Discussion: Should we continue the WordCamp camera kit program?

One goal of WordCamps around the world is to publish recordings of sessions to WordPress.tv, to make WordCamps even more accessible to all. To do this, so far WordCamp organizers have either:

  • relied on camera kits provided by the WordPress Foundation.
  • raised the funds to pay for professional videography services.
  • arranged local in-kind or volunteer videography services.

A huge thanks to @sippis, @tashan, @jerrysarcastic, @roseapplemedia and @mikeyarce for wrangling camera kits to date!

After hearing feedback from the TV team and some of our community deputies, it seemed time to reexamine how we handle camera kits (this is how we currently ask WordCamp organizers to use camera kits).

The Community Team pulled together the following data to compare the expense of shipping camera kits, the expense of outsourcing videography services, and the success rate of getting videos uploaded to WordPress.tv.

Summary of Results, data from January 2016 – October 2018

In the US & Canada, professional videography costs totaled almost $88k per year, while total costs in the EU came to just over $34k per year.  

While we do not have shipping expenses fully documented for the EU, in the US, camera shipping costs added up to almost $4,000 per year in 2016-18. (Each camera kit cost the WordPress Foundation about $1500 to assemble. There are 8 kits in the US — 4 kits with 2 cameras each and 4 kits with one camera each — 3 in Canada, and 3 in the EU.)

The cost of shipping the kits around the US and Canada is vastly cheaper than the expense for A/V and Videography for 2016, 2017, and 2018, and the same can be assumed for the EU.

However, the number of WordCamps that paid for professional videography had a higher success rate of publishing on WPTV, as compared to the WordCamps who relied on Foundation camera kits alone. This is particularly noticeable in 2017, where:

  • In the US/Canada:
    • 18 WordCamps paid for professional video services and published their sessions to WPTV
    • 10 WordCamps paid for professional video services and did not publish their sessions to WPTV
    • 10 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and successfully published their sessions to WPTV
    • 16 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and did not publish their sessions to WPTV
  • In the EU:
    • 19 WordCamps paid for professional video services and published their sessions to WPTV
    • 5 WordCamps paid for professional video services and did not publish their sessions to WPTV
    • 6 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and successfully published their sessions to WPTV
    • 0 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and did not publish their sessions to WPTV

Other Considerations

While outsourcing A/V support is far more expensive than shipping camera kits, there are other factors we should consider. These include:

  • It takes a lot of time to wrangle these kits. Cemal, for instance, has been responsible for all camera kits within the US. Maintaining and sending these kits to all the WordCamps that request them (35 WordCamps in 2017, and 41 in 2018) can sometimes require more than 30 hours of work per week.
  • Both Cemal and Mikey will be stepping down from this duty next year. Additionally, Jerry is going on sabbatical at the end of this month (hooray!) and he is stepping down as team representative. We need someone to manage the shipping and maintenance of the kits ASAP, at least for US/Canada.
  • Because the equipment is often in the hands of WordCamp organizers who are not familiar with the equipment, there is a perceived steep learning curve and, all too often, equipment is broken or lost.
  • Additional pain points have been summarized by the WPTV team here.
  • Stolen/lost camera kits happen (we had one case in 2017, and one in 2018 so far)

What do you think?

  1. Do you see any inaccuracies in the data we’ve collected (especially for your WordCamp)?
  2. Do you have additional information based on experience with your local WordCamp that would be helpful?
  3. Should we continue the Foundation camera kit program, based on this data?
  4. Do you have suggestions for a different/cost-effective approach to session recording that would also increase the number of uploads to WordPress.tv?
  5. Are you interested in volunteering to maintain Foundation camera kits and coordinate their shipping to/from WordCamps?

Click to review how this report was created, including resources, methodology, and limitations/exclusions in data.

Resources

All information was pulled from the following sources:

  • QuickBooks P&L Report by Class (WordCamp)
  • WordPress.tv
  • WordCamp budget tools
  • FedEx reporting
  • Conversation with @jerrysarcastic, @tashan, @mikeyarce, @sippis
  • Tracking spreadsheets provided by community deputies

Methodology

Using the P&L Report from QuickBooks, we pulled all WordCamps and associated A/V, A/V shipping, and videography costs for January 2016 through October 2018.

We then cross referenced with WordPress.tv to see how many WordCamps successfully recorded and made talks public. We only noted WordCamps where over 5 talks were submitted to WordPress.tv. We also cross referenced each WordCamp with the lists provided by the WPTV team, and indicated which WordCamps received a camera kit.

We counted the number of WordCamps that utilized the camera kits provided by WPCS to WordCamps that outsourced any A/V support, and compared their success rate of getting recorded talks on WPTV. Finally, we calculated total cost of outsourced A/V expenses per year, divided by the total number of videos to get an approximate average cost per video.

All data can be found here

Limitations/Exclusions in Data

During the research process, there were a few challenges that should be taken into account:

  • FedEx data (US specific) is only for the past 24 month, and thus only 2017 is fully accounted for.
  • We have not yet totalled up the costs for shipping around EU.
  • We do not have accurate costs for the maintenance of camera kits. Cemal, as an electronics engineer, paid for parts himself and repaired kits in his office.
  • Mikey requests that WordCamp organizers pick up parts that are missing/broken, and individual WordCamp organizers request that reimbursement, and he also submits certain reimbursements related to the camera kit.
  • Data for 2018 is incomplete, as many WordCamps recently happened and may be currently working on submitting videos to WPTV.
  • This does not include WCUS, WCEU, nor the “Operations” class in the Quickbooks P&L report.