Budgeting for a new corporate video can mean getting your head around a lot of variables. And having a clear idea of what kind of video you want to produce.
A lot of potential customers who call us simply want to know what a video costs. There’s not much information out there to go on, unless it’s the lowest common denominator packaged graphics video or a day’s filming from a single independent cameraman. The bottom line is it depends on the kind of video you want to make, hence the reticence of most decent production companies in supplying prices. However, we know sometimes you just want a ballpark figure without getting involved in a long and complicated conversation. It might even be that you just want to understand the parameters and variables to help you better brief a job. So we thought this simple (relatively speaking) guide would be of some use to you as you try to budget and plan for a corporate video project.
When does pitching stop and consultancy begin? We’re always delighted to talk a project through and come to meet you face to face but, just as in any other business, we can only do so much thinking before we have to start the meter running. We have three simple questions which we ask before we get into discussions.
Do you have a budget?
It’s a positive indicator for us prior to committing time and resources to a pitch to know that the video is part of a marketing and communications plan, that there’s a definite will to engage and complete and that we’re not wasting our time.
What is your budget?
People tend to react quite badly to this question. I think the assumption is that we’ll spend whatever you give us. This isn’t correct. We just want to know that your expectations for the video and the depths of your pocket are in some sort of alignment.
Do you sign off the budget?
You’d be surprised how often the responsibility for initial discussions are delegated to someone with no real understanding of the project or process. It’s very easy to waste a great deal of time putting an approach and budget together only to be told you’ve completely missed the brief.
Finally, is there a brief? We’re not expecting you to supply a completed creative and script, but if you’re going out to the market without one, there’s no assurance that you’re comparing like with like when you get the costs. Furthermore, there’s a huge variance in quality of crew (and how a shoot is crewed) and equipment that you really need to understand a little bit about if you’re going to make an informed judgement about who to work with and how to work with them.
We’d normally expect any prospective client to be talking to at least two other agencies. If you’re talking to more than five we’ll politely decline. There’s two good reasons for this. Firstly, you probably haven’t done your research so you’re throwing the net wide. In our experience these jobs don’t normally happen or evolve into something else. Second, you’re probably going to find someone very cheap who’ll do a not very good job.
So if you’re still speaking to us after that rude onslaught you’re presumably serious about making a video. So, onto the costs…
As the term suggests this is the work that happens before filming. It covers creative, script and storyboard development, creating a shooting script, shot list and schedule, and logistics and planning, for instance booking equipment and crew, locations and casting.
There’s normally three or four different skills involved depending on the complexity of the project. A simple single day interview shoot with a couple of cameras, some lighting, one location and a couple of calls to discuss the questioning approach and potential for addition on site filming can be handled by a Producer in one day. Budget for about £500.
If you’re looking to develop a more complicated approach then a creative or Executive Producer will be involved in the process. They will work with the Producer to create a script, storyboard where necessary, shooting script and shot list. All of this takes time and is necessarily a collaborative process requiring client meetings, calls and a lot of back and forth. Over the course of a couple of weeks it might take 5 to 6 days of people’s time. So look to budget for roughly £2500. It may also involve location scouting and potentially casting, both of which are time consuming.
Finally, depending on how developed a brand’s visual identity is and the scope of the project, there may be art direction involved in creating a look and feel and idents such as title cards and captions. You should budget at least £2000 for this.
The Filming Day
A filming day is typically 10+1 hours. So a 7am-5pm day with an hour for lunch. How much can be achieved in a single day depends upon what is being filmed, how it’s being filmed and of course, where it’s being filmed. It also depends on the ambition of the film, or what we would broadly characterise as ‘production values’.
To take a benchmark, let’s look at a typical ‘customer success story’ or case study, a stalwart of the corporate video roster. Typically, this might involve three interviewees – for the sake of argument, the CEO (overview), the Buyer (motivation and purchase decision) and an end-user (experience).
In addition to the interviews we’ll want to bring the story to life with shots of the client’s offices, meetings, exteriors. If it’s a manufacturer we might want to get material of the factory floor. If it’s an IT product, some over the shoulder shots of it being used. All of this material is known as ‘B-Roll’ or sometimes cut aways.
The filming schedule might then look something like this:
9.00am-10.00am Interview 1
10.00am-10.30am Flip Set
10.30am-12.00pm Interview 2
12.00pm-13.00pm Interview 3
14.00pm-14.30pm De-rig Interview Setup & Backup
14.30-15.30 General B-Roll
15.30-16.00 Meeting B-Roll
16.00-17.00 Product Shots
17.00 Wrap & Backup
For a filming day with a Director of Photography and a Director with two Sony FS7 cameras, three lights and simple sound equipment we charge £2000.
For a simple event video you could get away with a single camera operator working two cameras from different positions within the room.
For a shoot involving interviews we’d always recommend our DoP is accompanied by a Director who can steer the shots, manage the interview process to ensure the client is getting what they need and that it will cut in the edit.
For more complex, multi-person and multi-camera shoots we’d always recommend using a Soundman. They’ll always come equipped with multiple high quality radio mics, state of the art receivers and, of course, a boom mic. This allows the cameramen to get on with their job of filming while someone else worries about background noise and sound quality. Budget for £850 with kit.
If there are a lot of shots to get through in a day it may make sense for the DoP to have a a Camera Assistant. This is someone who can help change lenses, set the tripod, move lights and lug equipment. Depending on the complexity of the equipment involved budget anywhere from £500-£750. For really complex shoots you may also need to budget for a Prep-Day for the assistant. That’s another £500 or so.
If you’ve got a complex lighting setup to manage it may make sense to budget for a Gaffer. That’s going to be about £800. Most Gaffers come with some of their own lighting gear but if you need one, it may well be because you’ve hired a load in. If that’s the case your Gaffer will probably want a Spark to handle the rigging and electrics for the lights. Budget another £500 for them.
You may have heard of Runners. There’s a lot that can go wrong on a busy shoot and a lot that needs to be done without distracting any of the skilled crew. A decent runner with some experience will be another £200 on the budget.
As the volume of data created during a shoot has increased (think 8k footage) so has the amount of time required to back it up. We don’t leave a location without a double back up. If you’re filming at large format and codec this can add a couple of hours to the day. So sometimes we use a DIT (Digital Imaging Technician). As well as bringing RAID drives and taking care of all the backups they look after a load of other issues around the footage and getting it into post-production. If the shoot is complex, you may well need one so budget £1350 for operator and kit.
Finally, if you need a Hair and Makeup Artist or Stylist budget a minimum of £600 each.
Camera and lighting equipment can get exponentially expensive as the quality increases. Most production companies don’t own everything required for every eventuality but tend to hire kit in on a daily or weekly basis as needed.
Our standard equipment for a shoot like the case study discussed above would be as follows.
– 2 x Sony FS7 Cameras
– 2 x Miller Tripods
– 2 x LED Panels
– 1 x Large Soft Box
– 2 x Radio Mics
– 1 x Boom Mic
– Miscellaneous Grip & Stands
We throw these in with the daily filming cost of £2000 to keep things simple for everyone.
We’d recommend a couple of extras like a Gimbal with Sony A7S (£250) or a portable 2m Dana Dolly track and stand system for £300. These will get beautiful movement into the B-Roll shots and raise the quality of the final film.
If you’re looking to create something really striking, the next step up from the Sony would be something like an Arri Alexa Mini. This is a £40k camera (for the basic setup) so look to pay £400 a day. Once you’ve got the Arri into play, you’ll want some suitable lenses, something like some Zeiss Super Speed or Cooke primes.
Again, these don’t come cheap so it’s going to be another £300-£450 for a decent set that will do the beautiful camera and lighting justice. And, if you’re going to this trouble you’ll want an assistant who can pull focus. So another £250 for the kit (like an Arri WCU-4) and £600 for the assistant.
It’s very likely if you’re going to these lengths you’re going to want to see what you’re filming while you’re doing it. There are two options here – a couple of 17” monitors that are wired in for the director and client to review the shots, or if you’re going to be on the move a wireless solution like a Teradek. Budget £120 per monitor and another £150 for the wireless.
Now that you’ve got what will feel like a small motion picture crew, there are a few more options that may be worth considering. Video Assist is a realtime video capture system that is like the monitors above but offers instantaneous playback and review – budget something like £800 per day for crew and kit. Your assistant (1st AC) will probably now want his own assistant as he has so much to look after so allow £500 for a 2nd AC.
Finally, if want long, moving shots, for instance following people through office spaces, you might want to consider a Steadicam or MOVI and operator. Allow for £800-£1k for this.
You’re also going to need a way to move all this equipment around and a couple of Magliners will make everybody’s job much easier. They’re only £50 each per day and will make your crew very happy.
To do this kind of work, you’ll need a really experienced production company who have the knowledge, expertise and contacts to bring it all together. They can also advise on how raising the bar like this will affect the scheduling. Filming becomes a lot more complicated in terms of logistics and setup and overtime on kit and crew can really increase your costs if you get it wrong.
And also, don’t forget the hidden costs. With all this extra kit and crew you’ll need to think about insurance, kit delivery, travel and food.
As I’m sure you’re beginning to understand by now there are a myriad of possibilities that can affect the cost of video and graphics are no exception.
A lot of brands we work with already have guidelines and in some cases assets for simple things like title cards, captions and calls-to-action. If you’re going to be making a lot of content with different companies in different locations, it’s definitely worth taking a look at this in advance and bringing in some art direction at an early stage. Imagine the difference in your YouTube channel if all the thumbnails and graphic elements are uniform as opposed to all done in different styles by different graphics artists.
Sticking with our example above, three captions, title cards and some kinetic text are probably going to take about a half day. So allow £250.
Animated charts, graphs and maps are more complex so allow 2 days (£1000) for four.
We’ll keep more complex stuff like entire motion graphic videos and 3D for another time.
A very rough rule of thumb for editing a simple corporate video would be one day per minute. However, if you’ve created a huge amount of content without much forethought the editor will need to sync the audio and review the material which can take some additional time. Look to pay £600 per day for a senior editor and £450 for someone less experienced.
Typically, you would look to get three cuts from this process, so in other words two rounds of changes prior to getting the final graded cut. We very rarely charge editing costs in addition to what we quote (we’ve been doing this for a while so normally get it more of less right), however, in the event of a complete change of mind we will keep you informed on how it might impact on editing time.
So returning to our case study above, we’d anticipate three days editing at a cost of £1800.
One of the other costs you may incur could be a voiceover. For a three minute read you should budget a minimum of £600 for a home studio read and around £1200 for a directed sound studio record.
Royalty free music is readily available through numerous online providers. Make sure anything you buy has worldwide rights and is in perpetuity. We work with audionetwork.com. Normal online usage comes in at around £150 per track per execution. Be careful if you intend to use the video for paid for advertising (that includes YouTube pre-roll as well as broadcast) as you’ll need to negotiate a more complex commercial agreement.
Finally, you may want to use stock footage. There’s a lot more choice than there used to be and you can get okay material from £49 upwards. The good stuff tends to start more around £200. We’d recommend Dissolve and Shutterstock. Recently, the BBC has started selling news archive through Getty Images. If it’s for limited corporate use you can get great material from around £250. It’s well worth exploring.
So, in the final analysis, what did it end up costing?
Well, the low cost option came in at £4477.50 as follows:
|Sony FS7, Sound & Lens Kit||2||1||2||£180.00||£360.00|
|Travel & Parking||2||1||2||£50.00||£100.00|
For a similar one day shoot but using the Arri cameras, autocue and a Gaffer for lighting, as well as a filming location, the budget was just over £16000.
|Prep Day 1st AC||1||1||1||£525.00||£525.00|
|Hair & Makeup||1||1||1||£600.00||£600.00|
|Travel & Parking||8||1||8||£50.00||£400.00|
|Arri Alexa Mini||1||2||2||£400.00||£800.00|
|Zeiss Super Speed Mk3 Lens Kit||1||1||1||£375.00||£375.00|
|Monitors (2 x 17 inch)||2||1||2||£120.00||£240.00|
|Arri WCU-4 Follow Focus||1||1||1||£250.00||£250.00|
So that’s why when you ask how much a video costs, nobody wants to give you a straight answer. Well, without a little bit of interrogation.
I hope that’s been helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions at all, please get in touch.