FAQ with the NXNW crew

4 minute read

Video production is a bit mysterious to those not frequently involved with it. Productions range from one guy with a DSLR camera up to a crew in the hundreds with multiple heavy duty cameras. The price tag can be wildly different from one video to the next, the amount of people needed on a crew varies, and it’s all a little confusing if you didn’t study film in college. Below we have common questions people have been timid to ask (but we’re so glad they did) with answers from our esteemed group of producers – Chuck Hurst, Julie Grant, Steve Simkins, and Lorena Davis.

FAQ with the NXNW crew I North by Northwest Boise

So…what is production?

Chuck Hurst: Production is a process. Depending on the desired final product and budget, production can take quite a significant amount of time and resources. Professional video production can be broken down into three stages: pre-production, production and post-production.

In short: Pre-production is the planning phase. All the groundwork for the project is laid out here. Production is the execution of the plan where all the footage for the project is gathered. Post-production is the final stage where the pieces are put together and polished to a viewable final product.

I want to make a video. How much does a professional video cost?

Julie Grant: We get this question a lot and it’s like asking a builder how much it costs to build a house. The first thing we need to know is what kind of video you need: TV Commercial? Training film? Image piece? Web video? It’s good if we know how much you’d like to spend on your project up front (kind of like pre-qualifying for a house) so we can decide how best to create the video and stay within budget.

Effective videos are made from well-thought-out ideas by implementing a solid plan, hiring a strong director and crew, using the best possible camera and lighting packages, creative editing and good sound design. All these things require time commitments and can be complicated to coordinate. Cost is directly related to experience and quality.

A two-man crew can go out locally with a small camera for half a day, record things that already exist (like sky, trees, birds) in beautiful morning light. In the afternoon, an editor assembles the images together with a nice cut of stock music and presents a finished video for around $2,000.

From this baseline, every thing is additional. National television commercials made by automobile and beer manufacturers; insurance companies, pharmaceutical developers as well as the fashion/fragrance industry cost millions to produce. Budgets for most NxNW Boise productions fall between $5,000 and $250,000.

Why are there so many people on a crew?

Steve Simkins: We determine crew sizes based on two things. Style of shoot and budget. Many times, the budget can determine the style of shoot and vice versa. A commercial shoot tends to require a larger crew for a few reasons. Commercials generally have very specific shots that require very controlled lighting, numerous props, scripted situations and multiple actors. There may also be multiple locations, multiple scenes and multiple camera angles. All of this requires an efficient work flow. To make that happen, we split up each of the duties to separate crew members. That way, multiple experts concentrating on each element creates the highest quality image for each scene. We all know our job and we know that we have the best people working on the other jobs as well.

Sometimes, due to budget constraints we may ask some crew members to “wear multiple hats”. That’s when the crew size starts to shrink. It doesn’t always compromise quality, but it may take a little longer for each scene. Some videos, such as testimonials, require much more movement and less need for gear. So it makes sense to keep the crew smaller and limit the amount of equipment we are carrying around. Plus the style of testimonial videos is to rely more on natural light, real people (not actors) and real situations. Either way, it’s always nice to have the finest quality crew available.

How do I get started on a video? Do you allow consultations?

Lorena Davis: Short answer: Give us a call.

You will want to identify the purpose of your video, where it will be used, and who your audience will be. We can work with your concept, script, timeline and budget or…we can help you put those things together.

If you have additional questions or a potential video project, we’d love to meet with you! Set an appointment by calling us at (208) 345-7870 or through the contact form below. We look forward to hearing from our awesome readers!


steph profile for web

About the Author

Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.


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