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Thread: How much to charge for video production

  1. #1

    Lightbulb How much to charge for video production

    Hey guys,

    I stumbled upon a very good video about "How much to charge for video production" from a guy who lives in Vienna, Austria and has a 2 man production company.
    He talks in detail about his rates, the work he does, why he charges what amount and i think it would be super useful for many people here who are looking for answers about this topic.

    Obviously his exact rates are not necessary what You should be charging, but it will give you great insight in to how You should structure your rates based where you live and the work you do.


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    Great find and kudos to the guy for posting it. the comments are worth a read as well.

    My take on it is if i was doing it professionally I'd really need to up my game on the editing. My last project, a two hour show edited together from 5 different performances, two cameras on each) took me six weeks working most evenings & weekends!
    Tim

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    I use a fairly simple formula in a spreadsheet. I calculate the hours, including preparation, setup, shoot, and strike and multiply that by my desired hourly. Then I add 5% of the new replacement cost of the equipment package. To figure an appropriate hourly I reverse the calculation from the amount I'd need to make it worth dedicating a day, so in effect my hourly is derived from a day rate. As it's essentially a hobby I do on the side and I don't have pro gear I can't charge pro rates, but I charge enough to make it worth my time and effort. The 5% replacement cost charge means I can theoretically buy new gear every 20 or so events. I pretty much just shoot bands that I like, ones that are not making a ton of money, so I keep my rates down and make sure I'm having fun. If that weren't the case I'd have to charge a lot more.

    I try to figure a flat rate for editing. It depends on the end product and the amount and kind of input I get from the client. Since I shoot whole shows to get one or two songs it really helps if they can narrow down the options, so I don't have to edit the whole thing. The most challenging ones are long shoots for samplers when they don't offer enough specific guidance as to what parts they would like to use. Usually I get them to select a song or two from the audio based on their performance, then I edit just that video.

    The editing itself can go pretty fast, but the time alignment and color correction take a bit of work. Using the audio to sync video only gets it close. To really get it right I have to manually tweak it. With five or six cameras going two hours it takes a while. Getting the colors right also takes time. I need to make more of an effort at the shoot to save myself the trouble in post. I don't penalize the client for that.

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    This would definitely help a lot. Thanks for sharing!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by RL_Sensei View Post
    Hey guys,

    I stumbled upon a very good video about "How much to charge for video production" from a guy who lives in Vienna, Austria and has a 2 man production company.
    He talks in detail about his rates, the work he does, why he charges what amount and i think it would be super useful for many people here who are looking for answers about this topic.

    Obviously his exact rates are not necessary what You should be charging, but it will give you great insight in to how You should structure your rates based where you live and the work you do.

    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    I use a fairly simple formula in a spreadsheet. I calculate the hours, including preparation, setup, shoot, and strike and multiply that by my desired hourly. Then I add 5% of the new replacement cost of the equipment package. To figure an appropriate hourly I reverse the calculation from the amount I'd need to make it worth dedicating a day, so in effect my hourly is derived from a day rate. As it's essentially a hobby I do on the side and I don't have pro gear I can't charge pro rates, but I charge enough to make it worth my time and effort. The 5% replacement cost charge means I can theoretically buy new gear every 20 or so events. I pretty much just shoot bands that I like, ones that are not making a ton of money, so I keep my rates down and make sure I'm having fun. If that weren't the case I'd have to charge a lot more.

    I try to figure a flat rate for editing. It depends on the end product and the amount and kind of input I get from the client. Since I shoot whole shows to get one or two songs it really helps if they can narrow down the options, so I don't have to edit the whole thing. The most challenging ones are long shoots for samplers when they don't offer enough specific guidance as to what parts they would like to use. Usually I get them to select a song or two from the audio based on their performance, then I edit just that video.

    The editing itself can go pretty fast, but the time alignment and color correction take a bit of work. Using the audio to sync video only gets it close. To really get it right I have to manually tweak it. With five or six cameras going two hours it takes a while. Getting the colors right also takes time. I need to make more of an effort at the shoot to save myself the trouble in post. I don't penalize the client for that.
    Thanks guys, just two hours ago I was mentioning to my colleague who's also self employed, that one of the things I really hate about being self employed is asking for money. Hopefully this will help me find a good range for myself and get over my fear of approaching clients
    The cats are watching us...

  6. #6

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    One tip i can give is "How to properly calculate your camera gear expenses in to your overall day rate or production cost."


    The worst thing any photographer or filmmaker can do is to simply charge a rate for their work and completely ignore their own gear expenses. Not only are you screwing yourself that way (i will explain in a bit), you are also influencing the market in a negative way because by not thinking about gear expenses you are undercutting production companies and professionals by 50% or more.
    Let me explain.

    When you buy camera equipment - you are essentially investing money in resources with which you will earn money by providing a service. Let's say you invested $5000 in camera gear.
    Maybe you had this much money yourself, maybe you took out a loan, it does not matter - at this point you have a $5000 deficit which has to be repaid. Either to yourself or to a bank or whatever.

    So, here is the big mistake is see so many beginners make.
    When someone want's to hire them for a job and asks them: "how much do you charge for a day of shooting". They simply give a number that corresponds with how much he/she want's to earn for doing that job (for the actual work). Let's say $200 for a day of shooting.
    But those $200 are only for your work and you will spend that money on rent, food, transportation and other living expenses. But if you use your own gear (that you got by investing $5000) to do the work then how on earth will you earn that invested money back and save money to do gear repairs or buy new gear in the future?

    Think of it this way. When you are building a house - you have 2 categories of expenses. One is for the work to build a house, the second is for the materials to build a house.
    The same is true for Photography or Video work.
    Your day rate has to consist of how much you want to earn for your work and also how much you charge for the camera gear that you will bring to do the job. Essentially your camera gear is the materials needed to build the house.


    Here is an example from my own workflow on how i calculate production costs. (This is without additional staff, insurance, graphic elements, music licensing, unexpected expenses and so on if those things would be needed.)
    In this example you can see all the gear i would bring to that particular "example" shoot, how many days would i need specific gear items, how many days i would shoot, how much transportation would cost and how much i would charge for post-production.
    Keep in mind, my daily work and post production rate differs from client to client depending on the job itself, the scope and if it's a local client or from a bigger market. For this example i used my minimum day rate for a local client (small business).







    Now, as you can see from this example - on this 5 day example shoot i would bring quite a lot of my own gear and because i have invested a lot of money in to my gear, i obviously have to earn that investment back through my work.
    First of all - without gear the client would not be able to get a video in the end. So there are only 2 options. Either the client rents the gear needed from a rental place or he rents the gear from me for a discount. Either way - the client has to pay for the gear that will be used on the shoot.
    If we take a look at the numbers we can see that on this shoot the gear cost would be 1719 EUR and my work would cost 1200 EUR (filming and post production).

    The thing is - so many times some beginner shows up who tells the client he/she can do the same job for just the 1200 EUR (the work costs), because he/she is ignoring the gear expenses. Never mind the fact that the beginner shows up with an entry level camera and a kit lens. I am not saying you can't do quality work with an entry level camera if you have the skills, but there is a level difference between a proper production and some bloke showing up with a Canon Rebel T2i who has maybe used it for a week or two. It creates all kinds of problems in the market.

    Anyway, so how did i come up with those gear cost numbers?
    Easy - take the total cost of a specif gear item and divide it by 1.5% - 3%
    What do those numbers mean?
    It's essentially Amortization! Meaning - how fast will you be able to earn the money back on the specific gear item.

    A 1.5% amortization means that after 67 days (filming days) you will have earned back the money that it cost to buy that peace of gear.
    A 3% amortization means that it's 33 days. (Divide 100 by the amortization value to get the days.)

    The Amortization rate i use for myself is 1.66% or 60 days because my market has very low pricing due to beginners undercutting professionals.

    The biggest problem in our industry is people lowering prices out of fear... They want to get the client so bad that they lower their price, then lower it more, then lower it more, just to get the job. This, coupled with an incomplete understanding of how you should calculate your price, leads to a dangerous market devaluation that is threatening more serious creatives and businesses.

    I know this was a big wall of text, but if you are serious about your work, then i think it come in handy if you are just starting out or don't have experience in economics and so on.
    Hope this helps someone.


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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by RL_Sensei View Post

    I know this was a big wall of text, but if you are serious about your work, then i think it come in handy if you are just starting out or don't have experience in economics and so on.
    Hope this helps someone.
    Thanks! I broadly work along these lines as well but in detail I seem to be screwing myself over so this is a lovely reminder to have a good hard look at my price construction. Sorry I can't give yo a forum rep for this post it's saying I should spread rep around a bit first :/
    The cats are watching us...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapes View Post
    Sorry I can't give yo a forum rep for this post it's saying I should spread rep around a bit first :/
    Yep. That is a bit of a problem on a forum like this which has very few regular posters. But then again, we go for quality rather than quantity.

    I don't do this professionally, but I used to take the same view when playing (semi-pro) in bands. If people ever commented about the cost, I'd remind them they couldn't hire the gear (and we were only using run-of-the mill gear) for what we were charging.
    Tim

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