If you’re a brand or agency looking to produce a video for your next campaign, you may run up against the question; do I need a videographer or a Video agency? What’s the difference? If you’re confused, don’t worry - you’ve come to the right place for some clarity.
Let’s start with some basic definitions to distinguish between the two. The term ‘videographer’ usually describes an individual who is capable of completing all aspects of video production alone (Pre, Production and Post). A video agency is a collection of individuals who work to work collectively to complete a video project.
In theory, both of these entities are capable of achieving the same result - so what’s the difference? As with most distinctions, the devil is in the details - the decision to employ either a videographer or agency will ultimately rest on the demands of your specific project. Here are the most important factors to consider when deciding between approaching a videographer or video production company. I will be laying out some generalisations, describing those businesses and freelancers who fall in line with the rule rather than the exceptions.
You may be familiar with the cost, speed and quality triangle seen below. This will inform much of this comparison, so take a good look and keep this at the forefront of your mind throughout.
There’s a reason the terms ‘videographer and ‘photographer’ bear such similarity. They’re often the best choice for the same type of creative work. This will be a useful way to think about the concept of ‘videography’ throughout.
In the case of format, a videographer is a perfect choice for anywhere you can imagine a lone photographer without a lighting team and studio, be it an event, wedding, etc. In situations where the creatives have very little control over the environment, simply documenting their surroundings are usually perfect for one-man teams.
Equally, if what you’re after is a considered commercial to convey your new re-brand and associated values, for example, you may want to consider a video production company. Especially when considering media buying, a team that can work with you to craft an effective and practical concept is essential. Often these businesses contain individuals with experience in the advertising world, able to bring large, exciting creative ideas to the table. Video production companies are better suited for a pre-planned shoot that needs to be considered and deliverables integrated within a wider marketing strategy.
Videographers are capable of creating high-resolution videos with the use of modern cameras capable of HD, 4K and even 6K! However, the quality of a video cannot be assessed simply through the number of pixels captured (resolution), there are many more factors to consider.
Only a business with a range of available expertise and resources will be able to handle many more departments with attention and detail. Namely, conceptualisation and pre-production are a video agency’s strengths; ensuring a film will achieve what it sets out to in terms of engagement, brand consistency and tone. Making sure your video or film is effective before beginning production is a large focus of what a good agency does.
Equally, when it comes to production, an agency will have the managerial ability to pull together a lighting team, art director, makeup, hair and many more departments that will contribute to the overall professional quality of the final product.
Despite their capacity to complete many specialist tasks, videographers are still just one (very capable) member of a team. This can work as an advantage when attempting to capture an event conspicuously. Conversely, without the supporting specialists, videographers alone will be unable to tackle larger productions.
Again, looking at the increased processes and people involved when working with an agency, the time for turning around projects in post-production is likely to be longer than when using a videographer. This, like every other consideration, is another trade-off. Linking back to form and quality, if we consider a videographer as akin to a photographer, we could expect either of these to arrive at an event/activation/opening and professionally capture the atmosphere, handing over the deliverables within a day or two following.
A video production company is perfectly capable of providing this same service, in this case, we’ll call it ‘event videography’, and turnaround the finished product in equal time. But this simply wouldn’t play into the strengths of the agency, and would probably be overkill to enlist an agency specifically for an event video.
On the other hand, agencies and videographers are both often juggling many projects at once, and commissioning a project with little to no lead time will often mean the freelancer having to prioritise a prior project, even incurring a rush fee, unable to spread the workload like an agency can.
Rates, ROI, spend, budget - however you think about it. Our discussion wouldn’t be complete without bracketing every other consideration with this. All of the above considerations will feed into cost, so it’s difficult to approximate the differences like for like. As a general rule of thumb, however - Implied in the language, a videographer usually operates as an individual, whereas an agency is a collection of specialised individuals. Naturally, there is an increase in cost that comes along with this difference in scale.
Specialisms are one area that turns the expectations of cost on their head. A videographer with 10 years of experience in producing automotive videos, may have higher associated costs than a video production company with no particular industry focus.
While the natural inclination may be to spend as little as possible, consider all of the above for the potential impact a low spend could have on your brand/campaign success. Rather than aiming for the lowest cost no matter the specifics, I’d recommend referring to the cost, speed and quality triangle when it comes to budgeting. For more on this, visit our guide on costing professional film production.
Here’s an example of considering cost correctly. Videographers are typically hired for video projects which are considered more traditional social media-focused ‘content’. The need for businesses to produce regular high-quality content will often find them employing or outsourcing a videographer to fill this skill gap, due to the low cost, demand for quantity and less consideration for quality. While social media can be an investment for some businesses, the reality is - for most it is a necessary expense to maintain relevance in an increasingly digital world.
However, when it comes to headline brand materials, an agency with a higher associated cost will often be the more desirable choice. When creating a commercial that will be seen beyond the reach of social media, in OOH settings, television or pitches - having a strong, professional film can come to define the perception of your brand. For this reason, a more considered approach with an agency is usually recommended.