When You Need a Videographer versus a Director of Photography

The video production industry is a complex web of different roles and responsibilities. For those who are not familiar with the industry, it might be easy to lump all video production roles together into one big category. However, it’s not quite that simple!

All video production roles exist in something we like to call the “video ecosystem.” Before beginning a new video project, it is crucial that you take the time to understand the different roles within the ecosystem. Once you understand the roles and their functions, you can be certain that you are hiring the right industry professional and be well on your way towards achieving marketing success!

The Video Ecosystem: An Overview

Video production companies offer a wide range of services, depending on their abilities, in what Boston video production agency, Skillman Video Group, likes to call the “video ecosystem.” Think of this ecosystem just like one you would find in nature: a complex network of interacting systems. The video ecosystem is composed of different levels, from DIY all the way up to a full-scale video agency.

There is a lot of variety in these levels, which means there are a lot of decisions to make on what level is best suited for your brand’s needs. The company brand image you create and the marketing messages you send to your audience play a key role in the success of your business. The more educated you are on the video ecosystem, the better decisions you can make about your next brand video project in order to obtain the best results possible.

Two significant terms in the video ecosystem, videographer and director of photography (or DP), get used interchangeably by those who are not familiar with the ecosystem. Contrary to popular belief, these two roles are completely different! While the work of videographers and DPs both involve filming action with a camera, there is a significant difference between the two. Understanding these terms can put you on the path to finding the right people to take on your video project to ensure success.

Videographer: Think Simple

Video camera filming eventWhen you think of a videographer, think “simple.” First and foremost, a videographer is a person who works in the field of video production. Videographers tend to take on basic projects and are responsible for recording small scale productions. After all, they are usually just a one-man band with a camera and a tripod! 

Some projects videographers are responsible for working on include:

  • Live events
  • Short films
  • Birthday parties
  • Sporting events
  • Weddings
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvahs
  • Conferences
  • Presentations or talks

When you see someone walking around a wedding or a Bar/Bat-mitzvah with a camera, that’s a videographer! These events are pretty straightforward, which makes them easy to shoot and can usually be carried out by one person. Another instance where you might want a videographer is if you are delivering a presentation on a particular subject. 

The videographer brings a tripod and a camera, sets up the equipment, and points and shoots. Their primary focus is on capturing the essential moments of the event. They usually do not have control over how the event actually unfolds. 

Although there is only one simple action to capture, that does not mean a videographer does not experience challenges. Videographers work hard to make sure they are making your project look spectacular. This includes framing an event correctly, keeping a close eye on the camera, and making sure the audio is coming through clearly and sounds superb. 

However, if your project requires a higher level of excellence and there is a lot more activity happening, it is time to consider graduating up to the next level in the video ecosystem.

Director of Photography: The Next Level

director of photographyThe next level is a Director of Photography (DP). The roles of a DP are not as simple as that of a videographer. A Director of Photography supervises the camera and lighting crews on a film, television production, or other live-action project. They are responsible for the visual style of a video. They do this by making both artistic and technical decisions related to the picture on screen. They are also in charge of selecting and testing equipment, as well as understanding a project’s visual elements throughout the entire production process. 

Another term you might have heard that is used to refer to people who do this type of work is a cinematographer. A director of photography and cinematographer are different terms, developed for similar roles in the industry. Generally, a DP is a more technical term for a leadership job – like a director of a movie, a DP has full creative control over the photography aspects of that production. A more accurate term for “cinematography” is “the art of making motion pictures.” Typically, a bat-mitzvah would neither be considered to be an art or a motion picture.

Some projects DPs are responsible for working on include:

  • Corporate videos
  • Brand videos
  • Music videos
  • Movies
  • Television shows
  • Commercials

These are the people who have been doing it for a long time! They usually have experience working with top-tier equipment and bring a great amount of creativity and collaboration to the table. Because of this, DPs make clients’ ideas come to life on screen by selecting the proper cameras, camera lenses, and lighting set-ups that deliver the best product possible. Every decision the DP makes must align with the story being told, as well as align with what the director is trying to convey.

Picture you are watching a Batman movie, like The Dark Knight. Do you notice the dark, icy blue/gray tint to the movie? Does it arise feelings of intensity and eeriness within you? You have the DP to thank for that! In order to create this feeling in video production, Directors of Photography focus on

  • Visual style
  • Lighting (controlling and creating lighting conditions)
  • Camera angles and framing
  • Testing camera equipment
  • Determining elements such as filters, focus, depth, and camera distance

Unlike the work of a videographer, DPs have a lot more on their plate. They work on more complex projects and bring a real sense of artistic vision to every venture. However, you don’t need to be working on a blockbuster film set to hire a DP! They work on every level.

Choosing What’s Best for You, Your Budget, and Your Business

There is tons of opportunity for all in the video ecosystem. Audiences today are becoming more demanding and media-savvy; it takes a lot of work to stand out and grab their attention! Because oShooting at Onapsisf this, you need to be clear on your intentions for a video, especially when you are hiring an industry professional. Ask yourself…

How do I want my event or message captured? 

Working with a videographer can be an excellent choice, as long as you’re aware of what you’re getting and feel it is a proper fit for you and your project. Considering how you want your message represented is a great first step in choosing between a videographer and DP.

What is my budget?

Budget is also another important factor to consider when choosing between a videographer or a DP. Sometimes, you might be overpaying to work with a DP. If your project is small and simple, (say, you are giving a talk and want it to be recorded) paying for a DP is more than you need. That is an instance where you would select to work with a videographer to better fit your needs and budget!

What messages do I want to send to my audience, and how?

Not only should you decide on the tone and purpose of your video, but really think about your brand and who you are. The type of professional you hire depends on the brand messages you are trying to send to your audience.

It is important to remember that the video ecosystem is not one size fits all. It is a complex structure for someone who is new to the industry, and it can be easy to lump everything video related together. When you produce a video with Skillman Video Group, we will aid, educate, and advise you in all your video production Boston needs so you can be successful in your endeavors.

We enjoy helping clients who are looking to learn more about the video ecosystem and lead them on the path to knowledge and success. We encourage you to further explore our website and contact us at [email protected] to get started on your first video project or learn more about the video ecosystem.

Do You Need a Videographer or a Director of Photography?