June 15, 2020

Here's How to Calculate the Cost of Shooting Any Video Format

Calculate the Cost of Your Shooting Format
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to calculate the per-minute cost of shooting any video format in three easy steps.

It costs me 88 cents to shoot and store just 1 minute of Blackmagic RAW (24fps, 3:1, 6K). 

How did I come up with this amount, and why would I want to calculate the cost per minute of shooting a specific format? Video footage takes up a lot of storage space, but RAW is especially data hungry. When you’re working with this much data, it really helps to understand specifics so you can better plan out the cost of your productions. 

As an example, let’s say you're about to start work on a documentary and are trying to put together a budget to pitch the materials and necessary storage. Let's say you want to shoot with a Blackmagic cameras at the possible RAW setting. How much storage would you need? Let’s take a closer look at how to perform this calculation. 

Step 1 - Figure Out the Variables

Since I’m putting together an equation, I first need to figure out the variables. 

A) The format

  • Blackmagic Raw
  • 3:1
  • 24fps
  • 6K

B) Price of Storage 

C) Storage Size

Step 2 - Calculate Size per Minute 

Next, you need to figure out how many minutes of my Blackmagic RAW footage will fit on my 20TB G-RAID drive. Let's find this result by using the existing variables above in the Cameras and Formats App, an amazing tool if you’re a DP or a video producer. 

Cameras and Formats App

Unfortunately, this popular app is only available on iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, the DPP Film Tech website also has a file size calculator, but it’s missing some of the frame rates and resolutions. I actually got slightly different results than when using the Cameras and Formats app. Nevertheless, it will still provide a good estimate. 

To perform the calculation, I’ll plug my camera model and format details into the calculator of the Cameras and Formats App. Now I’ll enter one minute into the TIME section which will then show me the estimated space of 16GBs. I could’ve just immediately plugged in 20TBs to figure out the total number of minutes, but it’s good to have the per-minute size so I can make future calculations quickly. 

Cameras and Formats App 2

With the storage space per minute calculated, you can now figure out the total number of minutes of Blackmagic RAW that will fit onto the storage device. For this, divide the total storage space by my 16GBs of estimated space. To do this, you need to first convert 20TBs into gigabytes, which is 20,000GBs.  

20,000(GBs) / 16(GBs) = 1250 minutes (Roughly 21 hours)

Step 3 - Calculate Price per Minute

The last step is as simple as dividing the total price of the drive by the total minutes of the drive. 

Total Price of Drive / Total Minutes on Drive
$1,100 / 1,250 minutes = $0.88 per minute

Et voila, you know have the price per minute.

Now let’s crank the frame rate up to 120fps and see what happens. In the Cameras and Formats app, the estimated size of 82GBs per minute. Plugging that into the equation, you get:

  • 20,000(GBs) / 82(GBs) = 244 minutes
  • $1,100 / 244 minutes = $4.50 per minute

Again, here is are the final calculations- 

  • Total storage space / Storage space per minute of footage = Total Minutes that will fit on the drive
  • Price of drive / Total minutes that can fit on the drive = Cost per minute for specific format

Take a look at your own equipment and plug the numbers into the equation to figure out how much it’s costing you to shoot just one minute. And don't forget to share that number with me in the comments.     

Your Comment

2 Comments

The title of this article is incredibly misleading. I would suggest “Here’s how to calculate the cost of STORING any video format”. As any half literate person would tell you, there are a lot more costs that go into shooting format than storage...

June 15, 2020 at 2:20PM

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You do a mistake of many people, you must double the price...
Hardware, all hardware, are weak, you must have a double copy of all shooting in two different storage system in two different brand of disk NOT in raid.
after over 30 years in computer/video environment i can tell you some reasons:
- hard disk in raid had same kind of usury, then die at same time
- hard disk in the same storage can be ruined from same electronics damage, phisical damage
- hard disk in the same storage mean that can be stolen at same time (both copies)
- hard disk in the same storage mean are that informatic problems damage both copies at same time.
- hard disk of same brand (same production line) can have the same production defects
All problems that i (unfortunately) personally met in my informatic life.
And i can add
- windows update that corrupt gpt of my nas, i had two, i can only copy data instead to way and hope to recover from all
- hard drive with firmware defect (search seagete busy bug) that put my disk in sleep and i need a special tool to awake them
- lighting on in front palace lightning rod produce a electromagnet wave that destroy most of data in the range of 150meter...

A nightmare? no simply the life of someone who move since 100-130 terabyte of data every year, that mean i have a more large statistics then other.

June 16, 2020 at 5:24AM

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Carlo Macchiavello
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