Video Workload Survey results


The results of part 2 of this survey are now up. Results are still trickling in but I thought I would publish a few results from my little video survey.

Some broad results:

  • The average length for video is between 2 -3 minutes
  • The average production time is between 2 -4 hours
  • The most common camera used in newsrooms is the Cannon XH-A1
  • The most common edit software in use is Final Cut pro
  • Daily papers produce around 4-8 videos a week compared to 1-4 for weeklies
  • Publishers with daily and weekly papers produce 2-4 videos a week
  • It takes 1 hour to produce 1 minute of video


It’s worth saying up front that the vast majority of the responses to the survey have been from the US. There is a clear bias because of this. I don’t think this limits the usefulness of the data (it was meant to be broad brush) and there are clear areas of distinction between US and the rest of the responses that go beyond statistical ‘blips’ but it would be great if more people from outside the US would take the survey – please!


In newspaper video, HDV reigns supreme and by far the most common camera in use was the Canon XH-A1. The popular HV20 plays a close second but the US bias plays a big part in those figures.

The Sony HVR-A1 has a strong showing due to its almost exclusive use in the UK and Europe.

There is a lot of use of so called Point-and-shoot cameras in the newsroom as well as some lower-end’ DV camcorders. Canon do really well here. Their zr800Elura and Optura ranges seem to be popular choices.

Canon’s announcements of scaling back on its mini-dv range may put pay to that. That may force more to move down the HDD route. A number of cameras from Sony’s HD range were a popular choice to compliment the more pricey kit. Perhaps we will see more of these now that FCP has got log and Transfer support for the AVCHD format.

One theme that was common in response to the question of what other cameras where in use, was that these** lower cost cameras where specifically for reporters**. The ‘high end’ stuff went to photographers. And in, what some may find, a worrying trend a few respondents noted that they were using their own kit.

Edit software

The US bias shows through again here with FCP and FCP Express the popular choice. In the UK Avid Xpress holds its own. But a common theme across the survey is the use of low and high-endranges seem technology combined. Those using FCP are also using i-movie. Likewise,Maker Windows Movie Maker was common alongside Avid.

I think this says more about the platform in use than the quality of the software. In the US Macs reign supreme. PC everywhere else. However several responders listed Windows Movie Maker as their only editing package. Is this disruptive technology at work or tight budgets? (I suppose given the point about people using their own kit, that one is a rhetorical question. )

Premier and Vegas have relatively low usage despite some vocal support for the packages. Again, I think it’s the platform that dictates this and I would imagine Premier making a stronger showing in future now that a Mac version is available.

Unlike the cameras, there seems to be little use of anything other than the well-known names. I suppose I-movie and WMM cover the bases on that one


The numbers seem to confirm the Comscore view of online video with the majority of newspapers averaging a running length of 2-3 minutes for video.

The average production time site squarely between 2-4 hours, regardless of the size of the newsroom or technology used (until you get to less than 10), which usefully breaks down to a guideline you should expect a production time of one-hour production for every minute on screen. A scary stat for planning how to do a video.

half a day

I still have the issue of who is producing the video to look at but I think a lot of the information here is useful, if nothing else, as a snapshot of the kit to consider and the realities of the time it takes to make this stuff.

If you consider that the* Canon XH-A1* retails at around £2300, FCP and a machine to run it on would be around another £2500 . Factor in the cost of losing/paying a member of staff for half a dayhigh-end to actually use the kit and you have some tough questions to ask about video.

Going down the point-and-shoot path may sweeten the financial pill in terms of outlay but the production times have no less impact on workforce and as I and many others have pointed out, giving people consumer and semi-pro kit, whilst saving your budget, often impacts on their perception of quality and professionalism.

Subscribe to

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.