HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PRODUCE A VIDEO?
Many people who ask this question of video production companies must end up suspecting the video folks of trying to hide something -- you just can't seem to get a straight answer out of us! But truly, it's a difficult question to answer. It's like trying to tell someone how much a car costs. Do you want a Rolls? A Ford? With sunroof? Power steering? Leather seats? The price of a car depends on many factors -- and so does the cost of a video production.
In general, a broadcast quality video, created by a professional production crew using top quality gear, will run between eight hundred and three thousand dollars per finished minute. In general. More or less. Sort of. (You see what we mean?!)
WHAT DETERMINES THE COST OF A VIDEO PRODUCTION?
Many elements affect a video production budget, including:
Program Length: In general, though not always, the longer the tape, the less per minute
Script: Will you write it, will we write it, or will it be a collaboration? Script length is also a factor, of course.
Tape Format: Always be clear on what format a video company will use in producing your tape. We shoot Digital - with the Canon XL1, on Mini-DV, keeping the quality of your production in digital format, right through the edit.Other formats, such as S-VHS, VHS, or Hi8, are less expensive and might be fine for the particular production you're considering, but make sure you're clear on a format's limitations before agreeing to it.
Use of Graphics and/or Animation: Generally speaking, the more graphics and animation created for a production, the higher the cost.
Pacing: A very fast paced program with many edits will, in general, cost more to produce than a slower paced piece with longer shots.
Project Deadlines: A rush project is usually more costly than one in which there is more time given to planing and scheduling production for maximum efficiency.
On-Camera Host(s), Actors, Narration, and Music: These elements are usually furnished by the video production company, and charges can vary considerably.
Travel and Number of Shooting Locations: Travel expenses are obvious, but keep in mind, too, that, in general, every time you break down and set up a camera shot, you're adding to the budget. A difficult-to-shoot-in location can also add time (which is money) to a video production.
Fees: For the use of public lands, private locations, etc.
Complexity: A complex script and/or project can mean extra hours on a project -- as can working with animals, children, or in situations where specific natural occurrences, such as clear days, certain weather conditions, or such are required.
Organization: A disorganized project can cost twice as much as one that's well designed and formulated, no matter how simple the storyline may appear to be. Organization is the biggest potential money-saver in any video project.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY VIDEO BE?
This is a lot like asking how much it will cost, but a little easier to answer: It should be only as long as it needs to be to get your message across. Studies show that most people lose interest before the end of a lengthy marketing video, and trying to get too much complicated information into a video causes confusion. Keep your video message clear and concise. In general, sales and marketing tapes are effective at 5-10 minutes. Instructional tapes might need to run longer. Infomercials are usually a half hour or even an hour long -- but they're broken up with "commercials" and other attention-grabbing breaks that help keep viewers focused.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A VIDEO PRODUCTION COMPANY?
Finally a question that's easy to answer! Choose us!
Okay, okay, here's the longer answer:
Look into several in your area. A lot of us offer similarly solid backgrounds, lists of successfully produced programs, and mountains of praise from happy clients. Once you've located one or two with these credentials, focus on selecting the one you're going to be most comfortable working with -- after all, you and your video production company are going to spend a lot of time together!
If you know people who have worked with video companies, talk to them, not only about the particular companies you're considering, but about their general experiences -- what pitfalls they might have run into, what things that might have made their experiences especially good or especially difficult . Check the references of the companies you're interested in. Were they pleasant to work with? Attentive to the client's wishes? Were they well organized -- always prepared, on time, on schedule, and on budget? Was their crew professional and well behaved? If you get any hints that the budget inflated as the project progressed, run! While it is possible for an unforeseen expense to come up, some unscrupulous companies bid low to get a job and then add costs along the way.
Get an assurance that one person will be in charge of the production, start to finish, and that you'll have easy and prompt access to that person at all times. Find out how payment is to be made -- partial payment throughout a project is standard, with final payment coming only when the finished video is delivered.
IS IT BETTER TO WORK WITH A LARGE COMPANY OR A SMALL ONE?
This is truly a matter of personal preference. Some people feel more secure hiring a large production firm with many employees, and others prefer a smaller company that might offer more individual, personalized attention. Large companies say they save their clients money by using employees and their own gear; small companies say they save their clients money and can improve production by being able to bring in equipment and crews ideal for that particular project. We agree with the later, but then we're a small company with our own gear, and we add freelance crew to projects when and if needed.
HOW IS A VIDEO PRODUCTION BUDGET DEVELOPED?
We've found that the best way to create a realistic budget for any video project is for us to sit down and work it out together. We ask our potential clients to describe their ideal tape to us, and encourage them to dream big at that stage -- this is the right for that, and you never know, some things that seem out of reach just might not be at all. We ask for at least a rough idea of their budget. If we don't believe the program they envision can be well made within that budget, we explain why. Most often we're able to make creative suggestions and offer some possible trade-offs that will allow both the vision AND the budget to be realized.As in buying a car, there are plenty of "extras" that can be added to any video program, so some producers feel you simply cannot have too big a budget. We disagree and, believe it or not, have told more than one client that we don't need to reach their top dollar line to create the video they're describing to us. There really is a point at which "extras" can drag down the quality of a production. We've created short, expensive videos and long, inexpensive videos, and short inexpensive videos, and long... well, you get the idea. The goal is to create a video that clearly and effectively presents the desired message.
HOW INVOLVED CAN I BE IN MAKING MY VIDEO?
We suggest you be very involved in the project. In our experience, the very best videos are a true collaboration. Together you and your production company will create a program that creatively, efficiently, and effectively meets the goals you've set -- within your established budget.
HOW IS A VIDEO MADE?
The creation of a video program can be broken into three stages: pre-production (the development and preparation stage,) production (shooting the footage) and post-production (editing the footage into a finished program.)
CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT?
Glad you asked! We believe the three keys to a truly successful video production are:1. Pre-production2. Pre-production3. Pre-production The more attention paid to details at the very beginning of the process, the more thoroughly a program is defined, designed and polished before the camera even leaves its case, the better the finished product is going to be. An added bonus: this most valuable creative stage is also the least expensive financially.
It's during pre-production that you and your production company should have your heads together most often, in face-to-face meetings, phone conferences, faxes and e-mail.
Next, the script will be written and polished. If the production will benefit from storyboarding the script, that is done. A cost- and time-efficient shooting schedule is designed to be comfortable for everyone involved and interfering as little as possible with the normal use of the shooting locations. And then, the exciting part: it's time to set up the lights and break out the camera. With all the solid work done in pre-production, the shoot will be organized, smooth -- and enjoyable for everyone involved.
Once shooting is finished, a project moves into post-production. Music is chosen and laid down, narration recorded and titles and credits created. Any needed animation, graphic design, and special effects are produced. In the last step, all the elements are edited into a finished program. Once you've approved a rough-edit, your program Master will be created, from which any number of VHS or DVD copies can be made. And that's it. You'll have a finished program you'll be proud of and, if you're like the people we've worked with, you will have enjoyed the experience so much that you'll already be busy plotting and planning your next video program!
WHAT DO I RECEIVE WHEN THE PROJECT IS OVER?
Congratulations and praise from everyone around you! Our agreement usually calls for delivery of one Mini-DV (or DVD) Master and two VHS copies of the program, but of course that can vary and is determined at the beginning of a project.
WHAT IF I NEED ADDITIONAL VHS COPIES OF THE PROGRAM?
Like many video production companies, we can provide however many copies a client needs, at a very reasonable cost. We can also help distribute the program, if that's desired.
WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE THE FINISHED VIDEO?
We don't know - we've never had that happen! If proper attention is given to the project in the pre-production stage and production follows the course laid out, there will be no surprises in the finished product.
HAVE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT VIDEO PRODUCTION?
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Phone/Fax : (904) 829-0294
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