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Ever wonder what does a corporate web video cost?

With the camera technology in every iteration of smartphones getting better and better, it has never been easier for would-be videographers, photographers and marketing professionals to make their own videos, so it makes sense to wonder at corporate web video cost or why it’s so expensive. The truth is, there are a number of factors that most people don’t realize are essential to an effective corporate video, so in the end, the production cost will come down to how much or how little your budget will allow.

What does corporate web video cost?

What does corporate web video cost?

Here are 25 things to consider when budgeting for your corporate video.

In General:
1. Expertise. As with any profession, “you get what you pay for”, all things being equal. For every moving part and through every stage of production, there are key people whose training and level of experience will make an impact on the quality of the final product. Costs can range from $25/hour for a film student to $250/hour for a veteran in the field. On average, most video production companies will charge $75-$100/hour for key personnel (e.g. director, camera operator, editor). This is not a TV commercial, which could involve top notch cast and crew and cost an order of magnitude more than this project. Remember – just like your company may bill out at a set rate – the overhead cost is often 50%+ of the hourly rate and only a fraction of the time spent on a project is actually billed for.

2. Length and Style of Video. For the most part, a longer video will cost more than a shorter video, but your style of video will determine how much more. For example, a 30 second narrative (like a commercial) will cost more than 10 minutes of a “talking head”, which requires much less editing and post-production costs. Most corporate web videos are only 2-3 minutes long, whereas videos to be put onto a DVD or music video can run much longer. The cost of an additional minute could be as little as 10% if the set-up is already in place. If the additional minute contains substantially new material, costs will be much higher. In terms of production days, there are either full day rates or half day rates. Half days are anything under 4 1/2 hours. Examples: interviews, press conference, livestream, etc. Full days are anything more than a half day but still less than 10 hours. So multiple interviews, a shoot involving ample setup, multiple locations or angles, etc. A longer video may involve 2 half days, 7 full days, or 3 and a half days. Any combination is just a basic math equation – how many days or half days do you need? Add up the rate.

3. Direct or Third Party. Are you dealing directly with the corporate video production company or through an agency or other middleman? The cost tends to be higher when a third party is involved however, like going to a restaurant, you do get more than just the raw ingredients when you work with an agency. Often agencies are able to negotiate bulk deals which partially offsets the cost difference. Either way, it’s usually about 20-30% of a project budget goes to the third party.

4. Insurance and Other Fees. Many locations and rental places will not do business with you or the video production company without an insurance policy in place. There are a variety of different types of coverage (production, postproduction, talent, errors & omissions). A policy can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the length and size of the shoot. Entertainment lawyers (to make sure you are covered by your contracts, etc.) can charge $100s/hour. You should be able to get quotes and work from there if needing additional coverage.

5. Miscellaneous Disbursements. These are usually covered by contingency: mileage, out-of-pocket expenses, travel and accommodations, etc. They can be as low as a few hundred dollars and on larger shoots, thousands of dollars.

Preproduction:
6. The Concept. Doing a video without properly assessing business objectives and how the video will achieve this is like spending an enormous amount on a web page without content. It won’t matter how good the footage is or how cleverly it is edited if there is no point or the point will be missed by viewers. Costs can range from $60-$120/hour for an experienced marketer who can develop – or work with the production company’s scriptwriter or director to develop – a video script and/or storyboard that will serve as the blueprint for the video and impact your corporate web video cost.

7. Physical Location. When there are multiple locations, you also have to factor in time and cost of travel between sets, which will depend on distance. Even a set change in one location takes time. You also must consider rental costs, whether you are shooting in a studio, public property (in which case you may also need permits), or someone else’s private property. The cost can range from $100-$400 an hour.

8. Geographical location. It is more expensive to shoot on a street in New York City than on, say, a farm in Central Lake, Michigan. Then you have to consider things like traffic control and cost of local talent/crew. The cost of shooting in a large city can be between 25-50% higher.

9. Interactivity. Will it be a linear video or will there be interactive components? Will you require e.g. Flash programming to build the video into a special player that will sit on a specific landing page? The cost to develop such interactivity can range from 10-30% more. Back end, database work will cost even more.

10. Web Hosting. If your video will be online, you will have to decide which server best suits your business needs (e.g. your own site, YouTube, business portal, etc.). Thankfully, hosting nowadays is relatively expensive – $5-$10/month depending on bandwidth usage.

Production
11. Camera. The quality of the camera can make a considerable difference in the finished quality and editing options for your video. Which camera is used depends not only on budget, but on the desired look of the footage, and there are so many options – $500 digital video camera; $2,500 DSLR; $10,000 full feature HD camera; $55,000 RED; $80,000 ARRI – just to name a few. Some people even choose to shoot on film. If you plan to stream the video online, a high-end camera is not always necessary. Unless you own the equipment, you are effectively renting the camera, so the rate will vary depending on the type of camera. The cost of the camera package (whether separately obtained or as part of the production company’s price) can range from $25-$400 an hour. Extras like film camera and stock, specialty lenses (e.g. wide angle, fixed focal length, cine lenses), etc. can take you well over $1,000 an hour. We want to help ensure the camera you are looking at reflects your corporate web video cost requirements so often times we are able to use a less expensive camera with a talented crew to accomplish superior results.

12. Other video equipment. An expensive, top-of-the-line camera is wasted if the lighting is horrible or if the camera movements are (unintentionally) jerky. More experienced video production companies will have a variety of tools and equipment on hand; if not, what is needed will be rented. Examples of special equipment: track dolly, jib-arm, etc. for movement; high quality field monitor to ensure at the time whether the footage is what you want; lavs, direction mics, booms, and other audio equipment to ensure proper sound and audio. Never underestimate the importance of sound quality. A gorgeous video can be absolutely ruined if the audio is horrible. The cost of equipment can range from $25-$100/hour.

13. Props, Wardrobe and Other Set Items. If certain items need to be displayed, or you need to recreate a 1950s living room, the set (as well as the talent) has to look “right”, otherwise your product loses credibility for the viewers. There may be a color scheme, either to achieve a certain atmosphere, or to utilize corporate colors. Costs for set items and wardrobe will depend on what is required. For presentation style videos, a teleprompter can save a shoot, especially if the speaker is inexperienced (like a CEO). Time is money; multiple takes because of forgotten or messed up lines will add to the cost of production, especially if the schedule is thrown off. The cost of a teleprompter and operator is usually between $350-500 for a half day.

14. Actors/Presenters. Not everyone is good on camera or fits the brand you are projecting; you may need to make some difficult decisions about who should represent your company. Most broadcast commercials have professional actors or models – either in roles or presenting – and many corporate videos hire outside talent. Sometimes, experts appear in videos to bolter credibility of findings. The cost for the talent can range from $50-500/hour (even more if they are “names”), depending on specialization and demand.

15. Technical Crew. To many people outside the film/video industry, it may look as though there are dozens of people standing around, idle, on film and TV sets. Most business web video productions don’t require more than a couple of crew, but more are needed on more sophisticated shoots. If you are conducting “man on the street” interviews, you need a camera operator, sound person, director, interviewer and interviewee. Intricate lighting may require a gaffer or lighting technician. For complicated shots, you may need camera assistants. Some of the crew will have their own equipment; others will require rented equipment. The cost for crew can range from $25-$75/hour depending on level of experience.

16. Many smaller shoots don’t incorporate make-up artists, but their work adds to the polish of the final video. A make-up artist will make talent camera ready and will be on standby throughout the shoot to make sure talent don’t look bad on camera (getting rid of shine, fixing distracting stray hairs, touching up cosmetics – even special effects make-up if required). The cost can be $25-$75/hour and may or may not include a “kit” fee.

17. Union Dues. Some crews are unionized. “Named” talent are usually members of SAG-AFTRA, ACTRA or other union. Costs will vary depending on project and talent.

18. Extra footage, like B-rolls and Cut-away shots. Supplementary video can add to the production value of a video; not only can it break up the monotomy of interviews, but provide the proper atmosphere and tone to the video. Product shots or clips of industrial processes make the video much more informative. Extra footage can be a lifesaver for editors to ensure that transitions make sense. The extra cost for supplemental footage can range from 10-50% of the total shooting costs.

19. Craft Services/Catering. Regardless of the size of your cast and crew, you will get the best work from them during the shoot if they are fed and treated well. Do not underestimate the impact of raising morale like this. Sometimes, you can hire friends or family to prepare meals and keep beverages and drinks in stock. Catering companies are probably better for handling larger shoots. The cost will vary depending on what you want to provide your cast and crew.

Pro-Tip / Things to Consider: Corporate web video cost will vary greatly in connection to your production and post-production choices!

Postproduction

20. Editing/Graphics
During the video editing, all the available assets (footage, etc.) are sequenced into a cohesive story to communicate your key messages in a clear and engaging manner. There can also be color correcting/grading to optimize the footage. It is a crucial stage that must not be overlooked or underappreciated. The cuts can be highly nuanced, and although editors should arguably be the most highly paid in the entire process, they often are not. Graphics and animation are included under this head because they are incorporated into the product during this step. The cost of a typical editor is between $60-$175/hour. Complicated and numerous graphics and animations, especially if high-end 3D, can cost $100-$300/hour.

21. Digitizing, Transfers, etc. Footage may have to be transferred into a different format to edit, and after editing, it has to be rendered into the presentation format – this is usually done by the editor. Uploading the footage onto your web server can fall to your computer/web/IT person, but some transfers or conversions (tape, specialty or outdated formats) may be charged out at $30-$75/hour.

22. Stock Footage. If you didn’t get extra footage during the shoot, or you need even more images to supplement the video, you will need to purchase the license to use stock still and video images. There are many websites that sell stock images and stock footage. The cost of stock images and footage can be as cheap as $3-$50/item, depending on quality; particular images or super high quality may cost you considerably more.

23. Narration. Sometimes, a voice-over ties the entire video together, or greatly enhances the effectiveness of the narrative and messaging. Voice-over costs have dropped dramatically in recent years. Sometimes you can have a voice artist record at home and send in the audio files electronically. Better quality voice-overs can take place in a recording studio with mics and monitors. You could even be dubbing someone’s lines. The cost of a voice artist can be $100-$400 for a short video, depending on experience.

24. Sound Effects and Score. Some sound engineers also do their own composing. Not only does music greatly enhance the production value of your video and engage the viewer, it can be strategic. The cost for a single track can start as low as $30. Custom audio can cost $1,000 or more, depending on the composer’s experience and any special technical requirements.

25. Language and Translation. If your video requires closed captioning, language versioning, or subtitling, these can add 10-20% of the cost.

Bottom Line
Taking all of the above into consideration, you can reasonably ballpark the budget of a 2-3 minute corporate video to be between $2,500-$10,000. If you have $2,000-$5,000 as your starting point, you can play with the variables to keep the costs practicable.

There are a few things you can do to optimizing your budgeting process. First of all, when you approach the video production company, show them a “reference video” so you can get an approximate figure at the outset. Experienced producers will have a good idea as to what would be required to make a comparable video. Secondly, share your budget with the video production company. Instead of focusing on the possibility of getting lower bids – which can backfire magnificently, you will get better results if the video production company has a clear picture of the parameters. No one wins if the video is not as good as it could be just because someone wanted to save a bit of money upfront. Lastly, be open minded. It is useful to kick off the video development process with a specific creative approach and a prepared script, but you are hiring people who have expertise in this area. They may have already seen what has worked or not worked for clients, and will have valuable insights on the video making process.

Article written and shared by April Lee