Not all corporate videos are created alike so I will break the discussion down into different categories of video. Additionally I will give a range of costs in US dollars with the core assumption that professional resources (aka people and equipment) are being used and any travel expenses are separate. All videos are no more than about 5 minutes in length.
Keep in mind that if you can get Joe in the Marketing Department that has a video camera and can edit to help for free that does not mean the cost of the video is free. There is an intrinsic value in Joe’s time, expertise and the use of the equipment.
Category 1: A basic talking head video. Example:
The first category is a basic video with just one person talking to the camera. No script, no graphics and little or no editing. Can be done with a cell phone for a cost of $0 but quality could be an issue. At the other end of the range would be a camera crew of 1-2 people to setup a camera with nice lighting, maybe a teleprompter, and an hour or two of editing out the mistakes for a cost of up to $2,000. So, a Category 1 video has a cost range of $0 to $2,000.
Category 2: A basic 1-2 person video with limited graphics. Example:
Add some basic graphics and perhaps a second person to the Category 1 video and you have increased your costs slightly. Now you must do some editing to insert the graphics or do the taping with more elaborate equipment to “switch” in the graphics. If the two people are on camera together then quality sound is an issue that might require 2 microphones and an audio mixer. If the people are taped separately then more editing is required. Cost range $1,500 to $4,000.
Category 3: A basic scripted video with narration, on camera talent and limited graphics. Example:
Category 3 takes the jump into simple scripted videos. Perhaps it is an internal training video or a product overview. You have 3 core costs: script, 2-3 person video crew and editing. There are a lot of variables such as non-professional talent vs. professional actors, professional scriptwriter vs. in-house writer and the numbers of days and locations for taping. Typical cost range $5,000 (non-professional writer and talent) to $25,000 (professional writer and talent).
Category 4: Testimonial or success story. Example:
Category 4 is the basic testimonial or success story. The core expense is the on-location tapings with an experienced video crew that can setup quickly and not be too invasive. Selecting and editing the comments into a cohesive story can be time consuming. Typical cost range $15,000 to $40,000 (remember that travel expenses are not included in the ranges).
Category 5: A complex scripted video with narration, graphics and on camera talent. Example:
Category 5 moves up the scale to create a more engaging or fun video. Perhaps it is a marketing video or something motivational. Costs include: professional scriptwriter, actors, 3-4 person video crew, professional graphics and/or animation and editing. Every component becomes more critical in this type of video and lack of quality in any component can hinder the effectiveness of the video. Typical cost range $30,000 to $70,000.
Category 6: A complex scripted video with an analogy, motion graphics, and complex location video shoots. Example:
Category 6 pulls out the stops to create a visual experience. The script must be more precise and visual. The video crew and type of equipment required is high end. Editing becomes much more expensive to incorporate the graphics. Typical cost range $50,000 and up.
Of course not everything fits into these neat categories but this can help identify a budget and frame the discussion with your video production resources. Good luck….
“What will my video cost?” Is the number one question I’m asked. It’s also the toughest question to answer. I could just answer: “How much do you have?” But I think I should be a bit more polite. So here we go….
First, I set the stage that the cost of video production can vary greatly.
Let’s take an example of creating a video explaining how Cisco sees the future of the Internet of Everything. I could hire my son, pay him $20, tell him to hold my cell phone and record me explaining the concept for 60 seconds. Upload to YouTube and I’m done. Cost $20.
Now take that same video message and create a TV commercial with professional writers, actors, graphics, editing, audience testing, and well… you get the picture, expensive. Cost: $$$$$
Here’s the Cisco message that I’m sure will have different results than my $20 version would have:
Second, I bring out the analogy (us video people love analogies).
“What will a video cost?” It’s a bit like asking what does a car cost. Cars come in all types, ranging from a mini Smart car, to a basic Ford, a nice Honda, a luxury BMW, or a supercar Lamborghini. Now complicate the picture with size, from sports cars to sedans, SUVs, or pickup trucks. They will all get you to the airport but with different reliability, capacity, and speed -- of course all in much different style.
Now let’s get back to the video cost question at hand.
Video production and visual content development can be compared to cars in exactly the same way. There are budget entry solutions that may well be just a single camera shoot, similar to the mini or basic car analogy, all the way up to a multi-camera, multi-crewed studio or location shoot that is the supercar of video production. In essence both use a vehicle to transfer the message (or people) in a dynamic engaging way, taking the viewer (or passengers) to the final conclusion (or destination).
Remember your image affects your audience and is just as important as your message.
Before price is even brought into the video production equation the most important point to consider is to take time to decide who your viewing audience is and what style will best suit them. And most importantly, best affect them! Will the mini video analogy work for you, staying true to the product, brand or message that you are promoting, or will you have to accept that the audience will need and may deserve the luxury or supercar video experience?
Seek professional help (and I don’t mean a psychiatrist).
This final decision is always the tough part for anyone looking to commission a video product. You don’t want to make the decision of selecting a mini solution where a luxury or supercar should have been used, nor do you want to select a supercar when a mini would have been perfectly adequate. This is the point where I always say that engaging with experienced media professionals or video service teams can help guide you to make the correct choice for your budget, and most importantly, your audience.
The bottom line… your bottom line.
Unfortunately there is no magical number that relates to how much a video production will cost your bottom line. A budget production price will vary if you use a “bedroom business” to produce it or if you engage with the latest and greatest Hollywood studio. To me, video production all depends on who your audience is and how you take responsibility to produce the best content that stays true to your brand and gets across your message. Find a media professional or video service provider who understands what car analogy you need and can provide this for the audience.
So to summarize, if you ever need to commission a video think about the car analogy when evaluating how much money you’ll need. Every car gets you from A to B in varying degrees of comfort, speed and style so select the car that will best suit your audience. Then use this car analogy to explain your objectives to a professional video production provider whose knowledge and expertise can make it happen. Having a definitive idea of what type of video experience that you want to deliver can make the process much smoother and fulfilling for all everybody involved.