How Much Does Video Production Cost?
Video Production Cost – Long before smart phones, flip cameras and YouTube became mainstream, if you wanted a video for your business, you were looking at an investment upwards of $10,000. Due to the advent of technologies that has lowered the cost of camera equipment and editing software, as well as the increased popularity of video hosting sites like Vimeo and YouTube, owning a video for your business or brand has never been more affordable.
In the course of a typical business day we usually run into two types of people.
The first person thinks that video production would be too expensive. In their mind, they think that they would have to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a professionally produced video for their business.
Then there’s the second type of person. This person thinks that producing a video is nothing more than pressing the record button on a camera, throwing the footage into a computer and out comes a finished video. They think the cost should reflect the relative “ease” it took to make this video.
Fortunate for all you readers out there, having a professionally done video doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. However, there are many different associated costs of video production and how much each costs that you should be aware of that we will be going over in this post.
Interview on video production cost with Russ Pond of Dallas Video Production Company Top Pup Media for our Video Production Expert Series.
1. Project Management
Typical Costs: It doesn’t matter what profession–dentists, plumbers, or lawyers–you are paying for the experience and expertise of that professional, and you usually tend to get what you pay for. Video production is no exception. You should expect to pay $25 an hour for a graduate fresh out of film school and $250 an hour for a veteran video production pro. On average, in Phoenix and similar metro areas the executive producer of the project usually earns a flat rate.
2. Script Development
Typical Costs: When working on script development, the most important thing to keep in mind is the objective of the video. While how you frame the shot, light the scene and capture the audio is important, they don’t matter if your video does not capture the attention of your target audience. You could expect to spend between $50 an hour to $150 an hour for an experienced script writer to create a video concept, storyboard and script for your video.
Typical Costs: Not everyone has a great on-screen persona. Will professional actors or models be needed to increase the impact of your message? If so, it is usually $55 an hour to $500 an hour or more for that type of talent depending on demand, experience and union costs.
4. Video Assets
Stock Photos (Royalty Free)
Stock video (Royalty Free)
Purchase 3D Models
Typical Costs: Stock images can be as inexpensive as $5 each and 4K and HD stock footage can cost as little as $10 each. You should expect to pay considerably more for high quality images. Most videos will benefit from having additional shots that supplement what is being said on screen. In the video production industry, we call these B-Roll or Cut-Away Shots. If you are describing a product or service in your video, you should have cut-away shots of that item or someone performing those services. Showing the audience what is being described in the video helps keep the attention of the viewer and also is more informative. Cut-Aways and B-Roll Shots are usually between 15% and 50% of all filming/shooting costs. This will depend on the time needed to take the extra footage and the type of camera used.
5. Special Effects
Typical Costs: There are some videos that require simple graphics and others that are entirely animated. Prices range from $65 to $225 an hour for basic editing. However, special effects could easily cost $95 to more than $300 an hour. The cost of high quality 3D animation depends on the experience of the animator and complexity of the project.
Fees and Permits
Local or Travel
Typical Costs: Where are you shooting? Are you shooting indoors or outside? Do you need a sound stage or a studio? Are you filming in more than one location? Are you shooting with a green screen? Do you need to travel between different locations?
The most vital factor is the total amount of time that will be required for production. With good planning you can do a lot in a specific amount of time (which is another reason why scripting and storyboarding is so important). If a studio is needed, prices range around $95 to $400 an hour depending on the size of the studio.
Stock Music (Royalty Free)
Typical Costs: Will special sound effects or additional audio be added to your video? Royalty Free music for video starts as low as $11 for a two to three minute track. It could cost $500-$1,000 or more if you wanted an audio engineer to make a song for your video, depending on the ability and experience of the musician and the needs of the project.
Director of Photography (DP)
Motion Graphics Artist/Animator
Typical Costs: Key personnel such as the Director, Director of Photography (DP) and Editor typically earn from $75 to $150 an hour. Sound professionals with their own equipment usually earn between $45 and $75 an hour while Lighting Professionals usually earn between $25 and $50 an hour.
9. Video Rendering and Compression Time
Typical Costs: There are many file formats that one could shoot in during the production process. Someone has to transfer footage to a format that works in your non-linear editing system. After editing, the video must be rendered to a format of presentation (for web, for broadcast, etc.) and you may have to upload it depending on where it’s going (your web server, YouTube, etc.). This all takes time on the computer.
Depending on the company’s rate structure, these costs can be included with other services such as editing or they are included as an hourly charge on the budget. Prices are usually in the range of $25 to $75 an hour depending on the processing speed of the computer used.
Equipment (Cameras, Lights, Sound, Studio, Computers, Software)
Insurance (Liability and Workers Compensation)
Typical Costs: Are you filming on a $200 Smart Phone or a $25,000 RED Camera? The bottom line with camera costs is that the more expensive the camera package, the more dramatic difference you will notice in the final product.
Depending on the camera package you choose to film with, you can spend from $100 to $2,000 a day or more. Extra equipment such as teleprompters, jibs, steadicams and the like can run from $30 to $1,000 a day and up.
Here are some figures you can start with to use as a general guideline for budgeting. It usually costs anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 and upwards for a two to three minute professionally produced industrial video (which is an industry term for a corporate video). Most production companies agree that video production is usually priced around an average rate of $1000-$5,000 per finished minute, and we agree that it is a good starting point to consider when budgeting depending on your needs.
When you’re looking into hiring a video production company, a quick and easy way to get an estimate is to have a reference video to compare it with. (How much would something like ‘this’ cost?)
Another thing you should consider when working with a production company is to be open about your budget. Every business has a budget they need to work with and some are sometimes reluctant to disclose it. As both a customer at one point in time and now the co-owner of a video production company, my results have always been better when I said “Here’s my budget, these are my objectives, what can you do for me?” If you don’t decide on a budget, the production company will have to guess at one. And they might be giving you a quote for a video that you could have done on a much smaller budget, had you only given them a budget range before they sent you a proposal. In my experience, most producers are very open with their clients about what certain services cost and I would be cautious of working with a company that gives you a single price for a video or series of videos without breaking down what is going into that price point.
You also want to remember to keep an open mind. Coming to the table with a certain creative approach, a particular video style and an already completed script is always beneficial. However, it’s always a good idea to listen to different approaches, especially if you are hiring a company based on their knowledge and skill.
So, back to the opening question—what does video production cost? The simple answer is that there isn’t a simple answer. You could record a video on your iPhone and upload it to YouTube and it wouldn’t cost a thing. You could hire Steven Spielberg to produce the same video and it could cost you millions of dollars. There are so many variables that go into video production. Hopefully this blog post has helped you understand the different pieces of the video production puzzle and what role each of these pieces play in the final cost of your video. Please share your experience with video production costs in the comments below.
Article by Joe Forte.