Searching for his next web-based business between gigs, one guild editor found a way to bring other editors and decks together online
My wife would pop in a Betacam tape, dub it to DVD, let it run while the new baby was eating mush, then send the tapes back and get paid via PayPal. It’s basically a dub house where the worker can be in jammies (though I told my wife the uniform for her was thigh-high boots).
The business quickly became number one in Google searches, and we started getting jittery every time the Fed Ex dude showed up with yet another box. We did jobs for the likes of Will Smith and producers of Disney. Our transferred footage was used in the movie Abel Raises Cain, which won the Slamdance Film Festival in 2005. Our footage has even appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
During my next stretch worrying about finding another editing gig, I was exploring the idea of setting up a high-def video editing suite in my guesthouse. So I dove headlong into research about high def, Final Cut Pro, studio needs, etc. I called all my post colleagues and quizzed them on the current buzz in gear and post processes.
But the more I learned about HD, the more things got foggy. Where, exactly, could I put my hard-earned dollars and see a return without the technology shifting right out from under my investment in the blink of an eye? I started thinking of the still-unresolved battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD and of all those ongoing wars between HD standards.That’s when I figured out something crucial: The common denominator in all this mess was the decks.
Every single production and process needs an HD deck at some point. Decks are vital for digitizing, mastering, projection, broadcast, cloning and archiving. Every HD show uses a deck at some phase, no matter how much they rely on RAIDs and FireWire. So I decided to get into the deck-owner business. Or so I thought. But when faced with where to plunk down my $100,000 from a spanking new home-equity line, the format beast once again raised its head: HDCAM? D5? HDV? DVC PRO HD? HDCAM SR? Yikes! The more I read, the scarier things got, and the more difficult it was to sign on the dotted line for the gear.
Okay, I thought, I would just search for deck rentals online to study the trends and prices, right? Wrong! There is no easy place to find decks and comparisons of prices on the Web. One would have to go to the individual sites of each rental house in order to get prices. Bingo!
Epiphany time (that’s bigger than a lightbulb).
Since every single production needs an HD deck, then they obviously want to find the cheapest price, especially since HD decks rent from between $300 and $1,500 per day! That was it! I came up with
It’s the Web’s only cost-comparison searchable database of HD decks. Heck, who needs to spend $100,000 getting into the deck-owning business when all I need is to be the facilitator for decks and renters to hook up. It’s the Match.com of HD.
Deck owners are dying for ways to get exposure for their expensive decks, and deck renters are dying for the best deal.
I went to Craig’s List, found a Web designer and subsequently paid a couple hundred bucks to find out that the guy sucked. Same story with dude #2. But Web geek #3 was amazing! Even though I have never met him, we work regularly via the Net. I literally have no idea if my designer is a 14-year-old kid or a 60-year-old engineer. All I know is that he does work, posts it on the site and I send him some dough via PayPal.
The first week after my launch in January this year, one of L.A.’s biggest rental houses (Visionary Forces) wrote me a letter of thanks; they had rented an expensive deck to someone who came through my site. All my editor and post buddies are thrilled with the site and use it regularly to find decks. They also love how it covers even standard-definition decks. When I was looking for a deck for my own dub business, I just went on my site and found a great deal on a J3 DigiBeta deck.
I’m lucky to currently be cutting at Universal, but I’m also lucky to be filling an urgent need of the post community. My eventual goal is to sell ad space on the site and generate a little income. We are still waiting for our first ad dollar, though I have been running some ad banners I’ve bartered for services related to my independent filmmaking. But things are looking promising. Now I’ve got to pick out my wife’s next uniform.
Kirk Demorest is a regular editor at Disney and Universal Studios. In 2003, his short film Since My Last Dance tied with director John Woo’s film for “Best Internet Video Premiere.” He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two boys and is an avid surfer. You can find his first Web-based business at
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