One of the most common questions we get asked is “how much does a video cost?” It’s one of our favorite and toughest questions to answer. We have our stock replies.
A favorite is – “that’s like asking how much a car costs. Are you talking about a Kia or a Maserati?” A less clever version of this response might be “it all depends.” And we can always resort to “a lot less than it used to.”
A better question might be, how much should a video cost. Technology has changed the game considerably. Unless you’re talking about feature films or other very high-budget productions, the days of three ton grip trucks, a jungle of light stands and cameras worth more than your house are gone. Because of advances in digital imagery, even consumer-based cameras can often deliver professional quality. And we’ve all heard someone say their middle-schooler shoots and edits amazing videos all on their iPhone! These days it’s cheap and simple, right?
As a professional video production company, we expect a lot of ourselves and you should too. We could call ourselves “story tellers” first and foremost and that can sound good, but what does that really mean to you and your business? Like so many worthwhile endeavors, video production involves addressing a series of challenges. Many are creative and technical. It starts with a clear vision, a well-crafted script, the right casting, lighting that complements the concept, perfect sound, editing, graphic and music considerations, the list goes on and on.
But there are many things that don’t occur to our clients beyond the obvious. Much of what they pay for comes with hiring a resourceful, experienced team that will deliver despite any number of variables that go into producing video. We pride ourselves on taking as much ownership as you’ll allow us on any given project. And like the Farmers Insurance commercials say “we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
Ever had pile-driver fire up across the street at the exact time that impossible-to-schedule CEO interview began, making her inaudible while shaking paint from the ceiling? We have. Ever had unforeseen delays come up during an outdoor shoot that left only half the shot-list covered with just 15 minutes of daylight remaining? Then there’s the conference room we picked to shoot in that got rescheduled at the last minute, forcing us to shoot executive interviews in what appears to be a creepy cellar. Maybe someone enters the approval process at the 11th hour, wanting to make significant changes to a finished video that’s being shown at a conference early the next morning, causing your blood pressure to spike. We’ve seen all of that and more.
Rolling with these kinds of punches in a professional and good-natured way while remaining creative and delivering what’s expected is all part of the process to us. There’s no app for experience, loving what you do, and the sincere desire to connect with clients and step into their world while making them look good.
So how much should video cost? Before we go out on that limb, let’s talk about the common things that can affect budget:
Total running time – the longer the video, the more editing and graphics work needed.
Number of professional talent– from half-day players to on camera hosts, the number of talent and their associated agency fees can eat up budgets fast. They are often well worth it!
Complexity of graphic treatment – 3D and character animation add significantly to cost, much more than simple titles to ID interview subjects.
Crew size and number of shoot days – beyond camera and sound, do we need to add a make-up artist or teleprompter? How about a prop stylist? Most video crew members work on day rates. The more days the crew shows up, the more budget you need.
Travel costs – obviously, airfares, hotels, car rentals and per diem all add up.
Foreign language translation, subtitling/captioning – these features should never be an afterthought. We’ve seen them add up to a third of a total budget.
Given these considerations, a very broad budget range for one video can be anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. The operative word here is “broad.” Our job is to understand your objectives, your audience, your message, your budget and you as a person to formulate the best way to deliver a video that delights you and everyone else.