Well, a broad question like the cost of a freelance camera operator / videographer is a difficult question to answer straight off the bat, but with just a couple of questions to narrow it down, you can get a pretty good indication very quickly. Before we go any further, This tool can give you an instant cost estimation for a camera operator anywhere in Australia.
Let’s break down the attributes that contribute to the day rates of a camera operator:
- Experience level (complexity of the shoot)
- The amount of equipment he / she needs to bring with them
- How quickly you need to begin shooting
- Location of the shoot
The experience level of a camera operator can be broken up into 3 main groups (there is no written rule for this by the way).
Camera Operator – complexity of shoot – basic to mid level
Camera Operators suit straight forward basic shoots, these are generally for small scale productions, without too much expert lighting skills or manipulation of light required. Some shoots you might need a Camera Operator for are:
- Basic Interviews.
- Vox pops (on the spot interviews with members of the public etc).
- Event coverage.
- Shoots with minimal equipment required.
Lighting Camera Operator – complexity of shoot – mid level
Lighting Camera Operators are, generally speaking Camera Operators who come with more equipment and more experience. They can perform some manipulation of light as well as light interview subjects and scenes. Some shoots you might need a Lighting Camera Operator for are:
- Interview setups that require good lighting.
- Green Screen / studio setups that require the studio to be lit.
- Shoots that require some extra skills / gear such as steadi-cam / gimbal / rails (smooth movement of the camera).
- Higher-end corporate / business videos / music videos and promotional content.
Cinematographer / D.O.P (Director of Photography) – complexity of shoot – High-end / TV Commercials / Cinema
Cinematographers are at the top of their game and generally come with years of experience to boot. They generally come with high-end cinema equipment and the skills to use them well. They can manipulate light and shoot for special effects compositing in the edit. Some shoots you might need a Cinematographer / D.O.P for are:
- Television Commercials.
- High-end corporate & promotional films.
- Shoots with large crews that have sufficient support / special effects components
- Complex and challenging shoots that may require years of experience behind the lens.
The amount of equipment
The amount of equipment that each level will bring does depend entirely on the individual you are looking to hire, 90% of the time the freelancer will asses what equipment he / she will need to bring to the job which means you don’t really need to worry about that unless you know that you need a specific piece of equipment or specific camera you would like your content shot on (to match pre-existing footage for example).
Cinematographers / D.O.P’s will generally bring a higher standard of equipment (and more of it) than camera operators but there are exceptions to this as costs of high end equipment comes down. A lot of freelancers simply rent specialist equipment as they need it for example to keep costs down.
How quickly you need to begin shooting
This all depends on the availability and amount of freelancers in your area as well as the day of the week. Booking in a freelancer as early as possible can help keep costs and stress levels down!
Location of the shoot
Finding a freelancer to shoot in the Sydney CBD will cost you more than a freelancer in regional areas of Australia for example, this comes down to obvious economics in that there is more demand in larger Cities as well as increased living costs for the freelancer in larger Cities. Some Freelancers with lots of equipment (Cinematographers / Lighting Camera Operators) for example need to have seperate rooms or off site storage / offices to store all their gear.
Our sister site Crew Scout, offers a revolutionary service enabling clients to access a vetted hand-picked talent pool of Freelance Camera Operators / Lighting Camera Operators & Cinematographers anywhere in Australia. You can post a project in a matter of minutes using this tool (we are super proud of this by the way!) You set the budget, where you need the freelancer, as well as tell us the brief. You can also add video examples of style you like.
We can then send an instant email out to our members based on the location of your shoot and skills required notifying them that you are looking for a freelancer on your chosen date.