No one likes surprise costs. Not once has any person eyed the convenience fee on their receipt and squealed with delight “I’ve been convenienced!”
Those new to the practice of video often experience something similar when they take their first look at a production budget. Sure, they expect there to be some cost to rent a camera or hire a director but they may not realize they have to pay for lighting rigs, craft services, or whatever a key grip is. (“Grip that key tighter,” they will often recommend.)
So, to avoid B2B video content cost surprises, it’s helpful to know what a production budget looks like and where your money will be going as you prep, shoot, and edit.
Video is an Investment
Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of talk about costs and expenses here. This isn’t to scare anyone off, but to prepare those new to video on what they can expect to pay for a professional production process.
As you look at video as a way to engage an audience, it is also helpful to view video not as an expense but as an investment. The goal here shouldn’t simply be to create an .MP4 file that lingers unwatched on a hard drive; you should view video as a pathway to increased revenue or profits.
That is, video can offer a measurable return on your dollar. It can grow your brand, enable you to reach new targets, and lead to sales. So, you’re not burning cash by producing a video. Instead, you’re planting that investment seed in the ground and nurturing its growth.
Additionally, while video has the potential to be expensive, that doesn’t mean it has to be as expensive as possible. Operating with a video strategy can save you money. You’ll be able to engage in economies of scale, prevent unnecessary reshoots or duplicate content, and ultimately make sure you’re making the right videos for your goals.
Your Pre-Production Budget
For the uninitiated, pre-production is all about getting ready to shoot your video. You’ll spend this phase scouting locations, securing equipment, and hiring your video production team. Much of your team will only work on shooting days. However, there is a handful of crewmembers that get to work before anyone presses “record” on a video camera:
- A producer to supervise video production from pre-production to post-work. They’re the person responsible for keeping production hitting deadlines and on budget while balancing financial, creative, and logistical concerns.
- A scriptwriter to write a script. A script is essential as it serves as the blueprint for what the director films.
- A director to manage or craft the visual tone of the video. This will determine what equipment, crew, and shooting locations you will secure.
The expected cost to fill any of those roles can vary widely based on the scope of the project, the required experience level, and the local market for talent. It’s not unheard of to expect to pay over $100 an hour for each of these roles. That can sound expensive, but filling these roles as early as possible is critical to your production’s success.
Your Production Budget
Production is when the video is shot. This portion of the budget is often the most substantial simply due to the number of things or people required to shoot a video.
Depending on the scope of the video, you may find you can save money by having some people serve multiple roles. Regardless, there should be someone in each of these roles during production:
- Director of Photography
- Digital Imaging Technician
- Camera Operator
- Audio Technician
- Production Assistant (or two)
- Hair, makeup, and wardrobe
While everyone on this list is immensely talented, “talent” here means actors and actresses to fill on-screen speaking roles, serve as extras, or do voiceover work. Your director or producer can help streamline the casting process if they already know capable actors and actresses. You can also pay a fee to a talent agency to find people capable of performing the required speaking or background roles.
Even if production only lasts for a single day, some costs go beyond each cast or crew members’ day rate. You can generally break this into food and travel expenses.
For instance, you’ll need to keep people fed throughout production. That may mean having a catering spread or having a production assistant take orders and pick up carryout for each meal. If production staff is traveling for the shoot and has a day off, a food per diem will ensure they aren’t wasting away on complimentary hotel cookies. In addition, a craft services table with an assortment of snacks and drinks is standard on most professional shoots.
Speaking of travel, related expenses can include anything from airline tickets (and the requisite baggage fees) to hotels to automotive transportation (like rental cars, parking fees, or an Uber to and from the shooting location).
Of course, people aren’t the only component in production. Equipment and a place to shoot your video are essential. So, your budget will likely include entries for things like:
- Studio fees (including sound studios for voiceover work)
- On-location fees
- Cameras and related equipment (cranes, dollies, tripods, and memory cards, for example)
- Lighting rigs
- Audio equipment (like lapel or rifle microphones)
- Props and set dressings
If you’re planning on building an in-house production team, it may be cost-effective to purchase some of the equipment. Otherwise, it’s probably best to rent or hire crewmembers with ready-to-use equipment.
Your Post-Production Budget
After the director has shot every shot and your audio technician has recorded all required audio, you’ll have a bunch of raw footage and recordings but no final product. So, besides your producer, you’ll also hire people to conduct necessary post-production work:
- An audio editor to clean up audio recordings and make sure everything sounds as intended.
- Effects artists or animators to craft graphics, animations, and visual effects that accompany the video footage.
- An editor to piece together visual elements (like filmed footage or graphics and animation) and audio elements (like recorded audio and music) to create the final product.
- A colorist to perform color correction and finalize the visual display of the piece (this may or may not be the same person as your editor, as the skill set is different).
Depending on the work done in post-production, you may have to pay a fee to license stock footage, music, or sound effects. During this process, your video file and its various components will be stored somewhere – on hard drives or a server in the cloud – and file storage costs money, too.
Video Content Costs and Other Hard Truths About Video
The vast enormity of everything that goes into your video content costs can be overwhelming. However, that also goes to show that no company should go into a production willy-nilly and hope that everything turns out okey-dokey. Even a DIY production done by an in-house team can have an upfront cost of several thousands of dollars to ensure the final product is something your company can be proud of.
Practicing video is an investment of money, time, and energy. With the right strategy and team in place, though, it’s an investment that produces measurable results that can positively impact your bottom line.
For more on the cost of producing video content and other hard truths, listen to our recent episode of The Video Reformation podcast.