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How Much Does a Video Cost?

Due to the highly customized approach of video production, it’s difficult to list the price of a video as a one-size-fits-most fixed cost for potential clients to review before engaging with a video production team. Although many production companies offer packages to choose from, looking over offerings from a menu might not get you the best return on your investment. As you can imagine, your unique need and our customized solution must be considered before the question of cost can be answered.



From the big picture to the minutiae, these are the things to consider when figuring out the cost of your video project.


Purpose


The first step of any project is to determine the purpose, which will inform all other aspects. Start by asking yourself: what are the goals you have for this video? For example, you could be attempting to raise awareness, increase fund development, or explain a product, process, or service. While this may not directly impact the price —awareness videos are not necessarily more or less expensive than any other form—it will help you decide factors in the creative and strategic plan that do directly impact the budget, such as location, style, talent, and distribution.


Timeline


Your timeline may impact the budget, especially if it’s a tight turnaround. Make sure to note what day you need your video completed by—whether that’s determined by an event, a campaign schedule, or a completely separate deadline, it’s important information to have!


Distribution & Deliverables


Oftentimes, we begin our planning with project completion and work our way backward. While distribution and deliverables won’t be actionable until the video is filmed and edited, it’s important to decide this early in the preproduction process so it can be considered during every stage of the video’s development.


So first, how long do you want your video to be? Videos of 30, 15, and even 6 seconds are common, but anything is possible depending on the purpose and planned distribution. Videos with a captive audience can be longer, while pre-roll ads need to be short and get to the point quickly.


Next, what specs will you need for the various platforms where you’d like to share the video? The aspect ratio varies wildly depending on the platform—this could be 1:1 for Instagram, 9:16 for TikTok, or something unique for banners, Jumbotrons, etc. Do you need a compressed MP4 file for social media, or will you need a 4k MOV file for broadcast or large screens? If you’re unsure of what specs fit your distribution plan best, your video partner will be able to help you decide. Keep in mind that this decision could impact your shoot day—for example, knowing that your primary distribution is vertical means we’ll need to set up the scenes to ensure the action doesn’t fall outside the “safe” zone—so you’ll want to nail it down before production begins.


The overall distribution strategy impacts the budget through different versioning required by each of the distribution platforms. Even something as simple as adding captions or needing a different aspect ratio takes time, and that adds up. However, if properly planned for, remixing video content into various versions is one way to stretch your video production budget, as iterations of the content are typically less costly to produce than brand-new projects.


And of course, don’t forget that paid placement for ads has to be, well, paid for. Failing to account for this piece of the budget will cause a rude awakening at the end of the project!


Accessibility


Everyone benefits from accessibility. Making your video more accessible can help you reach everyone in your target market, build a stronger connection with your viewers, and ultimately increase your video’s ROI. Adding captions can open the door for people with hearing loss or those who prefer to view in silent mode, while transcriptions with visual descriptions can assist viewers with visual impairments. For portions of your audience who do not speak English or whose first language is not English, adding captions in various languages, dubbing over the primary video with a native speaker’s voice-over, or building completely new versions of the video in different languages will help you break down the language barrier.


This process involves more editing hours from your video production team and could also incur additional costs for translation services and voice-over artists or actors.


Creative Approach


Creativity is the practice of solving problems. Sometimes the challenge is the budget, but don’t worry because limitations are a positive force for creativity! The creative approach can impact location and travel, for example. Consider if you can obtain visual assets by producing remotely. What are the editorial requirements? Do you need an animator? A composer? Make sure to include resources for finishing work like audio mix and color grade. Always ask yourself: what else can be done with creativity to solve this problem?


Scripting


The script should always include a problem to identify with your audience, a solution to offer your value proposition, a benefit to show the outcome, and a call to action to prompt the viewers’ next steps. As the subject matter expert for your organization, you might feel most comfortable writing the script yourself. However, you have options. You could work in tandem with your video production team to develop the script, hire a professional copywriter or editor to assist with the script, or any combination of those efforts. Of course, each pathway comes with different time and cost requirements, so it’s up to you to decide which makes the most sense for your project.


Crew


A video production crew is made up of various key positions that make all the magic happen (and happen smoothly) while on set. Depending on your goals for the project and the configuration of your video production team, some roles may be able to be filled by the same person, or you may need additional hands to cover all your bases. Some of the most common crew roles are director of photography, director, gaffer, grip, production assistant, makeup artist, etc.


You should also consider any other behind-the-scenes or on-screen participants, including members of your team or actors. This is especially relevant if a shoot is long and falls across one or more meal times. Crew, cast, and clients alike need to eat; a fed team is a hardworking team! The cost of food, drinks, and snacks necessary to keep people comfortable will creep up on you if you don’t plan ahead.


Equipment


A wide variety of tools can get the job done, and there are pros and cons for every different kind of camera, lens kit, lighting setup, and audio capture equipment. The team’s experience, knowledge, and talent is the critical element, so finding the perfect partner for your project is crucial. That being said, a two-camera interview will always require two cameras and specialty videos such as 360° immersive trainings could require your team to rent specialized equipment. It’s important to have a conversation about equipment early in the production process so you can anticipate any additional costs and ensure you have what you need on the day of your shoot.


Location


The environment you film in provides essential context and impacts how the message will be received by viewers, so it should not be overlooked. Depending on your content, you could film in a studio with a solid color backdrop, a gathering space in your office building, a participant's home, or even outside in nature. Renting studio space or other public areas may require payment and insurance. You’ll also want to keep travel costs in mind as you consider your location(s) compared to your video production team’s home base—mileage, gas, and hotel accommodations can quickly add up.


As you can see, many moving pieces go into a video production budget—each allowing you to save or splurge, depending on the choices you make in your creative and strategic approach. While we can’t say for certain that X type of video will cost exactly X dollars, we can ensure that your project will be handled with care as we craft a personalized plan addressing your needs and goals.


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