Media production is a challenging service to cost out because there are so many factors influencing the time, skills, and equipment needed to perform a particular gig. Bids can run the gamut simply because one provider is able to crunch the numbers more efficiently or another isn’t very good at budgeting at all. Many clients have a lot of confusion as to what they are paying for and their expectations for how much media production should cost. This blog series is intended to clear up some of that confusion and clarify what you are getting for your money.
Part 1: The Video Shoot
For this part, we’ll focus on the costs involved with video recording.
You will often find that videographers charge a “day or half-day” rate. This is because the preparation time involved for an hour long shoot is typically just as much as for one lasting several hours. Time is charged for every video shoot with the following process in mind. First, the details of the shoot are discussed with the client, often involving an in-person meeting and tour of the site for the shoot. Second, the team is selected and contracted. Third, an internal shot list or storyboard is developed, and the shoot plan is outlined with the video team. Next, the equipment is selected, tested, charged, packed, and in some cases, rented for the specific job at hand. If specific permits or insurance paperwork is needed for the shoot location, that is handled at this point. The location is mapped and parking arranged. The process to this point typically takes 3+ hours to complete and all occurs before the day of the shoot.
Time is charged on the day of the shoot for travel to the location, setup of the equipment, testing the equipment for variables that could impact the quality of the video, the actual video shoot, packing up the equipment, transportation back to the studio, unpacking or returning rented equipment, and archiving the data recorded.
Most shoots involve at least one videographer, one production assistant to help with equipment and setup, a video camera, a tripod, lights, and sound capturing devices. The crew is paid for their time based on the process outlined above. Equipment for professional video production is expensive, often costing around $15,000 for a basic setup. Many studios factor a small percentage of the purchase cost into each video shoot. That percentage is usually a much better rate than if the studio needs to rent specific equipment. If special equipment purchase or rental is needed, that cost is almost entirely passed onto the client. Gas and parking fees are also charged to the client.
While most of the above costs factor into every video shoot, there are many costs that result from situational requirements. Here are some examples. HD video is more expensive to shoot than SD or Standard Definition video, mostly due to the huge file storage requirements. Location can impact the cost in many ways. If a studio space is needed, there may be a fee associated with renting, setting up, powering, and cleanup. Certain locations may require a longer setup time or more preproduction visits to plan for specific shots. Many projects call for more cameras, a larger crew, extended travel arrangements for long distance shoots, etc.
While there are many situational factors that impact the cost of doing a video shoot, hopefully this blog gives you a better understanding of the basics. Another factor to consider is that many freelance videographers need to pay their bills with maybe 4 to 6 shoots a month. If you do the math, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the minimum cost to expect.