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Sorting Through the Many Elements That Affect the Costs of Video Production

Video is a great way to communicate concepts, ideas, and stories, whether they are produced for information purposes, training, or to preserve an event. One of the first questions usually asked is how much video production costs. There’s no simple answer because so many factors go into determining the costs of video production, including: 

  • Context
  • Shot complexity
  • Size of the cast and crew
  • Sets
  • Whether specialized equipment is needed
  • Timing
  • Length
  • Your end goals 
  • And more

You may not have all the answers at the beginning, but a production team can advise you on the best approach for your budget as you define the scope of your project. This might seem like a complex process — and it is — but it doesn’t have to be confusing. This guide will clarify some of the major elements that go into video production costs and how to make the whole process more efficient.

Video Production Is More Complicated Than You Realize

You might think video production is as simple as shooting some video, then someone cuts out the parts you don’t want, enhances the parts you do, and makes the whole thing into a cohesive story. There’s much more to it than that, though. It involves the entire process of conceptualizing and creating a finished video, and all the artistry, teamwork, experience, and technical knowledge that requires.

One of the most important decisions to make when you decide to begin a video project is to hire the right partner. They will know the right questions to ask and have the experience and know-how to complete your project on time and on budget. 

The Stages of Video Production

The costs of video production will be easier to explain once we’ve established what all the various moving parts are. There are three main stages, and all affect your overall video production costs. These stages are:

Pre-Production

You want to create a video that looks good, but it’s much more important to create one that meets your goals for the project. The all-important pre-production planning stage is where that starts to happen. It’s worthwhile to take your time with this part of the process, because it will affect the entire video and its budget. This stage involves:

  • Forming the Idea 

Building a concept that wraps in the message you’re trying to convey, the purpose you’re trying to achieve, and the audience you’re trying to reach, among other ideas that drive the story your video wants to tell.

  • Writing a Script 

Your project will need structure, even if it relies mostly on interviews.

  • Selecting the Cast 

Audiences always connect better with a human face on the screen than to a voiceover, so this step is always important.

  • Hiring the Crew 

There are important decisions to make here, such as whether to employ a director – unless you’re opting for a team that has all these bases covered. 

The pre-production step organizes everything to prepare for production. Locations for scenes are selected, script revisions are made, and an outline of the whole recording process is created, including a shot list. 

Production

This is where the actual production process begins. Now that the cast and crew are hired and the script is approved, shooting begins and each scene is shot (usually multiple times) until everyone is happy with it and every scene in the script has been filmed. Once the shot list is complete, and everyone is satisfied, the project is ready for the next phase.

Post-Production

The post-production team merges scenes, syncs audio with video, edits audio and video, and adds any special effects. While magic can be made here, and some corrections almost certainly will be, mistakes made in pre-production or production are often beyond fixing once you get to post-production.

The best videos emerge when these three phases of video production work as a carefully integrated team to empower creativity, promote collaboration, and make the hard work look seamless. Video production is a true team sport, so be wary of a proposal that cuts costs by offering you something less than a team.

Elements That Affect Your Video Production Costs

All the moving parts of video production are less costly when they are working in harmony and not in a discordant way that can cause delays and other unseen costs. There are nonetheless countless “little things” that can blow up a video production budget, so you should keep in mind the following elements and how they will affect your final costs. 

1. Consider Your Creative Approach

There are always multiple ways to present messages, and costs are related to the creative approach. This means asking yourself some questions to understand the message you are trying to convey, the purpose you are trying to achieve, and how to reach your audience. You might be doing a training film that requires simple graphics or a presentation to a board of directors that requires sophisticated animation. 

You might be surprised to learn that a video’s length, while important, is not always the determining factor when it comes to cost. If a single shot is elaborate and requires significant resources such as a large cast and crew, a complicated set, and specialized equipment, this can raise costs significantly. So be mindful when deciding your overall approach to your project.

2. Set Some Parameters 

You’ll need to consider several elements to get accurate costs: your target length, locations, whether travel will be needed, and if interviews, narration, or dramatization is required. You will also need to determine if stock footage can be used or if everything needs to be original.

The production schedule is also a factor, and a fast turnaround can really affect your budget. When it’s time to wrap things up, the staff will need to know any requirements regarding distribution, packaging, and any brochures or other materials that will go with your video. 

3. Some Main Causes of Budget Surprises

Planning is essential to any project, especially a video production. Here are some other items you may need to ask about and plan for so they don’t become surprises:

  • Professional location scouts
  • Permits for filming in public spaces
  • Hair, makeup, and catering for the cast 
  • Travel costs, hotels, and transportation 
  • Other miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses
  • Clips to promote your video on social media and other channels 

These and many other considerations go into every video project, so don’t expect to have every answer at your first meeting. Your production company will guide, educate, and support you through the process to help you get the most out of your budget so the end product has your desired impact. 

A Quality Video Production Partner Makes All the Difference

If you have questions about setting a budget for your video project or are ready to get started, Rock Creek Productions is here to guide you through the entire process. Contact our team to help you get the best possible results while remaining within your budget.