The completion of a video production can be a fulfilling experience for your organization. Your company may have worked on a video production in-house or perhaps with a production company. No matter which route you choose – you must develop a budget. How much money do you want to spend? How much should you spend? We often hear “our budget is flexible”, or “we want to find out first how much a video production will cost”. But I think we can all agree, if you knew which video production components to consider and how much they cost, it would significantly better prepare you before you begin searching for a production partner. Knowing a budget range will also help the video company tailor their services to your budget parameters because video productions come in unlimited shapes and sizes.
The objective is to align the client budget and production budget with available client resources.
Understanding video production budgets
Carefully define what type of a production you need (e.g. Training videos, corporate marketing, product video, client testimonial, live event). Be prepared to communicate the main objective succinctly. If you are not sure what you need then the production company can consult with you and help develop a concept. A clear concept is required before any cost proposals can be made.
Let’s get started on the budget numbers
The driving component for any video production is the time is takes to plan, shoot, and edit the video. In other words, the number of hours it takes for a professional video production team to complete the video project. This concept is built around the completed run time of the video as that determines how much time for every phase of production.
Let’s go through the three basic production phases which all video companies and videographers journey through.
Cost for pre-production planning
Concept development, script writing, storyboarding: Not all video productions will need a script but all video productions need a storyboard and shot lists. You need to be able to narrate and describe in detailed accuracy how you would like the video to look, and what feel you want from it – as best you can in advance. Plan the time it takes to develop a concept and script/storyboard. Don’t underestimate the importance of planning – proceeding without a crystal clear objective and plan leads to an endless string of revisions during the postproduction process. Excessive revisions are where most productions run over budget. Preproduction planning takes longer than the actual shoot.
I want to emphasize again how important planning the script/narration is. The story you are trying to tell must come first. It is the skeleton of the video, supporting the entire project. It is not unusual that the entire planning process will take up 40-50% of the total project time. It is that important and cannot be done on the fly. The better the preplanning is, the better the video is.
Costs for video productions
If you partner with a video production company you are hiring a videographer, director/producer, general crew, editor and technical support. Depending on the scope and depth of the production you may require lighting and audio video specialists or motion graphic artists. Some videos require voiceover talent or actors. All these factors must be considered.
Most video production teams have their own equipment but often gear may need to be rented. Rental gear varies depending on your needs. The type of equipment needed for your video shoot will be decided during the pre-production planning stage.
Travel costs can add up quickly if you have multiple locations for your video shoot. Additionally, each additional shoot day adds cost to the production.
Actors/Actresses: If you are considering hiring talent for your production those fees should be included as well. Depending on the experience level of the talents, that cost may vary from $20/hour to $50 or $100/hour.
Cost for post production (editing, graphics)
Most professional video editors have a standard fee depending on experience level. An editor with two years of experience will cost less than a professional editor with over 20 years experience.
A good average to estimate is $75-$100/hour. Editing time varies greatly depending on the complexities of the production. For a 2-3 minute completed video with one camera angle, editing hours could range from 25–60 hours. This could (but may not) include previewing all footage, graphics, audio design, color correction, and final edit.
Other video production costs
Budgeting for contingencies is always a good idea and video productions are no exception. All video productions consist of certain degree of unknowable instances even with the best plans and intentions. Things like last minute cancellations of interview subjects, power outages and weather can all disrupt plans.
Finally, as tempting is it may be to run out and start shooting video, be sure to include (and budget for) plenty of time during the planning stage. In the long run it will save you money.
If you would like to receive a complimentary budget template for your video production, download a copy here.