The cost of video production depends on what type of video you want to produce. An animated video explaining your business requires different production skills than a cinematic commercial with actors. The higher-quality video you need, the more you can expect to spend.
Unless you’re comparing a feature film to short, branded content, the duration barely factors into video cost. Whether you’re making a one or five minute video, the crew and equipment will mostly be the same. Plus, it won’t even make a big impact in post-production unless the video needs a lot of cuts.
Pre-production, such as writing a script, location scouting, getting permits, and scheduling shoots, can take up a bit of your time and budget. And if your script changes, your video production costs will likely change as well. If you have the resources, you should write the script in-house, potentially with advice from your production company. Otherwise, many production companies offer this service as part of their production packages.
If you have to scout a filming location, you will also have to budget in time and travel expenses for the scout. You can avoid this by hiring a crew that’s local to the area you want to film and who already know where they can shoot. The more intense your pre-production is, the more it will cost you.
Production cost rates depend on their region, market, gear, and experience. If you need more specialized crew and equipment, such as for 360° video production, you may have to spend more. Every creatives’ rates will vary, but these are the standard day rate charges for the most common crew members:
- Documentary DP (Director of Photography): $400-$1,200
- Commercial DP: $650-$2,000
- Full-Service Video Production: $1,500-$300,000 (flat rate)
- Drone Operator: $500-$1,400
- Commercial Video Editor: $400-$1,000
- Motion Graphics Editor: $600-$30,000 (flat rate)
- Sound Technician: $300-$700
- Gaffer: $300-$600
- Grip: $200-$600
Drone operator’s standard day rates can range from $500-$1,400.
Hiring talent, such as actors or hosts, will cost you extra and you should include this in your budget. However, unless you’re doing a big commercial production for TV, you probably won’t need to hire talent. For branded short docs, testimonials, and product videos that are mostly interviews and b-roll, try featuring your employees or customers.
This is directly linked to day rates. Day rates are so high because they generally include pre-production work as well as gear costs. Since most videographers charge by the day, your video production costs will go up with more shooting days. Using the above rates, you could expect a three day shoot to cost around $3,000 to $8,000 for a two-person crew.
Also be aware that when you hire a shooter for a half day, they will charge you more than half their day rate. This is to make up for lost time and money when they can’t schedule a second gig that day.
You can spend as much money flying out a production crew to shoot on location as on the production itself. Besides the transportation costs, travel expenses also include hotels and meals. The best way to avoid these costs is to hire local production crews or freelancers who won’t have to travel. Besides, even if you hire a production company that isn’t local, they may end up subcontracting the work out to local freelancers to lower their own costs.
Even when a videographer doesn’t need to rent equipment, they will still charge you for equipment costs. This usually is a part of their day rate, and it helps them protect their expensive equipment. It also helps cover the original cost of purchasing equipment.
On a bigger production, a crew may need to rent cameras, lighting, grips, mics, or other film gear. Most production companies will pass these rental costs directly onto you as expenses. If they don’t, they may include rentals it in their flat rate fees. You can save money here by being flexible about camera and gear requirements.
Much of the work that goes into producing a high-quality video is done in post-production, so budget well for this. In post, your video will go through story editing — usually with multiple rounds of feedback from your company — as well as coloring and grading. Video editors tend to specialize in just one of these, so you may have to hire a different editor for coloring than the one you hire for story edits. Motion graphics, or titles, can be separate video production costs as well.