HOW MUCH DOES A LIVE ACTION VIDEO COST?
5 minutes

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We get this question all the time. And the first part of the answer may sound quite frustrating: well, it depends. Wait, wait… don’t stop reading now. There’s a second, more satisfactory answer, and that’s ON WHAT it depends. We can divide it into two main categories: Time and Scope

Time

When we get a request for a quote for a video, one of the first things we do is to try and get a real notion of the time it will take to do the project. That involves what happens before the filming starts (pre-production), the filming itself (production) and the editing and finalizing (post-production).

In pre-production, we include what we call the “discovery“ phase: the conversations (over the phone or in-person) that we will have in order to learn as much as we can about the business and its goals. Scripting or coming up with the proper questions to ask interviewees – or both? Casting, if actors are involved. Location scouting can also be part of that firsts phase, or even getting permits for certain locations. In production, calculating the time is simpler. Is it going to take half a day or a full day to film it? Some productions get more expensive because they need a few days to be filmed, some take weeks.

Post-production costs will depend directly on the type of production. The more you shoot, the more material you will need to go through to edit. The final video duration may be 2 minutes, but depending on the complexity of the video, there will be several hours of material to work with. How many interviews were shot? All these factors may affect the duration of the editing.

If you’ve worked with a production company before, you already know that we shoot much more than is actually used in the final video. A lot stays on “the floor of the editing room”, as they say.

Scope

It starts with the kind of crew needed for the shoot. Our usual basic crew is composed of a videographer (DP), an assistant (PA) and a director/producer. That is pretty standard for production companies that do videos for businesses. Many times, though, the production may need more than that. We may need a make-up artist, a wardrobe person, a sound person, or more. If the video is scripted, we may need actors. That certainly increases the budget quite a bit.

Another scope factor is locations. Will we be shooting in one location or we need to get to three or four different ones? How far are they from each other? How many locations can we shoot in one day? And according to the location, how long will it take to set up. Are the locations free or do we need to pay to rent it – and maybe pay for a permit, if it is a public place.

Equipment can also be a factor. Will we need a drone, a crane, or will the normal basic professional equipment suffice?

Post-production also affects the scope calculation. Besides the editing, will we need to create special effects? How many music tracks do we need to purchase? Is a voice over actor needed? Will we need stock footage besides the footage we shot, and how much will it cost? All these factors may affect the complexity of the editing phase.

So, real prices? Our usual company video budget starts at around $5000 – usually a half-day shoot with a crew of three people, at one location. That includes whatever is decided we will shoot: interviews and any additional shots of the location and the people. This is what we call b-roll, the footage that will make the video be much more interesting than just talking heads.

We have done hundreds of company videos for businesses of all sizes. The budget always depends on all the factors I mentioned above, and it can go anywhere from $5K to 20K or above. Having said that, most of the corporate videos we have done, and that are very effective, have been created with a budget closer to 5K than 20K.

Lastly, a word of advice: if you have a budget in mind, please let the production company you’re talking to know about it upfront. Many times, people have grandiose ideas that include actors, multiple locations, special effects, and not knowing what all this should cost, they get very disappointed when they get the price tag – and that may prevent them from doing the video they are yearning for. Being upfront about the budget will help the production company find effective and creative ways to realize your vision without breaking the bank.

Well, I know this wasn’t a simple answer but… what in life is simple? See you next time!

CLICK HERE to see examples of live action videos we created for businesses

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