Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kinonation Update #1

So as I'm filling out the extensive information to submit our film "Bounty" to Kinonation I had a talk with our graphic designer, the incredibly talented Erik Ashley(, who decided to redo our poster.

And man is it cool. I love it. He gave us a version without his credit information for the actual submission, but I put up the other version here 'cuz man that guy should get some credit!

If you want to see the difference, here you go:

Hit him up at his web site above if you need a poster done.

Anyway, there are a lot of things to fill out on kinonation, and I'm not complaining. It's just a lot of work. I've also had to go back to the original Bounty file and pull out the burned-in subtitles(since it's found footage there are some scenes with low audio that we didn't ADR--because that would be "fake" in this real movie, so we just put up subtitles like you'd see on Cops or Dog).

Then I pulled the URL's out of the credits. Mind you, I had to find the credits among my 30 hard drives, load it up--turns out I'm missing fonts and filters since I used CS3 to create them and I'm now on the CC suite.

But I got it all done. Exported a high quality .mp4

Now, their web site wants ProRes which is an Apple-only codec. I don't use Mac. So I emailed them and they said they could probably use something with the h264 codec, which is a very high quality codec. I mean, I could export it uncompressed but it would be gigantic.

I've been trying to find more information--anybody who has had experience using kinonation and the weird thing seems to be this: I've found a couple of filmmakers who claim they've submitted or partnered with kinonation back in 2012.

Then there's no other posts in the blog about it. There are more posts, so it's not like the blog is abandoned. Just no mention of kinonation again. So I don't know what to make of that, but it makes me suspicious. I mean, if those guys made money wouldn't they have blogged about it?

(Full disclosure--one of the filmmakers says he submitted to kinonation, but from his trailer I'm guessing he either got rejected, or they just couldn't sell his film because it looked pretty amateurish)

Anyway, found this interesting blog post by one of the creator's of kinonation regarding Youtube money:

which led me to this guy who is the actual filmmaker that released his film on Youtube. He has tips and stats on how much he's making:

Will update more when I have it.

Friday, February 6, 2015

VOD on your film -- How Much Can I Make? Also, Kinonation

As all of us low-to-no-budget filmmakers scramble to figure out how to survive in this new landscape, the question rises often: "Can you really make money on VOD?"

I'm going to tell you that it's certainly possible given how our newest film "Garden of Hedon" has been doing on Amazon. Have we made our budget back? Hell no. But considering we've done ZERO advertising on it other than a few interviews for online sites it's been doing very well. (and we've also only offered it for sale, not it's actually selling at a $9.99 price point)

Haven't checked it out yet? What are you waiting for? CLICK HERE!
(it's also available on Blu Ray, but it's almost sold out AGAIN)

Anyway, I stumbled onto a site called kinonation--they're an aggregator. If you don't know what that is, I'll try to explain it quickly.

You will not get your movie to Netflix or Itunes or Hulu or any of the other big boys without a distributor...OR an aggregator. For a fee you can submit your movie to the aggregator, and they will then submit the film to any of those sites you ask them to(and have paid them to, as each site costs something different)

The decent aggregators will give you your money back(or most of it) if your film is rejected from the place they submitted it. It's expensive(most aggregators want in the neighborhood of $1500 to submit your HD film)--so believe me, if you're NOT going to get your money back on rejection then it's a $1500 gamble.

If your movie DOES get approved then you get 100% of the profits minus a yearly fee of like $79 from the aggregator.

I have never tried an aggregator.

But kinonation has a new idea. They will take your film and submit it to the various places for NO upfront cost. They take 20% of any money you make on any approved venue.

A much bigger chunk but the much-better way for filmmakers. I feel the same way about producer's reps--you wanna go with the guy who's willing to take a percentage from what you make rather than an upfront fee. He doesn't make a dime unless he sells your movie, so it's incentive for him to pimp your film. It also tells you that he believes in your movie.

Any rep who wants upfront money rather than a percentage is clearly a guy who has no confidence in selling your flick.

So kinonation is relatively new. I can't find any information about their successes. They keep a pretty great blog with a lot of useful information, and I found this interview below with the founder that sheds some actual light on--get this--NUMBERS you might expect from VOD.

Ad Supported Revenue

As a filmmaker it may be mildly irritating to have multiple :30 sec TV spots before, during & after your feature film. But it definitely generates income. Hulu is one of our beta-test partners, and so we already have some good data from the dozen or so KinoNation films that are live on Hulu — and we're adding more every day now. Likewise with Swiss-based Viewster. So what are the revenue factors here? In simple terms, it's the number of ads served before/during/after your films, multiplied by the price of the ad. In reality, ads are sold to various agencies at different rates. So you may have a :30 sec spot in your film on Hulu for BMW, at a CPM (cost per thousand) of $23. And also a Tide spot at a CPM of $19. Plus there may be 9 ad "slots" in your film, but insufficient demand at the moment it's playing to fill those slots, so 2 of the 7 go un-monetized. Hulu suggests an ad slot every 8-12 mins. Which is why in the KinoNation metadata, we have a section for ad breaks where the filmmaker defines — with timecode down to the frame — where the ads are inserted. Much better viewing experience if the ads don't interrupt a scene. So what does this mean if you have a film on Hulu?  Let's say it gets watched a modest 200 times each day. By "watched" I mean someone starts watching it — they don't necessarily finish watching it. In fact, the average time watched may be the most critical metric — not just in revenue terms, but in raw "how engaging is my film?" terms. If they bail (on average) after 20 minutes, you have a problem. If they bail on average after 50 minutes you make a LOT more cash. Remember, it's all about averages — the reality is that some people watch to the end, some bail within the first 5 mins — and most are in between. Anyway, 200 times a day means your film "sells" around 1000 ads. So at a CPM of $20, your film has just made twenty bucks. Which you share 50:50 with the outlet. So you made $10 today. And then KinoNation take 20%. You're left with $8. Doesn't seem like much. But that's $3000 a year from one of many VoD platforms, and my #'s are actually uber-conservative. If you successfully promote your film you can make way more. Meanwhile, with Viewster in Europe we're seeing a lower CPM — around 5 or 6 Euros. Not surprising — less mature market, less premium outlet. But, every view of your film on every outlet is incremental revenue. That's why you need to be on dozens of outlets.

Subscription VoD Revenue

There's a little more dough in SVOD, I think, because you're not a slave to ad rates and CPMs. SVOD means the user is paying a flat monthly (Netflix & Hulu Plus) or annual (Amazon Prime) fee. Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus are part of our beta test, so I can provide some numbers. Amazon Prime is their $79 a year subscription to get free shipping. But it also gives the subscriber free access to Amazon Prime videos. KinoNation filmmakers can select Amazon Instant and/or Amazon prime. Most select both, which is probably wise. Prime pays 10 cents per movie played. So when a thousand people watch your film on Prime, you make $100, less 20% to KinoNation. Again, it's not big money, but the math starts to work for you because of the tens of millions of Amazon users, multiplied by month after month. It's better with Hulu Plus. They pay 18.5 cents per view (defined as a minimum of six minutes.) So a thousand views grosses you $185. Not bad.

Transactional Revenue

Transactional VoD (TVOD) is radically different in psychological terms — the viewers has to pay a flat fee for your film. With most VoD outlets (but not all) you can set the rental price, or at least a price band. It's typically $3-6 per rental, for 48 hrs. You get 70% via iTunes, or 50% via almost everyone else. More on this in future posts — right now we don't have any data.

Pretty interesting stuff. I've applied for an account so I can get a better idea of what they're looking for in deliverables. I was a little weirded out that they claim your movie cannot have any URLS in the end credits...they say all VOD outlets insist on this, but I can tell you that my movie Bounty has a bunch of URLs(not just the movie's, but a couple of web sites I thanked), and we played on Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, etc.

And I thought most movies have URLs at the end, so I hopped on Netflix and scanned the first two movies I came across. No URLs. So I dunno.

Will update this as I find out. But if you have had any dealings with kinonation please post a comment so we know.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bought the Panasonic GH-4 (Vs. Canon 5D Mark II)

Figured it was time to own a nice DSLR video camera, and the GH-4 with its in-camera 4K looked like the right ticket for me. I did a lot of research first, and it certainly appeared to be the best you can own for under $2000.

I also bought a couple of adapters so I could use my T2i lenses with it. I know I'm going to need a decent micro 4/3rd lens sooner or later, but figured I'd get the camera and do some experiments with it. Here's just about the first things I shot with it, fully unprocessed, un-color corrected. This is right out of the camera--we started getting snow so I figured I'd shoot it.

Don't forget to up the resolution. The first part is 4K, the next couple of parts are 1920X1080 and I'll tell you why in a second...

I tinkered with the camera a bit. First off, LOVE the touch-screen settings from the LCD--the fully swivelable, tilting LCD. Thank Christ--no more lying down on my stomach to see the LCD to get an ultra-low shot!

I like the feel of the camera a lot. Everything's set up the way I'd expect it. Nothing counter-intuitive about the build or placement of any buttons. There are two swivels on it--one controls your aperture, the other controls your shutter speed. Very nice.

Anyway, all the videos here were shot with the same lens--my 35mm 1.4 Rokinon that I bought for my t2i. I used this adapter to mount my EF-S lenses to the Micro 4/3rd mount. Note that this Fotasy lens mount is cheaper than most, but it still feels like very high quality metal.

(It's cheap enough that I bought two so I could just put them on two lenses and not worry about taking them off for different lenses--and don't sweat the reviews that say they couldn't remove the adapter. If you can read directions, these adapters come off pretty easy)

Now note with this lens--which I have always loved--you have to adjust aperture and focus manually. This is why my younger brother hates it. Me, coming from a film background, have no problem doing everything manually. 

So I was anxious to try some slow mo. True 96fps 1920X1080 slow mo! Make sure you look at it in 720P.

This is using only available light. (there's a spotlight in my backyard on both sides that you can see in this shot:)

Still, it's pretty impressive. Of course I have the bonus of not only the snow reflecting everything in the picture but also my 1.4 lens that is now a 70mm 1.4 lens. But from what I've read(and seen footage of) I can go up to 1600iso and still not worry too much about the grain.

What I can't seem to figure out is why most of the actual micro 4/3rd lenses still seem to imply that if I buy them for a micro 4/3rd mount then their focal lengths will still be doubled(so if I buy a micro 4/3rd 20mm, it will act like a 40mm on the camera).

Anybody out there know if this is actually how it goes? (I understand why this would be so if you were buying a lens made for a large chip sensor and putting it on a small chip sensor camera--is that actually what's going on here? )

Ah sweet slow-mo, I have missed you.

For comparison, here's some footage I shot this summer with my brother's Canon Mark II using his L-glass. Keep in mind that I lit the SHIT out of my backyard for this. I couldn't believe how dark it still was on the Canon. And I think I went up to 2000 iso at one point.

And again, no color correction(or proper white balance--I was a little lazy that night)

Anyway, will update with some more footage once I start really digging in and shooting interesting stuff.