Hywel’s Custom Videos vs. Ariel’s Custom Videos

Hi Everyone!

If you’ve been following us on Twitter, you might have noticed that Ariel and I have both been having lots of fun making custom videos.

We realised that with both of us offering customs, people are probably confused about what the difference is, given that we’re married to each other and live in the same house and everything. Then we realised that even we were a bit confused, too!

Who should you book your custom through? Ariel or Hywel?

So here is a post which we hope will clarify.

Executive Summary

For simple videos starring Ariel recorded in one or two long rolling takes, get Ariel to shoot them via AskArielStudio.com.

For grander or more complicated films shot in cinematic style, contact Hywel via EleganceStudios.com.

The More Complicated Version

Hywel’s Customs

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CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Hywel shoots customs with the full apparatus of a RestrainedElegance.com shoot. That means using the RED digital cine camera which is capable of some absolutely awesome results (the same camera is used for Hollywood feature films shown at your local cinema).

Along with that goes stylish lighting, microphones on boom poles, and a very cinematic shooting style- lots of short takes, lots of camera angles, great closeups- very dramatic and stylish. It looks more like a film or a high-end TV drama than fetish videos you usually see on the web.

But this style is also slow to shoot, needs a fair bit of planning in advance and a lot of time in post-production to colour grade the RAW footage and edit the films together.

That means it is more expensive to shoot this way. It takes more people and more time. The results, as I hope you’ll agree, are stunning. But it takes time and therefore money to get there.

If necessary we’ll hire locations, hire other models, hire crew, buy specific bondage gear, or hire a van to take us all to the locations, and organise everything. We often shoot customs with models other than Ariel, too. On those days, Ariel’s usually doing the bondage rigging and Hywel is doing the camera work. Sometimes we have friends help out as extra crew too if the shoot is particularly demanding.

Hywel’s customs are designed for high-end productions for when you are after the very best quality bondage that anyone will make you on the web today. But they are not cheap.

Hywel can give you a break on the cost if the resulting film is suitable for him to put up on his websites. That means elegant, barefoot bondage (RestrainedElegance), bare foot fetish (SilkSoles), or long dramatic feature-length BDSM films like Pony Girl (Elegance Studios).

Hywel can shoot your film for you even if it doesn’t fit on one of the sites, but then he has to charge to cover his time, rather than making his money from selling the film afterwards. This adds even more to the costs and may stop it being a cost-effective option for you. But if you want the best quality that’s definitely the way to go.

If you want the best quality, especially if your custom video features elegant bondage, bare feet or a complicated story, Hywel is your best bet.

Ariel’s Customs

CLICK HERE for details at AskArielStudio.com.

Ariel shoots customs on a Panasonic bridge camera, with no boom mic, in whatever light happens to be around. She originally started shooting customs that she could film in her bedroom at home or in her hotel room when she is on tour.

She usually shoots them herself, which means that the style is more one-rolling-take with her talking to the camera rather than the very cinematic style which Hywel’s shoots use.

She also shoots bondage stuff (with Hywel stepping in to do the tying and the camera-work) or shoots with our kinky neighbour Zoe, but it is still shot by pointing her camera at the scene and hitting record.

This is a less labour-intensive and time-consuming style in which to shoot. So even where she does need to have other people involved to help out, the shoot can usually be done more quickly, with less pre-production planning and less post-production time as well.

As you’ll see from her Clips4Sale store, Ariel also sells the films afterwards sometimes.

But because her films are so much quicker to shoot, she can probably do you a better deal on a film which is more personal, too.

So if you want her to talk to camera as if talking to you, mentioning your name, or wearing a combination of clothes that wouldn’t sit well on Restrained Elegance, or stuff that Hywel’s sites just doesn’t cover… like Ariel dominating the camera, or pantyhose fetish, or brushing her hair… Ariel will be able to shoot it for you much more cheaply than Hywel.

If you want something more personal or specific which Ariel can shoot for you, and you don’t need the full cinematic treatment, Ariel is your best bet.

Don’t Know? Still Confused?

If you don’t know, you can always contact either one of us, describe your idea, and we’ll suggest which of us would be better to make it for you and how much it would cost 🙂

Non-Kinky Landscape Project: Plynlimon

Hi All,

On 1st January 2015 I set myself a project: document the changing seasons on the top of Plynlimon, a mountain local to me in the Cambrian range in mid-Wales.

I thought I’d try doing a video 360 degree panorama every month through the year. It sorta ballooned into a 12-month video diary come visual poem about the mountain.

If you have 20 minutes and feel like a bit of a chill-out and relax, please take a look and let me know what you think:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lceUIPvaDVs

I started with a wobbly mini plastic tripod on top of the trig point; by the end of the year I was hauling the biggest tripod Gitzo would sell me plus a fluid head plus a motorized pan platform up the damn mountain to get some decent footage. Turns out Plynlimon is WINDY and that’s why the footage is a bit shaky at the start! I know it is a little slow to get started too- I wanted to keep the purity of the 360 panorama concept for January, and besides I didn’t have any other footage from that month and didn’t want to cheat.

I know it is not BBC Nature Department quality but I had a lot of fun shooting it, including a few summer nights spent camping out at the top with the whole mountain to myself. Heaven! 🙂

I could upload a higher-quality version here for RE members rather than living with the YouTube compression, let me know if you’d be interested.

Cheers, Hywel

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Tutorial Video Requests

Hi Everyone,

We’ve just started shooting a new round of tutorial videos, drop by on the forum thread to let us know of anything you’d particularly like us to see.

How to handle stills in post production, doing the colour correction and other tweaks that give shots the final polish is a very popular suggestion. I’ve just shot one on focal length choices and will do one of depth of field and aperture choices as well soon too.

Are there tutorials you’d like to see on the bondage, rigging or modelling sides?

What about the video side? Is there any interest in a video showing how and why we do the colour grading for our films? It’s the same process as stills in some ways but the tools are rather different, would you like me to cover the basics of how I approach it in a tutorial video?

Cheers, Hywel & Ariel

In Case Anyone Genuinely Doesn’t Get It

Oh, LOL. Ariel has been chasing up an idiot who has been posting our pirated stuff around and managed to get a response from him on Twitter. This is what he said:

“Dear Ariel usually i don’t remove any content but you are one of my top favorite models. i like your beautiful face i respect you and i will remove your content but we need a deal. i will remove your content and you give me a free account on all of your websites.”

I’m sure most of you can immediately seen the looniness of this. But I’m a serious-minded chap and I can’t resist the urge to explain just in case anyone out there genuinely doesn’t get it.

Our websites are a traditional small business, an artisan cottage industry. We’re almost exactly the same as a small local bakery producing hand-baked cakes. Like the bakery, we pay for our ingredients. We buy our flour and sugar and jam and fruit (pay our models and crew, buy ropes, handcuffs, gags), we have to have premises to work and we pay our gas and electric bills to run the ovens… and we had to buy the big ovens as well in a great big expense (buying the cameras and lights). We have to pay our accountant to help us keep track of everything so we can pay our taxes, and all of this is funded by kind customers buying one cupcake at a time.

Imagine you are the bakery. One day you find someone who has stolen a shed-load of your cupcakes sitting on the kerb outside the bakery giving them away to your prospective customers. When asked to stop, their response is to say that they will, but only if you give them all the cupcakes they want for nothing. And so they don’t trouble you, they ask for a key to the bakery so they can drop in and take free cupcakes any time they feel like it.

They are even putting people off from coming and looking in your shop window, so your potential customers don’t even find out the other great things you have to offer- like custard slices, the weekly pudding club, the tea and coffee mornings to help local good causes, the community that they could be joining that you’ve worked for a decade to build up around your bakery. Because of course people will be tempted by the free cupcakes from the thief on the street- so tempted they might not ever make it past him to your bakery.

The thief will even complain how much WORK it is for them, how long they’ve spent collecting your stolen cupcakes. They’ll get very angry with other thieves who steal cupcakes from their stolen pile and set up in the next door pitch on the street. They’ll say how they’ve taken lots of effort to remove your pretty “Ariel’s bakery” cupcake boxes and shove the cupcakes into their own shoddy, stolen boxes. (Stretching the analogy a bit, but that’s what cropping the URL from our images does).

They even whine that they are doing you a SERVICE and that you should be grateful that they have chosen to steal YOUR cupcakes, not the cupcakes from the big supermarket down the road, that you’ll somehow benefit from their industriousness when they give your stolen cupcakes away to any even slightly hungry person who walks within five blocks of your shop. After all, they personally are a huge fan of your cupcakes. When they eat a stolen cupcake, it is ALWAYS one of yours.

What would you say to the cupcake thief sitting on your doorstep? Would you give them the key to the bakery so they can help themselves to freebies?

Exactly.

That’s why we occasionally get the urge to shout at these people “BUT THEY ARE MY FUCKING CUPCAKES YOU FUCKING BANDIT! I know this because I made them with my own two hands. You didn’t make them, not one little bit. YOU ARE STEALING *MY* FUCKING CUPCAKES!”

Every photograph we make costs us money to make- an appreciable amount of money. About the same as a cupcake from a local bakery, actually.

Let that sink in for a moment. Every single photograph we make costs about the same as a cupcake from a local bakery. So a photoset is like a whole catering pack of cupcakes.

The only difference between us and the bakery, business-wise, is that the bakery can only sell an individual cup-cake once, whereas we can sell multiple identical copies of a photograph (which is what happens when you download one- you’re getting a copy of the photograph identical in every way to the original on the website).

These copies cost substantially less than the original photograph costs to make. They’re not entirely free because we have to pay bandwidth charges- a single photo costs fractions of a cent when someone downloads it. That cost is so small that you can find web hosts who cover those costs for you in exchange for selling adverts. It is like the cupcake thief covering the cost of his petrol to drive to your shop every day by handing out leaflets advertising other local businesses (including some of your less-scrupulous competitors). And it doesn’t cover the actual cost of making the photograph- the models, the lights, the camera, the bills.

We can afford to charge significantly less per photo than the bakery can charge per cupcake, which is why website memberships give you 50,000 photos for a $40.

But this relies on enough people buying the photos to cover the “price of a cupcake” amount of money it costs us to make EACH AND EVERY ONE of those 50,000 photos in the first place. So long as hundreds of people are kind and honest enough to buy the photos, everyone wins- the creators can afford to make more photos, and the buyers can benefit from the low cost of each individual photo.

Dear Mr. Pirate. I have an alternative deal for you. Why don’t you buy a camera, some lights, some bondage gear, hire a studio, a rigger and a model (all at your own expense) and shoot some photos yourself? Then you can give them to us to use on our site. Or give them away for free. Whatever the hell you like, because those photos are yours and you paid for them. Properly paid for them- covered the costs of making them.

Or hire Ariel and me to shoot some for you, our rates are very reasonable considering what we provide. We’ll send you the photosets and you can do whatever you like with them- post them anywhere. We’ll see how you feel about that when you’ve actually paid the real cost of making them.

P.S. The same applies to video, of course. Costs are a cupcake every few seconds of footage.

One Person Art – Where Will The Action Be Next?

I have a thesis that really cool art happens when you bring together a medium in which is it possible for one person to create the thing entirely on their own, and a distribution channel which is new or at least not dominated by large companies or censorship and regulation.

I’m reading a book about the history of the personal computer revolution and I’m struck by the story of (Sierra) Online’s early adventure games for the Apple II. They were small enough that one person could construct the game on their own (or maybe one person writing the game and a second person doing the techie bits). That was the medium, simple enough for one person to hold the whole thing in their head and produce a unique and personal work without a committee.

The distribution channel was computer software on cassette tape and floppy. It was cheap enough that one person could get started, there was a sudden influx of people looking to buy games for their new Apple II, and all you needed to do was visit all your local computer shops with a box of tapes and you could be in business.

It strikes me that I’ve seen multiple waves of this throughout my lifetime. Indie and punk music, and many waves thereafter. Low budget video “nasties”. Computer software. Usenet newsgroups. Music videos. Websites. Phone Apps. EBooks. Online viral videos. I’ve probably missed a dozen more.

Each seems to have what Ariel calls its “Wild West” phase, when innovation and originality are fizzing at a furious rate and the scene is thrilling to be a part of. Genuinely new stuff gets created and shared, fast. In this early stage it is possible to build a business stratospherically high dangerously fast, almost by accident. (I know, it happened to me. Maybe not stratospheric, but I never imagined my silly little website would become a business of ANY sort).

Then there’s a period of consolidation, marketing takes over, the companies get winnowed down to a few big players and (usually) the damned government sticks its nose in to “protect the children” and censor everything, too.

And at that point the innovation and excitement moves on, replaced by polish and production values. Which is fine too- by any rational measure, Dragon Age: Inquisition is an astonishing achievement, much more so than Haunted House or SoftPorn or Zork.

But I think we lose the energy when creating something requires big money, lots of time and a group effort by hundreds or thousands of people instead of a burst of creative energy by just one or two people. There’s a meme which sums it up:

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Clearly, websites are moving out of the one-person-band phase. Governments are coming in and regulating, even in niche markets like BDSM the market is dominated by a few big players, a lot of producers are giving up because it is just too much work and they can’t compete. What’s left is still pretty cool- and I’m certainly doing my best to make sure Restrained Elegance, Silk Soles and Elegance Studios stay as a cottage industry production house at least.

But what is already happening is the loss of the feeling of “scene”. Of people being brave or motivated to create their thing, and the hell with anyone else. Of watching what other people are doing and applauding it for its coolness and being competitive in a “well you think that’s good, but look at THIS” sort of spurring each other on way that scenes have. Rather than the “I see what you did there, I’m going to launch something in competition with you, market the hell out of it and see if I can drive you out of business” way that more marture markets have.

If I’m honest the British Fetish Film Festival started as a way of me trying to stimulate more of a scene for fetish film production in the UK. There were lots of us making little intensely personal films in isolation and I thought we could really get something exciting going. Lots of scenes have been jump started by community events or venues (think CBGB’s or the Homebrew computer club).

I’m not going to say it is too late, but the imposition of heavy censorship in the UK is certainly a handicap. With luck we might get spurred into action, fighting back the way that gay communities in the UK had to for clause 28.

But I also wonder… where might the next solo artist medium, new market opportunity lie? Somewhere as-yet unregulated, which people are just starting to discover?

Cheers, Hywel