We’re pleased to debut a four-part series “What Does Video Cost?” Each post will focus on one area of decision-making that impacts your video cost. This post will explore the decisions you’ll need to assess how much filming will contribute to your video cost. In the companion posts, we address editing, the role of your producer, and video distribution and video SEO.
This post was updated in February 2022 to include a discussion of filming in a COVID-19 period.
Note: This post discusses in-person filming. However, virtual recording options are convenient and customizable, as described in these posts on Recording Presentation with Video, Virtual Recording: How to Look and Sound Your Best, and Virtual Event Programs – 5 Special Moments for Professional Video.
Video costs for filming depend on the size of your crew
Most of the videos we at MiniMatters work on require a two-person crew. Videos that require attention to multiple aspects of filming require two people. The size of the crew naturally affects your video cost.
Two-person crews and video costs. Most of the jobs we’ve done require two people. If, for example, you need footage of interviews with people important to your organization, you need all these functions:
- Someone must focus on the interviewee and how they look and sound (see a series on looking good and sounding good on video here).
- An experienced interviewer must pose questions that bring out ideal soundbites.
- A professional must keep the interviewee comfortable on camera. If the interviewee is a donor or other external contact, this is especially important (see a post on how seriously we take your relationships here).
- Someone must handle lighting, miking, and other technical aspects.
Unless a staff member has time and skill to take care some of these functions, you need two people on the crew for this kind of video. Two people means it’s possible for someone to oversee expensive equipment at all times while the other crew member troubleshoots such issues as sightlines and audio. Your video cost will be a little higher, but two people make everything go smoothly and produce a great multi-layered product.
Unusual cases: one-person crews. We’ve had a few jobs where at least one of the days of filming only calls for one person. It naturally trims your video costs a bit to have a one-person crew. If all you need is b-roll or footage from an event in which another professional will ensure other technical aspects, you might be able to cut your video cost a bit. B-roll just requires shooting what’s there in a place already well-lit. This might be footage of your conference venue, signage, and crowds at your event–or of the natural environment your organization is helping to preserve. We can create simple videos from b-roll by pairing it with music, some graphics, and a voiceover. Likewise, if an event company will provide a bunch of technical support including access to their audio mixer, one person may be enough to shoot a speech or panel. While most situations require two people, under certain circumstances you can push your video cost down a bit with a one-person crew.
Bigger crews will drive up your video costs. If you want a very high-end production—perhaps because you need to be able to broadcast to television and you have the budget to do this—you may need a bigger crew. You may want a director of photography, master electrician, set designer, make-up artist, or others. Here you may need three or more people on the crew and that will raise your video cost a bit.
We do want to note that if you are gathering b-roll or footage of speeches, it also still may make sense to use a two-person crew. Most events bring crucial people together and represent a great time for interviews at only a marginal increase in video cost.
Video costs more if filming takes longer
Most video production companies, including MiniMatters, set video cost by the full day—ten hours portal to portal (about eight hours on site). In some cases, firms may offer a 1/2 day—six hours portal to portal (about four hours on site). But half-day rates aren’t typically offered because it precludes the crew from doing other jobs that same day. In the DC area, a two-person crew might cost around $1,500-$1800 for a half-day or $2,000-$3,500 for a full day. Organizing shoots efficiently in terms of time and location will help keep your video cost down. The range of prices depends on whom you hire, their proximity to the job, the camera and sound equipment they own, experience, company overhead, and other factors.
Video costs more if you need more expensive equipment
If your video is for the Web or even to be showcased on large screens at a gala or event, we have good news. You do not need your camera crew to bring a camera that provides TV broadcast quality and increases your video cost. These cameras can be bulky and expensive. You’ll need a pro-level camera that can connect with professional microphones and audio cables, but you don’t need to pay extra video cost for broadcast quality.
Filming During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In-person filming during the COVID-19 pandemic adds a significant level of complexity and some extra cost. MiniMatters has several staff members who are Certified COVID-Compliance Officers, who can optimize COVID-safety conditions before, during, and after your in-person filming. We require a COVID-Compliance Officer to be involved in any filming project during the pandemic. And this is something you, as a consumer, should require of your filming and production company. Be aware, though, that it will add additional expense for the COVID-Compliance Officer and related supplies, tests, and materials. On the upside, it helps keep people safe and healthy.
Video costs are worth it
If you’re starting to think about video and have questions about video costs, congratulations! You’re going to enjoy the journey of creating video and be glad you started down this road. The benefits to your organization will be many. We hope we can help.
If MiniMatters can help you with fundraising video, association video, or other video production needs, we’d love to talk with you at 301-339-0339 or via email at [email protected]. We serve associations, foundations, nonprofits, and businesses primarily in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.
To access the full four-part series on video costs, click here. When the series is complete we’ll post a link to a pdf suitable to distribute within your organization. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and you’ll definitely get it.