Video production is the fastest growing marketing tool since the dawn of the internet.
Digital video is accessible, cost-effective, and crucial to keeping an audience.
And it’s not just commercials and corporate video.
Digital has taken over Hollywood, television, and streamers.
We’re in the future and you need content to keep up. But that can come at a high price if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Today we’re going to cover 25 factors that affect commercial video production costs.
Let’s dive in and see what we find.
25 Factors That Affect Commercial Video Production Costs
The world of video has taken on a much broader role in today’s marketing and communications plans and strategies.
Before we jump into actually creating these projects, you need to know the three significant dynamics that are continuing to make the use of video central to most successful marketing campaigns.
- The role of Search Engine Optimization, or how search engines such as Google rank websites.
- The decline in the price of video and increase of quality.
- The expectations of the average consumer to get the message via video.
Now that you understand the why, let’s get into the cost of the how.
Balancing the Costs and Quality of Video Production
Almost since its introduction to the market, the use of corporate video production has always faced a balance between the cost of production and distribution with the overall quality of the product.
With the amazing quantity of video content produced and uploaded today, its use is not limited to broadcast television and special venues.
Prospects and customers easily access the videos they desire via smartphones and other mobile devices, as well as streaming on TVs and other options.
This brings a focus to the issue of the quality of video content produced.
Of course, anyone can buy a $1000 or less camera (or use their smartphone) to produce a video and upload it to a website in moments.
However, the final quality of such an effort is comparable to a snapshot or selfie taken at a wedding to the archival quality produced by a professional photographer.
The knowledge and experience of writing, storytelling, lighting, editing and many other skills all play a role in producing a truly professional corporate video.
Each of these introduces different elements of costs, and determine the ultimate effectiveness of the end product.
And believe it or not, they’re not even the tip of the iceberg on most sets.
If you are like many corporations and moving to add corporate video to your marketing package, here are 25 factors to consider when developing your video production budget.
25 Factors That Affect Commercial Video Production Costs
1. Professional development and storyboarding
These can be pricey but necessary if your director can not shot-list or find a way to get on the same page with the cinematographer. You can save money by having them draw their own but if you’re doing a professional gig you want them to look polished.
2. Professional production company services
That’s where we come in. And posers not as good as us. If you have a vision, you need a team of pros to help you achieve it. Find ones with equipment, a good record, references, and reasonable rates.
While some companies do this in-house, it’s always great to have an extra set of eyes to help you smooth out your thoughts. In film and television, they’re a necessity on set for changes made on the fly as well.
4. Editing and Color Grading
You want the best people to cover your butts in the edit. Otherwise, you’ll be spending much much much more to have their work fixed.
5. Actors and VO artists
Are you working union or non-union? How many takes will you require to get it done? Any last-minute edits? Are the actors good enough to hit their marks and have their lines memorized? So many intangibles come with working with people.
6. Coaching talent and blocking
If your actors aren’t great you may need a coach on set to help boost their performance. If they miss blocking, you’ll be shooting extra days and setups to get it right.
7. Camera quality
You want to spend to get a camera that makes things look professional, but the technique of the person operating it matters more. Still, crappy cameras deliver cheap images. And those images can be harder to edit and less responsive to color. Do your research.
8. Lighting and equipment
There are basic kits that might suffice depending on what you’re shooting. Consult with your cinematographer and pick what works best for you.
9. Graphics and VFX
You get what you pay for here. You might need graphics to fake weather or to fill a plate, or even to add full CGI to certain scenes. Plan these out as much as you can in advice because the price rises rapidly.
10. Stock footage acquisition
There are lots of free stock footage options, but hey may not fit your requirements. Search beforehand and find out about the legality and price of what you need so you can plan accordingly.
11. Other legal, licensing and union fees, including talent used
When you use a union you generally get better workers, but more expensive. Again, plan this all in advance and in pre-pro so nothing comes as a shock.
12. Audio files and music
Like a few of the bylines above, music is going to cost you. Even songs that are not popular have different licensing fees based on where they are used and where your product is distributed.
Every minute you work overtime can cost thousands for a full crew. And that’s just overtime. The larger the production, the more crew you need. Get a good production manager to help you handle all of it.
14. Direct costs of location(s) used
Are you building sets or renting them? How much does your location cost? Can you shoot at night? How many days can you get them? So many options. Make sure you know and build your shoot days around them.
15. Onsite costs of production and Catering
Your crew will need to be fed and you’ll need professionals to do it. Find out what food trucks and rentals can cost and always secure more food than necessary. Grips can eat!
16. Use of B-roll and cut-aways
Are you shooting with one unit or several? Can you use stock footage for B-roll or roll multiple cameras? Plan with the DP and Director to get it done.
17. Studio/Stage time
Like locations, this stuff costs extra to rent. Maybe you can book an hour or two, but you’ll need to make sure you plan for multiple takes and time for VO artists to rest.
18. Props and sets
Every set needs to be dressed down to the most intricate object. But props, sets, and wardrobe also need to plan for what to do if a lamp breaks or an actor’s glasses are on the fritz. Make sure you have multiple items and lots of ideas for backups.
Here’s something you never think of but could help in the long run. Transcriptions can help editors piece together scenes and can also be useful on long phone calls for prep.
Ahh rendering. When your editor sits and waits for their genius to be viewable. This takes time, especially with longer files. And you have to pay people to be around during it. So make sure you only make changes and export when things are officially done.
If you don’t live within a reasonable distance of the location or studio, you’re going to be putting people up in hotels. And you need to get them to and from set. It can’t all be Ubers, but they come in handy on late nights.
22. Total length of final product
The longer something is, the more expensive it gets. Know your target length and plan a few shoot days in there as a cushion to make sure you can make the days you have planned.
23. Translations and languages required
Want the whole globe to see your visionary work or commercial? It will cost you. That’s why a lot of commercials have almost no dialogue in them. But some, like medical commercials, have tons. So get a good translator going as soon as your script pages are locked.
24. Online hosting fees and costs
There are lots of free sites, but you want the best quality, and some of those places coast. They can also elevate the price you’d pay for music. So choose distro wisely.
Always leave room in the budget for random things. You just never know when you’ll need a fire marshall or animal wrangler or a teacher on set. All of that can make the budget more expensive and rack up costs quickly.
Summing up the 25 Factors That Affect Commercial Video Production Costs
Each of these factors has its own costs which impact budget considerations. For example, the decision to use professional talent or corporate employees, or a mix of both is significant.
Professional talent costs range from $1,000 for a local talent for a short 3 to 5 minute production, to $100,000 for a well-recognized personality. Additionally, there are unions and residuals to consider when using talent from SAG-AFTRA or other unions.
On top of those details under this one item, you will have to consider transportation, housing, feeding talent, or if extended filming time is involved.
Likewise, corporate managers and employees used in a video must sign releases that involve legal work, they often must be coached, and there are incidental costs such as wardrobe and makeup.
As this one example illustrates, the budget for a top-quality corporate video is no simple process of writing down numbers on a yellow pad. Each factor has its own expenses and costs that vary based on your specific expectations and needs.
However, there are professionals who can assist with this planning process, and understand the general guidelines and costs for producing the exact video you desire and expect.
Most of these firms will provide an initial consultation to discuss your objectives.
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