Why do some videos cost $100 while others cost tens of thousands. It can make trying to determine how much you need to include in your video budget hard. And then there are some variables and strategies that you might not even realize affect the cost.
This is CloseUp: Decoding Video Production for Your Business. My name is Laura McElree. And if you googled what does a video cost, there are websites and services that will quote a price per video, but that answer may be deceiving. It's like asking what's the price of a car. You may be curious to know the answer is on average $33,000 if you ask Google. And let's be honest. If you're gonna buy a car, you already have an idea of what you're planning to spend. And also, whether you're in the market for, say, an economical compact or a luxury sedan.
Same thing with video. You probably already have an idea of your budget and what you're hoping to accomplish. But you need to know more about how to spend that money wisely and get the most for your budget. So, what does a video cost? And what impacts the budget? Our Molly Hass sat down with a few of the producers at Plum Media to get their take on the answer.
Molly: Ask a video producer a simple question like, "What does a video cost?" and you're bound to get answers like this.
Gary: What I always tell them is that it really depends.
Ken: That's a big question. There's so many different kinds of videos. It's really helpful to know what kind of video we're talking about and what production level we need to be at. And then start to answer that question.
Molly: Every producer I know will tell you the same thing. It depends. And then they immediately pepper you with a list of questions. Here's producers Gary Cline and Emily Annunziata.
Gary: Really what you need to do first is figure out really who your audience is and what you want to try to achieve with your video. What do you want to do with it? What affect do you want to have come from the production of that video?
Emily: Who you're trying to reach, where it's going to go, what's going to go into making it. Those are all the things we factor in before giving a client a number.
Molly: It turns out the answers to those questions are really important because it starts to narrow down right from the start all the variables that will go into your video budget.
Those variables fall into three general phases: pre-production, production, and post-production.
Pre-production is things like planning, scripting, and storyboarding. Production is when you grab the cameras, lights, and other equipment and actually shoot the video. And post-production is when you edit together all the scenes you shot, add graphics and animation, record a narration track, and sync up music and sound effects.
When I asked Lance Miller what a video costs, he didn't exactly say it depends. He dug up past invoices for his clients and tallied how costs broke down over these three phases.
Lance: But I can tell you just generally that pre-production which is project management and writing is usually about 20% of your budget. The actual production, which is going out and capturing footage, that's usually about 25-35% of your budget. But most of your budget, 50-65% of your budget, usually ends up being on post-production that would be all the editing and the graphics and the music and actually taking all of the footage and interviews and putting it together. That is the most crucial part of the whole process.
Molly: So, that gives you a general idea within those three phases. Here's a curveball for you. Not all videos need to budget for all three phases. And we'll explain that in a minute. But first, I'm still not getting a dollar number for the cost of video. So, let's play what if. Can you do a video for a few hundred dollars? I asked producers Rhonda Patzlsberger and Amy Freeze.
Rhonda: Sure. Of course, you can. But keep this in mind. Most marketing communications professionals I work with have so many projects on their plates that their good intentions to do the work themselves and hit their deadlines just doesn't really happen. They come to find out and realize that they're really much more effective outsourcing to a video production company and adopting instead more of a strategic role overseeing the project. So, can you do it for a few hundred dollars? Sure, but do you want to? That's another question.
Amy: Bottom line a few hundred dollars isn't common. Many clients I work with have budgets that start at five to six thousand dollars. And it depends on the type of video. But it can average more in the range of ten to twenty thousand dollars or more if you're working on a full three-phase production process.
Molly: There's that it depends answer again. Why? Well as we hinted a minute ago, it turns out every video doesn't need to budget for all three phases. Here's Gary Cline again to explain why.
Gary: I've got projects now for some of my clients that they'll bring me a piece of say finished print artwork, and then they'll give it to use to animate it. That may take a few hours of pre-production work on my end, but most of the cost is going to come on the post-production side. So, that ends up being say half post-production.
But I've got other projects that have a very large production budget if there's going to be a lot of travel involved, a lot of shooting, a lot of days out in the field with the camera. That's gonna be a much bigger production slice of the budget.
Molly: When you budget for several production days, you capture a ton of footage. Gary says that initial production may run twenty to thirty thousand dollars. But his clients use that footage for years to create dozens of lower cost videos. Think meeting openers, product videos, and social media clips. Ken Schellin is a producer who has also become a master at this strategy with clients.
Ken: Now recently I've been doing a number of videos where we haven't shot anything. It's all graphics and existing footage that sort of thing.
Molly: These kinds of videos mainly involve post-production in their budgets and typically fall into the five to six-thousand-dollar range or less. So, what can you, as a client, do to make sure you get the most from whatever budget you have? The consensus is to think strategically. Think long-term. And if nothing else, pay close attention to one particular phase of video production. Here's Ken Schellin and Lance Miller again.
Ken: My number one tip for staying on budget would be to really plan things out in pre-production. In pre-production, everything's possible, and then you have to start narrowing things down. And as you do that, you can really get a handle on the amount of time it's going to take and the cost and all that. You can do all that and cross things out on a piece of paper and they go away.
Whereas when you're on the set and you have the crew standing there, it's harder to make changes then. So, yeah, put some effort into pre-production and get everything mapped out before you start the train rolling down the tracks.
Lance: Really saving money, that really happens in the pre-production phase. That's when you have a clear idea of what your message is supposed to be. If you sort of like trying to figure out your message, you've shot everything and then you sort of change your message, well that gets really expensive. So, the best way to save money is to have a solid plan from the beginning.
Laura: There you have it. The quick answer to what does a video cost. It depends. But don't let that discourage you. Dive in with a producer who has the experience to walk you through your options and help you make informed budget choices. The biggest thing you can do to get the most out of your budget is to have a clear plan and strategy with what you want that final video to do. And if you know what a few future videos need to be, you can plan for those at the same time, too. So, don't be afraid to think big and map out a year's worth of videos.
In future episodes, we'll explain how to produce some of the more common videos like corporate landing page videos, animated projects, social media videos, and more. Go to plummedia.com/podcast for more information about what factors into the cost of video and to learn more about the producers featured into today's episode. Make sure to subscribe and leave us a comment. And if you have any questions you'd like us to answer, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CloseUp: Decoding Video Production for Your Business produced by Plum Media. I'm Laura McElree. Thanks for listening.