Video Production Cost Are Too Damn High!
If you ask google about video production cost it ballparks it around $800-$1000 per minute. If you dig a little deeper you’ll see that this is for a video requires just a script, voice talent and illustrated material. Oh, but there is so much more that goes into your typical video production. If that’s the kind of video your looking for then great. However if you are expecting something along the lines of a video commercial that airs on TV, then hold on tight. There is a lot to cover.
We live our lives swimming in video content. On one end you can spend years studying technique, styles and theory on everything relating to video production. However, on the opposite end, everyone seems to inherently be able to recognize quality video content. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be that everyone can easily spot bad video content. In the film industry there is an acknowledged minimum standard. That is to say, video production should at least be invisible to the general audience. Meaning that if nothing else, the audience needs to be unaware that they are watching a carefully orchestrated and scripted set of events. Yes, even your beloved reality television shows fall under the same minimum standard. So how much does it cost to reach this minimum standard and how can you surpass it on a limited budget? Good question, let’s find out shall we?
This is Oklahoma Video Production not Hollywood!
First of all, stop. Stop it right now. People sometimes compare video production cost with multi-million dollar Hollywood productions. Even without taking into account the purchasing of star-power, we recognize that the cost of even the simplest scenes can be astonishingly high. That’s not the issue here. The real issue is assuming that the expectations of audiences are any different just because it’s Oklahoma. Not to point any fingers, but this assumption has been used countless times to justify less than stellar work. The truth is, achieving the fidelity of a Hollywood production doesn’t cost millions of dollars.
Really, how hard can this be?
Can I just give a shoutout to my 1st ADs out there? So under appreciated. Truthfully, the trick to keeping video production cost low all comes down to your preproduction and planning. Minimizing expenditures and maximizing time is the name of the game. That’s right, factored into the cost of video production isn’t just the ‘day of’ but includes preproduction, production and post-production. Just remember, good planning should always save you money not waste it.
This is a short list of all the roles that must be played during pre-production and planning. Sure, you can have multiple positions filled by one person but each one of these hats must be worn in order to produce quality work.
- Producer (Think of this guy as being a manager. He’s ultimately responsible for the budget.)
- Writer (Every production starts with a script, this blue print is needed in order for all other departments to do their job.)
- Locations scout and manager (Responsible for finding locations and filing all necessary paperwork.)
- 1st Assistant Director (Responsible for scheduling. Loves to be assisted by a 2nd AD, with the amount of duties on their plate having just one of these guys is dangerous.)
- Casting Director (You really need this guy if you planning on casting someone other than your cousin.)
- Set Designer/Props/Art Director (Again, you might be tempted to overlook this but a lot goes into a beautiful frame. These guys have a ton to do before, during and after a shoot.)
Post-production will actually require more hours typically than the actual production. This is where all the magic happens. All footage is a diamond in the rough until a good editor gets ahold of it. This is more than just lining the takes up. This is where color grading, special effects (which is far more affordable than you may realize) and sound mixing happens. Let us never forget sound mixing. Remember when I told you that everyone is capable of spotting lack luster video work? This is especially true with sound. People can tolerate bad angles, shaky cameras and all kinds of terrible production values. However bad sound can literally make people turn off their TVs or walk out of a theatre. It’s a shame that most great sound work goes unnoticed but when your sound design isn’t noticed its safe to say you’ve succeeded.
Here a list of all the task you have to delegate in post-production.
- Sound Designer (Now we talked about the importance of this role but consider that this includes Music, Dialogue, and Foley work.)
- Visual Effects Editor (You might say you don’t need any special effects in your video but who is going to implement that flashy logo of yours?)
Then there are tons of hidden expenses that very few consider. This includes insurance, rentals, media storage and back-up, and so much more.
Can’t I Just Shoot my next commercial on My Smartphone?
Look, we’ll be the first to admit that the cameras on your smart phone are amazing feats of technology. I’ve heard many a joke about how they’ll put the film industry out of business. However, I have some startling news. A camera’s ability to record is only one part of the equation of capturing quality video content.
Another invisible tool that often cost more than the camera itself is the lens. You may not consider often (although some of us do) what lens is being employed take to take. But if you were to watch an entire film or commercial, stuck in one focal distance you’d feel that something was… off. People love their close ups and achieving them requires quality lens. As you might be aware, lens technology predates cameras and are constructed under the highest standards. Anyone who has worked with cameras knows that they are worth every penny.
Now let’s look at all the people you need to show up on the day of shooting. Always remember to appreciate your 1st AD!
- Director of Photography (This guy is all about telling stories through beautiful images. Think of him as the manager of everything relating to cameras and lighting.)
- Script Supervisor (This guy is responsible for continuity take to take. There is a lot happening and having someone specifically focused on this is absolutely required.)
- Camera Team (That’s right, I said team. Even if you have just one camera, you need multiple people manning it. A quick breakdown: Camera Operator, 1st Assistant Camera and 2nd Assistant Camera, these guys manage the equipment, run lenses, help with focus pulling and most importantly, slate each take. You know, the clapper guy.)
- Gaffer (Okay I haven’t even touched on lighting and how crucial it is. This guy works directly under the director of photography.)
- Grip (Those lights don’t set themselves up, I could create you an extensive list of all the tools these guys employee to create those spectacular images but we’d be here for days. Let’s just say that if you see anyone lugging a ton of a equipment around a set, chances are he/she’s a grip.)
- Production Sound Mixer (The most well known of these guys is the classic boom operator but this is one of those positions that absolutely requires multiple people. Having one person attempt to work the boom as he records and manages media would be a nightmare.)
- Make Up/Wardrobe (Yep, wardrobe is there too, making sure everything looks good and that there is a continuity in the outfits. In fact, many positions in both pre and post-production will be required to be on set.)
This is a super concise list of all the positions to fill on a set. For a more extensive list go check out this wiki.
So how much are we talking here?
So I’ve broken down only some of the cost associated with video production. Sounds expensive right? Well truthfully whatever you’re willing to spend you could probably get video work done. I’ve seen $80 pre-made commercials with generic content that you can add your logo to and they look pretty good. The other end of the spectrum can seem limitless. You need to ask yourself what your goals are with your video content. Some companies can get away with simple low quality videos, most cannot.
Unfortunately, if you are trying to use video to sell your product then the quality of the video will directly reflect the quality of the product in most people’s eyes. One thing is for sure, the mark of a great video producer is being able to make their work scalable. If they charge $3,000 for one video and $4,000 for the next you should be able to spot the difference in production values.
Video is Still King
Let’s be real for a second though. None of these roles being discussed here are superfluous. All are required to make a complete video product. The same positions and more have been utilized by the film industry for a century now. You have a choice when it comes to your video work, good, fast or cheap; pick two. Someone might promise you a cheaper product by cutting corners or leaving some of these roles to chance but what they’ll save you in cost, you’ll pay in quality.
It’s a fact that video content is the most engaging form of messaging, especially with younger generations. Even when it comes to social media, the algorithms are changing to favor video content over the written word. Facebook especially is cracking down on non-original video content on boosted post. So it seems likely that your business might have to consider some form of video production in the future. All I can say is don’t be intimidated. It does work and it is worth any headaches it might induce.