I’m going to tell you some price secrets regarding video biographies or “family history documentaries” as they are sometimes known. How much should you expect to pay, and what can you expect to get for your hard-earned video bio money?
Video biographies are gaining prominence as a highlight of an important anniversary, reunion or birthday. Often there is no such occasion, just the desire to capture the stories of mom or dad, or some family genealogy, before it’s too late. As a recent Allianz Insurance survey found:
“86% of boomers (ages 47 to 66) and 74% of seniors (age 72 and older) agree that family stories are the most important aspect of their legacy, ahead of possessions (64% for boomers, 58% for the elderly) and the expectation of inheritance for financial well-being. “
So if you’re reading this, you probably don’t need to convince yourself of the importance of a video bio (or “family video documentary” if you prefer that terminology) and you’re starting to get serious. But how much does a video bio cost? There’s no point asking for something you can’t afford, right?
The price of a video bio? Practically whatever you want. (Wait! Don’t run away. I’m going to pop the bio on video “omertà” and give you the real market prices, just hang on). But I have to say that the price or cost of a video bio will depend on the features you hope to include. Makes sense right? But even better than that there’s no need it costs a penny.
The zero dollar video bio price option
The most important part of any family history project is getting started. And you should never let funds stop you from getting started – these are passion projects, not cash (if you get my idea). And you can really do a good job on your own.
You will need a decent video camera (promise me you won’t use your phone or laptop, unless you really, Really I have no other options); also the owner’s manual; a lavalier microphone; and a tripod. Oh, and a bright room with no direct sunlight on the subject. There is an extensive guide on the web, just try Binging “DIY family history video” to see some of the advice I’ve given elsewhere and then try “video bio questions”. You are on your way!
You may not have a family history documentary with this free option, but you have saved a life through video.
Real dollar video bio cost options
Well, I suspect that if you are still reading, then you have in mind to contact a professional video producer. How much will that cost you?
First, let’s distinguish between an amateur or a friend; a wedding cameraman and a family history professional.
Family history videos from friends and family
A hobbyist or friend fits the “Zero Dollar Video Bio Price Option,” but they may charge you $ 300 or $ 400 for your equipment and time. Or if not, you should think about paying them anyway. This should be the case especially if, in addition to interviewing and filming, you are going to ask them to ingest the video, edit it a bit and show it somewhere.
These things are complicated and time consuming and it really isn’t fair to ask them to do all of that for free. Also, if you decide to trust your best intentions, the delivery of the finished product may be slightly delayed.
Family history videos from wedding videographers
This can be a very good option, especially if you are prepared to work closely with the videographer on settings, questions, images, and the like. Several wedding videographers are drawn to family history video work because it allows them to film on their relatively quiet weekdays (weddings are almost always filmed on weekends).
Most of the big name wedding videographers who have been in the business, say 5 years, really know what they are doing. They can shoot with multiple cameras, they know all about lighting, they often have dollies and cranes, a modern editing suite, and they are almost always great still photographers and generally make great audio.
Now, you may not need all of your core talents (intimate knowledge of tried and tested wedding and reception stages, slow wedding trays, focus on the shelf from flowers to mother of the bride, etc.). And them May not having turned on, microphone and filmed a biographical video interview before. Maybe check to see if they have a lot of training in oral history and have access to the institutional resources and knowledge base of a group like the Association of Personal Historians. But they will almost certainly be nice (hey, they’re still in business at a very tough industry) and it won’t scare grandma! And like I said, they really know their team and can be highly trained.
My best advice? Try to get the main person who owns the store to do the work. And keep in mind the features and options I’ll cover below. Also note that wedding videographers often have a decent-sized team of part-time wedding employees, and sometimes use good people like “second or third camera” firefighters. Not disrespecting firefighters, but for something as important as a video bio, you want the best they have (that could really be the firefighter).
You can expect to pay around $ 3,000 or $ 4,000 for a decent wedding videographer who shoots most of the day and does solid editing, image work, and delivery to BluRay, DVD, or hard drive (maybe more, or even less, depending on the characteristics you require). And here’s the thing: it will almost certainly look absolutely fabulous (the mother of an unhappy girlfriend is an unhappy customer!).
Family history videos from a biographer on video
Specialized video biographers are no more or less expensive than a person getting married – after all, we are all professionals with cost and overhead structures and the expectation of being able to feed our children. In general, for the same job, our positions should be similar.
But where video biographers can separate themselves from wedding videographers is that they are likely to include a bit more. Some of these features include:
Fully edited final product length: The longer the finished product, the higher the price. Editing and creating content other than an interview is time consuming. Also, video biographers tend to prefer a longer finished product, reasoning that this is an important family story!
Time spent on pre-production: The longer, the more you pay. Serious video biographers like to spend 10 hours or more on pre-production: getting to know the customer; know the subject; talk to all children (to make sure we get the stories they like and remember); doing basic research on family and ancestry; unearth artifacts and sounds; exploration locations and the like.
The number of historical photos to include and the cleanup and repair work on those images. Not all videographers are formally trained in Photoshop and know how to make the best of images to create a true personal documentary (rather than simply showing a “talking head”).