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When it comes to video production costs, we feel confident in saying that confusion abounds. We get video production and animation enquiries from companies with £100 to spend and companies with budgets exceeding £100,000. And while we will always turn away the £100 leads, the fact is, a video can be made on an iPhone for free, or a motion picture production studio could make it for millions.  So when someone asks us about video production costs, there really isn’t a single, definitive answer.

That said, if you know how you want your video to look (remember, we have research that shows that the quality of your video reflects on your brand) and you know how long it should be, we can guide you as to the overall video production costs.

Factors that influence video production costs

Two factors have a bearing on video production costs: resource and process.

The sheer physical resource required to bring a project to fruition – hours in pre-production, number of people working on the project, quality of any equipment used – will significantly influence the cost. A 4K shoot might use an Arri Alexa or a Red Epic Dragon; a budget shoot might use a DSLR camera designed primarily to capture still images. The difference between five days of editing and half a day of editing can be the difference between something sleek, professional, and well-paced and something that looks cobbled together from stock footage in Windows Movie Maker. For animation, a higher budget means better graphics and more detail.

The second factor is the process. It’s less tangible, but it’s just as important. A significantly cheaper video might be visually indistinguishable from a more costly one: it might use the same grade of camera or the same animation style, and it might have the same sound quality. However, corners will inevitably be cut in pre-production, production, and post-production. A skeleton crew (and no, not the fun Pirates of the Caribbean kind!) will be used instead of a full five-person team, and most likely populated with newbies and graduates instead of veterans. Mistakes and delays will happen, and whatever you think you’re saving in raw cost, you’ll pay for in sheer hassle.

What the ideal video budget should cover

With the right video production budget, you’ll get a complete, experienced crew: a producer, director, camera operator, assistant, sound recordist and editor. In other words, a well-qualified, well-oiled filming machine.

The crew will do a comprehensive location recce to figure out where to shoot and how, before the day of filming arrives they’ll:

  • try every angle
  • figure out the best lighting
  • check every room and corridor for the best possible locations.

For a case study video, a production team will interview several times as many people as they need to – figuring out who’s charismatic enough to sell the message and who should never under any circumstances appear on film!

But beyond that, the right video production budget gives you a deeper, more consultative relationship. With twenty hours of producer time, you’ll have many more options when it comes to crafting the video you want. If you’ve changed your requirements during the storyboarding process, the producer and artist will work together to meet your evolving preferences. Scripting services will typically be included via freelancers or in-house writers – bringing your message to life with intelligence and verve. If something goes wrong on the day, there will be contingency plans in place to accommodate it. In other words, you get what you pay for.

Different video production cost levels

We get it – if you’re researching video production costs, you want numbers. So we have broken down the different cost levels for a corporate video of around 30-60 seconds in length. It’s designed to give you a ballpark idea as to what your video production might cost.

Do it yourself (almost free)

The cheapest option is to use your smartphone or a DSLR camera. As a rule, if it has decent audio, then it’ll do the job. But because it won’t have the production value, this type of video needs quality content to carry it. Just remember not to be too ambitious if you haven’t got the resources to pull it off. And maybe take an online course in video production to make sure you avoid some of the obvious mistakes.

Our tips:

  • Get audio done right – buy a lapel mic from amazon to make sure the audio is good enough.
  • Try to use natural light and have the scene well lit.
  • Use a tripod.
  • Film at the highest resolution and quality possible.
  • Make a feature of the fact that you’re filming it yourself – user-generated content can be compelling if you commit to the style.

We should add here that even if you can borrow all the equipment and don’t have to spend a cent, this approach isn’t really free, because your time is valuable!

Video creation platforms (£50-£300)

We have come across quite a few video creation platforms. Promo.com is one example. While we don’t use these much ourselves, they can be great for social content, particularly when you need a lot of this. There is still an art to getting it right, and you’ll have to educate yourself on messaging, image selection and the entire process.

Freelancers (approximately £500 – £3000)

Freelancers can normally do the job for less than a production company. Ideally, you want someone who can do everything – an all-rounder who can produce and edit and help with concept creation and shooting. You can expect the equipment they use to be modest but still professional.

The downside to this is that an all-rounder won’t be good at everything. You’ll also be completely at the mercy of that person – if they have one style, you’ll have to go with that, and if they go on holiday or have other clients, they might take ages to make changes. Many freelancers don’t take much of a strategic approach either.

To find a good freelancer you can look on directory websites like mandy.com and Production Base, but we find just asking around is the best way. Most people know someone who works in video production. Also, look on Vimeo for showreels and try contacting the publisher yourself.

Production company (approximately £3,000 – £50,000)

If you work with a reputable corporate video production company, you can guarantee that you’ll have a team of people working on your video. That means you’ll get specialists in each discipline (editing, camera work, and scriptwriting) that will elevate the whole product. If you have lots of creatives bringing their brains to your video, you’ll also get their collective experience of working with thousands of clients.

A production company should also take all the management off your hands – the whole process should be a lot more strategic and methodical, with an emphasis on results. They’ll likely have experience and a legacy in creating result-driven videos, and they will be able to advise on your video distribution strategy (and create your video with this strategy in mind), making them that much more reliable and effective. Plus, they should have access to better equipment, meaning they can scale up to handle larger projects and or multiple projects at once.

Most production companies don’t charge usage fees for anything they create, but it may be required for actors, talent, and voiceover. When these are needed, they should negotiate on your behalf. Again, your video company should discuss this with you right at the beginning of the project.

A £3k-£5k budget video can still look very good even if simple for filmed content. However, animation at the same price point can be a bit sketchy. The starting point for animation is around £5k for quality, but from this level, film vs animation is priced similarly, with the following starting points:

  • Filmed case study £4,000
  • Filmed corporate video £7,500
  • Brand film / promo + socials £12,000
  • 90 sec 2D animation £5,000
  • 90 sec 2.5D animation £7,000
  • 90 sec 3D animation £9,000
  • 60 second motion graphics / typography £4,000

So, that’s the short answer to “how much does a video cost?”. But other common questions or queries we get about the price of videos include:

What about that cheap video production company?

We found a company who can do it for really cheap and price is the most important thing to us. Do you think the video will still be OK to use?

The answer here is that ultimately, you get what you pay for. You won’t get something that is high-quality and credible for cheap. If you can’t afford to use a quality agency, then we suggest finding a good freelancer. You’ll be removing the margins, but you’ll have to manage them, which requires more investment of your time and brings more risk – especially if you have no experience managing video projects.

Delivering ROI

To get a video made, we need to provide a clear return on investment (ROI). How can we do that?

ROI comes from the video strategy, which any good corporate video production company will help you build. If your video must deliver leads, for example, then that needs to be built into the strategy right from the beginning. If your video production company doesn’t think the video will deliver the ROI you’re after, they should say so as they won’t meet the brief.

It’s important to clarify that your video doesn’t have to break the bank: if it won’t be made appreciably better by 4K or a crane shot – as fun as crane shots are – then there’s no point in paying for it. Your priorities should determine  your video production budget.

But quality videos don’t compromise on the things that matter: whether they’re tangible things like equipment or intangible things like experience and process. It doesn’t matter how low the price point; it always costs you more to buy something shoddy in the end.

Good work isn’t cheap – and cheap work isn’t good. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

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