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WHEN RENTAL HOUSE ATTACK


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#1 Frank Barrera

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 08:16 PM

(i'll try to be as vague as possible so as to protect the innocent)
we rented a professional high end video package to shoot a small commercial project this past weekend. somewhere in the middle of a two day shoot the camera just freaked out and we basically lost two scenes. we didn't realize it untill it was too late. the footage was all blocky digital f'd up like it was a bad head or whatever. we just don't now what happened. we luckily knew of another project out over the same weekend with the same package who only was shooting for one day so we used their camera for the remainder of our production. we successfully completed the job.

when we returned the camera i talked to the rental manager and told him what happened and of course he sounded shocked and he claimed it was the fault of "putting new tape stock in a camera. sometimes this gunks up the heads". i was not in the frame of mind or mood to argue with him BUT is he implying that one should clean the heads EVERYTIME you take out an $80,000 camera package? this sounds strange to me.

i realize that he can't even bring himself to saying,"I'm sorry." as this would imply liability and place the blame perhaps on the rental house.

so the question is this: how does one deal with these type of situations where you believe that the rental house has not maintained their gear properly and you lose priceless footage. (i can't even bring myself to talk about the beautiful footage we lost.)

it's like ten years ago when i dropped off some commercial still film at a huge house in NYC and they totally destroyed my film and made it sound like it was my fault.

what do you say to these people?


mmm...


FB
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 08:54 PM

I'd be as tough as nails if I where you.

Threaten to never rent there again, and to never recommend them to any one. Do this of course, AFTER, you have tried to be nice and reasonable.

I always ask to speak to the boss/owner, you usually get a lot farther than talking to some underling.

Several times I have had to play hard ball after all other options where exhausted.

I told my duplicator I needed a new deal on replication, they said no. When I got quotes from other companies to do the work and asked for my masters back, all of a sudden they gave me exactly what I wanted.

I didn't enjoy being a prick, but in this business some times you are left with no other choice.

R,
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 08:57 PM

There is sort of a good faith issue at stake here. If the camera worked when you took it out -- i.e. it also worked for them before they sent it out -- then something went wrong in the field that they couldn't have known would happen. In terms of cleaning the heads, I believe most people do it as little as possible to reduce head wear. Maybe something fell into the recording section when the tape door was open, who knows.

Things go wrong and unless you can prove that they knowingly sent out a faulty camera, the best you can do is wrangle a free deal from them or a discount. But that requires you stay on good terms with them.

I've had something go wrong at every major camera house, film or digital, and at every major lab. Things just sometimes break, people make mistakes, there are Acts of God, etc... you have to consider the long-term relationship you want to have with these places.
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#4 nao_yoshino

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 08:08 PM

Hey,

Test, test, test, test, test - I'm a student and I've shelled out over $500 in the past year paying for stuff that I can swear was defective before I used it. Our school makes us sign a release form that makes us 100% liable for all damage to equipment (inc., theft.)

It's harder to do with film cameras - all you can do is run a dummy load and perform some focus tests. With digital stuff, I shoot a minute of footage, take the tape and download it to a console where I can watch the playback. Takes 10 minutes. I don't know if this kind of facility is commonly availiable.

I do this because I HATE to loose work ... I shot something a few months ago on a small ARRI-S 16mm - the power supply was defective and we where oscillating between 18 and 30fps every few seconds. I had to pay for a new battery when we returned the equipment because 'it was working fine when you checked it out' ... $160 ... :blink: My fault for not running a good test.

So I check everything now.

Sorry I can't give you advice on your rental house situation - but I'm glad you where able to finish the shoot in the end!

Best,

Nao
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#5 Michael Morlan

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 05:53 PM

I had to pay for a new battery when we returned the equipment because 'it was working fine when you checked it out' ... $160 ...  :blink: My fault for not running a good test.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


What!? You paid for a failing battery!? That is just right out! A battery is a long-life item that eventually fails of its own accord. If it is declared "new" and fails, then it was just bad to begin with. It's very hard to abuse a battery into death short of shorting the connections and causing it to melt or smashing it somehow. If the casing was intact, there was no excuse for that rental house to charge you for it.

Bad rental house! Bad! No cookie for you!

Edited by Michael Morlan, 25 July 2005 - 05:54 PM.

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#6 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 01:02 AM

You can make them pay for the battery if they have left it on top of the stove, which-surprise!-was turned on. Not that that has ever happened where I work or anything.
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#7 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 07:39 PM

(i'll try to be as vague as possible so as to protect the innocent)
we rented a professional high end video package to shoot a small commercial project this past weekend. somewhere in the middle of a two day shoot the camera just freaked out and we basically lost two scenes. we didn't realize it untill it was too late. the footage was all blocky digital f'd up like it was a bad head or whatever. we just don't now what happened. we luckily knew of another project out over the same weekend with the same package who only was shooting for one day so we used their camera for the remainder of our production. we successfully completed the job.

when we returned the camera i talked to the rental manager and told him what happened and of course he sounded shocked and he claimed it was the fault of "putting new tape stock in a camera. sometimes this gunks up the heads". i was not in the frame of mind or mood to argue with him BUT is he implying that one should clean the heads EVERYTIME you take out an $80,000 camera package? this sounds strange to me.

i realize that he can't even bring himself to saying,"I'm sorry." as this would imply liability and place the blame perhaps on the rental house.

so the question is this: how does one deal with these type of situations where you believe that the rental house has not maintained their gear properly and you lose priceless footage. (i can't even bring myself to talk about the beautiful footage we lost.)

it's like ten years ago when i dropped off some commercial still film at a huge house in NYC and they totally destroyed my film and made it sound like it was my fault.

what do you say to these people?
mmm...
FB

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



This is a known issue with dv formats. For instance Sony uses certain tape lubricant Maxell and Panasonic use another. If you swap tape brands without cleaning the lube off of the heads then you are bound to have problems. One time I was shooting Burt Reynolds house for a tv show we had switched tape brands and when I got back with the tapes I found out one whole tape was blank with a few glitches here and there where the picture would pop up. Can you say nightmare! We had to go back and shoot again. I had learned this lesson before with tape glitches but never a blank tape. So I hope you were nice to the rental house.

In the future use the same tape stock they have been using. Or clean the heads before sticking in a different brand of tape. Hope That Helps
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#8 Tim Tyler

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 08:22 PM

... so we used their camera for the remainder of our production.


You should have made an effort to contact the rental facility as soon as you discovered the problem. Even if you just left them a voicemail. That not only gives them the opportunity to remedy the problem, but it fortifies your position.

I shot a 4-day 'Behind the Music' project some years ago on SP and when they got the tapes back to NYC they found some color anomaly on almost all the tapes that prevented them from using them. We played back in the B&W viewfinder from time to time during the shoot, but never on a deck or monitor. I worked hard and shot some beautiful stuff those four days, and most of it had to be reshot.
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#9 Manu Anand

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 09:39 PM

My worst experiences have been with my film school.
As Nao said the authorities in my school were psychotic as well.

I remember once a monitor fell of its stand in the studio and all the three students inside were made to pay for it.
The fact that the monitor was standing on a table with three legs and the fourth leg was a pebble was irrelevant. minimum distance of each student to the monitor was 8 feet. The pebble slowly slipped from under the table and we watched in horror and slow motion as the monitor fell to the ground.
They threatened to not give us our degree...not let us film our final film project etc and the three of us had to pay for the monitor.

Old NP1B batteries got lost once by our crew and we offered to change them with old batteries as well with the similar life the schools batteries had. But nope...the crew had to replace the old batteries with new ones.

We got so paranoid about camera faults etc we would check the cameras like maniacs... every lil screw ...everything. test test test before taking it out ..coz we knew if something happened on location we would have to fork out money no matter what the cause might have been. Prayers would be recited before taking out the film camera ....just kidding.

A few years ago a friend of mine had rented a camera and on return was told he had scratched the lens. There was no way of proving who had scratched it. He claimed he never took off the UV filter but the scratch issue went on for a few months the rental house gave the cameraman a bad reputation in the market , in other rental houses..... a lot or rumours etc.
I just make it a point to check so thoroughly and get all faults noted on the rental form before taking the camera out..be it the minutest of scratches on the lens.

Manu Anand
Bombay

Edited by Manu Anand, 27 July 2005 - 09:45 PM.

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#10 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 08:33 PM

Dare I say, as an employee of my school's rental house, that we ride your a$$ in film school so that when you get out in the Real World (ohnoes!), you WILL be more careful. Accidents happen but if they do, at least I can say that I prepped the camera with a fine-toothed comb. (ha ha I can picture it now: "Okay so it fell off the tripod, but at least it was CLEAN" :lol: )

I think it's different in school because all it takes is some angry parent calling us and saying "How dare you make my son/daughter pay $800 for a broken lens?!?1" or whatever. So it's harder to set specific boundaries and rules. But if we didn't, then all the equipment would be broken and everybody would complain. And the classes would be terrible because the teachers wouldn't have adequate resources to teach their students. Then nobody would learn anything and it would be a huge waste of money. And so on.

I guess I could have just summed this up with, "You break it, you buy it"...
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#11 Manu Anand

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 01:50 AM

Dare I say, as an employee of my school's rental house, that we ride your a$$ in film school so that when you get out in the Real World (ohnoes!),  you WILL be more careful. Accidents happen but if they do, at least I can say that I prepped the camera with a fine-toothed comb. (ha ha I can picture it now: "Okay so it fell off the tripod, but at least it was CLEAN"  :lol: )

I think it's different in school because all it takes is some angry parent calling us and saying "How dare you make my son/daughter pay $800 for a broken lens?!?1" or whatever. So it's harder to set specific boundaries and rules. But if we didn't, then all the equipment would be broken and everybody would complain. And the classes would be terrible because the teachers wouldn't have adequate resources to teach their students. Then nobody would learn anything and it would be a huge waste of money. And so on.

I guess I could have just summed this up with, "You break it, you buy it"...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


lol it fell of the tripod....:) have heard that a few times.

yup " you break it, you buy it"

But the "riding the a$$" is a bit extreme sometimes.

Manu Anand
Bombay
P.S. but on the bright side our film school was subsidized as well.

Edited by Manu Anand, 30 July 2005 - 01:50 AM.

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#12 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 12:19 AM

Yeah I can relate to the batteries. One time I left an Anton Bauer brick battery out in the rain by accident. A three hundred dollar battery mind you but since it was over 5 years old it didn't last more than 20 minutes but I still had to buy a brand new battery.
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#13 Stephen Williams

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 07:09 AM

Yeah I can relate to the batteries. One time I left an Anton Bauer brick battery out in the rain by accident. A three hundred dollar battery mind you but since it was over 5 years old it didn't last more than 20 minutes but I still had to buy a brand new battery.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

An insurance company would never replace a 5 year old battery with a new one! They would pay only what it was worth, mabe 25% of new.

Stephen
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 07:40 AM

Hi,

> One time I left an Anton Bauer brick battery out in the rain by accident

I'm surprised it was damaged beyond repair.

Phil
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#15 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 09:35 PM

This is an odd question but how conceivable is it that rental house techs would miss any flaws or imperfections with equipment and send it out anyway, not realizing there was anything wrong? I'm just curious, I guess I'm wondering because where I work, we basically have a policy that if the equipment comes back damaged in any way and it's not initially noted during checkout (whether by the student or by an employee), then we charge the student for the damages. You'd have to be here to really understand how it works but that's the general idea. How do things work in the "real world" outside of film schools and outside of the red tape of school insurance policies and whatnot? I would like to know ahead of time so that when I set foot in a real rental house, I won't feel like an idiot. Is human error acceptable? ;)
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#16 Bob Hayes

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 12:03 AM

There are a lot of rental house out there some good and some not so good. You really have to check through all the gear when you rent. To ensure your shoot goes well and to insure you don?t get nailed with already damaged gear. At a busy rental house the turn around on the gear is so fast they often miss damaged gear. It may be a couple of shows down the line when you get nailed with it. So check it out. Rental houses will give you lots of grief when you check through and exchange items. But they will respect you for it. In a way someone who goes through the gear with a fine tooth comb is an extra technician they don?t have to pay. They will look forward to having you service their gear. And if you are just starting out you may find the rental house recommending you for work and sending you out because they know there gear is in good hands.

With regards to your screwed up shoot? poop happens. It?s always a good idea to check tape periodically to minimize the damage. Make a stink with the rental house tell them you lots a client. See if you can get some free rentals that will let you hook a new one.
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