Can I make a video myself or should I hire someone?

You work for a company / yourself and they want a video for their website or social media sites. Nothing fancy – just the spokesperson talking about the virtues of your product/service and throw on some stock footage/photos with music. You’re pretty handy with your DSLR and you have imovie on your computer – you can do this right?

I really have no idea of your skill set or time or interest. Maybe you decide to tackle the video project it totally rocks, and you get that promotion and your life is now perfect! However, for the sake of caution, here are a few things to consider before you begin:

TIME: How much time do you realistically have to devote to this project? It’s really easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to produce a video. Typically, you will need to create a script, choose a location, gather your talent, set up equipment, and spend an hour shooting for every minute of video you use (for a basic video). Reviewing and editing the footage is the most time-consuming block of your project. I typically spend 10-20 hours reviewing footage and another 20-40 hours editing depending on the complexity of the project. Creating graphic titles, motion graphics and editing photos will add another considerate chunk of time (especially depending on your skill level and experience). Following completion of your rough draft, you should expect a few revisions to take place from your client (or boss) and that means back to the drawing board a few more times. If you are able to budget this time into your work schedule that will help you and prevent late-night editing sessions that leave you exhausted and asking yourself “what in God’s name did I take on?”.

EQUIPMENT: You have a great DSLR and lens kit that shoots 1080p or 4K video, and this is a great start. But video unfortunately is called a “production” because it’s just that – there are a lot of moving pieces to create a video that looks and sounds good. My bare-bones basic kit is comprised of a DSLR or pro video camera (depending on the project), tripod, zoom audio recorder, professional wireless lavaliere kit, shotgun mic mounted on my camera, and an LED light kit. Many of my projects require 2 cameras, an additional rig featuring a stabilization system (aka Gimble), monopod, drone operator and additional lights. I also have the fastest MacBook Pro I can get my hands on to process video for editing, the Adobe Creative Cloud software bundle, and multiple hard drives for storage and back-up. If you love consider yourself a gear-head and have the money for toys, you will love video. Renting is an option I use frequently but it’s still a costly endeavor either way you slice it (see #3) Think this is ridiculous? Try shooting your talent on your hand-held DSLR and camera mic without lights. Now review the footage.

MONEY: What kind of budget do you have for your video? If your answer is “none”, you may want to consider alternative means of getting your message out to the masses. Unless you have an in-house videographer with their own complete set-up, you will need to spend some money if you undertake it yourself. You could reach out to local community college video programs to see if any of their students own their own gear and want experience, or you could hire a professional to take care of everything for you if your boss (or you!) determines it’s worth it. If you decide to tackle the project yourself you could rent a basic set up from a local camera house. Per my bare bones list above (see #2), a basic production kit (not including editing equipment) will run you approximately $450 a day (per Glazer’s rental list in Seattle WA).

Consulting with a video professional before you begin your project will help you determine whether this is something you can take on, or whether your time is better spent elsewhere. I often help clients get started on a project and offer consulting work for those that feel comfortable shooting and editing, but need assistance on how to piece everything together to create a strong message in the editing phase. Think about what’s the best fit for you and good luck!