this is happening and the one's that are doing it. Just goes back to what I said in #11, "everyone likes someone that is easy to work with". Those that are doing that crap will eventually do themselves in.

15) Finally, in the end, don't be disappointed if they take someone else's video from an event over yours. They sometimes have to choose between really good pieces of video. Just because you missed out on that sale, doesn't mean you missed out. There is ALWAYS another outlet of some sort.

Now all the above applies to commercial video licensing (i.e. news, programs, etc).

When it comes to making your own DVD, sell it for what you think it's worth to you. If a buyer thinks it's worth that too, they will buy it. If no one buys it, you might reevaluate the value you put on it.

COPYRIGHTS: Absolutely submit your work to the copyright office. If you put together a tape/dvd to send to a producer, file it with the copyright office. If you make your own DVD/VHS ABSOLUTELY file it with the copyright office. At the very least, make a rough compilation at the end of the year with your best stuff on it, slap it on a DVD and file THAT with the copyright office.

On that other note, I still am not understanding what is perpetuating the myth that GREAT storm video no longer has much value. I find out REGULARLY that is just simply not the case.
 
Shane: Hey man, thanks for breaking that down and being honest. It looks like a lot of work. Not sure how you did all those multiple quotes as I start getting confused when I just have a couple of quotes on a reply. Maybe I'm still not using this interface correct.

You talk about the copyright office. I remember Martin Lisius mentioning that you can reap more if you have your work registered within 90 days. I forget exactly why but something like you can also get damages or something.

Anyway I think this is good and I think Stormtrack should have some notes / resources on this topic in it's archives and appears it doesn't. Strange because this was a common discussion on wx-chase.
 
Originally posted by David Drummond
I am going to sound rude answering it this way Bill. I consider you one of my buds, but I am just going to be frank here. ( I sure hope Frank doesn't mind!) :wink:

Nah, I'm not that thin skinned. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I can always see multiple points of view on a topic.

You say no one would be willing to provide, but back on wx chase we had input from Roger Hill, Tim Marshall, Doug Kiesling, Martin Lisius, Sam Barricklow, Richard Horodner, Chris Novy (just to name a few) discussing everything from rates and terms, providing contracts - even 'chase whores' and 'chaser paparrazzi' - LOL! The majority of that was 2004, 2003, and 2000.

I was trying to document all of this to some degree for myself, but also thought a lot of other members could benefit and others such as yourself and Shane with experience might like to contribute.

That said, you also provided some very good tips, and rules of the road to keep the chaser out of the ditch. Thanks for your input David.

I might mention that one of the big issues on Wx-Chase was typically presented by Martin Lisius who was always a proponent of keeping the prices up and not giving your stuff away. For some reason this was always a point of contention for many.

I can see how it does make sense for people such as Martin to educate the chaser public about rates and contracts so that there aren't a lot of people 'low balling' and giving the stuff away as that just leads to flooding of the market and chaser footage becomes a commodity. If everyone 'holds the line' then all chasers could expect reasonable compensation.
 
Originally posted by Stuart Robinson
Also what is the market now for HDV format in the US?

The HD market should really take off by the end of next year. The FCC is requiring a change over to DTV and as such most people will end up having to buy a new TV, one that is likely to end up supporting HDTV. I also remember reading someplace about the FCC forcing broadcasters to provide some many hours of H/DTV per week but I can't seem to find it now.
 
Bill,

Both David and Shane bring up some very good points. The others you mentioned from the old WX-Chase, I'm sure had very good advice, and the points made are all good.

It really boils down to supply and demand. Demand for video 2 or 3 days after the fact is at an all time low. The supply is great. Every one out there with a camcorder is trying to get the next "News Video Scoop" and make a couple of bucks in the process. Simply take a look at much of the video you see in the "Documentaries", "Storm Stories" and other "reality" and "shock news" video. Generally speaking the video wasn't shot by a professional. Some will be frmo News Teams, but most will come from some on in the backyard with more balls than brains.

Many news agencies won't pay you top dollar for your video. Many have a set price and won't go beyond that because they know someone will come up with something and if they don't, well, they really aren't loosing anything.

Essentially, photography and videography are suffering from teh same issues. More sofisticated software and digital equipment in the hands of everyone and prices continue to fall. Professionals try to keep the prices up, but they are slowly being beat out by the folks that have a digital camera and just a little know how. It's no wonder that most professionals don't share on a public forum. They would essentially be shooting themselves in the foot.

The questions you ask are certainly good questions. But, like David, I don't think you will get very many answers. That's not to say you won't get them. Obviously there are folks out there willing to share or at least used to be willing.

Good luck, I am curious to see what other answers will show up here.

John
 
True Bill, there is was a lot of input from those on all that, as there should and could be. At the same time though, did you see any of them posting contact info of producers they dealt with? Honestly, it's not THAT hard to get that information, but I think if someone is wanting to provide video to someone else, they should do a little work themselves getting the contacts.

As far as keeping the licensing prices up, of course we should. Frankly, it takes a lot of time and money to chase. Equipment is expensive, gas is expensive, your time is valuable. The video/photography you shot that chase day is the end product of all your chase efforts. Is all that only worth a few dollars to you? Even if you only licensed something out once....how much did you spend chasing that day? That month? All year? That event you just shot was unique and will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

John is right, it's tough on the breaking news market. If I see quite a few chasers out around a storm I got something good on, I don't even bother with the immediate news stuff, unless I am chasing for the local station we contract with, which is a whole other setup entirely.

I always know I can find a market for it later without killing myself and ruining my chase day trying to fight others to get it out. I enjoy chasing too much to break off early just to beat someone out.

I will tell you, if your just getting started at this, the road can be long and hard with lots of pitfalls. But in the end, as you establish your contacts, eventually you will start getting THEM calling YOU wanting to know if you got something, and it feels good when you finally reached that point, because you know you must be doing something right when you get to that point.

While he's right, there is always a lot of "junk amateur" video out there that shows up, my experience with producers from network and specialty shows would PREFER to have nice still, well composed and even tripoded footage. No one likes to get seasick watching video. On the other hand, I have found that local stations actually seem to like the shakier handheld stuff, but at the same time, no one wants to see 40 out of 60 seconds of the floorboard either.

There used to be some photography tips on the main StormTrack archives somewhere, you can pull some ideas from those. Go read around some of the professional news photogs forums, you can gather PLENTY of tips there. Just practicing going out shooting everyday clouds and garden variety storms you would be amazed how much that can help you on the more serious stuff.

Quite honestly though, if your not looking at trying to make a career out of shooting storm video, a person would probably be much happier, and still make a decent amount of cash, by doing up their own quality DVD/VHS video product. Make no mistake, if you want to license your stuff, you ARE going to work for it. Consider if that is something you want to introduce in to your chasing... W*O*R*K :wink:
 
Originally posted by jaybarnsmith+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jaybarnsmith)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-Stuart Robinson
Also what is the market now for HDV format in the US?

The HD market should really take off by the end of next year. The FCC is requiring a change over to DTV and as such most people will end up having to buy a new TV, one that is likely to end up supporting HDTV. I also remember reading someplace about the FCC forcing broadcasters to provide some many hours of H/DTV per week but I can't seem to find it now.[/b]

I sure hope the hard drive prices take a crash landing right along with it too, cuz your gonna need SPACE editing that stuff!

Our station got some new HD cameras. They are already broadcasting an HDTV channel. I didn't get anything but a quick look at the cameras, but I am told they don't use any kind of tape, but memory cards instead that hold 20 min of video. They have new machines they can plug those cards right into and BAM instant editing. No more tape jogging or messing around capturing video to edit. I can't WAIT for the day for that stuff to come down and be cheaper for the freelance guys like myself to afford! :shock: I watched one of the reporters edit a segment and I was astounded! She was a pure MASTER flying though to get a whole segment edited out and ready in 20 minutes!
 
David and the others have already answered these questions but I'll add my "two cents"


up with some questions regarding this topic and you can provide information about how you do it or know it is done.

1) What type of rate do you use or believe chasers should use when selling video? Explain the different situations.

I divide video into two groups: Immediate news and archival stuff. Immediate news loses value by the production deadlines for that day's evening news and additional value on subsequent days. Generic storm video is almost worthless within a day unless it is very unique and associated with a big event. Local stations pay little or nothing but are of use for uploading by satellite. Sometimes, one can get a couple hundred dollars. Keep in mind that broadcast on a network or TWC can act as good advertising.

Archival video, if of a big event, can yield more money to companies for documentary use. For example, I sold some crappy video outside of the Hallam storm while my beautiful tornado footage from May 29 went unsold because I was on the northern KS storm. In the case of production companies, I like to charge by the second ($20 to 40) with a minimum usage of 10 seconds or a minumum charge. I think having a minimum number of seconds is important. I have sold footage and only a few seconds are used. Even a nice per second charge is not worth the trouble unless there is a minimum.



2) What type of contract do you typically sell your video with, and what clauses? Do you use in perpetuity for any use, or do you only provide one use? Can you provide sample contracts for others to use or learn from?

As David said, 10 DAY LIMIT for news, otherwise they may make their own documentary and use your video at the one year anniversary of the event. I also recommend licensing for one production at a time. Avoid "in perpetuity." I would also avoid exclusive unless there is a time limit.



3) What form do you usually provide your storm footage in? Do you use mini-dv, or dvd, etc?

Mini DV. Don't even waste your time with VHS,Hi8, or DVD camcorders. I have sent sameple footage with DVD's or VHS. Also as David said, NEVER EVER allow a station to take the original. I once talked to a non-chaser who shot some amazing tornado video. He allowed a station to borrow the Hi8 tape and it was lost. He now has 5 seconds of his tornado on VHS recorded from the newsbroadcast.


4) Do you just provide a copy of a master reel for review, or do you somehow watermark it perhaps with a timestamp and then you send the real master after they have purchased it?

I don't know how to watermark. I give a sample VHS or I make a firewire copy of the miniDV to send.


5) Are you worried about buyers taking video out of sequence or using it without permission, etc? Do you have any recommendations on how to prevent this practice of using your video without permission?

I don't care how they cut or edit my video. That's their choice. I will edit out any off color remarks or bad behavior BEFORE I give them the tape.



6) Do you have any sources that purchase video that you are willing to share?

I think most chasers know that Pioneer Productions out of England regularly does severe weather shows.


7) How do you typically market your video?

Many find my video through my website when their production people are searching for specific events. Locally, I just call the station. I have cultivated friendships with some local forecasters/production staff. Previously, one station lost out on video because I talked to some "low man on the totem pole" and I was blown off. I called another station and they got some great video.


8. Do you submit your work with the copyright office? Do you think you need to?

I think it is important.

9) Do you use a lawyer to assist in handling these issues.

I once threatened that I would contact a lawyer with a newspaper that used a photo without permission and that was enough. Usually, a lawyer is more money than any potential monetary benefit (not considering principal)


10) Are you aware of any stock agencies or production companies looking for storm related video?

See above. There is also BNVN, Stormstock and Weatherstock.

Keep in mind that there is a lot of tornado video out there and many agencies are not bothering unless it is very unique. ALso don't forget other weather: Blizzards, Downbursts, Dust Devils etc.


Personally, chasing for fun is my priority and I'd rather enjoy and photgraph sunlilt mamatus, scarf a steak after a big tube, or just relax with friends than rush off to send in video that might be used.



Bill Hark
 
Originally posted by Bill Tabor
...back on wx chase we had input from Roger Hill, Tim Marshall, Doug Kiesling, Martin Lisius, Sam Barricklow, Richard Horodner, Chris Novy (just to name a few) discussing everything from rates and terms, providing contracts - even 'chase whores' and 'chaser paparrazzi'...
Since you are obviously doing some exhaustive research, I hope you will consider putting this all together in one document either here or on a website so that other chasers might benefit, as well as keeping the same questions from coming up over and over. Kind of a video FAQ sort of thing.

Many of us would be quite thankful!
 
Martin Lisius put together a comprehensive presentation on this subject years ago, which was viewable on the old Storm Chaser Homepage run off the Northern Illinois University server. When this page and StormTrack merged in October of 2000, ST absorbed much of this old niu.edu data. I think it's still buried somehwere in the Library section, but I'm not certain.
 
It would seem to me that a lot of the value of footage would depend on what you have shot. I keep seeing the same old footage clips on TV shows. Even the dramatic stuff gets boring after seeing it a hundred times. I'm betting the hard to shoot scenes, like tornados actually hitting something, are going to fetch a lot more money than the average twister shot. This of course brings up the subject of just how far chasers will push the limits to get dramatic footage in order to make money.

Mike
 
Originally posted by Mike Johnson
This of course brings up the subject of just how far chasers will push the limits to get dramatic footage in order to make money.

Mike

And they can push themselves all they want, but if they can't get anything but the floorboard and inside of the car once they get in trouble, it's still not worth much if anything. Ability to keep your head in harrowing situations and still get a good shot can make all the difference, and that goes for shooting any situation in which might be life threatening, be it weather, crime, war, etc.
 
Back
Top