Do you need a producer for your video production?  Most direct clients I work with need to be educated when it comes to video crewing and the price point differences. With the exception of some advertising agencies and PR firms, most clients don’t understand the difference between what a “one man band” and a three-person crew can do.

When in the process of setting up your video production you need to have a clear understanding of the elements you need for your video. Is it a B-Roll only shoot? Are there interviews? Do you need to capture action and sound “on the fly”. Do you need a second camera to capture reaction as it happens? Will the production follow a script or storyboard? If you have answers to these questions, you have a better chance at getting the elements you need at the price you can afford.

Here are some general guidelines (of course, there are always exceptions):

B-Roll (footage not involving interviews) can often be accomplished with a one man crew (photographer only). Since there are no interviews, you can probably get away with a single camera operator and on-camera audio. Emailing him or her a list of  shots is a great way to make sure you get what you need.

-Footage involving interviews should include a producer. The bottom line is there is a lot going on for a single camera operator to worry about:  lighting, sound, framing, composition, etc. Technically speaking, the shoot can crash and burn unless the photographer is on his game. Putting him or her in the position of asking interview questions  diverts attention from what is going on inside the camera. Additionally, from a content perspective, most producers are simply better trained to ask the questions which get the best responses.  Don’t skimp-any interview based shoots should be budgeted for a two person crew which includes a producer.

-the audio technician. This is an interesting and important role and it has evolved over the years. The role of the audio technician is to ensure the production has clean and usable audio throughout the shoot. Twenty years ago you would be hard pressed to find any network or corporate video shoot which did not include an audio tech. When the digital age kicked into full gear and cameras improved and shrunk in size, the role faded, and many clients relied on the camera operator for audio. Some questioned whether the audio tech position would survive. The position seems to have passed the digital test and clients continue to budget for and hire audio technicians. When budget allows, I like to bring an audio tech on-board, especially for important VIP interviews when you only get one chance. Every audio tech I have ever worked with is also happy to assist with gripping and set-up, which helps ensure a successful production.