One thing which is consistent across businesses in all sectors and of all sizes, is that nobody has as much money to spend as they would like to have.
Pricing a service can be difficult, which leads some people to assume that the price attached to it has been pulled out of thin air. How can you price something which doesn’t actually exist? It’s digital. It’s… invisible.
This applies to many B2B services with intangible “products” such as business coaching, training or consultancy, where the value is actually in the knowledge being imparted. Some businesses providing these services actually DO pluck numbers out of thin air in the hope they can make the price stick. Thankfully, that’s very much the exception to the rule.
There are definite costs associated with many elements of corporate video production and there are some elements which are traditionally thought of as having a cost – but actually do not. Some production companies will charge extra for some things allowing (or forcing?) you to choose a-la-carte, others will combine all the required elements into “A project”.
It’s so intangible, yet it’s so fundamental. You simply must pay the going rate for years of experience in a good doctor or aeroplane pilot if you want to survive. Similarly, you have to pay the going rate for years of accumulated experience if you want a video that works, looks professional and has your business name and reputation attached to it.
Expertise costs money. If you’d like a local kid with a video camera to produce your showcase video in order to save a bit of money… feel free… but don’t expect expertise to come at no cost.
Some videos don’t seem like they should require much creativity, for example simply filming a staged event. There’s vast amounts of room for creativity in the editing, backing tracks, titles and other production values which will make the difference between a deathly dull and boring video – and interesting, exciting and watchable production. Some videos require meetings and concept mockups, which can consume a significant proportion of the budget. Skimping on creativity is a recipe for total failure.
This is an intrinsic part of any editing process. There’s often no actual cost outlay to them other than the time taken to construct graphics and titles but time is money.
Amazingly, you still find video production companies who charge extra for editing. This is a little like buying a car then being presented with an extra bill for wheels. The production IS the editing. Several similar edit versions can be produced from the same footage, and that does rack up extra cost in terms of time to edit them, but a 2nd and 3rd edit is unlikely to take as long as the 1st.
Actors don’t work for free – and the cost can be quite variable. It’s perfectly possible to get a very talented presenter or actor to work for half a day for a few £100, but if you want a ‘B-list’ celebrity to present your video – it’s going to cost considerably more, perhaps £5000. A-list actors who are currently in a TV show or a movie can command 5, 6 or 7 figure sums for a few hours work.
High Definition HD1080P – a video produced at a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels rather than the old ‘Standard Definition’ of only 720x576 pixels. 4K is 4 times the size of HD1080p.
Even mobile phones will shoot video in HD1080P nowadays, so it’s become today's baseline standard. Video cameras which shoot at 4K resolution are still relatively rare and more expensive so unless there’s a specific need to film in this way, it will likely not be necessary. It may not be worth paying to upgrade to 4K filming at the moment. However, computer animation can be produced at *any* resolution. Before you know it of course, 4K will be the baseline standard, and 8K resolution will be mere months away.
Some video production companies own enough kit themselves to not have to hire in kit for each production. However, kit is hugely expensive and technology moves forward relentlessly. What was cutting edge last year has been surpassed in terms of quality and functionality this year. For this reason, some production companies choose to hire kit as-and-when it’s needed to make sure they’re always keeping up to date. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, but hire costs shouldn’t really be passed on directly to the client as extra. The production company has saved money by not buying the kit, they shouldn’t then charge you extra for hire.
Each day spent on a project or production has a cost to the production company in terms of business overhead, staff costs, kit wear and tear and target profit margin. Yes, video production companies need to have a profit margin! 2 days doing anything should cost you more or less twice what 1 day of doing the same thing would cost you.
Again, this is an intrinsic part of a production. It’s hard to film anything without a crew there to film it – even if that crew is only 1 person. It’s hard to see how some companies add ‘film crew’ to the list of extras. However some types of filming do require larger crews, especially location filming. More people means more wage costs.
As opposed to studio shoot, location filming has the cost of travel and possibly accommodation attached to it. However, given identical crew numbers and kit, there’s often no reason for a day filming ‘here’ to be any differently priced to a day filming ‘there’.
Studio filming usually means “greenscreen” when it comes to corporate video. A well lit, purpose designed, acoustically dead (no echo) space ideal for filming a presenter. If the production company doesn’t have their own such space, they can be hired around the country for a few £100 pounds depending on location and length of hire.
This can be a significant proportion of a filming budget. Everything that is used in shot has to be acquired from somewhere, borrowed, bought, or found. A good video production manager will account for every last penny spent on each property (prop), but will probably allocate a proportion of the total budget towards ‘props’.
Stock Footage can be a very cost effective alternative to location filming. It will be much quicker and cheaper to buy 10 seconds of ‘Helicopter footage over London’ for £200 (for example) than to arrange an actual flight with film crew. Stock footage must be used carefully of course, but it certainly has it’s place. Cost varies from £5 all the way up to £1000 or more. The cost also depends on where the footage will be used – online? In the cinema? In the U.K or across the world?
There are now many excellent libraries of music specifically written for use in video. Youtube offers a library to users free of charge but most tracks from other libraries require a one-off license fee. This will be based on length of track used and usage (Online? TV? Internal presentation?) but is usually of the order of £100 - £500. A chart music or famous rock track could cost considerably more to license usage of (possibly 2x to 10x as much) – if indeed the publisher is willing to license it.
As with actors, Voice-Over artists are specialists at their job. A good VO artist is worth every penny of their pay (a few £100 usually). You buy their experience and knowledge of how to deliver each word and phrase correctly. Celebrity voices cost a lot more. Nothing can destroy a video quicker than bad audio, so top quality VO is worth paying for.
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Shooting in the Outer Hebrides costs no more than shooting in central Leeds. Transport to the Outer Hebrides costs a lot more. Many locations charge a fee for filming, for example public buildings or private castles, National Trust properties etc. especially If filming is likely to disrupt their day-to-day paying visitors’ experience.
Length of finished video has little or no bearing on cost.
What does have a bearing on cost is how much footage or animation may be required to fill 5 minutes rather than 1 minute. This in turn impacts the time spent on filming and editing.
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Where and how a video is used should have little or no impact on how much it costs. With music libraries and stock footage, placement is their only 'measure of value' so they have to charge accordingly. With corporate video, there are dozens of 'measures of value' of far greater importance.
It seems like only yesterday that we thought the DVD was super-duper. And then we all used USB sticks, because they were more convenient. Technology moves forward at a frightening pace and today, cloud storage and the internet are so fast, spacious and affordable, it often makes little sense to consider alternatives. There are exceptions such as footage for use on TV or in Cinema. There are many more drawbacks associated with physical media than with online media such as cost, reliability, availability, compatibility, duplication and backup.
The great majority of video is delivered via the internet, so uploading finished videos to such utilities as Youtube, Facebook or Dropbox is part of the job. Storing master footage is a different matter. Master source footage (straight from the camera) is the raw material from which a production is made and is usually kept – just in case. However, keeping it has a cost associated with it. It requires significant computer disc space. This cost should usually be bundled in to the production company's overheads
When creating a final video there are many formats to choose from which are appropriate to many different delivery platforms. The best format for Youtube is not necessarily the best format for a video primarily watched within a mobile app.
‘Compressing’ a video into these different output formats takes computer time, but not much manpower. It only really makes sense to charge on this basis if there’s a lack of other measures by which to calculate a cost.
Localisation usually means translation into other languages i.e. having English, French, German and Italian versions for example. It can also mean using a London accent voice-over for a version that will be seen in London, but a Scottish accent for Scotland and so on. There is a direct cost in recording several versions of a Voice-Over (VO) and sometimes in creating several versions of the video with different audio tracks built in. Some delivery mediums (eg. BlueRay or DVD) allow multiple audio tracks to be attached to 1 video, but not all mediums allow this.
Special Effects (SPFX) and Sound Effects (SFX) can form a significant portion of a production budget (think of an Iron Man movie) – or very little portion (think of a wedding video). There is a cost in terms of time, and often in terms of required software. However, software costs are rarely passed on to the client! A production company is expected to acquire software licenses as part of its expertise and incorporate that cost into general overhead. Pre-production and planning will show how much SPFX is required, so time and budget can be allocated accordingly.
You’ll have probably seen exciting new 360 degree videos – perhaps on Youtube or Facebook? You can drag a mouse to look around you as if you were actually there. These videos cost more in terms of planning and pre-production than they do in terms of filming. Not every situation is suitable for 360 video. For situations which lend themselves well to it, for example a virtual tour or surfer, planning is everything.
It’s easy to get carried away with new fashions. The bottom line is that drone footage is just footage shot from a flying camera. Cameras were able to ‘almost’ fly before drones came along by using a dolly and crane system.
The most important part of any production is the message, the story, the journey. New techniques add new ways of getting interesting footage, but they don’t ‘make’ a video. Costs associated with drone footage are generally no more than ordinary footage, but there are exceptions and limitations. Larger drones designed to carry larger, higher-quality cameras are expensive pieces of kit. This cost, along with insurances and commercial flight licenses are all costs ultimately passed on to the client one way or another, either directly in a project cost, or through averaging into an overhead cost.
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If you ‘d like to discuss any of the points with Corporate Video Experts, we’d be only too happy to have an informal chat about how we can help. Call us on 0844 8841939