Short Film or Video production costs depend on the length and complexity of the shoot.
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An industry rule of thumb estimates about £770 per finished minute of video for a quality presentation, but we find that we usually come in closer to £550 per minute for the typical 3-8 minute corporate video involving a script, voice talent, and illustrating footage.
• A novice producer might charge £20 per hour, while a seasoned producer might charge £190 per hour.
• A script writer might charge £45 to £95 per hour.
• Editing costs £30 to £95 per hour.
• Professional actors charge £38 to £380 per hour, depending on experience.
• Experienced crew members will command £20 to £57 per hour.
• Studio costs run £77 to £300 per hour.
• Stock footage runs £15 to £38 per second.
1. CORPORATE VIDEO PRODUCTION EXPERTISE:
Whatever profession you care to mention, doctors, mechanics, lawyers, videographers, what matters most is experience and expertise more than any other factor and all things being equal, you do tend to get what you pay for. There are many, many moving parts in the creation of a video but at the end of the day you are paying for the expertise and experience of the key people responsible for your video.
COSTS: You can pay £20/hour for a recent film school graduate or £190/hour or more for a top flight video veteran. On average most production companies will charge between £57/hour and £120/hour for the people involved in key activities such as shooting, editing and directing a corporate video. TV commercials are an exception, where A-list professionals can be an order of magnitude more expensive depending on the budget.
2. CONCEPT / SCRIPT / STORYBOARD:
Doing video for the sake of video is a waste of money, although it’s great for the video production industry! What measurable business objective are you trying to achieve? How is this video specifically going to achieve that objective? Also, of greatest importance, do the people creating your video have the experience or guidance to create a video that will help move your business forward? Lighting, sound, framing and editing are all important but they don’t matter in the least, if what you are creating has no value to your intended audience. Like companies that spend £10,000 on website development and little or no money on content for the site, many companies waste a lot of money on beautifully shot but otherwise meaningless video.
COSTS: Expect to spend between £45/hour and £115/hour for an experienced marketer to develop a concept, script and storyboard that serves as the blueprint for you video, because it does not make sense to have something so important produced by an entertainment script writer or video production assistant does it?
3. EDITING / GRAPHICS:
The editing process is highly nuanced. Editing is where you create the style and substance of the video and you sequence all of the available assets into a cohesive story that communicates your key messages in a clear and engaging manner. Editors arguably should be the most highly paid (and skilled) in the entire process but quite often they are not. We have included graphics and animation into the editing process, because it is often difficult to separate the use or importance of graphics and animation from the editing process. Some videos require simple graphic elements and some videos are completely animated meaning the entire video is animation. High-end 3D animation can cost up to many hundreds of dollars per hour depending on the complexity and skill required in the project.
COSTS: Typical editing costs run between £45/hour and £135/hour. Complex 3D graphics or key frame animation can cost between £77/hr and £230/hr.
4. ACTORS / PRESENTERS:
Do you need to hire professional presenters, actors or models to improve the quality of your presentation? Not everyone is good on camera. You may need to make difficult decisions about who should represent your company. In a broadcast commercial quite often it is not someone in your company. Even in a corporate video you may decide that hiring outside talent is the best decision.
COSTS: Presenters, models and actors can range anywhere from £38/hour to £380/hour or lot’s more depending on experience, demand and union costs. Note: This factor could easily be listed as either the most important and / or the most expensive, if you are hiring specialized talent, such as celebrities or well know experts.
The quality and flexibility of the camera you shoot with can make a considerable difference in the finished quality and editing options for your video. Are you shooting on a £400 DV camera, a £2,000 DSLR, a £8,000 Full feature HD camera, a £20,000 RED, a £45,000 ARRI or are you shooting on Film? The pace of technological advancement in film and video is breathtaking and the features and capabilities of cameras are changing weekly. Bottom Line: You should be able to see the difference in the final output quality in more expensive cameras. If you can’t, then it’s not worth paying for. Your final delivery channel will also determine the need for specific cameras. Streamed video on the internet, where the vast majority of corporate videos are seen, doesn’t require high-end camera’s to capture your content, because a lot of that quality will be lost in optimization for the web.
COSTS: You will spend between £20/hour and £300/hour or more depending on which digital camera package is used. Film cameras, lenses and stock will take you well over £770 /hour.
The more experienced video production companies tend to have a wide variety of tools and equipment on hand for each shoot. Do you need a track dolly or a jib-arm to create a shot with movement? Do you have a high quality field monitor to know exactly what you are getting or not getting as you shoot? Do you have all the necessary audio equipment, such as lav’s, direction microphones, booms etc to capture the audio you need? Lighting and framing are everything in video. Do you have lights and lots of different lights to accommodate a wide variety of shooting scenarios? Do you have a variety of lenses to create the specific feel you are after, such as wide angle, fixed focal length or Cine lenses for narrow depth of field, etc?
COSTS:Equipment cost can run anywhere from £20/hour to £100’s/hour or more depending on what specific equipment is required.
If you’ve ever watched a movie or television show being filmed you might wonder why you need so many people standing around idle on a set. Most business web video productions don’t require more than two people and sometimes one is enough but depending on the complexity of the shoot you may require a crew of three or more. If you are conducting man on the street interviews, as an example, you need a cameraman, a sound man and a director or interviewer. Concept videos like commercials will often require more people to help with the logistics of the shoot. A field production engineer who has his own equipment, such as field recorder, microphones, boom pole etc typically costs between £38 and £60 per hour. A lighting technician may cost between £23 and £38 per hour.
COSTS:Expect to pay between £20 and £57/hour/ per person for experienced crew.
8. B-ROLL / CUT-AWAY SHOTS:
Most videos benefit from the addition of footage that supplements what is being said on screen. If you are interviewing a business owner, who is talking about their new equipment you should cut away to shots of the equipment as they speak. Showing the viewer what is being described in the video is more informative. Show me, don’t tell me and also helps to keep the attention of the impatient viewer.
COSTS:The length of time and equipment used to capture the b-roll will increase production costs. You can add anywhere from 10% to 50% of the total shooting costs, if you need to supplement interview footage with b-roll footage.
9. LOCATIONS & PRODUCTION TIME:
Where are you shooting? How long will each scene/interview/shot take? Are you shooting in one location or many? What are the specific requirements and constraints of each location? Are you indoor or outside? If you are shooting outside is weather a factor? If so what happens if it rains? How much set-up time is required? Are the locations close together? The most important factor is the total amount of time required for production. There are few economies of scale for time but with good planning you can do a lot within a specific period of time.
COSTS: This cost is arithmetic. Two days of shooting is twice as expensive as one day. If shooting extends for many days or is regularly scheduled, then most companies offer a discount.
10. STUDIO SHOOTING:
Do you require the use of a sound stage or studio? Do you need a controlled environment to shoot in? Are you shooting green screen and keying out the background in edit? The use of a studio has to be factored into the overall cost of the production one way or another. Larger companies may include studio time in their shooting costs and other companies include it as a line item as studio rental time.
COSTS: Factor in between £77/hour and £300/hour depending on the size of the studio. If you need a studio you will be charged for it, one way or the other.
11. SET, PROPS, EQUIPMENT & EXTRAS:
Aside from video production equipment are there other special props or pieces of equipment that need to be included as part of the costs? Do you need to rent a van, rent furniture, hire extras, hire a plane or helicopter for an aerial shot or bring in special equipment for the shoot? These all have to be factored in to the cost of the shoot.
COSTS: Depends on what is required.
12. STOCK FOOTAGE:
Do you require supplemental footage or images to support the video? There are many websites that sell high quality still and video footage. Some videos are comprised completely of stock footage, text and voice-over.
COSTS: Stock images can be as cheap as £2 and great quality. HD stock footage can cost as little as £38 but for high quality images you will pay considerably more.
Do you need a voice-over to tell your story or to tie the video together. Video is a powerful medium but it is even more powerful if you take full advantage of audio to support what is being shown on screen.
COSTS: Voice-over costs have dropped dramatically over the last five years. Many voice artists work from home and can produce great work for almost any budget from between £77 and £300 for a 2 minute video is reasonable depending on the experience and demand for the specific voice artist.
14. AUDIO FILES:
Do you require a music bed, special sound effects or other audio to supplement your video?
COSTS: Good quality music for video starts as low as £23 for a two or three minute track. Custom audio can cost £770 or more depending on the experience of the musician and what is required.
A teleprompter can save a shoot. Even the most experienced speaker can be intimidated by lights and camera. It’s true that you can usually tell when someone is reading a teleprompter but that may still be preferable to the agony of a shoot spiralling out of control, because the CEO can’t remember his lines.
COSTS: Teleprompter and teleprompter operator usually cost between £270 and £460 for a half day.
16. GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION:
New York is more expensive to shoot in than Central Lake, Michigan because the cost of living is higher in New York. Half day rates don’t exist in some large cities today.
COSTS: Expect to pay between 25% and 50% more, if you are shooting in a large city.
17. DIGITIZING, TRANSFERS, RENDERING & UPLOADING:
Video takes on many forms during the production process. If you shot on film you have to transfer it to a format that works in your editing system. After you edit it, you have to render it to a presentation format for web, for broadcast, etc and depending on where it’s going, you may have to upload it somewhere, such as your web server / YouTube / The Academy Awards, etc. All this takes computer and human time and you generally have to pay for both.
COSTS: Sometimes these costs are buried, sometimes they are line items. Tape transfers are still very expensive £100’s of pounds. Rendering and up loading time are usually buried in the costs but can also be charged out at an hourly rate of between £23 and £57 per hour.
18. LENGTH OF VIDEO:
The longer the video the more it is likely to cost. Web videos tend to be around a couple of minutes, although this varies considerably depending on the type and purpose of your video. Filming an articulate talking head for 10 minutes means limited editing required and so is much cheaper than creating a 30 second commercial.
COSTS: So, all things being equal but they rarely are, consider longer to be more expensive but it’s not arithmetic. An extra minute of video might only cost you 10% more, if you have planned the extra requirements into the overall workflow.
19. LICENSING / UNION FEES:
Are you using any media assets or talent that could be subject to ongoing licensing, usage or union fees? The web continues to drive all costs down including licensing fees but they still exist. The best talent is usually a member of SAG, ACTRA or some other union.
COSTS: Varies depending on the project and talent.
20. DIRECT OR THIRD PARTY:
Are you dealing directly with the video production company or are you going through an agency or other middleman?
COSTS: You should expect that you are paying at least a 30% mark-up, if you are going through a third party.
Are you creating linear video or are you building in interactivity? Is there a direct call-to-action that you want to get the viewer to follow? Do you require flash programming to build the video into a special player that will sit on a specific landing page? The future of video is interactive video.
COSTS: Expect to pay between 10% and 30% more to develop interactivity and flash support elements into your video. Back-end, database work will cost even more.
Is your video going to live on the web? If so, where is it being hosted? You might end up hosting it on different servers, such as your own, YouTube, a business portal, etc, depending on your business needs.
COSTS: Hosting is either free or relatively inexpensive £5 to £10/ month per video/videos depending on bandwidth usage.
How many different formats does your video have to be rendered in? Where is it going to be seen? Do you need a short version (editing down) and a long version? Does it sit in a multiplayer or is it in three different players? Should you break it up into pieces to make the length of it a little less evident and also to allow the user a bit more control?
COSTS: Adapting multiple formats for a video could add 5% to 10% percent to the cost of the job depending on how much editing is required.
24. LANGUAGE & TRANSLATION:
Do you need close captions? Do you need language versioning? Do you need onscreen text to change per language? Do you need to dub in different narration for different markets?
COSTS: Language versioning can add 10% to 20% to the overall cost of the job. Editing and proofing of different languages is usually much more time intensive than one language alone.
25. MISCELLANEOUS FEES:
Video production has ‘Miscellaneous fees’, such as Travel costs, meals, mileage, hotels, transportation, contingency fees, out-of-pocket and it all adds up.
COSTS: Usually in the £100’s and sometimes in the £1,000’s of pounds on larger shoots.
26. OTHER COSTS:
HAIR & MAKEUP: On lower cost projects a brush and a container of neutral blush to remove an oily or sweaty appearance on the subject’s face can go a long way. If you have both the budget and the need, then it is a good idea to hire a Hair and Makeup expert to help ensure your subjects look great on camera. It’s also a good idea to have them watch the shoot to ensure continuity. These professionals typically work full-time in the industry, mostly on entertainment projects or come from the beauty industry working as cosmeticians specializing in weddings. Cost varies considerably but a reasonable range is from £23/hr to £60 per hour.
LOCATION RENTAL: Depending on what you are shooting you may want to pay for the use of a specific location. While this option may seem like an extravagance, it could make the difference between a dull video and an engaging video. A talking head, all things being equal, is more interesting shot against an interesting backdrop. Contact your local film office and they should have a list of possible locations to shoot in your area for a fee. Costs range considerably, so you can pay your local coffee shop a couple bucks to shoot during a quiet time or you can get access to a local museum for thousands of pounds.
CATERING / CRAFT SERVICES: Whether your crew is small or large you have to take care of them. Feed them well and treat them well and you will get your best work from them.
Taking all of the above into consideration there are reasonable ballpark figures that you can use as a guidepost for budget purposes. A two to three minute web-based corporate video presentation might cost between £2,000 and £7,700, if you consider the mid range of variables mentioned above. For most professionally produced web-based corporate videos you should consider, as a starting point, a cost of between £1,500 to £3,800 and that will give you a reasonable idea of where to begin in the budgeting process.
BUDGETING TIP # 1: A reference video is a great place to start.
The best way to get a quick estimate is to have a reference video to compare to, such as “How much would something like ‘this’ cost?”
BUDGETING TIP # 2: Share your budget
Every business has a budget and yet most businesses are reluctant to share budget figures hoping they will get an amazing deal, if they don’t disclose anything. We have been on both sides, client and agency side and we always had better results, when we said ‘Here’s my budget and here are my business objectives, so what can you do for me?”
BUDGETING TIP # 3: Be open minded.
Many businesses begin the video development process with a specific video type or style in mind and a prepared script and/or a Specific creative approach in mind. Having said that, it’s still a good idea to listen to alternative approaches, when presumably you are hiring a video production company, because of their experience and expertise.