How much do you pay your Camera Ops?

Discussion in 'Camera Operating' started by Chris Newman, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. Chris Newman

    Chris Newman Member

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    I'm just curious how much you guys pay your camera operators? Flat payment, percentage? About how much?

    Chris
    cinechopper.com
     
  2. Jon Fredericks

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    That's a good question. Our company is structured as a partnership. So while I do the flying and my partner does the camera ops, we both share in all the other duties that come with running the company, i.e. sales/marketing, accounting, editing, maintenance & repair, etc, etc.

    Would like to hear other's thoughts on the question. Probably has a lot to do with geography as well.
     
  3. Howard Dapp

    Howard Dapp Active Member

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    $500 a pop. No matter the total payout for the shoot. (Pop meaning per day) he's also hauling half the gear on location.
     
  4. Chris Newman

    Chris Newman Member

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    Great, thanks four your responses. I have hard time splitting 50/50 as I shelled out 20k for the rig, camera, etc. Howard, how much would you pay for half day? $250?
     
  5. Howard Dapp

    Howard Dapp Active Member

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    Exactly, if all he is doing is operating the gimbal and hasn't invested into the company, he's shouldn't be entitled to 50% of the payout, regardless of his skill level and experience. Yes, 250 for a half day. We'll only use our top tier operator for shoots lasting 2 or more days. For 1 day shoots we usually bring in a trainee.
     
  6. Tim Joy

    Tim Joy Active Member

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    I do 40% even though I paid for everything. He does go out testing for free a lot, and helps with building and stuff. The other thing is scheduling around weather usually puts him out of commission for other gigs for a fews days around the shoot.
     
  7. Bryan Harvey

    Bryan Harvey Member

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    On that note, how much should one charge a client for a day of work with a C8? Ballpark. I'm referring to broadcast television, commercial type jobs. I am finding it difficult to find an answer to that question. Please consider PM'ing me if you are not comfortable stating it publicly here.
    thanks!
     
  8. Jason Toth

    Jason Toth Active Member

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    $600 day rate (8hrs) for commercial/feature
     
  9. Gary Haynes

    Gary Haynes Administrator
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  10. Duane Bradley

    Duane Bradley Active Member

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    $600 a day wouldn't even cover my deductible if something went wrong. Plus, I pay my camera op $300 per day. $600 is what I charge when I go out by myself to get just a single shot or shoot for an hour. Don't undersell what your time and the equipment is worth!!! Please for the sake of all of us and this budding industry!
     
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  11. Gary Haynes

    Gary Haynes Administrator
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  12. Jason Toth

    Jason Toth Active Member

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    Gary is correct. Camera Op is $600 a day.

    $600 pilot/aerial director
    $600 camera op
    $300 ground station assistant (safety/tech)
    $1200 kit rental 8hr (X8 Epic/5D rig)
    $1500 kit rental 8hr (H12 Epic/Phantom rig)
    $1/2 day rate for travel/rehearsal
    $1/4 day rate for prelight (pilot/aerial director only)
    Client pays all travel, shipping, perdiem, geni

    I usually have around $300 day in expenses. New props, motors, batteries, wear & tear - it's amazing how much stuff still gets broken even with pelican cases. The constant set up for locations just kills gear. I make sure locations has a quick shade & 2 tables for set up, welding station, all tools out, charging stations, etc. when you in set you have to be on it. A 5 minute unexpected down time will kill you in this biz so make sure you have back ups of back ups :)
     
  13. Josh Lambeth

    Josh Lambeth Well-Known Member

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    Jason,
    Just curious, do you alter your rates at all depending on what it is your shooting?
     
  14. Jason Toth

    Jason Toth Active Member

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    Hi Josh.

    For film / commercial work, I try not to change the rate. I do give multiday discounts at 5% for each additional day up to 20%.

    I have had to be creative on some jobs...

    Like getting a retainer of sorts for long shoot (Imax Doc), where we came up with a flat rate where I was hired as a camera assistant/cinematographer & had my aerial rig booked for 5 day out of 27 which they would choose when the day required. When they wanted extra days with the rig, we adjusted the rate accordingly.

    Also recently did a music video in a remote location for a few days which made the budget for transport/accommodations, etc . So instead of bring my crew, we added extra rehearsal days and I trained the 1st AC how to man the camera controls and practiced the shot list.

    For small projects like high end realestate, I charge a flat fee for the cinematography/editorial and aerials are included because its at my own discretion if I use of not, only one operator (pilot/camera) and takes me like 30 minutes to get what I need for the video (usually like 3-5 shots intercut with steadicam/slider shots. The rate is a % of the properties listing price, normally listings are between 2-5 million.

    Hope this helps - ultimately I charge the same rate but then deconstruct/modify it at times, I always list all the costs and then add/subtract or discount if needed so clients know the actual costs associated. Hence why I don't say the rate is $3300 a day, since producers need a break down to distinguish overtime rates since they do not pay OT for equipment. This way it has gotten me other jobs, for example the want the rig for 1 day but the shoot is 4, I usually get hired for all 4 days at a cinematographer rate and 1 day at aerial rate - so at the end both myself and clients are happy :)
     
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  15. Jason Toth

    Jason Toth Active Member

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    Revision to what I said above awhile back: we don't discounted anymore... have not in the past year or so + we have doubled our rates & never been busier :)
     
  16. Markku Rytinki

    Markku Rytinki New Member

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    what you could pay a freelance pilot?
    Pilot takes care of everything related to flying. maintenance, repairs, logistics.(hevylift gear RED weapon movi ect ect)
    what would you think is the fair price? ;)
     
  17. Jason Toth

    Jason Toth Active Member

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    Depends on your location, market and on-set experience.

    We've dealt w/ many very skilled pilots who honestly shit the bed "for lack of better terms" once on set. Flying a drone is much different then filming with a drone which is much different when being hired to shoot something very specific and mimicking traditional equipment "dolly / crane" on a highend feature. So for us we would rather hire some one with some drone experience but TONS of on set camera experience and train them to operate over a year or so - rather than an amazing pilot who has little on-set knowledge.

    So for rates... it all depends on experience. Example our Film rates are dictated / negotiated by IATSE "Tier 1 - Drone Operator, Camera Operator, Visual Observer, Supervisor". Our pilots get 30% more than gimbal operators (we don't really call them camera operators per-say since camera responsibility are shared. For example some of our pilots know more about the Alexa/Weapon then some of our "camera operators" hence why its more of a gimbal operator definition).

    Our pilots who are on for example Planet of the Apes get more since they are experienced to deal with large features, while others on a local Honda commercial for example get less since they would not properly perform on the feature.

    So for your question - they below range would be depending on experience.
    Pilot $65-130hr (10hr/min)
    Gimbal Op $45-100hr (10hr/min)
    VO / PA $25-50 (10hr/min)
     
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  18. Markku Rytinki

    Markku Rytinki New Member

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    Thanks for this. I'm a freelance pilot and I have no equipment, except of course some of the specific tools and supplies. I now have a fixed monthly price and the contract with the production company that owns the equipment. I do not use the camera equipment because our cameraOP/gimbalOp is professional DOP. also I do balancing and wiring and of course I'm a runner and assistant if needed.
     
  19. Jason Toth

    Jason Toth Active Member

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    Keep it up - take your time to build up skills and reputation :)
    Most are operating illegally and unsafely. This drone fad will end in the coming years and qualified professionals will be the ones still in business once the bubble bursts. Remember undercutting doesn't help the biz - its always best to charge what your worth, and if you have too offer a 1 time discount on rentals - never labor.

    Also to get more on-set experience see if you can get some PA gigs, you learn lots from just being on set. Pick your DP friends head a bunch and learn as much as you can about the cameras, composition and set etiquette.

    For example our pilots know a ton about cameras and shooting (no just the UAS), pretty much they direct the aerials and are constantly communicating with the director & dp on whats needed and how to get it.

    Take care, J
     

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