Videographer vs. Video Producer: What’s the Difference?

As might be expected, I browse the SF Bay Craigslist and other sites for jobs periodically. One thing constantly stands out to me. A lot of people trying to make business videos post ads for videographers. This is a mistake, though an understandable one. Here I’ll try to dig into the nuts and bolts of how the production process works, and how you can make sure you’re hiring the right company.

A videographer, in general, is a person. That person probably has a camera and is skilled at using it. A producer or a production company, in contrast, knows how production works at all levels. If you hire a videographer, you’re hiring someone who will show up with a camera and shoot something. Which, sometimes, is exactly what you need. Weddings, concerts, live events, things like that all are appropriate for hiring an individual. But if you want to sell your brand, or do any number of things that require more depth, you’ll be left with a substandard product. You might be better off talking to a production company like us even if you need event work, because we can reach out to our network and find people who fit with your schedule and needs. Especially true for ongoing or repeating shoots.

So what does a producer do? First we have to look at what goes into a proper production. If you’re selling a brand, or otherwise trying to communicate to your audience, you need to plan. Nothing is more important than making a solid plan. That’s true for business organization, marketing, video production and filmmaking, and almost everything else you can think of. For us, that’s theĀ preproduction phase. In this phase we get a broad idea of what we’re making, connect how that’s going to relate to the marketing in place, then dial in the details. This means scripts, shooting dates, sometimes storyboards, crew hiring, equipment decisions and any number of details that you would have missed if you hired a guy with a camera.

Next comes theĀ production phase, where we actually make the video. The biggest difference between a videographer and production company at this stage is that we’ll bring the appropriate crew, follow a plan, and essentially function independently. I’ve produced projects for companies I’ve never been to because we can work without oversight. Of course we prefer to have you on site and involved to make sure the message authentically represents you, but you don’t have to worry yourself over the details.

Post-production is about the same no matter who you hire, with the exception that we’re likely to hire specialized editors who have more experience with videos just like yours. With a one man show you may get an experienced editor, but there’s no telling what he’s experienced in doing.

Which brings me to the other really big difference between the two. While your standard videographer (and most self-proclaimed production companies, to be honest) is made up of a person with a camera, that person’s friend and an intern they sometimes hire, our team is made up of countless vetted professionals throughout the entire bay area. Our website doesn’t include an equipment list because the equipment I have stashed in my closet isn’t all that important. We don’t shoot drone video because I have a hand built drone (which I do). We do it because sometimes that’s the right shot, and we’ll always find a way to get the right shot. We will find the right equipment, the right people and the right solution to get you the production you need. You aren’t limited by what we have in front of us right now, nor by our schedules, styles or personal experience. That’s because we’re here to communicate your message in your voice, not ours. That also helps with time. When Bob of Bob’s Video goes on vacation, you’re left waiting. When I go on vacation, your projects will still be delivered on time and on budget.

Which brings me to the final point: price. A lot of people hire videographers because they think it’s cheaper, and that our services come at a premium. This isn’t true at all. Sometimes our clients really do just need a person with a camera, sometimes without even editing the video at the end. We charge the same as if you had hired a person with a camera off Craigslist, but now you don’t have to go through the process of vetting, choosing which styles you like and equipment will work and all of the other details. Which is good. You have enough going on that you shouldn’t need to worry about that.

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