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How we calculate video production costs

June 13, 2017

Pricing for video production is a lot more complex than it might seem. The cost of producing two videos of equal length might differ by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

 

Because video production is not an exact science - most companies are very reluctant to list any type of pricing. While I understand the reasons for this (and I'm about to explain them) I also know what it feels like to be a consumer looking for a quote - and how frustrating it can be to not be able to get any idea of costs before I speak to someone. So while I'm happy to put together a custom quote for anyone who contacts us with a set budget, I thought it would be helpful to put together a general overview of how we breakdown and calculate our production costs.

 

While you will most likely still have to contact us directly with more specific questions and to custom tailor a quote to your specific project and goals, I hope that this post will give you a better understanding of what goes into the production of a video so you can better understand how the money is spent.

DAY RATE

 

We don't charge by the hour. Sometimes clients will ask for the price of a 1-2 hour video shoot. The problem is that even for only 1-2 hours of actual shooting there is a lot of pre and postproduction that takes place behind the scenes. So even a 1 hour shoot will still equate to 5-6 hours, or more, of actual work. (Travel, the shoot, color correction, converting the files, basic editing etc...)

 

For our budgeting we use a day rate, $1,750/day, or sometimes a half-day rate of $1000. Using this rate, we just need to calculate about how much time will be spent on a project (how many total days) and then we apply the day rate to come up with a total cost.

 

Our day rate includes the resources of our production studio (all in-house equipment and facility) a video producer / director + one additional crew member per day (such as a production assistant, camera operator, sound mixer, video editor etc...)

 

*If additional crew members are necessary for production on any day (makeup artists, actors/actresses, gaffers, grips, production assistants, jib operators, drone operators etc...) they will be included on our custom proposal.

 

If we are starting from an existing budget, we will consult with the client to confirm whether or not the desired end product is realistic with the provided budget or if the scope will need to be reworked creatively in order to achieve the desired goals.

 

Production work is only booked by the day, but in some cases we can do stand-alone postproduction work at an hourly rate of $250 - but for most projects it makes much more sense to calculate by the day. 

 

We are often asked: How much will it cost to produce a nice 2-3 minute video. That is impossible to answer accurately without more information - as the time necessary to produce the video might vary greatly depending on the types of footage needed and how complex the editing will be. We've had 3 minute videos that took only a few days total to produce costing about $4,500, while others took nearly 3 weeks and cost over $20,000.

PRODUCTION PROCESS BREAKDOWN

 

To help you get a better idea of what goes into the production of your video, I've put together a breakdown of our standard video production process so you can better understand how time is usually calculated.

 

STAGE 1: VIDEO CONCEPT PLANNING

  • In Person, Phone Conference or Video Chat about 1 Hour

  • The overall approach to the video and it’s purpose/goals

  • The subject matter and any raw footage that must appear in the video

  • How many on-camera interviews are necessary, if any; select interviewees and discuss plan for coordinating schedules / locations

STAGE 2: PRE-PRODUCTION

  • Any necessary shot lists (based on concept meeting)

  • Prep of interview questions (based on concept meeting)

  • Location Planning & Coordinating

  • Prep of equipment (camera / lights / cards etc)

  • Other items such as storyboards, table-reads, or script animations will require additional time if they are necessary

  • Determine how many total days of shooting are necessary

STAGE 3: PRODUCTION / SHOOT

  • Cinematographer / crew visits each site necessary to fulfill shot list

  • Cinematographer shoots any raw footage he/she finds relevant or beneficial

  • Cinematographer interviews pre-determined people

STAGE 4: POSTPRODUCTION / EDITING

 

How much time is necessary is determined by several factors including the amount of raw video there is and how complicated the story is to tell. It can take anywhere 2-5 days or more in some cases, as the following things need to be accomplished:

  • Logging / Prep

  • Transcription of sound bites from interviews

  • Scripting from soundbites

  • Revisions from customer (if needed)

  • Video editing

  • Voice overs recorded

  • Graphics / Animations created

  • Preview video delivered to customer

  • Revisions from customer (if needed)

  • Color grading and final sound mixing

  • Final edit approved

  • Digital files created and delivered

AVERAGES

 

Taking into consideration all of these phases, most 2-3 minute video projects will take about 3-5 days to complete with a (2-3) person crew, costing about $5,250 - $8,750. 

 

The total budget for any project, however, is always agreed to in advance. In the few situations where a project takes longer than expected it is always because the customer has added shoots or other components, and agreed accordingly to the higher price in advance.

LOW-BUDGET VIDEO PRODUCTION

 

While most video production does require at least a few days - we found a way to help small business owners who have very small marketing budgets. We've put together a $1500 production package that keeps the cost low by adhering to a very strict production schedule. From beginning to end, the entire production must take less than a day to produce.

 

We accomplish this with a 1-hour video shoot, during which we follow a strict process that includes asking key questions that essentially create the script on it's own - followed by another hour of b-roll shooting, and then we edit everything together.

 

In order to keep the budget controlled, clients who purchase our low-budget package relinquish all creative control to us and trust that we will deliver a video that's on-message. There is no script to approve, and there is no preview video that allows for revisions to the final video.

 

If you want editorial control of the final video, we recommend our full-service video production instead.

BREAKING DOWN VIDEO PRODUCTION COST

 

The steps above for how videos are produced are pretty standard from company to company. When it comes to pricing, of course, things can be quite different. And the specific needs of each production may require deviation from the normal process. But at least now you have some understanding regarding how we approach the process of quoting the cost of a video production.

 

 

 

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