December Newsletter
Nat's Corner




Hello I'm Nat, the Office Manager at Videorama


Happy Holidays Everyone!!!


Email Nat for her famous Chocolate Chunk Cookie Recipe




MANAGER MIKE'S TREASURES 'N TRASH




Videorama Rental Manager Mike here


Check out our
Ebay Store and
new Rental Rates




Email Mike

BY THE NUMBERS
LA Production PPD Stats
• Features
  2008 Q1: 2,386
  2008 Q2: 2,482
  2009 Q1: 921
  2009 Q2: 1,383
DOWN 52.50% YTD
• Commercials
  2008 Q1: 1,989
  2008 Q2: 1,581
  2009 Q1: 1,266
  2009 Q2: 1,193
DOWN 30.4% YTD

This is a snapshot of the film industry compiled by Film LA, expressed as the number of Permitted Production Days (PPDs)
FEATURE STORY
Playback Italian Style!

The new Film & Television tax credit program was signed into legislation this February and will begin paying out the allocated $100 million annually in January of 2011.  These new incentives will offer a 20% tax credit for feature films with a $1 million dollar minimum budget, and new television series licensed on basic cable.  It will also offer a 25% credit to bring back television series that filmed all of their previous episodes out of state.  With features and commercials taking the biggest hit from out of state tax incentives this looks to be a good start for California.

With the steady flow of feature work moving out of state, Videorama! is happy to be working locally on an independent foreign film, the Italian “Christmas in Beverly Hills”.  Eric Williams is doing the Video Assist playback, and he spoke no Italian when he signed on for the job.  The language barrier has really kept him on his toes.  For example, when someone shouts out something in Italian followed by "Eric!", it could mean either “Playback!", "Can you move this monitor!", or "Hey, you’re in the shot!”.  Eric says that although it’s always exciting and interesting to work in a new environment, initially getting the concept of the film was challenging without the ability to speak the language (and the script is printed in Italian too!).  Coming from the commercial production world Eric is now enjoying the steady work of feature films. The added bonus of guaranteed union benefit hours and the enhancement of his new "worldly persona" is really the cream in the cannoli! Ciao!


THE NEW SD•4 VIDEO ASSIST CONTROLLER / SWITCHER
Power and Control
Videorama! Industries is proud to announce the release of an exciting new product for the Video Assist market. The SD•4 is a full-featured, 4 camera capable controller/switcher that takes the job of video assist to a whole new level. At the heart of Videorama's turnkey Video Assist package, or added to your custom setup, the rack mount SD•4 controller allows operators the almost unlimited flexibility needed for the most demanding 1-4 camera productions. It's simple to use, and makes the most complicated setup a breeze! The SD•4 has digital switching, USB Computer control with user customized presets, integrated talk-back and intercoms, multi-video single cabling... well, the features just go on and on. Check it out on our website - this is an amazing must-have new Video Assist component!
HOT TOPIC
Script Supervisors, Computers, and Digital Capture:

The development of computerized script notes in combination with digital capture technology has introduced some additional issues in the already complex Video Assist Script Supervisor dynamic.

These issues include:

Self-sufficiency and the balance between completely prepared with all the tools to do your job, and an utter reliance on other technicians 

At what point, if any, is it appropriate to have a script supervisor playback a captured scene?

The possible loss of printer rental

The addition of yet another trouble shooting scenario for the Video Assist operator to deal with

We at Videorama! have always felt very strongly that we as professionals should be completely self-sufficient and carry all the tools necessary to do our job in most standard configurations.  That is why we always have generators, dolly offsets, suction cups for car rigging and the like. Should there be a setup that requires us to request a tool or help from another department we teach our operators to ask being mindful of the fact that someone is doing you a favor, never demand and take care to specifically return the item when you are finished.  The latter part of the sentence seems to be the biggest challenge in our current situation.  My experience is that many script supervisors do not carry their own cables and or adaptors and have an EXPECTATION that we will have everything they need to do incorporate their new technology into a well established protocol.  When I get asked by scriptys as to what they should include in their package, I always tell them everything it would take to do their job if the was only a monitor set up by a camera department member.  I suggest a couple of bnc cables of a 10 -25ft length, any necessary adaptors required in work with their particular capture device, and additional batteries for their computer to eliminate the need to always have an electrician run power. Also, appropriate backup should accompany all of these items.  The occasional moments where there is conflict inevitably arise when high expectations are accompanied by a communication style that is less than gracious.

Videorama believes simply that it is the job of a video assist technician to provide on set playback, not the script supervisors.  That said, given the increasing demands on all departments, I would have no problem going to a scripty that does full motion capture for help should I have missed a take or otherwise be unavailable to do my job.  As I said before, this would require some diplomacy on my part as I am asking a favor of another technician, and at no time should this technology be used to throw another technician under the bus or undermine our basic job function. Just as I would take a script supervisor aside to make a continuity suggestion, without announcing it to the entire crew or director, l would expect the same protocol in return.

Printer rental is on of the stickiest points in this new dynamic.  Our view is that at no time should any other technician undermine our ability to create any additional revenue for myself or any other technician.  This attitude sometimes fosters resentment as the kit rental for scripty is low or sometimes non-existent at all. My strategy is simple, just begin the job by printing, whether that is a request or not, and with the assumption that there will be a board, even if one does not exist right now.   Scriptys should again be sensitive to the fact that the introduction of this technology again should not significantly alter a well-established protocol.

The last thing an overworked video assist operator needs is another trouble shooting headache. Scriptys should be responsible for not only having all of the physical tools to do their job, but the basic trouble shooting skills as well, and this especially includes computer issues.   Once again it should never be a problem to help another technician who makes a gracious request for help, but that should be balanced by a demonstration of the fact that you run through at least the most basic trouble shooting techniques to eliminate some of the possible causes for the trouble.

This is our view, and we’d welcome your feedback or experiences.  Feel free to submit your comments or issues to feedback@videorama.com.


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