Server Setup for Same Day Image Viewing - Dancing

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Sep 2, 2008
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Charlotte, NC
The company I work for who photographs national dance competitions sets up their computer at a front table. Photos are loaded, compressed to 25% and uploaded, I think, to a server or at least they are shared to 3 other monitors for dance parents to view.

I shoot personally for a local dance studio and would like to do something similar. Without actually asking them how they do it (not that I would be taking business from them) I'm not sure how to set that up.

What do I need? Wireless internet? Just a link, daisy chained to the monitors. The dance competition host actually has a very elaborate program written where you type in the dance number, and a slideshow automatically starts. I don't want to do anything that elaborate though. Is there a way to share files without the parents being able to view other "parts" of the computer on which the images are stores, just viewing?

I have until the first week in June to figure this out. Last year I only relied on passer bys and an e mail sent a couple weeks before with an order form attachment. It didn't work out as I had planned. I will be running Windows 7 on a quad core i5 computer with a 1TB HDDD as well as a couple backup drives. With the competition, a card is "processed" around every 10 numbers and takes 15 minutes too process with the program they're running. Each "set" is roughly 2 hours long so I can go back and forth on cards and have them uploaded. The only thing I'm concerned about is there are only 2 intermissions, roughly, per Act and if I only had, say, 3 or 4 monitors, it would be and overload and might miss out on orders because peoople don't want to wait. With the competitions, if your dancer is not dancing, you have time between the numbers to view at your leisure. Past that, I'm not sure how to set it up.

Any of your help would be greatly appreciated.

~Michael~
 
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Are you planning on printing onsite or just taking orders? How do you envision the order process going? On the computers or pen and paper?

What is your budget for the hardware to make this happen? DO you plan on doing more than this one event with the hardware thoughout the year?

I've found that during an event, you always have too many viewing stations, at the end of the event, never enough. So you'll want to make sure that you have plenty of business cards with a website listed so that people can come and place orders after the event. Ideally you would have a temp link to the event gallery that redirects to a page that collects their contact information so if it takes a couple of days for you to get the files upload, you can email them to come back when they are available. If someone asked me how long until the photos hit the website, I would always tell them to visit the website, it already had a link up there. (Which technically wasn't lieing but I wanted that contact information.)

Gary
 
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Check out fredmiranda and look for posts by luketrot and hammy. They have the ideal set up. I have shot with Luke and had anywhere from 16-32 viewstations running. The quicker you get the images up the better. Most events we run Ethernet cords and a laptop to the shooter and upload direct to the server as the event was going on. Wireless can be a hassle best to be wired up and have no or less issues.

We've done wireless and some places just aren't any good even in short wireless runs. At least with an Ethernet cord you know what goes wrong.
 
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Check out this thread: https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=270235
There are a couple of good solutions in there. You have plenty of time to figure it out!

Thanks for the link. Plenty of good information there, I believe Gary below'll be able to help me out :)

Are you planning on printing onsite or just taking orders? How do you envision the order process going? On the computers or pen and paper?

What is your budget for the hardware to make this happen? DO you plan on doing more than this one event with the hardware thoughout the year?

I've found that during an event, you always have too many viewing stations, at the end of the event, never enough. So you'll want to make sure that you have plenty of business cards with a website listed so that people can come and place orders after the event. Ideally you would have a temp link to the event gallery that redirects to a page that collects their contact information so if it takes a couple of days for you to get the files upload, you can email them to come back when they are available. If someone asked me how long until the photos hit the website, I would always tell them to visit the website, it already had a link up there. (Which technically wasn't lieing but I wanted that contact information.)

Gary

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the write up. I will not be doing any printing - only a CD for them. I failed to mention that in my original post. Oops!

Anyways, no printing onsite.

I'd like to keep it fairly inexpensive. The first year, I profited roughly $1,200, after CD's. I did not account for time, though. I already have a laptop and could use that, just not sure about people using it. The way the competition has it set up is just monitors with a keyboard and mouse, so the parents can choose the dance number and view images, with a "master" desktop running the CD burning for same day return of the CDs as well as downloading and compressing the images for hosting. Honestly, I could probably explain what I am trying to do and see how they have it set up, since I wouldn't be competing against them. The 23" LCD screen I use for my desktop was $179. Could I buy a couple of those for viewing and some inexpensive keyboards and mice? I also have a 42" LCD TV I thought of mounting and loading a slideshow on that to get their attention to my table. I will have someone at the desk, which will be next to the DVD order table (done by another company). I have learned the past 2 years, if I do it right at the entrance to the auditorium, most people are uninterested.

I have order forms which are left over from last year which I'm happy to use. I'm keeping the price the same, $25/CD, so I will re-use those to keep thing simple.

Also, I have a website I used to use and although I don't much anymore for hosting, it's still accessible. www.michaelcarrphotography.lifepics.com. Sometimes, I hate to tell them they'll be online. With the clients I deal with, 75% of the time, they don't go online and look. Well, they might, but I usually never get any orders after the fact. I'd rather get as much as I can the day of. Might actually hire 2 people to be at the table. You never know how busy they'll get. I have consistently paid them $30-40 for a couple hours work. It is usually close friend or family helping me out since I'll be inside shooting.

Check out fredmiranda and look for posts by luketrot and hammy. They have the ideal set up. I have shot with Luke and had anywhere from 16-32 viewstations running. The quicker you get the images up the better. Most events we run Ethernet cords and a laptop to the shooter and upload direct to the server as the event was going on. Wireless can be a hassle best to be wired up and have no or less issues.

We've done wireless and some places just aren't any good even in short wireless runs. At least with an Ethernet cord you know what goes wrong.

Thanks. I will PM them and say you referred me to them. I wouldn't have wireless at the auditorium. No time for trouble shooting. I like wired! :)

How would I run an ethernet cord? Do you mean the shooter has a cord hooked to a laptop at the shooters side?

~Michael~
 
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nComputing makes a product called a PC expansion box. I used to use them to run my viewing stations. Essentially it allowed me to use one laptop to run 4 monitors keyboards and mice via a type of Remote Desktop protocol over an ethernet connection. Much cheaper and easier to replace a single keyboard if something is spilledo it than a laptop if you allow people in front of it ...

Gary
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2008
Messages
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Location
Charlotte, NC
nComputing makes a product called a PC expansion box. I used to use them to run my viewing stations. Essentially it allowed me to use one laptop to run 4 monitors keyboards and mice via a type of Remote Desktop protocol over an ethernet connection. Much cheaper and easier to replace a single keyboard if something is spilledo it than a laptop if you allow people in front of it ...

Gary

That's what I'm afraid of. I probably wouldn't' want to use my laptop, its my portable desktop with less computing power. I use it on a regular basis and isn't worth the risk.

I'll probably be working with roughly 2,500 for this event. It will most likely be the same people in both events I and II but you never know what they will buy.

That device you speak of is roughly $400. If it'll work good, I'll look more into it.

~Michael~
 
Joined
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I was looking at the L300 model on tiger direct, its a little over $200 there right now ...

I was able to run 11 viewing stations from 2 cheap Acer laptops with their products. Best part, you can start with a couple and expand if necessary.

And FYI: For the software that was serving the photos and acting as a shopping cart application, that was a custom writen piece.

Gary

That's what I'm afraid of. I probably wouldn't' want to use my laptop, its my portable desktop with less computing power. I use it on a regular basis and isn't worth the risk.

I'll probably be working with roughly 2,500 for this event. It will most likely be the same people in both events I and II but you never know what they will buy.

That device you speak of is roughly $400. If it'll work good, I'll look more into it.

~Michael~
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2008
Messages
810
Location
Charlotte, NC
I was looking at the L300 model on tiger direct, its a little over $200 there right now ...

I was able to run 11 viewing stations from 2 cheap Acer laptops with their products. Best part, you can start with a couple and expand if necessary.

And FYI: For the software that was serving the photos and acting as a shopping cart application, that was a custom writen piece.

Gary

I don't think I would need something as much as the shopping cart. I'll have order forms and I"ll let my site take care of any other ordering, even though they take 15%. I'm hoping to drive them to buy that day because a CD option will not be offered online for one particular dance, only printed images.

11 is A LOT of stations. Then again, if you have less, you always want more and if you have alot, they're never filled. I was thinking....5?

~Michale~
 
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May 7, 2005
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241
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Louisiana
Michale,
I also shoot for a couple of local dance studios, as my wife is the teacher/owner of 2 and a good friend of hers ownes one also. Is this for a recital type of event or a dance competition. If it is for a recital type of event I don't think that an event setup is going to work well. You would have a ton of people trying to view pictures during the intermission and then at the end. At the end people are trying to round up their tired kids and leave and during the performance people are going to get very irate if people are consistantly getting up an walking out and in.

I tried this for several years and finally gave up. Sales were good the first year then started waining off. Mainly because people started bringing their own cameras some better than mine. We even had a policy of no video or photography announced and it still happens. I gave up last year and just shot for myself and advertisement for the studios and we just said no flash photography. I did have some people ask but not many.

Where I make my money is recital program pictures. I net about 5-7k for a weeks worth of afternoon shooting. This is with about 150 kids. With the other studio I get an up front fee of 1k for 45-50 kids that get 3 shots on cd. Print packages are extra profit to me and I give 10% back to the studio off of the prints. Last year I cleared approx $1200for about 4 hours worth of shooting. However I have picked up several family sessions as well as senior sessions.

PM me what company you work for I might be able to get some info for you. My wife judges for about 3-4 of the different competition companies.
 
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It's for a recital, not competition unfortunately.

I have GREATLY thought about this too. Why invest in all the equipment? You're exactly right, though. They all get their kids and are out the door.

I'm hoping by sending order forms by e-mail they will be ready to go. Maybe attach some of my best work to the e-mail so they see what they'll get?

~Michael~
 
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