Let’s get started!
In this post, I will try to cover as much ground as I possibly can regarding the costs for a typical Video Production. Not an easy task, I know! When you ask: How much for video production? It is like going to a car dealer and asking. How much for a car?
Dear buyer, do you want a Mercedes or the Ford Escort at the end of the yard?
Most video production companies have their own formulas when budgeting a given project. Most base their numbers on previous experience and current industry rates (union and non-union productions).
That’s why the “task” of putting together a realistic budget for many clients becomes a real pain in the neck.
There are no set rules, and numbers vary a lot from company to company, I mean a lot.
Most clients don’t know what questions to ask or what involves to produce a good quality video. What is video production company (A) offering vs company (B)? Company (A) sounds very expensive and company (B) is doing it almost for free.
Why are their estimates so different? Why do I need permits in this budget and the other company didn’t include it?
In many cases, the difference in rates creates confusion and a lot of mistrust. Company (A) might be inflating their video production rates and company (B) is leaving important things out the estimate, just to compete and later on tell the client.
Oh Sir, but that was only an estimate!
In the end, the client is left with a myriad of questions and very little information about the complex video production process, what it is needed and the costs involved.
Well, in this post, we will try to answer some of these question: How much for video production? Tough question dude!
Keep one thing in mind before you start reading, the process descriptions and percentages are really simplified here. Every video is different. Producing a corporate video for a start-up is not the same as producing a super bowl commercial or a feature film.
The  video production steps and their “average” costs.
Pre-production includes a meeting with the client in order to know their needs, ideas, inspirations, market projections and all the information necessary to create a meaningful and beneficial video for the client.
The director, creatives, and maybe a producer will create the “concept” also called the pitch. Once a concept is developed, it is presented to the client, if he likes it and agrees with it, the director or creative team will write a proposed budget that includes all the material and human assets necessary to complete the scripted video. The client has to agree on the budget and sign a contract with the video production company in order to secure their services. Once the video production company is booked, the director and or creatives will write a script, shooting script and storyboard for the video. These documents include the visuals, dialog, music, visual effects, sound effects, narration (everything that you will see in the video). The Pre-production process could take a day, two, sometimes a week or more (depending on the project). The cost of pre-production can be a few hundred in some cases many thousands of dollars.
What about permits?
Yes, in most instances you need a Film Permit from the city where you will be shooting. You do not want to be kicked out of the parking lot (or fined) when you are filming the talent testing the client’s product.
Not a good thing to experience. A few years ago, we provided video crew and equipment for a very well respected video production company that ended up costing an additional $6000 to their client. for not including $100 for a Miami Dade Film permit and a few hundred bucks for Liability Insurance in their video production budget.
I guess they thought that not including a city permit and insurance will give them an advantage in price against their competitors.
Sometimes you can get away with a couple of shots in exteriors without a permit, but not when you have a crew, and you are using an ARRI ALEXA Camera with tripod, lenses, and accessories. You need a film permit and insurance, do not exclude these from the budget. Avoid headaches!
Many clients often ask. Where do I get actors or models for the video?
We have access to casting companies that always provide us with great talents (actors, models) for every type of video production. The cost of hiring talents depends on many factors. Are these known or experienced actors? Are these actors new to the industry? Some casting agencies only deal with a restricted portfolio of clients, studios, projects, and high budget productions. Some are opened to any type of project and budgets. I will not cover the costs of hiring talents here, rates are all over the place (managers, agencies, independent, union, non-union).
Based on our experience in the industry cost of pre-production is 10 to 15% of the total budget of a project.
Pre-Production can include :
- Concept development
- Production Design
- Selecting Crew
- Location Scouting
Oh yes, Production is everyone’s favorite. Let’s start filming!
On this day ” the shoot day” we have everything ready in order to shoot the video. The Camera Operator, Director of Photography and crew will shoot every take, and scene according to the script, shooting script and storyboard guided a Director.
One video production project can have as little as one day for shooting, sometimes two or three days. In some cases, weeks or months.
Everything depends on the number of shots in the script/storyboard, locations, location accessibility, distances between locations, length of the script, equipment, lighting packages, etc. Sometimes even the crafts services (catering) decision makes a difference. Feed pizza to your crew and they will work slower.
The cost for a shoot day depends on the size of the crew, talent skills, equipment, location cost… etc.
A shoot day can cost a few hundred or thousands of dollars. For the most basic type of video (ex: interviews, testimonials) only one operator with a camera, a wireless mic, and a light kit is required. In this scenario, the camera operator will handle all production tasks on location. These generally cost between $500 to $1000 (no editing included). Production cost is usually 50% to 70% of the total budget.
Production can include:
- Assistant Director
- Camera Operator / DP
- Camera Support
- Sound Equipment
- Light Packages
Post-Production is basically what everyone calls “editing”. Everything that was shot on the production day is logged, organized and reviewed by the director and the editor. They watch every single take and make sure that they have all the material needed for a good edit.
In post-production, every shot is assembled in an editing computer as a coherent piece.
The editor will work long hours assembling the footage, following the script and, in some cases under the director’s supervision. All the shots will be color corrected and color graded one by one, fine-tuning the colors of every shot and scene is a very important part of post-production. This process will render the footage with a polished look that matches the intended mood and feel of the video. Color decisions must be taken in in Pre-production (bad color decisions can kill a video). Sometimes a color grading artist does the color correction/grading. Sometimes the editor himself.
The sound is a critical part of post-production. Don’t cut corners here.
The sound has to enhance and compliment the visuals. Good quality audio is as important as good visuals. In my personal opinion audio is 60% of the whole experience. You can watch an average or below average video with good audio, try to watch a good or average video with poor audio. No way, it kills the whole experience. Many amateur videos suffer from this. Inaudible, noisy, Bad audio is a sin!
The editing process can take days or weeks. Post-production is usually charged by the hour. Typically, an experienced editor charges from $65.00 to $150.00 per hour. Post-Production is sometimes 30% to 40% of the final budget.
- Time-code logging
- Color Correction
- Visual Effects
- Sound Mastering
A few last words.
Now that you have a better understanding of the whole video production process and some of the costs involved. You will be able to ask the right questions to a producer, production bidder or director instead of asking: How much for video production? We at Bluemoon Filmworks tailor every video production budget according to the real needs of our clients. Knowing the real costs involved in creating a quality video helps them plan their strategies, distribution, campaigns, and budgets. Always remember, don’t feed pizza to your crew and every successful video starts with a well-written budget!
How much for video production? Contact us for a free consultation.
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