A version of this post was published on Aardvark Blog
In its simplest sense, a freelancer or freelance videographer is usually an individual who is hired to perform a specific task such as recording with a camera. A video production company provides their own equipment, planning, supervision, customer interface, the actual recording, editing and anything else the client might need to successfully complete their project. The price points for hiring an experienced production company and hiring a freelancer are different because of the functions and value-added a video production company provides.
Because video is becoming so common with inexpensive equipment available some clients might look only at price and think all they need is to hire freelancers to work equipment. This doesn’t always work out well for the client because often they really need the total expertise and resources of a full-service video production company but because of inexperience don’t realize the difference when they hire and don’t find out what is lacking till later; often when it is too late.
Hopefully, this blog can provide more insight and define the differences between hiring freelance videographers and of hiring a video production company with the many extra functions that the latter can provide.
Gathering Information, Pre-Production Planning
Our company has been in business for over 30 years and we are pretty well established in Las Vegas. Because of where we are located, frequently we are contacted to record presentations, seminars, live streaming and to produce highlight videos at trade shows and conventions. Local companies call us to produce training videos, social media, commercials and information video or a value proposition to differentiate and promote their business. Often it is a combination of business video needs.
However, frequently it is with very cursory descriptions of what is needed; often because the caller doesn’t really understand what is needed and what has to be done.
For example, a caller may say, “I want to record a presentation I’m giving at such and such convention center on a certain date/time, can you record it?” If we were a freelance videographer (which also usually means a one-man-band) we might just say, ” fine, I’ll be there”
However, as a video production company we are going to find out if the client has permission for us to record from the show management, who the AV contact is so that we can connect to the sound system, whether they want the PowerPoint part of it recorded also, what is the lighting setup and when and where can we set up on the floor, how do you want files delivered, do you want the presentation edited, what is the contact info for the client at the show, etc.?
And because a production company has the resources and expertise, they can adjust and be flexible to needed changes at the presentation even providing more equipment and crew if needed.
A freelance videographer is going to look to their client to do all the planning and other functions that a production company provides and in some cases particularly when the freelancer is being hired by a production company, that is all that is needed.
A video production company, if they’ve got experience and credibility, should be able to ask the right questions and guide a client through the entire production process.
Sample Project Suitable for a Video Production Company
Let’s give another example of planning associated with conventions. Recently we were hired to provide the crew and equipment to record (10 technicians) and live-switch (10 technicians) between speakers and PPT presentations in 10 rooms simultaneously for two days. Files needed to be uploaded to the client website the same day. So we also provided 2 editors and 3 supervisors. Of the 25-person crew, 22 were technicians and the 3 supervisors were needed to make the project work properly.
For a project like this we started with developing written guides for all crew members specific to their role, tested all the equipment weeks prior to the show, numbered every piece of equipment to match the room it would be in and even had the cameras name the files on the memory sticks to match the room numbers. We had crew members come into our studio weeks in advance to become familiar and practice with the planned equipment and the guidelines.
In addition, prior to the show, there was a constant stream of emails and conference calls with the client to go over details.
At the show instead of only having what was needed: 10 cameras and 12 computers; we had 12 cameras and 14 computers plus backups of all other components in case something went wrong. We also had extra technicians standing by in case something happened to any of the scheduled crew (and in fact, it did the night before with a crew member having back problems).
The day before the show, the supervisors set up and adjusted the equipment custom to every room and during the show, supervision was there to help the technicians correct any problems and supervise the entire workflow.
The project went flawlessly and the client was very pleased. If the client had to deal with 22 “freelancers” without our “Video Production Company” planning and supervision, besides the communication and equipment headaches they would have, you can imagine what could go wrong.
When to Use a Freelance Videographer
In many cases, if someone else is providing the equipment, planning, and supervision, a freelance technician is all that is needed and the right choice.
However, if this isn’t available from the client, it is often the best choice to work with a video production company to have supervision that understands the client objectives, can assist with the planning and can interface rather than just knowing how to operate the equipment.