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A Look at the Drivers of Video Pricing

Quality ain’t easy.

Video production budgeting can be challenging. There’s a lot of variables, many of which won’t be known until later in the process. It’s actually a little nuts: How can you budget for a video when you haven’t even decided what it will be yet?!

Simply put, it comes down to a combination of what I call The Three T’s: Tools, Talent & Time.

Tools: The gear. Camera, lighting, lenses, edit and color correction software, etc. This could also mean production resources or assets like a studio, generator, props or maybe existing footage. Thankfully, the tools for creating quality video have gotten much more affordable but you still have to know how to use them. As you’d expect: more tools = more money.

Talent:This one’s a bit of a summary to say that you have to have 1.) the experience using the needed equipment as well as 2.) the practiced understanding of techniques which lead to making better things happen more easily. Oh, don’t forget 3.) natural talent always helps too. This is video thing is both science and art and some people are good at what they do so they naturally cost more. More talent = more money.

Time: You’ll obviously need adequate time to plan, prepare and execute your production plan but to the degree that you can reserve time to experiment, improve and revise, projects will tend to close the gap between good and great. That’s the play-space where ‘happy accidents’ can happen. You guessed it, more time = more money.

These Three Ts are a helpful shorthand to consider, but let’s get a little more granular. Here’s a list of the categories of considerations that can all affect video production costs. Some of these may not apply to your project but take a look to make sure.

Strategy

Consider how long it might take to develop your video strategy. It’s not always what you start out thinking it should be. Once underway, things begin to crystalize and new insights can force a needed, but time-consuming, change in direction.

Messaging

In some cases, this is the hardest part. It’s easy to say a little, but that balance between communicating in a way that increases the desired understanding in the audience’s mind - in an engaging way – can prove frustratingly elusive.

Creative Concept

After settling on desired messaging, you’ll need time to develop your creative concept. It can take many conversations, research and natural evolution to take your video to the next level. There’s sometimes a fine line between good ideas and great ideas and the best ideas need time to grow.

Scripting

First drafts of scripts tend to be long. Editing always seems to pay off. With multiple stakeholders it can be a real challenge to get consensus. Scripting is always iterative, give it room.

Storyboarding

Planning out your shots can be so important. This simple exercise can help reveal flaws in your plan, highlight areas of ambiguity or force admission of what’s ultimately in the hands of chance…which can in turn help you plan your schedule accordingly.

Planning

The devil is in the details. It can take a surprising amount of planning time to just coordinate all the moving parts. Getting everyone on the same page takes time. There’s a million things to think about. What’s the thing you haven’t considered that can cost your time or money? It could be charging batteries, bathroom locations, meals, cell phone numbers, ice for the cold beer..which are all important.

Travel

Even if flights and hotels aren’t part of your plan, you’ll still need to consider traffic, parking, weather conditions, etc. all these play a huge role in timelines and cost. Consider how many locations you have. If everyone on your crew needs an extra 30 minutes, that can really add up.

Set-up

Getting all the production gear loaded in and set up can take much longer than expected. The unique limitations of the location can also play a big factor.

Performance

Sometimes the talent on camera needs some time to get their performance right. An interview and double or triple in length if the person it nervous or tongue tied. Mistakes can happen so you don’t want to have a schedule that doesn’t allow any wiggle room for humans to be human.

Organization

Once you have all your footage or assets, there can be some time needed to just sort through what you have to see if it’s what’s needed. You may find you need additional assets or that things didn’t come out as expected and a change of direction is needed.

Edit

Part of editing can be experimentation. Finding out how all the pieces can go together best isn’t always clear at first. It may take a few tries to see what editorial direction works best.

Revisions

Once the editor has something to share, it can undergo several revisions to tighten things up, make it more clear, more impactful, etc. Leave time to make it better.

Fixes

In some cases, even if you’re happy with the edit, you may need to go back and fix a problem that was missed. Maybe your legals team asks you to remove something, maybe your CEO wants different music, make sure you have time to fix any problems last minute.

Sweetening

Once it’s done and done, you can still make it better by small adjustments to color, sound, etc. A last minute polish right at the end can make a big difference.

Delivery

Once the video is really all done, have you planned out how you plan to deliver? Will you need to ship a hard drive, are there format requirements that may require budget? For instance, we typically don’t deliver on tape anymore, but it can happen. All things to consider.

Distribution

Are there plans for paid distribution? Perhaps video seeding or paid advertising budget? Maybe hosting costs?

The Big Take Away: No matter what your project, try and take some time up front to really plan things through. By planning ahead you can save money and make the end results far better.

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