How Much Does a Video Cost? Part II – Crew

How Much Does a Video Cost

I was on set last week and didn’t get a change to blog.  However, In our last installment we talked about camera package and how different levels of production have different levels of camera requirements.  In this article, I will discuss the people that are necessary to have a productive and professional production.

It’s that home-improvement time of year and you want to paint your house.  There are tools that make it easier, ladders to make you taller, and sprayers that get it done faster…but nothing is better then having someone like the Epcon home building franchise do it, but labor costs money.  Or, if you have children, get that brush in their hand so you and your wife can lay back in your hammocks.

Child Paint

“It’s not easy painting green.”

When hiring a crew you need professionals and people are taught to value themselves hourly.  Typically, people don’t think of their “daily price-tag”.  However that is exactly the way video crews work, either on a 10 or 12 hour day and generally freelance. (Freelance Work will be covered later this year.)

Getting back to painting your house, how much would you pay someone to paint your house hourly?  10/hr? 20/hr?  If you are going with a professional company, not the help found on the Home Depot street corner, you are in the area of 30 – 50 per hour of labor.  The same as a mechanic, the same as a plumber, the same as a camera operator on a 10 hour day.

Knowing how much people cost can help you decide who is necessary and who is expendable.  The Director of Photography is your lighting foreman and he will be setting lights, building camera, working with the director to compose the shot, and making sure the image is properly recorded onto the media.  If he has no help he will have to work slower, and less footage will be recorded.  There lies the budgeting balance.

Waste Time

“When are we getting to my close up?”

As the producer it is your job to know what will help the speed of production and what the budget calls for.  If you have too few people the timetable will suffer, too many and the cost quickly elevates.

Using our last example from “How Much Does a Video Cost?” we know we have a DSLR camera package.  To save on time we will have two people assist the Director of Photography (one to set up lights and one to build the camera), one person recording the sound, a make up artist to make the client beautiful, and a production assistant (PA) to be available to run errands, pick up lunch, or lend a hand wherever needed.  This is a minimum of 6 people not including the creative team.

Depending on the script,  you may need an Art Director to gather props, visual effects, create posters and paint walls.  A head of wardrobe may be needed to decide what suit the talent should wear, pin back any loose fitting clothing, and oversee any rented costumes or jewelry.

As you can see, it takes a team, a well orchestrated team to ensure every moment on set isn’t being wasted.  In some cases the help outside the Home Depot takes more to manage then hiring a professional.  In the next installment of “How Much Does a Video Cost?” I will be talking about creative, and how little modifications to the script can add project value without increasing budget, and in some cases ‘simple gags’ can cost more then the client is willing to spend.



How much does a video cost?

How much does a video coast?

This is the age old question asked to professionals since the dawn of time…well, since the creation of business, commerce, ect…

Just like that dozen of doughnuts, a video has a price. But would you like sprinkels? Glazed? Old fashioned? It doesn’t really matter because most doughnuts cost the same but also come with little variation. Dough, fried with added sugar. While doughnuts still cost a dollar and their variation is limited; video has limitless possibilities.

SCP doughnutsSo, what does a video cost? In the next few weeks I will discuss what different elements during production cost, how and where you can cut corners, and what should be left to the fair market price.

Today we will discuss:

Camera Packages

To answer what camera package is correct for the show/commercial we are creating we look at the distribution, the demographic and we always have our eyes on the bottom line.

For this example we will say we have a web distribution commercial with a middle aged (18-35) targeted demographic.

This tells us a few things when selecting a camera package.

  1. Because the show will only be distributed via the internet there is little to no need for a frame size larger then 1080.
  2. The 18 – 35 demographic is a little more accepting of new formats of video, styles, and creative editing techniques.

Camera packages like the Red, Black Magic URSA and the Cannon EOS 4k lines are incredible packages and deliver a picture that is approx 3840 x 2160 and higher but if your delivery calls for 1920 x 1080 then this format is overkill and increases your need for :

  • Camera Support – because the large format camera are also heavier, your equipment needs to be higher grade.
  • Personnel – A larger format camera comes with more support so you will need more people to assist in building the camera and packing in equipment.
  • Insurance – With the increase in the cost of the camera the insurance required increases.
You sure you need all that for the birth of your daughter?

The 18 – 35 demographic has been watching MTv and online videos for years. Their visual palate is accustomed to swish-pans and color burns, editing choices that can increase the look of the show without increasing overall budget. Older demographics subconsciously prefer polished cross fades and well timed transitions as opposed to jump cuts and multiple formats.

Because the demographic for this show enjoys varied formats, faster pace edits and online distribution only needs 1920 x 1080, I would suggest that a standard DSLR camera package. Your standard camera package should include:

1 – DSLR camera that can shoot 1080 at 24 fps

1- set of high-quality lenses with follow focus and matte box system

1- professional tripod and spreaders

1 – professional camera head

1- simple movement for camera (slider or basic jib)

If you wanted to outfit your company with the materials needed for this shoot you are looking at anywhere from $25,000 – $38,000. Equipment rentals typically run from 10 – 15 % of cost per day, so some quick math will tell us a professional DSLR camera package should cost $250.00 – $440.00 per day.

Of course that is for the equipment rental and doesn’t cover the professional you need to run that impressive camera package or the audio you would like to capture.

In the next installment of “How much does a video cost?” We will discuss the people that you will need to hire to run the camera and all of the equipment required for your internet distribution show.

Until next, time ask yourself, “How much is my time worth?”

Sidecar Eric