How to put a price on video production

Pricing video production can be tricky. Ask for a price and you’ll likely get the typical answer… it depends. Obviously as someone looking to commission video production this isn’t very helpful.

Perhaps that’s why so many production companies don’t advertise their prices. We find it frustrating when we can’t find the price of a product or a service on a website and understand our potential clients might too, so we’ve written this blog to explain.

We’re also happy to prepare a quote for you anytime you’re planning a budget. Whilst plenty of customers and prospects thank us for that, We thought a more extensive blog post on how our costs are calculated might be worthwhile explaining.

While you will probably still have specific questions, our hope is that this post will give you more insight into what goes into producing a video so you know where your money is going.

OUR “DAY RATE”

Sometimes we’re asked for a 1-hour video shoot; the filming may take one hour however there is all of the pre and post-production activities that take place. Things like travel time to and from the shoot, colour correcting the video in post-production, subtitles, filming permissions and converting the files into something they can use. In short, video production takes a lot more than an hour.

As a rule of thumb we usually charge by using a day rate per person. Basically, we figure out how much time will be spent on a project (how many days), then we apply the day rate to come up with our total cost. If required we may have to hire in additional equipment such as RED cameras which would be considered an uplift cost.

Aerial work is slightly different as some places are easier to fly than others and may just require one pilot or may require camera operators, spotters and observers. Each flight also requires extensive risk and method statements in compliance with our operations manual. Aerial work is also priced using our day rates. We need a detailed brief and a shot list in order to provide an accurate quote for aerial work.

In addition to the above we also factor in the value added to the project, if you will be a repeat customer or if the job is a one off. Our ideal client is a long term client.

We’re signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and MY VIP Card and provide discounts from 10% - 50% subject to services. This is calculated once we know exactly what services a client wants to commission.

One of the most frequent questions we’re asked is how much does a three-minute video cost… or a two-minute video… or a 60-second video? Regardless of the video length, the answer is always… it depends… and here’s why:

A three minute video for example. The finished video might be three-minutes, but each three-minute video can vary greatly in how long it takes to produce. We’ve had 3-minute videos that took just a few days to produce. We’ve also had a 3-minute video take nearly 2-weeks to complete. It all depends on what has to be shot and how much time we’ll need in post-production.

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We want to give you an insight into the usual process which should help you understand it better.

CONCEPT PLANNING

Proposal accepted. At this point, we’ve likely already met with the customer before preparing their video proposal, so this concept planning meeting typically only takes about 30-minutes to 1-hour and can be done in-person or over the phone or video conference. We do things like:

  • Outline the approach to the video.

  • Discuss with customer the subject matter and raw video that must appear in the video.

  • Discuss locations, dates and deadlines if not already included in the proposal.

  • Discuss how many on-camera interviews will be conducted; select interviewees and discuss plan for contacting and coordinating each person.

  • Discuss music for the video. We have a large bank of music licensed to us for commercial projects.

PRE-PRODUCTION

Next, we start to assemble all the things we’ll need during the shoot. This can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. Preparations include:

  • Create any necessary shot lists (based on the concept meeting)

  • Storyboarding

  • Risk and method statements

  • Obtain filming permissions

  • Prepare interview questions (based on the concept meeting)

  • Prepare equipment (checking/testing the camera, lights, media cards, tripod)

VIDEO SHOOT

The day(s) of the filming is the most obvious to people because it’s on display. This is a big part of the “it depends” aspect of things. How many video shoots will be required to capture what we need for the video and how many people will we need on set?

It’s usually decided with the client in advance when the video proposal is being prepared. Without knowing this only estimates / provisional sums can be provided. Sometimes everything we need to shoot is in a single location and all available on the same day. Perfect.

Sometimes there are multiple locations involved, someone critical to the video needs to be interviewed on a different day, filming permissions may result in additional cost and all of these things add-up.

As far as the shoot itself, here are some of the things we do:

  • Our videographer visits each site to shoot everything on the shot list.

  • Our videographer also shoots other raw video he/she finds relevant or beneficial.

  • Our videographer interviews predetermined people.

The majority of our films only require a single videographer, but there are cases where additional resources are needed or requested. We have helped coordinate things like additional videographers, sound technicians, an online streaming coordinator, a teleprompter operator, hair and makeup and so on. Adding professionals like these does increase the production’s cost.

POST-PRODUCTION

A lot of time gets spent here that the customer never gets to see. It’s the other “it depends” variable. How much time gets spent in post-production varies depending on the amount of raw video there is to sift through and how complicated the story is to tell. It could take anywhere from 2-5 days in most cases. Some of the things that need to be accomplished are:

Reviewing and cataloguing:

  • Review all the raw video that was shot.

  • Review all the sound recorded.

Script Creation

  • Notes regarding sound clips & raw video are reviewed.

  • Sound clips selected, then arranged into story form to create a script.

  • Script is emailed to customer.

  • We sometimes provide this script by means of a rough cut video.

  • Minor changes are discussed by phone, changes requested by client are made.

Video Edit

  • Edit video according to the approved script.

  • Relevant graphics are created and included.

  • Preview video is provided to customer for viewing.

  • Minor changes are discussed by phone, changes requested by client are made.

  • Minal stage is adding subtitles.

Rendering

  • Digital files are created.

Delivery

  • Dropbox / WeTransfer or Hard drive delivery.

Taking into consideration each of those phases… most projects take 4-5 days to complete.

We never start a project without first agreeing a price. We have had a few situations where a project takes longer than anticipated and the price has changed during the process. In these cases, the customers added shoots, or other components, and then agreed to an accordingly higher price. We stay in close communication with our clients throughout the projects.

LOW-COST VIDEOS

We do produce low cost videos for small business owners who may not have the budget for a higher end production. Don’t worry the quality of the film is still the same and we’re happy to provide a quote based on your brief.

These videos are all about keeping a very strict production schedule. From beginning to end, the entire production needs to take us less than a day to create the video. We do that with a 1-hour video shoot, during which we follow a familiar process enabling us to tell the story.

We ask a string of questions leading to answers that essentially create the script on its own, then we edit everything together.

These customers provide us with creative control and trust we will deliver a video that’s on-message. They do not get a script to approve or a preview video that allows them to ask for changes in the final video.

This cuts down on a lot of the time it takes us in post-production. If a customer wants editorial control in one of these low cost videos, we recommend our full-service storytelling instead otherwise costs may increase past the initial budget.

All of our customers who have purchased our low cost videos have been thrilled with the end result and of course, the cost!

LICENSING

More than one party may benefit from the use of our video and additional licenses for use may increase the cost. As standard our videos are supplied with a license for our client to utilise them. Our clients may need to pay for location permits, filming permits etc which would need to be factored into the project.

BREAKING DOWN THE COST

Those are the basic steps for how the videos are produced. Of course, every production company prices things in their own way, but that’s how we determine the cost of a video.  We hope this gives you a greater insight into how we price our services.

HOW DO I OBTAIN A QUOTE?

Give us a call, send us a message via our contact form or hit us up on the socials. We can then have an initial chat and take it from there.