Thursday, 8 March 2018

Choosing a Wedding Videographer Tip #2 : Price

It's not all about finding the cheapest deal. It's about finding the best quality, the best value, the right videographer, with a character and style you like, who you can trust to do the best job they can. Some couples have a family member or friend video it for them for free for a wedding present. If your friend or family member's job is videographer with many years' experience then relax! You've aced it. Read no more.

The Wedding of Ruth & Alastair, The George Hotel, 1st Dec 2013

Consumer cameras are getting better and cheaper all the time, but there are some things that can only be learned from experience in the field. For example, did you know that most cameras, when trained on two people, autofocus on the central background between them? That's not good when filming vows. Also, will your family member or friend be using lapel mics to get good clear audio? Or know what an active smartphone can do to a microphone's signal? Do they know what to do if the bride and groom are silhouetted against a bright window and the camera can't make out their faces? Will they be using two cameras in case one is shaky or blurred or they need to edit something out? Just some things to think about.

The Cheapest Deal? 

One day when I lived in Japan it started to rain and was quite windy, so I went in to a 100 yen shop (like a pound shop) and bought the cheapest umbrella I could find. Then, while I was walking home the damn thing broke in half and I ended up throwing it in the nearest bin. And then I thought to myself, well, it was only a pound, what did I expect? And I walked home soaking wet. So I would have been better off not buying anything – I would at least have still had the 100 yen. From that moment I decided never to buy the cheapest option of anything. Usually I aim for the second cheapest, or middle of the range, or even better, a known and trusted brand name that have their image to worry about and so build things to last.

Another story. Before Christmas 2017 a young bride sent me a message. She was in tears because her videographer had made a hash of her video. I said I'd see what I could do. She sent me the link and I downloaded it and I felt a sinking feeling almost straight away. Because much of what her videographer had done wrong could not be fixed. When something is out of focus, it's out of focus forever. As far as I know there is no software that can put something in focus once it's been captured that way. I felt really bad for her. I could cut out those parts or cover them over, but apart from becoming the first person to invent an app to focus a blurry image there wasn't much else I could do.

How Much Does It Actually Cost?

A lot of people think wedding videography is generally over-priced. So did I. The trouble is, to make a good wedding video does actually take quite a lot of work (at least £8.50 per hour living wage) and needs quite pricey equipment that has to be upgraded every five years. A new Macbook pro + software costs about £2000. A good camera, £2500. Let's say hard drives & SD cards cost £500. That's £5000 every 5 years, or £1000 per year on average just maintaining equipment. (Say a videographer does 24 weddings a year. That's £42 for equipment per wedding.)

On top of this is £420 for insurance (£18 insurance per wedding) and £330 for accounting fees (£14 accounting per wedding).

Next let's say it takes 30 hours non stop to edit a wedding flat out + 10 to shoot it (+20 if there are two camera operators) @ £8.50/hr = £340 for labour.

And what about pension (10%), website (£5), admin (£10) and marketing (£10)?

Summary of Estimated Minimum Costs per Wedding
(assuming 24 weddings per year, one operator, £8.50/hr in 2017)

Equipment £42
Insurance £18
Accounting £14
Website £5
Admin £10
Marketing £10
Labour £340

Total £439

Pension(10%) £44

Grand total £483

So after all this £500 per wedding might not seem so expensive.

This is the minimum a videographer might expect to budget for costs for a wedding. Anything less than this and either they aren't using good equipment, or they aren't insured, they're doing a rush job, or they haven't thought things through properly.

The Raptor Filmz / White Orchid 2017 Wedding Compilation 

Top End Wedding Videos

Well, what about the most expensive deal? £2000 for a wedding video? Okay, if you really like their style, talent, hard work they put in, etc. Have they won awards? Do they have great reviews and an infallible reputation? How many people are they employing? Are they all really necessary? Are they going to use your money efficiently? How many cameras are they using? Are they filming from Bridal Prep until Midnight? Are they using great stabilisation like motorised sliders? (on my wish list :)) How many years' experience do they have? How many years' training? Do they have a fast turnaround? What support do they have in place (See Tip #1)? What resolution end result do they provide?

If a videographer asked for £2,000 to film my wedding I would genuinely be quite interested to see a breakdown of their budget.

On a side note, studies have suggested that the more money a couple spends on their wedding, the smaller the chance their marriage will last.


Ask yourself : what would Buddha do? Well, he probably wouldn't get married. But if he did, he would choose the middle way. £500 as standard, up to £600 if they have good references, you like their style, you have a good rapport, etc. And I'm not just saying that because that's how much we usually ask for, from Guests Arriving until First Dance. This is honestly what I would recommend to a niece or nephew if they asked me how much would be a good ball park figure to spend on a wedding video in Scotland in 2018. 

If you would like to add something to the discussion, please let me know in the comments below.

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© Chris Young 2018

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