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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old August 8th, 2010, 02:18 PM   #1
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start up costs

Just wondering how much you guys invested in equipment when starting out and how quickly you managed to pay it all back, because I am having trouble getting bookings and being able to afford to keep up. I'm actually editing on a Dell lap top.
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Old August 8th, 2010, 05:10 PM   #2
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I'll be honest and admit, I don't know and darn near don't want to know how much I have invested. The only reason I might learn that number is seeing my tax return when it is finished and I actually read what the preparer puts down.

Like you, I am starting up in wedding videos, although we had done band promo stuff before this. This is far different than doing band stuff, so I am looking at all my purchases/upgrades as of late, as being start up expenses.

Where you and I differ is how we view them, in our own minds. My day job is feeding this, so I look at the hard assets as just that, assets that can be sold. The soft expenses, cards, DVDs, cases, blah blah blah.... I just look at that as money that is gone, never to return.

What I do hope to see is when video will begin to PAY for the upgrades and new gear purchases. My start up costs, I figure are moneys I would have just spent elsewhere if not on this, and don't worry too much about getting it back.
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Old August 8th, 2010, 05:33 PM   #3
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I'm sure your replies on cost will be all over the board. But here is what I spent back in 2003. Keep in mind that to me it seems to be cheaper to do this now.

Canon GL2 2500.00
Azden Wireless Mic setup 250.00
Canon 30watt Light 80.00
Bogen Tripod with Fluidhead 300.00
Computer with editing software 2000.00
Azden Shotgun Mic 150.00

Total 5280.00 This is kind of cheap since my buddy owned a GL2 as well and he was my 2nd shooter. You will have to buy another cam as a 2nd cam or back up.

If I had to start now, I'd just buy a couple of Canon HFS200's for 850.00 a pop. This is strictly my opinion though and I'm sure everyone will say that HFS200's are terrible under low light conditions but with the money you save, you might as well get a nice off camera light for your reception to make up for it. Remember, you don't have to spend a ton of money to make a good video. Just try to maximize your equipments abilities and you'll do just fine.
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Old August 8th, 2010, 05:43 PM   #4
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I totally agree with Ian's statement. You don't have to spend lots of money to do good work. Creativity will make up for a LOT of technical inadequacies. Now I have also been guilty of trying to keep up with the Jones's and getting a piece of gear because another nearby videographer was using/getting it, and that is a different game altogether. Playing that game can make your stuff better, but it comes at a cost if you're going to chase the new technology tail. Trying to have the latest and greatest stuff can become a real burden on the budget. You have to just be willing to say "No, I've got what I NEED right now to do great work!"

I do still drool over new advances, and have a wish list - but I'm pretty happy overall with what I have, too. If I couldn't buy another piece of equipment ever, I'd still be able to tell a story with video pretty well - and that's what it's all about. And if pushed, you can actually do that with just a simple camcorder and some ingenuity.
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Old August 8th, 2010, 07:29 PM   #5
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Hi Charlie

The most important thing is to make sure that you have enough gear to do the job but don't over-capitalise!! (I met a photog at a wedding last year carrying 4 x 1D Mk 4 bodies and at least a dozen lenses in two huge bags... he says he is a "tech head" and has spent around $100K with Canon so far)

I try to work on around the 20 -25% mark for gear but if you go lower even better...if you need around $10K on gear then you need to be earning a minimum of $40K plus to justify the gear. It's pointless have equipment costs of $30K and earning $20K from them!! You have to bear in mind that you also need to replace gear over 5 years so that's at least 2 new cameras (I change mine every 2 years)

The most important thing is to make a profit!!!

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Old August 8th, 2010, 11:14 PM   #6
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Its not cheap I must say.. I am only able to afford my gear since I have another full time job and only treat this wedding video as a part time hobby.

But if you only want to start and not ready to make commitment yet.. I'd recommend you hire/borrow the equipments you needed and setting the price from there, to make sure you cover the hiring cost. A Dell can do the job if you have enough specs to support it.. I think at least a 2GB RAM is required since my old laptop with 1.5GB RAM just wouldn't cope it.. I had to borrow my housemate's computer while he's away on holiday!

I have to agree with everybody here.. the best gear don't mean the best quality. I can say that even if I have more than enough good gears.. my work still won't compare with the folks in DVinfo who use a standard gear.. it's all in the individuals

In response to getting a booking.. I was offering free service to a few friends to start with and I paid for the hiring fee myself. It was costly but one of the best investment I've made since I can build portfolio and start charging new clients with it.
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Old August 9th, 2010, 12:33 AM   #7
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i'm kinda the opposite with what people say here..

I spend too much money on gear... lol

Ok, start up cost is one of the things that you have to think about when you're starting out. However, this comes after a few things as well.

The first things that you have to think about is:

1. What is your business model? quantity vs quality, one man show vs 2 or 3 man team, are you doing every job by yourself or are you subcontracting people?

2. Is this your full time job or do you want to make it your full time job ?

3. what is your current asset? (cameras or maybe access to cameras/gear)

4. how many weddings you are looking to book per year?

after you answer these questions (or usually more) then you can decide on how much do you want to charge for each job and find out your yearly turnover, profit, expenses, etc etc

now things become a bit clearer. say for example:

case study 1: "I want to have a quality based wedding video business where I shoot everything by myself and another camera person using all my gear

then you would invest more on quality products and start to think about whether the gears you're buying are long lasting e.g. canon L lenses are the kind of things that you can use for 10 years so its great investment.

case study 2: "I want to have a quantity based wedding video business where I shoot some and I subcontract 2-3 people to do work for me.

Then you would probably buy a more "standard" gear that is easy to use, easy to understand, cheaper because you dont need to have the best looking image possible and you want to make sure that these gear will produce a workflow that is EASY to pass on to other people. if you buy heavy weight gear like dslr to shoot your work, then you will find a hard time passing the skills and workflow to other people that work for you.

I hope this makes sense :)

and to answer your question... I spent around 10k on my first year doing wedding video.

- xh-a1
- manfrotto tripod
- steadicam merlin
- accessories like batteries, rode ntg2, wide angle adapter, and maybe some other i can't remember..

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about motion picture?
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Last edited by Susanto Widjaja; August 9th, 2010 at 01:46 AM.
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Old August 9th, 2010, 08:38 AM   #8
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DVX100B X 3 = $7,000
Editing Suite - $6,000
Audio Equip. - $1,500
Total: $14,500

But that's just basic start-up costs. Add advertising, rent, supplies, and other misc, and the price sky-rockets.
Chris Fig Productions
Wedding Videographer
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Old August 9th, 2010, 08:53 AM   #9
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I am just transitioning to HD right now. Here are my cost so far

Sony HD1000U- $ 1000
Editing PC plus adobe premiere elements 8 - $ 1100.

I have gears that I use before

2 Tota Lights- $ 500
2 Irivers- $ 125
Omin Squid- $ 15
Tripod- $ 200.

On my purchase list:

Glidetrack (DIY) - $ 275.00
Glidecam - $ 300.00
Canon T21- $ 850.00
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