Reprinted from One Market Media (Jimm Fox).  Visit them at http://onemarketmedia.com/

Visit ADR Productions on the web at www.adr-productions.com

Some people come into video production thinking it won’t cost very much and think it takes just a few hours to do. Sometimes it can be that way but most of the time it isn’t. Some of the factors that can determine the cost for digital video productions are:

* Experience
* Equipment
* Time
* Production Value

EXPERIENCE
Experience counts for a lot when choosing a producer/videographer/editor. They understand how to spend the
time wisely and efficiently. The less experience someone has the more likely mistakes will show up when you
start a production. Is there good audio, was there enough light on the subject, how slick does the
production look? Most of the high quality work that is done in videography/editing is never noticed even though you do see it. It just looks good. Lower quality work is more noticeable as unattractive or lacking something.
If you look around you can find some individuals out there who have plenty of good experience and creativity and not charge an arm and a leg for it. Whoever you look at, watch their clip reels, observe their work history and talk with them to get an idea of what they have to offer.

EQUIPMENT
Equipment is the next consideration. The type used can add a lot of quality and/or cost to a production. Do
you want the video production done in HD or SD? HD is going to cost more but that is where all production is
going. Though SD is still very good for web videos or internal company use. There are many tiers of HD and
SD equipment and you should be aware that the more sophisticated the stuff is, the more it will cost to use. Most companies have invested $15,000 for a camera, lights, and audio gear. Other have invested $30,000 to $100,000 or more. Get the camera/crew that fits your needs.

And it’s not just the camera. There are lights, microphones, teleprompter and other accessories that help with the creation but add to the cost, especially if more people are involved. So, how many people will be on site? Each person adds a significant amount to that total. Is the crew just 1 person or is it 2 or more? Location is something else that will dictate what is needed. Is it indoors or outdoors? Way out of town or in the suburbs?

The other half to this production is the video editor. They too have a lot of equipment that needs to be updated on a constant basis. New and better techniques are evolving which requires upgrades and further investments, again in the $5,000 to $20,000+ range. Some monitors for color correcting cost around $10,000 each.

One of the major stumbling blocks to having a pleasant production experience is the type of video format you choose to use. Be especially aware of the formats and codecs. Talk with your video production team and choose a format/codec that is compatible to both the videographer and editor. It is real important to talk with both before starting a production. Not just the videographer. Not just the editor. Both! There are a lot of new and evolving developments within the industry which changes the playing field on a regular basis. If you have both of these folks on the same page you can save yourself some money and lots of headaches.

TIME
This is a very important point: make most of your decisions during pre-production, making changes mid-production can be very costly. The decision making process is the most expensive part of any video production and eats up most of the time. Which is why the more time you spend on pre-production the less time is spent making last minute decisions during the actual production, therefore saving you money. Some items to focus on are: a script, location, if and who will be the on-camera person and preparing them for their appearance, any props you need, make sure they are ready by the day of the shoot. The more of these projects you do the better you will get. Experience of the crew will also show in the time spent during production. These are some time saving features during a shoot but what about in post? Sometimes changing a font is easy and doesn’t cost much, other times it almost means a complete rework of a video edit. It really depends on where in the process the change is made and how many other steps are affected by that change. This is with all aspects of post. Find out how many other things get changed when you ask for “your” one change. Where it lands in the process makes a huge difference.

Expect it to take a minimum of at least a half day for a simple video production shoot. The time needed will depend on how long the total piece is that you are creating and how much production value you want to invest in the video. The crew will need to set up their equipment and make sure everything is ready for the on-camera
person. Lights, audio and anything else required for the video will be included at this time. This process
can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour (or more) to complete. Again, how complicated and involved is the shoot? The more involved the longer it takes to set up. Higher quality requires more time to set up. Be prepared for this necessary prep time. It makes a big difference in how the final product looks. Then there is the on-camera person. Are they comfortable in front of a camera, are they experienced or is this their first time? Even the best of talent will need more than a couple of takes to get the “good one”. A newbie will require more takes but isn’t it better to spend an additional 15 minutes to get a good take then to try and edit around the mistake in post and still not be happy with it? Once the shoot is finished, all of the equipment needs to be packed up and removed. This tends to be faster than the set-up time. Keep in mind every time you need to change locations the whole tear-down/set-up process has to be done all over again.

Editing generally takes longer to complete than the actual shoot. First the video needs to be brought into
the computer which can take time. Is it tape based or file based video captured in the field? If an hour of video is shot on tape, it will take one hour of time to get it into the computer before editing can even begin. If it is file based it will take a shorter amount of time. Deciding which “takes” are the good ones requires listening to all of them. This in and of itself takes time. Most of the time a producer is responsible for this step. In other productions another person like a writer is the responsible person. It all depends on what type of production and where the duties lie for each individual. Do graphics need to be created? This takes time. Is everything all gathered together and ready to go? If not, this can cause delays in the middle of an edit. Once an edit is finished it still may need more work. Like audio sweetening, color correcting, etc. Then it will need to be rendered, exported and turned into whatever format is needed as a deliverable. This takes time. Sometimes hours. Also, how many proofs are needed before a final is agreed upon by the “decider”. Each redo takes time. Not all corrections take only a minute or two, some take an hours.

One time saver is to have all of these elements ready to go at the beginning of the edit. A script will really
help speed up the editing process. It makes it easier for the editor to follow along with the different takes and ensures that all elements are included in the edit. Having the script on hand will also help determine what graphics are needed. What music if any is wanted? Is there any animation? What are the names and titles of people shown in this video? Do you need them identified?

Other items to consider are; what final format is the product supposed to be? This can be a different format from the one used on the video shoot. What dimension size is needed? How will it be delivered? These bits of information are important to know from the beginning of the production to help save time in the long haul. Each process requires a certain amount of time. Be aware of how long it takes to do what you want in “production” and smart decisions will follow.

PRODUCTION VALUE
This is an intangible type of thing. This is the creativity of the people involved and how they go about
incorporating it into the video. Sometimes these are very well thought out methods and procedures, sometimes
quirky, on-the-spot changes and sometimes it’s trying to get things perfect and paying attention to detail.
There are many little things added together and they all add time to the production. Changing the audio level,
getting rid of a hiss, doing a take one more time to get the shot just right, changing the light just a
little, adding a filter, re-working the script, adding more graphic elements, adding music, adding animation, editing out something someone said because it is too late to have it re-shot, experimenting with several methods to reach a “best” solution, correcting color; all of this takes time. But this kind of time is well spent. This is your look and feel – your image.

COST
You can take all of the above mentioned factors into consideration to help you determine how much time it would take to create your video. The more involved it is the more time it will take. The more simple it is the less time it will take. One is not necessarily better than the other. However, how that time is spent is important.

If you think a completed video, shot and edited for you, can be done for $100 think again. Add another zero
to it and it will be closer to what needs to be spent to get a very basic video done. Different types of production will cost different amounts. If it is a simple talking head, either with a green screen are office background, then that doesn’t take too much time to shoot or edit. It still may take two to three hours of shoot time and depending on how many takes were done, it could take another 2, 3 or 4 hours to edit. You are still looking at a starting price of around $200 for a very simple one camera, no lights, mike on a camera shoot with not much editing done other than getting it ready for the web. A more realistic approach is to figure that a finished video will cost anywhere from $200 to $2000 for every finished minute. (That $200 is rock bottom by the way and is rarely met.) Given that range, a 3 minute video could cost anywhere from $600 to $6000. Some folks would even say that $6000 is too cheap for making a good production. To give you a different perspective; the average cost to produce a 30-second national television ad in 2001 was $358,000. You obviously don’t need to spend that much unless you are wanting to advertise nationally.

These sums probably don’t help much because it is such a wide range but that is part of the business. There is such an extensive variety of production styles and such a wildly different set of expectations that sometimes it’s just a simple jump into hard reality that will give you a number that works for you. If you are interested in creating a video for the web, launching a company product or making a training video then having a better idea on what is involved in making a video can help lead you into making a better budget for a video production. This in turn should give you a better product in the end and will make you much more pleased with the whole experience.

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