Retouchers on Set Q&A
What do you charge for this consultation, this day, cause that's not part of your estimate, so how is this negotiated?
I have a day rate, a day rate, which the only time I do a day rate for being on set, and I bring my machine, so it's a day rate and a machine, and I'll tell you, for me, I'm $1000 to show up on a set.
Other retouchers will be other price and other retouchers will charge differently for their gear. I am so glad you asked that question for a second reason. When you are a retoucher on set, do not expect a desk to be provided for you, do not expect a chair, do not expect extension cords, do not expect anything. They're not used to having you. You need to bring that gear with you or check in advance. With the photographer, you want to get from the photographer their digitech's contact and say excellent, in advance, how are you gonna get me those files? That's my job, to ask those questions and come fully prepared. Excellent question, thank you.
Can you tell ...
us again what are the types of jobs where it's even open to the realm of possibility for you to be on set?
Excellent, you wanna tackle it or you want me to go?
Well, definitely, in my personal experience is the television, so it's the group shots, you call them cast shots?
Uh-huh (affirmative), gallery.
So, they need a gallery shot, so the entire season from a television channel, they'll have all their folks come through to one big setup like this, so the cast of every television show that they're gonna have on for the season comes in and looks uniform, so they have all the same lighting, all the same background, all the same camera stuff, and they just (purring) roll them on through and that's when Lisa and I get called. I got a little lost here. And so if we were on set, then we could track of all this stuff because then they will give us 500 shots to clean up for publicity during the year.
It would save a lot of money, but again the people who call us for that kind of retouching aren't the people who set up the photo shoot in the first place, so we're too far down the food chain, they're starting to learn ... I'm gonna give you a couple of examples. Advertising shoots: we're excellent for advertising shoots. We've had jobs where folks have a product that they're showing, showcasing a product, and they're doing a bunch of shots, and they're gonna do magazine ads. That product in the comp, if they just tilted it this way would be perfect. When you're standing on a set, full figure looking on a screen, it looks good, it looks fantastic until you drop it, literally drop it in the layout, and you realize, oh my goodness, I just needed to turn just that much. Had I not been on set, they wouldn't have known it. In addition to that, they had costuming, beautiful red piping coat, totally moire pattern, 100% moire, and the photographer didn't know until I dropped it into layout, and I said you gotta switch out. Stylist had 15 red sweatshirts, it took a minute to change out but didn't know to change it out. And I have my best story yet, are you ready? All right, every once in a while when I was doing entertainment, I'd get to go on the shoots for the big shows, these are high dollar shooters, they're making over $100,000 for a photo shoot. Actors who are very persnickety, and finally someone let me go onto the set, and it was for a gate-fold ad, and I don't know if you know gate-fold is three pages, it's a three-page ad. Most horizontal ads for entertainment at that time would just be a regular two sheet, so I walk up to the set, beautiful, it's got laundromats, all build stage, gazillion dollars. I walk up, and I look at the set, and I'm like that's a two-sheet layout, and the photographer said yes, it is, and I said this job is a three-sheet layout. No one had ever sent him the layout. That was it, no one and he, ahhhhh ... Actresses were already in hair and makeup, and these were some difficult actresses I will tell you. So panic ensued, and it was like look, no, this is all fine, we are problem solvers, that is our main job in life as retouchers, we're solving problems, visual problems. So, what we were able to do because I was on set was we decided we're shooting the actresses, we're gonna change the angle of the items they were sitting on, shoot the job like regular. As soon as the actresses were done, we stripped the set, we rebuild the set the way it should have been for a gate-fold, shot the plates, and then I just had to move the figures. Oh, and did I mention we had three days to do this? I mean do the whole retouching, cast of five women, with a huge thing, and it's the wrong set? But I knew, so by that point, cause I was on the set, I could have the set built proper at the end of the evening. I knew to call in some extra retouchers because the job just went through the roof because it was not prepared. So, hopefully kinda answers some questions.
That's really good.
Thank you for sharing that, yes. So, a question that come in from Siteflight, and that is does a retoucher ever get asked to be a digitech also during the shoot, and then similarly, if you don't have a setup, and you're there, would you ever be kinda of standing behind the digitech or how do you work together?
Oh, I have strong opinions about this.
Okay, yes, this is, I don't think I mentioned this before, this is a little more my wheelhouse than Simon's wheelhouse because I come from a photographic background, and I come from slightly more client-direct relationships, smaller shoots because Simon comes from theatrical. By the time the job comes to him, the job is done and decided, and it just needs plowing through, and there's not that option as often to really be involved in the shoot, whereas I'm a little more on the inside. The blurring of jobs, job descriptions ... I'm kinda a proponent where I think we should honor the jobs that people have and not try to meld them into one and demand too much of singular people. Digitechs are worth their weight in gold, and it's got, it's such a complicated field, you gotta stay up on technology and color and to expect a digitech to be a retoucher is an unreasonable request, and likewise I need to have Photoshop in my back pocket. I need to know how to work this. I need to realize how many layouts need to be done, what's live, what's safety, what needs to be done, how much stripping, it's too much to ask me that I stay up to date on every single technical, so I believe in separation of jobs and honor each job, and pay-wise, because if you have a digitech who's a retoucher, they're not getting paid double salary, I assure you.