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Old February 20th, 2008, 10:51 PM   #1
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What Should A Student Charge?

This is a little different situation than your average "What should I charge?" question. I am a high school student with professional equipment that I know how to use well.

About Me:
Nick Royer
Omaha, Nebraska
15 Years Old

My Equipment:
Canon XL2 (Main Camera)
Canon Optura Xi (Second Camera)
Shotgun Mic and Boom Pole
Final Cut Studio 2
MacBook Pro

So my question is, what should I charge considering that I am a student and cannot charge as much as the pro's? I have about 4+ projects per month right now, without any advertising.

What Should I Charge For:
Transfering VHS to DVD
Filming Events (Concerts/Weddings/Ceremonies)'
Editing Digital Video
Corporate Videos
Non-Profit Organization Videos (Like corporates, but with less budget)

Also, I am going to replace the Optura Xi within the next month. I will probably replace it with a GL2, but I have considered buying two 40GB Firestores and a Canon Vixia HV20. What is your suggestions there?
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Last edited by Nick Royer; February 20th, 2008 at 11:01 PM. Reason: Submitted Before Completing
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Old February 21st, 2008, 02:01 AM   #2
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Hi Nick,

I'm not sure what the going videography rates are in Omaha, but I would argue that you CAN charge as much as the "pros" in your area if you have the experience and quality to back it up. Instead of marketing yourself as a "student", go ahead and put yourself in line with the prices of others in your area. I'm assuming you know what you're doing since you have 4+ projects a month. Make a reel that's nice enough so people won't even stop to think of it as "student work".

Basically what I'm trying to say is, price yourself by the quality of your work, not by your age or status as a student.

Maybe someone else here can support/refute my argument.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 02:10 AM   #3
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I'd argue that we are all students of sorts throughout our careers. If you stop learning then you also find it harder to adapt to change.

Professionals are just amateurs who didn't give up.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 02:28 AM   #4
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Charge what your product is worth, not what your age "implies". If you're good at 15, may as well start banking it now! You're cheating yourself otherwise.

Talent and skill isn't a function of age anymore (if it ever was), technology is a great equalizer, and if you're good with it, you're good, whatever your age - you've obviously got some talent if you're as busy as you indicate!

As long as you have a professional attitude, just say you look young for your age, and charge what any other pro would! You've got kids barely old enough to drive starting highly sucessful multinational companies and making the big $$$, don't sell youself short just because you're young!

On equipment, probably good to get a foot in the door with an HD cam sooner rather than later - the HV20's are dirt cheap right now if you've got $700 laying around (that's why you should charge what you're worth <wink>).
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Old February 21st, 2008, 11:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
On equipment, probably good to get a foot in the door with an HD cam sooner rather than later - the HV20's are dirt cheap right now if you've got $700 laying around (that's why you should charge what you're worth <wink>).


Just a note on marketing and perception of value... I agree with you that Nick should move to HD when he can but...

Given the same demo reel, your average joe will pay more to a young guy with a big impressive XL2 than an older guy with a tiny handycam looking HV20. I think the XL2 is a pretty sexy advantage for Nick being able to charge at this point. Having a "pro" camera really helps define you as a pro and what you can charge.

Just my two cents.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 12:16 PM   #6
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"perception" - bigger does not always mean better... and the proof is in the final product, you can shoot garbage with a 20,000 camera, or brilliance with a $200 one...

Sure whip out the XL2 if you need "show", but I'm going to guess that the HV20 will "go" a lot farther for him in actual quality of final product!

FWIW, I prefer to use smaller cameras (not a high $ market), and once I add all the attachments, they look (and as a practical matter perform) pro enough - many people equate "miniaturized technology" with "high tech", so I've never felt inadequate... I usually get at least one comment about my rig looking like it's out of Star Trek or something like that... in a positive way!

I'd go with the 15 year old with great end product from a "handycam" over "ugh, me have big camera" any day...
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Old February 21st, 2008, 01:42 PM   #7
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I already have an Xl2. The question is whether to buy a Gl2 or an HV20 w/ 2 Firestores to replace my old Optura Xi.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 04:49 PM   #8
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Nick -
There's a learning curve with shooting HD, probably better to get into it sooner rather than later, the HV20 is pretty cool (check the threads here on it - lots of good info), especially at the closeout prices as the HV30 comes online. I couldn't accept the build quality at $1K, but at 600-700, well, the image quality and features are hard to beat.

I think the days of SD cameras are coming to a close, maybe not right away, but I think it's obvious that HD is here - you'll probably find yourself wanting to make the transition eventually, you've got the XL, may as well get something HD as your second cam, that'd be my vote.

If you can get hands on an HD camera and shoot some footage I think you'll know which decision is the right one pretty fast. Keep in mind that you may not be delivering in HD for a year or two (until BR players and recorders come down some more), but at least you'll be more prepared for the inevitable.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 06:29 PM   #9
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What the Competition Has to Offer

Thanks for the advice. I am pretty sure now that I will buy an HV30 sometime this week (because it has a better zoom toggle and 30P), and then buy the firestore's in a month or two when I have some more money.

I put together some links to other videography companies in the area, that will be my main competition. At the present, most of my projects come from family and friends, but since I am charging much more now, business will most-likely come from other consumers. Most of these examples are for weddings as that's usually where I could find their package prices.

Competitor #1: Dollar Bill Multimedia Products
Link: http://www.dmultimedia.com/
Pricing: http://www.dmultimedia.com/wedpackages.asp
Example: http://www.dmultimedia.com/movies/weddingdemo.wmv

Competitor #2: Digital Production Services
Link: http://www.digitalproservices.biz/
Pricing: http://www.digitalproservices.biz/WeddingServices.html
Example: http://www.digitalproservices.biz/portfolio.html

Competitor #3: Digital Memories 4 U
Link: http://www.digitalmemories4u.net/
Pricing: http://www.digitalmemories4u.net/pands.htm
Example: http://www.digitalmemories4u.net/Sample.htm

Competitor #4: Special Images Video
Link: http://www.specialimagesvideo.com/
Pricing: http://www.specialimagesvideo.com/in...d=13&Itemid=27
Example: http://www.specialimagesvideo.com/in...d=15&Itemid=36

Competitor #5: Council Bluffs Video Services
Link: http://www.councilbluffsvideoservices.com/
Pricing: http://www.councilbluffsvideoservice.../packages.html
Example: http://www.councilbluffsvideoservice...s/samples.html

Based on the above five examples, I think that $300-500 per project would be a good figure to jump to in the near future, and then build upon that number when I can actually drive to the events myself next year. I will put an example of my most recent project on this thread tonight (it's not even finished yet as of right now). I think that it is the same, if not better than the competition's examples.

As far as advertising goes, would putting an ad in the local paper bring in much business or is it better to do something else? I have thought that maybe using online websites such as Craigslist may also be a good advertising idea. Also, when working with individuals I do not know, should I impose a 60% pre-pay policy?
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Old February 24th, 2008, 02:00 AM   #10
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My Example

Sorry for the delay in posting. This is my most recent project. I just finished this segment of it a few hours ago.

Link: www.royermedia.com
Pricing: n/a
Example: http://gallery.mac.com/royermedia#100056

I charged the band $220 for filming the three-hour performance and making eight short videos like this one for the web. I think that in the future I should charge between $400-$450 for a project like this. Any thoughts?
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Old February 24th, 2008, 06:48 AM   #11
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If you want to focus on bands you need to start studying up on sound a bit and exploring ways to dispense with the on-camera mic. As far as pricing, hard to say because it's so localized - just like with the bands, what would be top dollar for the Legion Hall in Omaha would be chump-change at a glitzy club in LA filled with the glamoratsi. How many hours of pre-shoot preparation did you put in? How many hours of post-production and editing? You need to add all that up, figure in your expenses (transportation, batteries, tape, equipment purchase and replacement costs, wear and tear, etc) and decide how much per hour you feel your time and talent is worth after covering all the costs.
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Old February 26th, 2008, 09:21 AM   #12
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I dont plan on focusing on band videos. I think that if I do focus on anything, it will be events and weddings. These often can pay the best (besides corporate videos) and I like editing them the best.
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Old February 26th, 2008, 10:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Royer View Post
I dont plan on focusing on band videos. I think that if I do focus on anything, it will be events and weddings. These often can pay the best (besides corporate videos) and I like editing them the best.
Even so, remember that sound is 75% of what you see on the screen and whether we're talking weddings, events, corporate or whatever, it is only extremely rarely that the on-camera mic will give decent results.
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Old February 26th, 2008, 10:40 AM   #14
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A couple of things to bear in mind:

1. If you have a student/academic version of FCP, you will almost certainly need to purchase the fully licensed version since your will be using it for commercial gain.

2. Organize your finances to keep the IRS happy!
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Old February 26th, 2008, 12:29 PM   #15
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I never use the on-camera mic. Usually I plug into the board but it this case it sounded better to put a shotgun mic on a boom pole. I will probably purchase the full version of FCS, but not until version 3 comes out. The people at Apple know that I'm using it for financial gain, but they've never said anything about it.
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Last edited by Nick Royer; February 26th, 2008 at 04:22 PM.
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