Needless to say, video marketing is growing in popularity, and the competition will far surpass brands that don’t start using it. But what kind of budget does it take to make a video? Do you need a sophisticated production, or can you pick up a phone camera?
Today, the Philadelphia-based, award-winning video production team at Forge Apollo is breaking down video production costs and how you can figure out what your business needs.
Cost and Quality Tiers
In the modern era, there’s a wide range of video quality and production options available. Typically, increases in video quality mean increases in video cost. However, there is a happy medium option for cost vs. quality.
Let’s break down the basic tiers businesses can expect to find when seeking out video production.
High Cost, High Quality
Large creative agencies produce high-quality video content for major brands. Think of the commercials you see on network television. These agencies typically have rigid, high-level operations in place to produce these pieces. They have top-tier equipment, lighting, and editing processes and the experienced staff to utilize all of that.
These videos come with a hefty price tag, however, typically costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single campaign.
Low Cost, Low Quality
As short-form content gains popularity, cheaper, quicker, and easier options have become available. These typically come from freelancers or a “production company” that farms the work out to freelancers. These videos tend to be low quality, as the price point doesn’t allow for creative development, quality equipment, or experienced editors.
One danger with these types of videos is that the freelancers may not be properly insured. Plus, if your video requires drone shots, you can run into legal issues if the freelancer isn’t properly licensed for drone footage.
Medium Cost, High Quality
If you don’t have the budget for a massive production but don’t want to stoop to the lowest quality, there is a happy medium. Boutique video production agencies offer high-quality equipment and processes without the budget bloat of massive creative agencies.
The size of the agency allows for more flexibility than the larger options. Forge Apollo, for example, can customize your budget for what your video idea actually needs, with a creative team to build a concept that will meet your goals. That way, you get quality at a fair price.
This option also provides a safer option for businesses than cheaper options. Technicians are insured, and drone operators have licenses. Forge Apollo, for example, also helps to protect against losing footage and incurring fees to re-shoot. We have processes for handling our footage that involve backing it up in multiple places, and we insure it. But many freelancers don’t do this.
Here are some examples of videos in the “medium cost” category at a range of budgets.
Lower Budget (~$7,000)
Medium Budget (~$15,000)
Higher Budget (~$100,000)
How to Evaluate What You Need
Assessing your video production needs can be difficult. Here are some questions to help you evaluate your needs.
- Who is your audience? B2B audiences tend to expect polished content, while B2C audiences may accept lower quality (depending on the other factors at play).
- What is your brand identity? Is your brand highly polished and professional, or more laid back and friendly?
- What is the video topic? If you have a high-profile product launch or a serious topic, higher-quality content will do better. But if you’re just grabbing something basic like a quick customer testimonial, something lower quality might be okay.
- Where will it live? An advertisement or prominent video on your site should be of higher quality, while a temporary organic social post could be of lower quality.
Once you have a general idea of the level of production you need, considering the factors below can give you an idea of how cost may vary depending on the needs of each particular video.
Video Production Cost Factors
Average video costs are wide ranges because there are many factors that affect budget. Let’s go through each of them to give you an understanding of what you get for various prices.
Do you need actors for your video, or will employees or friends be on camera (or no people at all)?
Whether or not your video needs actors and how many you need has a significant impact on the budget. A non-union actor may cost around $200 per day, while a well-known union actor or influencer may cost thousands.
Where actors go, other needs follow. Adding a director to direct the actor can add $800+ dollars a day. Getting hair, makeup, and wardrobe for those actors adds to the budget, too. Typically, you need one hair and makeup person per 4 actors, and each one will cost between $800 to thousands per day. Wardrobe also costs around the same.
When it comes to building out the creative direction of the video, can you do this yourself, or do you need help?
Forge Apollo, for example, can help our clients come up with creative video ideas, storyboard the video to have a clear vision of what will happen, and write scripts.
The prices for these services vary depending on the length of the videos, and the specific creative needs, but they do add cost to the budget.
Where is the shoot location for your video? Do you need to rent a studio or another location, or do you want to shoot at a property you own? Are there any permitting fees in the area you want to film? Where is the location in relation to the production company you’re working with? Are there multiple locations that need to be coordinated?
If your production company has to travel, the following costs may add up:
- Travel of the crew / actors (flights, mileage, etc.)
- Lodging and food for the crew/ actors
- Transportation of expensive equipment
- Costs to coordinate travel
Forge Apollo works with brands worldwide and offers options to help mitigate location costs. For example, we can utilize our experienced team of US creative directors to work with a local partner production company we trust to capture the footage.
How high quality of footage do you need, and do you need any special footage types, like slow motion? To offer more flexibility in budgets, Forge Apollo charges separately for our equipment and labor costs.
Fancier camera types that can produce slow motion, unique angles and close-ups, and high-resolution assets needed for large print ads like billboards can cost hundreds of dollars more for a day than a more basic camera type. We suggest the option each video actually needs rather than charging the most expensive option by default.
Slow Motion Camera Example
High Quality Camera Shot
Low Quality Camera Shot
Lighting can have a big impact on the quality of your footage. Providing lighting for your video adds the cost of additional equipment and labor (these are specialized technicians called ‘grip’ and ‘gaffer’). This is at least an extra $700 per day, but will go up depending on how much and what type of lighting you need.
Editing makes or breaks a video. The cost is completely dependant on the length of the edit and the type of the edit, with longer, more complex edits costing more. For example, a one shot testimonial video of someone talking straight to camera will cost less than crafting an emotional story out of different interview and broll footage.
Some other editing features that add cost are animation, music, using stock footage, and color grading. A full 2D animation video costs more than $500 per minute, and smaller animated touches in videos also add cost. Licensing a popular song can also add thousands of dollars per video vs. using stock song libraries.
Again, Forge Apollo suggests the editing techniques that we believe will help your video best reach your goals rather than pushing for expensive features for the sake of cost.
Figure Out Your Video Idea Cost
Do you have a video idea in mind and want to know how much it would cost? Contact us today to discuss your idea and get a personalized recommendation and custom quote for the best approach to meet your goals.