May 2010 Sales Report

May was a surprising month with sales doing very well  for the first 10 or 12 days, then slowing down considerably and finally making a steady charge the last week for an overall up month.  I didn’t get as much uploaded as I would have liked, but I finally did break the 1000 clips barrier on Pond5.

I went with my family to the Henry Doorly Zoo and their Wildlife Refuge Safari in Omaha, NE where I was hoping to get a lot of great footage because they don’t have commercial restrictions on images… but alas things conspired against me.  I did manage to get a lot of great still shots, some of which are online, but very little usable footage.  The crowds were big for a non-holiday weekend and there was no place to set up my tripod.  When I did, it got knocked down several times (thankfully my camera wasn’t on it) and the cross support even got broken (thankfully, I was able to solidly repair it).

I am also having a problem with my computer… the hot part of summer is here and the room where my computer is gets up to 90 degrees even with our air conditioning running full blast.  It’s just a poorly ventilated room and I can’t move my computer anywhere else as we have a full house all summer.  So I have to do my editing and such at night which means I sleep during the day and miss a lot of opportunities to go out shooting video.

May 2010
Agency Clips Sold Portfolio Size
Pond5 87 (+10) 1009 (+47)
RevoStock 4 (+0) 261 (+18)
ShutterStock 3 (-4) 131 (+4)
ClipCanvas 5 (+5) 186 (+41)
MediaStock 0 (-4) 78 (+0)
Can Stock 0 (+0) 38 (+8)
iStock 0 (+0) 16 (+2)
Fotolia 0 4 (+0)

Pond5 started off where April ended with lots and lots of sales pouring in.  Much of it I sure was coming from the huge $25,000 credit give-away, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (what the heck does that mean?).  Towards the middle of the month sales dropped pretty suddenly and started to trickle in, but over the last week they picked back up into a nice steady stream that just barely put me over the top on the last day for another BEST MONTH EVER (that’s four consecutive months if you’re counting).  I could hardly believe it, but I topped my previous month’s sales by almost $50.  We’re headed into the slow part of the year, so I expect this will be my last BME for a little while.  But I must say, Pond5 knows how to sell footage and they do it better than any other site on the Internet.  And I had to do a mad dash of editing and uploading the last few days of May, but I managed to get 1,009 clips online, so I can finally lay that goal to rest and start working on  10,000 clips.

RevoStock was ho-hum as usual.  I matched April’s sales with just 4 clips.  The good news is that RevoStock finally lifted their pricing restriction of lowballing a small percentage of your portfolio.  I guess they realize that Pond5 and other sites were killing them on low-cost animation sales.  You can now price HD as low as $10.  I sell most of my animation at $25 on Pond5, so I matched those prices on Revo.  We’ll see if it starts bringing in any additional sales this month.  They are also allowing you to bundle clips together for a set price.  So, you could put four $25 clips into a “Media Bin” and price the whole bin for a dollar amount or percentage off ($75 or 25% off, for example).  That should be interesting and I’ve created several discount bins as a test.

ShutterStock went back to slow sales for me.  Just 3 clips and not enough to make payout at the end of May, so it rolled over.  Although, I didn’t upload very much to ShutterStock in May and I’m starting to think that the more you upload, the more attention you get which could account for my good sales in March and April when I was doing steady uploading.  I will be testing out that theory in June, believe me.

ClipCanvas changed their pricing scheme to allow for more pricing options.  I repriced all of my clips (which was a nightmare, their clip editing system is horrible) and managed to get 5 sales there which is fantastic.  I’m really hoping they take off.  MediaStock sales were non-existent for me in May and from watching their site, sales seem to have dropped quite a bit.  It could be their busy with all the site updates and not doing as much marketing as they did previously…  we’ll see how it goes.

The summers of 2008 and 2009 were very slow with sales dropping by as much as 50%, so I’m going into this summer with that expectation.  Hopefully this will be a nice busy summer, but I’m not going to count on it.  Better to be surprised than disappointed.

Mid May Update

Golden LaptopMiddle of May already… this month is flying by fast.  And so far things are mixed.  ShutterStock sales are down, A LOT.  RevoStock is normal with only 2 sales, which is still dismal.  No more sales at MediaStock, things seem to have slowed down there.  But Pond5 is off on another run towards Best Month Ever (BME).

My sales reports each month are based on sales from the 1st of the previous month to the last day of the previous month.  Most agencies also do their accounting the same way.  Pond5 is the only one that pays on the 15th and can actually post sales on the 15th that will get paid out the same day.  So “pay periods” range from the 16th of each month to the 15th of the next month.  Using that criteria, I just got my “Biggest Payout Ever (BPE)” from Pond5 yesterday.  And in fact, it’s the third consecutive BPE for Pond5.  And I’m at 41 clips sold for the month, so I could end up with another consecutive BME there.  I don’t know what they are doing different than every other agency, but I hope they keep it up.

RevoStock sales are still pretty dismal, but with 2 sales so far this month I’m on pace to match last month’s sales.  The GREAT news is that Revo has revised their pricing structure to be even more flexible, allowing artists to price HD clips as low as $10 and as high as $65.  The $65 top end is still a bit low, but the $10 low end should encourage more animation sales since that’s the most competitive part of the market.  The new pricing goes into effect on Monday, May 17th.  So I’ll be busy re-pricing a whole bunch of clips to match my prices on Pond5.  We’ll see if that was the reason why sales on Revo are so low.

ClipCanvas also restructured their pricing to be more competitive, but it’s been excruciatingly difficult to update prices on their web site.  The submit process is among the simplest in the industry, but if you want to change anything on a clip already in your portfolio, their process is really difficult to use and does not support any form of batching.  It’s gonna take me forever to fix my prices there.  With the exception of the initial submit process, ClipCanvas has a very unfriendly artist interface.

We’ve had tons of storms here in Kansas the past couple of weeks with more rain and storms projected over the next week or two.  So I can’t do much filming outdoor and both of my indoor sessions got postponed because of the weather.  Gonna try again this week.  I’m also headed to Nebraska this coming weekend and the weather there is supposed to be fantastic, so I’m looking forward to shooting a lot of footage there.

Canon T2i Review

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Canon announced a new Video DSLR (vDSLR) in early February.  And they quickly started shipping it the last week of February.  The Canon EOS Rebel T2i is an 18 megapixel camera with support for recording video at an unbelievable price of $799 (body only).

Until now I have only owned “point and shoot” cameras which have very little in the way of manual control. The T2i is my first DSLR.  So unlike many othe reviews out there by photographers and videographers who have owned DSLRs, my review is based on my inexperience. 🙂

I own a Canon Vixia HF11, so I am not new to the world of video.  I’ve got a healthy portfolio online from footage I’ve shot with my HF11.  But it suffers from two major problems that have driven me to seek the loving embrace of a vDSLR.  The first and most important issue is that like most CMOS camcorders, it performs poorly in low light. I’ve gone out at night and shot footage with it and the dark areas are always EXTREMELY noisy.  Too noisy for even Adobe After Effects to clean it up.  Even shooting outside on a dark cloudy day can cause issues.  The second issue is that everything is always in focus.  If you look at film and television today you’ll find that most footage has only the subject in focus, while the background (and sometimes foreground) elements are blurred.  It’s possible, in very controlled situations, to fake Depth of Field with camcorders, but it’s a major PITA.  Many camcorder owners have purchased special adapters that allow them to use SLR lenses and I had one of those myself for a short period, but there were still lots of issues.  No, for me, the solution was to get a vDSLR camera.

I ended up purchasing the T2i kit for $899. I read a number of reviews stating the kit lens was horrible, but I read almost as many reviews saying it was fine as long as you understood its limitations.  When I thought I was going to get the T1i I had actually bought a really nice Sigma lens.  But while it supports the Auto Focus ability of the T2i, it doesn’t have any Image Stabilization for hand held shooting and the kit lens does.  So I figure it was worth getting.  I also bought a couple of clear UV filters to protect both of my lenses.  DSLRs today don’t need UV filters, but it’s a lot easier to replace an $8 scratched filter than a $300 scratched lens.  I also got a Circular Polarizing filter and an ND filter kit.  Both are a necessity for shooting outdoor.

The Canon manual states that a Class 6 SDHC card is required for video recording and I bought a couple of ProMaster Class 6 cards, but neither of them were fast enough to keep up with video recording when I started testing the camera.  Oddly enough, both of my Class 4 Kingston cards work great and I’ve had no issues with them.  Still, I went ahead and replaced the ProMaster cards with SanDisk Class 6 cards which also seem to be working great.  I opted to go with a couple of 8GB cards instead of one large 16GB or 32GB card because I felt it allowed me more flexibility.  I could empty one card and still be shooting with the other.  Plus it’s one of those “don’t keep your eggs in one basket” kind of deals.

Many reviewers talk about the “cheap build quality” or “plastic feel” of the T2i.  But as someone who has never owned a DSLR before, I have no issues there.  It feels solid to me and with my Sigma lens on it, it’s slightly heavier than my HF11.  I realize that Canon had to sacrifice on materials to keep the price low, so I have no plans to use it in the rain or in wet conditions.  If I ever do venture out in the rain, I’ll be sure to keep it dry.

Of course, it’s a “still camera” and does 18 megapixel photos, but that’s not why I bought it.  I bought it because it does 1080p video at 24 fps, 25 fps, and 30 fps.  It does 720p video at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, 50 fps, and 60 fps. And if you’ve seen the hundreds of clips posted in the past week on Vimeo, used properly, the video is stunning.  I don’t have any clips of my own posted yet, but I have shot close to a 100 clips with it while learning how to use it and I’m impressed.  Even using the “automatic” modes (which is a no-no), I got some really really nice footage.  Once I started to learn how to use the manual settings (and got an iPhone app to help me figure out which settings to use under different conditions), the footage I shot only got better.

Will it replace my HF11?  No, not entirely.  I expect I will shoot more with it, but the HF11 still has numerous advantages.  Not the least of which is better sound and the ability to shoot more than 30 minutes of uninterrupted footage (12 minutes max at 1080p).  Plus the HF11 is “always ready to shoot” since most of its settings are automatic.  To get really good footage out of the T2i you have to spend a few minutes to modify the manual settings to match your shooting situation.  Sometimes that few minutes is enough to miss what you want to shoot.

I’m still learning how to use this thing and I will be using it extensively during an upcoming trip to Detroit.  Within a few days I expect I’ll finally have good enough footage and stills to post on my own blog.  So make sure you follow me on Twitter (@dnavarrojr) if you want to follow my progress.

If you are a still photographer and you are thinking about getting into Video, you should seriously consider getting a vDSLR.  If, like me, you’re on a budget then the T2i is probably just what the doctor ordered.

RevoStock making a run for the title

It looks like RevoStock really wants to sell more footage, which is great news!

Within a few days of Pond5 adding support for embedded meta-data, RevoStock also added support.  Both sites were working on it at the same time, Pond5 just beat them to the punch…  But it was far from a knock out and it looks like RevoStock is up for a title fight with some recent changes.

RevoStock now accepts clips encoded in H.264, QuickTime Animation and QuickTime PNG codecs.  Which means that you can upload H.264 .MOV clips directly from cameras that support it, or re-encode in H.264 which provides a LOT more data for buyers.  And the Animation/PNG codecs allow you to include embedded alpha information without having to create a separate luma matte for your animation or chroma key clips.

Also announced today were new options in Flex pricing that allow for more competitive pricing.  The upper limit on pricing was raised to $65 in order to attract more higher end artists and the lower limit on pricing was set at $5 (SD clips, HD clips are $10) to allow for more competitive pricing in the huge animation market where prices on other sites are typically much lower than the previous $30 floor.  It’s still not “create your own price”, but it’s still much better and should allow RevoStock to compete better with Pond5 and ClipCanvas (who also recently updated their pricing).  The new pricing takes effect on May 17th.

The only major feature now missing from RevoStock is optional automatic resizing of clips.  If you want to sell different sizes, you still  have to do all the encoding work yourself.

April 2010 Sales Report

(WordPress is having issues with the post title, not sure why… but this is the April 2010 report, not March.)

April is a mixed month with overall sales down about 9%, but a new Best Month Ever (BME) at both Pond5 and ShutterStock.  ShutterStock was the surprise for me with 7 sales (8 actually, but I got a refund).  RevoStock is down,  but from what I hear through other artists, sales are way down there anyway on footage (interestingly, their AE project sales are up).  And I was very surprised to have my first sale on newcomer MediaStock after uploading my first batch of 10 clips.  With 4 sales, they’ve matched RevoStock and they have less than 4,000 total items available for sale.

April 2010
Agency Clips Sold Portfolio Size
Pond5 77 (-3) 962 (+56)
RevoStock 4 (-2) 243 (+21)
ShutterStock 7 (+4) 127 (+15)
ClipCanvas 0 (-1) 145 (+59)
MediaStock 4 (+4) 78 (+78)
Can Stock 0 (-2) 30
iStock 0 (-1) 14 (+3)
Fotolia 0 4

Although I had 3 fewer sales on Pond5 this month, I had higher priced clips sell… so my dollar amount was higher this month.  That makes my third consecutive month of increased sales on Pond5 and my second consecutive BME.  I’m sure that the $25,000 in free credits helped with April sales, and will probably help in May as well.  I missed my 1,000 clips online goal for April… but I should have no problem hitting it in May.

RevStock was disappointing again with low sales.  I only uploaded 21 clips, enough to get 1 entry into their monthly contest, but all of my best selling clips from Pond5 are on Revo and they just aren’t selling.  A lot of Revo heavy sellers have told me their footage sales are way down too.  Interestingly, AE sales, which seem to be their bread and butter, are up on Revo for April.  I just got the announcement from iSyndica this morning that RevoStock now supports importing meta-data from .MOV files, so I expect I’ll be uploading a lot more there in May since it’ll be so much easier to submit.  Perhaps you just need a large portfolio there… who knows.

ShutterStock was a shocker with 7 sales in April.  Along with my still sales, I just barely hit the minimum payout for the second month in a row.  A new first.  And a BME as well.  I did have a refund though, which irks the heck out of me.  I really hate the fact they allow buyers to download footage and then decide they made a mistake and get a refund.  Essentially allowing them to steal footage.

Only 3 days into May and I can also report that Pond5 sales are going strong.  I’m not sure why they outsell everyone else in the industry, but they sure know what they’re doing.

Spring has arrived with lots of storms and a lot of sunny days great for shooting outside.  However, I’m hoping to mostly be shooting inside this month with some models/actors.  People shots are where it’s at and I’m hoping to cash in. 🙂