Friday, March 02, 2007

How Was Your Yesterday? Mine Was, uhhh.... Interesting

Yesterday was a long day. My call-time was 9:00 A.M. and I didn't get home till almost midnight. My clients were very new to producing and I'd never worked with them before. The production's video shooter, however, was someone I've known for many years and had worked with, plenty of times, back in the day. I haven't seen this guy for quite a while and I really enjoyed working on a production with him again.

They were producing a 3-D flick which, I'll admit, is a bit unusual. For some reason, they were very close-lipped about the 3-D technology they were employing. They claimed it was proprietary. No problem. After all, no one's ever shot a 3-D flick before.

During a lull in production and simply out of curiosity, I asked a few questions about their camera and recording rig. They declined to answer and, seemingly, became a bit agitated. I was told my questions indicated I'm a little too knowledgeable about production and post-production for them to feel comfortable answering me. After all, it's proprietary, right? Funny, it was like they were saying their rig was a state secret and I might be engaging in espionage or something.


I was just a guy on the crew asking a few innocent questions.

Anyway, they seemed so enamored with their "proprietary" technology they only ocassionally thought to have the performers doing anything that would "play to" 3-D's potential. You know, like creating plenty of opportunities to move the performers, or have them wield props, towards the camera and back away from it... that kind of stuff. Alas, another example of people allowing their love-affair with technology to trump creativity instead of enhancing it.

Earlier in the day, when I first arrived, they told me I was going to shoot with their gear. OK. That's a bit unusual but no problem. I'm a go with the flow kind of guy. They handed me a 5D with a Canon 28-70 f/2.8 "L" zoom attached. I told them I had a 5D with me but they insisted I use their camera. Whatever. BTW, that lens is very sweet, although its min/max focal lengths aren't my first-choice for this kinda work.

Later in the day, one of the producers asked me if I was dumping the cards onto my computer. "Of course," I told them. "That's your backup." This caused a bit of stir. As the conversaton continued, I felt more than a little like they were infering, in a not-overly-subtle way, that I might steal their content. Did I mention the producers were also lawyers? They were. Please note that my laptop was in plain site of them (and everyone else) and I wasn't sneaking over to my computer and dumping the CF cards onto it in any secretive way. I explained it's standard practice for the shooter to back-up the work. In fact, most clients wouldn't hire me if I didn't back-up their images. (Or they wouldn't hire me again if they found out I didn't.)

So, okay, whatever, I told them I wouldn't be using their images (that I'd already backed-up) for anything other than a bit of promotion--for their benefit as well as mine--and, assuming I did so, it would only be a couple of images and I'd properly watermark them. They seemed satisfied with this. But, since it became an issue, I stopped backing-up whatever I shot from that point on.

Fast-forward to my arrival home last night.

I thought, before going lights out, I'd look at some of the stuff I shot and backed-up. That's when I discovered someone, apparently, deleted everything I saved to my drive! I gotta tell you, I felt fairly insulted when I realized what had taken place. At the very least, someone could have asked *me* to erase the stuff off *my* computer or, at the very VERY least, told me they had done so. If, by some quirk of fate, their computer crashes and they lose all the images I shot -- which has happened a few times in the past or, at least, something similar happened -- oh well.

Just for a bit of personal satisfaction, I used file recovery software to recover the deleted images. Yeah, I felt a little better just doing so. I've been doing this a long time. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Can you imagine how long I'd be working for most anyone if word got out that I was ripping people off for the images they hired me to shoot?

Sorry, but no images from yesterday's shoot to post along with this. I could do so if I wanted to but I'm not going to post anything from that shoot anywhere. Not because I can't. Not because a few of the models weren't exceptional. Not because I'm concerned about legal ramifications. And not because I'm overly preoccupied with these guys hiring me again -- and I will mention that I worked hard for my money, remained upbeat and enthusiastic throughout the production day, and snapped some pretty good stuff for them -- but simply because I have a bitter taste in my mouth over a few of yesterday's events.

Other than all that, it was a pretty good day, I (for the most part) enjoyed myself, and I look forward to working for these producers again. Assuming that happens, I will, as always, strive to be an asset to the production and deliver exceptional work.


GeoWulf said...

It's a good thing you were wearing your tinfoil beanie and had your lucky rabbit's foot on your keychain.

Backups.. who's ever heard of backups. I'm an IT guy and we NEVER backup.. it's for Wimps..



Robert said...

Your expeience is evidence of why I never leave my computer unattended at a shoot without a password protected screensaver.

I try to be a "go with the flow" type of guy, too, but you are much better at it than I. Going behind your back to delete images off of a computer that you own demonstrates two key aspects of the producers. They are jerks. They are lawyers who are not above violating federal laws with serious penalties for tampering with a computer, which means they are ethically challenged. I assume that your contract with them specifically states that you get to use images from the shoot for self promotion. By attempting to deny you access to those images, they have violated the terms of your contract. It has been my expeience in life that the people who are most mistrusting are the very ones who should least be trusted. I wouldn't touch them with a 39-1/2 foot pole.

jimmyd said...

You're right, Robert. That will be the last time I leave my laptop without a password protected screensaver in place. In this instance, I was downloading the card and was outside the studio while it was DL'ing. Someone, apparently, removed the card from the reader while I was away from the laptop and, I'm guessing, also deleted the files while I was outside having that convo with the producer (about the subject of me backing-up the images) that I wrote about.

BTW, there was no contract in place for this gig and, frankly, since it was later, after I got home, that I discovered someone had deleted the files, they could claim any one of many people on the set might have tampered with my PC.

Trekkie said...

I know it isn't very professional but you could always call up frantic like and tell them that you had a catastrophic card failure and then on top of that someone tampered with your backup and you had none of the images etc.

For future reference whether it's Mac or Windows you can lock your desktop when you step away from your machine, probably a good practice to employ in the future...along with not working with these yahoos again

grsphoto said...

No Contract?

jimmyd said...

No Contract?

no. usually there's a deal memo in place. not this time.

stmarc said...

As an attorney who specializes in Intellectual Property, there's so much wrong with what they did that I don't even know where to start. You do not mess with other people's things! I can think of two separate and fairly serious ethical violations, in addition to the aforementioned laws about not messing with other people's data, right off the top of my head.

That being said, obviously, they weren't pulling a Black Hack on you - although they could have - they were just paranoid which led to doing something which, had they thought about it, they probably wouldn't have done. Would I sue them? No. Would I report them to the Ethics committee of the state bar? Only if the check bounces. Would I work with them again? Never in a million years.