Everything You Need To Know About Video Production Costs
The first question most people ask when they consider publishing videos is “How much will it cost?” And they often assume that the best way to approach video production costs is to spend less money on more videos. This doesn’t factor in the quality, which is almost always the wrong approach.
While there are many factors that affect the cost of video production (equipment, crew, etc.), the solution isn’t to create more low-quality content. Instead, you should use your budget to produce fewer, but more effective, high-quality videos. Producing dozens of low-cost and low-quality videos will hurt your brand image. However, investing in quality can create content that ages well and creates value for your company.
Quality over Quantity
There are billions of hours of video content on the internet and billions more get uploaded every day. Most of this is low-quality. However, the sheer amount of content that people consume every day makes it harder to leave an impact.
This might make you wonder if it’s worth it to produce video at all. But it is — as long as it’s high-quality, valuable content. A good video can communicate so much more than text and pictures. Whether you work for a media company or a brand, video is a powerful, important medium that you need to invest in. Just invest your resources in it wisely, focusing on original content made by professionals with professional equipment.
Hire a Production Company or Freelancer
Fortunately, we’re at a pivotal time for video. The cost of video production equipment is dropping while the number of skilled professional video freelancers and production companies is rising. Meanwhile, more consumers and decision-makers at B2B companies are watching video content that drives their purchasing behavior. A survey from Wyzowl found that 79% of consumers prefer to learn about a product through video rather than text. And 84% of consumers have been convinced to purchase a product after watching a video. This means that you are likely to see a return on investment for your video production costs.
Unless, of course, you’re churning out low-quality video that damages your brand image. Brightcove gathered some vital statistics on how low-quality video has a negative impact. They found that 62% of consumers have a negative perception of a brand after experiencing a poor-quality video, while 60% no longer want to engage with the brand and 23% hesitate to make a purchase. In fact, publishing a low-quality video is actually worse than not publishing video at all. A cheap video will make your brand seem cheap.
When it comes to video production, you have to use a quality, not quantity, model. Good video is an investment, but it lasts longer and it converts better. Whether you’re making an animated explainer, a branded short doc, or news piece, every video you produce should tell an original story. And these stories should have interesting visuals, characters, personality, and voice. This takes a higher production budget. But if you get increased conversion rates from your video, then it could pay for itself in a couple of months.
For example, if you spend $20,000 producing an explainer video, it should last three to five years. This means your video costs would average $4,000 to $7,000 per year. For these years, though, the explainer will help you increase conversion rates, customer engagement, and customer acquisition, as well as creating brand awareness. Studies show that including a video on your landing page can increase your conversion rates by 80%. In email marketing, videos can boost open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%. Embedding videos on your website will also boost your Google ranking so that you’re more likely to show up on the first page of results.
Tubular Insights said it best when writing about animated explainer videos: “When you purchase an explainer, you’re not just simply buying a video, you’re paying for a proven, effective process. To put it even more plainly, you’re paying for the results you’re going to end up with. If you hire a company based upon their “cheapness”, you’ll unfortunately get exactly what you paid for…a cheap-looking, non-converting video.”
A high-quality video strategy doesn’t only apply to explainer videos, though. If you’re a media or branded content publisher that’s serious about video, you need to invest in the necessary resources, such as freelancers, studio space, or equipment. Don’t overspend on video production, but also don’t be cheap, and waste your budget on poor quality.
So How Much Does Video Cost?
The short answer is that it depends. While video production costs more than any other content medium, it’s often the most effective. With video, you get what you pay for. So if you want a high-quality commercial production, but are only willing to put up $2,000 for it, then you’re not going to get what you want. And if you want people to watch your video, you have to produce a video that’s worth watching.
There are dozens of factors that go into video cost, and the range is huge. A commercial production by Apple could cost upwards of $500,000 or a short branded doc might cost $5,000. Video production costs will depend on the type of video that you need, the location, crew, equipment, talent, amount of pre-production, editing, sound, post-production, and more. The best way to estimate your budget or to get an accurate quote from a production company is to write a video production brief. A brief details the when, where, what, why, and how of the video you want to be produced.
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A good video production brief will help you outline the goals of the video and define the scope of your project. It will also help you determine the best way to go about production for your budget. You can submit your brief to several production companies and compare rates. Or you can come up with an estimated budget range and post the brief on Storyhunter, letting production companies come to you. Either way, make sure that the company you choose to work with has high-quality work samples and experience producing the type of video you want.
A Breakdown of Video Production Costs & How to Save Money
If you’re looking for a more detailed answer about how much your video production costs will be, then you will have to weigh the following factors.
The cost of video production depends on what type of video you want to produce. An animated video explaining your business requires different production skills than a cinematic commercial with actors. The higher-quality video you need, the more you can expect to spend.
Unless you’re comparing a feature film to short, branded content, the duration barely factors into video cost. Whether you’re making a one or five minute video, the crew and equipment will mostly be the same. Plus, it won’t even make a big impact in post-production unless the video needs a lot of cuts.
Pre-production, such as writing a script, location scouting, getting permits, and scheduling shoots, can take up a bit of your time and budget. And if your script changes, your video production costs will likely change as well. If you have the resources, you should write the script in-house, potentially with advice from your production company. Otherwise, many production companies offer this service as part of their production packages.
If you have to scout a filming location, you will also have to budget in time and travel expenses for the scout. You can avoid this by hiring a crew that’s local to the area you want to film and who already know where they can shoot. The more intense your pre-production is, the more it will cost you.
Production crew rates depend on their region, market, gear, and experience. If you need more specialized crew and equipment, such as for 360° video production, you may have to spend more.
Every creatives’ rates will vary, but these are the standard day rate charges for the most common crew members:
- Documentary DP (Director of Photography): $400-$1,200
- Commercial DP: $650-$2,000
- Full-Service Video Production: $1,500-$300,000 (flat rate)
- Drone Operator: $500-$1,400
- Commercial Video Editor: $400-$1,000
- Motion Graphics Editor: $600-$30,000 (flat rate)
- Sound Technician: $300-$700
- Gaffer: $300-$600
- Grip: $200-$600
Hiring talent, such as actors or hosts, will cost you extra and you should include this in your budget. However, unless you’re doing a big commercial production for TV, you probably won’t need to hire talent. For branded short docs, testimonials, and product videos that are mostly interviews and b-roll, try featuring your employees or customers.
This is directly linked to day rates. Day rates are so high because they generally include pre-production work as well as gear costs. Since most videographers charge by the day, your video production costs will go up with more shooting days. Using the above rates, you could expect a three day shoot to cost around $3,000 to $8,000 for a two-person crew.
Also be aware that when you hire a shooter for a half day, they will charge you more than half their day rate. This is to make up for lost time and money when they can’t schedule a second gig that day.
You can spend as much money flying out a production crew to shoot on location as on the production itself. Besides the transportation costs, travel expenses also include hotels and meals. The best way to avoid these costs is to hire local production crews or freelancers who won’t have to travel. Besides, even if you hire a production company that isn’t local, they may end up subcontracting the work out to local freelancers to lower their own costs.
Even when a videographer doesn’t need to rent equipment, they will still charge you for equipment costs. This usually is a part of their day rate, and it helps them protect their expensive equipment. It also helps cover the original cost of purchasing equipment.
On a bigger production, a crew may need to rent cameras, lighting, grips, mics, or other film gear. Most production companies will pass these rental costs directly onto you as expenses. If they don’t, they may include rentals it in their flat rate fees. You can save money here by being flexible about camera and gear requirements.
Much of the work that goes into producing a high-quality video is done in post-production, so budget well for this. In post, your video will go through story editing — usually with multiple rounds of feedback from your company — as well as coloring and grading. Video editors tend to specialize in just one of these, so you may have to hire a different editor for coloring than the one you hire for story edits. Motion graphics, or titles, can be separate video production costs as well.
Hire a Production Company or Freelancer
Save with Freelancers:
If your team can handle some areas of production in-house, such as script, location scouting, or editing, then you can lower your video production costs. You can save money by hiring a freelance crew (a couple shooters and sound techs) instead of a full-service production company. However, if no one on your team knows how to manage a video production, you will get better results by going to a production company and letting them handle all the details.
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By D. Simone Kovacs, Storyhunter Editor