Video production cost can be broken down into 3 stages: pre-production, production, and post-production. This guide breaks down the costs in each of these stages and is here to help you understand why video production costs what it does. We included tips on how to get the best quality video and price.
Remember that when researching prices or getting quotes that the video production cost differs from state to state. The cost of living in each state affects this; labor costs will rise in more expensive states as well as other fees and services. The competition in the area or the reputation associated with the location may also affect the cost.
Los Angeles, for example, has a prestigious reputation and attracts many filmmakers. It is known for film throughout the world. The high end, professional videographers are going to be VERY expensive. Yet, the general prices for the average videographer are cheaper in LA than in most other places because the market is oversaturated and competition is high. These average/new videographers are trying to breakthrough and are willing to work cheaper to get more experience.
Also keep in mind that where there are not as many video production companies, prices can be quite a bit more expensive but not as experienced. As you can see, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better quality.
A person who is using a cheaper camera but is more experienced will give you a much better video than a person who has a new, very expensive camera and has no idea what to do with it. Make sure to do some research on who you are planning to hire and ask for examples of their work. Expect to pay more for a highly experienced crew member that has a unique skill set and a good reputation. These types of people are in high demand. Keep in mind that beginning videographers will be cheaper, but won’t be able to give you the quality that a production crew can provide.
We will break down the video production costs so you know exactly what to expect on your next project.
- Check out our guide on how to choose the best video production company.
Corporate video production companies don’t charge for the completion of estimates. But, companies will charge for other pre-production costs. The pre-production costs include but are not limited to:
- Location scouting
- Obtaining permits
- Talent casting
- Wardrobe design
- Special effects prep
- Graphics set up
Each of these pre-production projects will charge between $50 to $150 per hour. Permit costs will vary according to location and needs.
Production includes the filming on set with the crew. We broke down production into crew, location, and equipment. Generally, this will be the most expensive stage of the production process.
The bigger the crew the bigger the bill. The size of the crew will depend on how big or intensive of a project you have. Using freelancers or an in-house crew will also change the price.
Freelancers are typically more expensive. Freelancers charge more due to the financial insecurity that comes with not having a fixed regular income. They also cover their own insurance. When you can, opt for choosing a production company that has an in-house crew.
For a basic two-person crew with a 1 camera operation, you will need at least a director of photography (also referred to as DP or DOP) who could double as a producer as well as an audio technician who could work as a gaffer and an assistant. If one person is fulfilling multiple roles, be prepared to pay them a slightly higher day rate.
It is important to note that production days are 10 hours from portal to portal. That means that once the crew leaves the office or their “portal,” the work hours begin. The day ends once the crew returns to the office. Half-days are typically charged about 60% of what a full day is. Companies charge a more expensive rate for half-day projects because the business typically has difficulty scheduling other projects that day. The 60% of a full day rate makes a half day project worth it for them.
Here are the typical roles on set. Depending on the role, the person’s experience, and if they are a freelancer or not, you can expect to pay between $300 to $1,500 a day on each role in Utah. Actors, talent, and voice artists can be much more expensive.
- Director of Photography
- Camera Operator
- Makeup/Hair Design
- Teleprompter Operator
- Production Assistant
- Actors/Talent/Voice artists
Locations can be very expensive or cost nothing. For example, here at BW Productions, we do a lot of corporate videography (check out our Vimeo here) and use the offices and buildings of our clients as the location. This costs nothing. Yet, sometimes our clients want a studio, home, or outdoor location. These locations typically cost a good amount of money.
Here are estimates of what locations may cost per day.
- The office or business location of your client: $0
- Outdoor locations: Can be free, but often are not. Contact the manager of any outdoor property you wish to shoot at for details on pricing.
- A home: $400 – $1,500 (this depends on how intrusive the production process is on the family that is living there, how much space the crew is taking, and how nice of a home it is). Talk to the family living in the home to determine a fair rate.
- Studio: $500 – $5,000. The price depends on the size of the studio, what resources are available, and what you will be doing in the studio – we love working with Redman Studios for this type of work.
When searching for locations, always make sure that you have approval from the appropriate authorities. It is also a good idea to look into insurance in case any damage to the property is done.
Another benefit of using a production company is that they own their equipment. Most free lancers have to rent some of the equipment they will be using.
Rental companies charge 5% to 10% of what the original cost of the product was when purchased. So, if the product cost $100 to buy, they will charge you $10 to rent it. Keep in mind that the industry standard for a rental week is 3 days. Companies charge by the rental week (3 days) or per day.
Rental prices vary on the life span of the equipment, or how much it is used. A shorter lifespan will recoup the cost quicker because it is used more. Equipment that is a specialty product will typically rent for a higher price because it won’t be used as much and costs the business more to store.
Remember that rented equipment is often damaged in use. Therefore, the quality of the equipment may not be the best. Look at the reviews for the rental business and maybe ask to look at some of the equipment before committing to renting from a specific rental company.
Video production companies do charge for the equipment though they own it. They typically charge around 5% of what the original cost of the product was when purchased. This cost helps the video production company repair damaged equipment and buy new equipment.
Remember that prices depend on the model, quantity, brand, and quality of the equipment as well as the demand for the product.
Here are some of the most important and common pieces of equipment on set.
- Audio Kit
- Lighting Packages
A general rule of thumb is that every hour you spend on set will require around 3 to 4 hours in post-production. Another way that some editors estimate edit times is for every minute of the final product desired, it requires around 3 hours of post-production work.
For post-production estimates, most companies will charge a rate around $70 to $130 per hour. This may seem extreme but isn’t. This rate includes the head editor and assistant. Companies charge this higher rate because their editors are highly experienced and specialized. They can edit projects a lot quicker than freelancers. Generally, freelancers are trying to do the entire show – filming, audio, and editing. This means it will take them more time to produce the content. Though, if freelancers do put in the time, they may get just as high quality – it just takes longer to do so.
Post-production estimates will often put in extra hours in the estimate because they are more likely to go over the amount of time they spend on the project. If edit times go over, the company won’t have to place extra charges last minute because it is already built into the estimate.
Production companies will change the final bill if other requests are made last minute or the project developed into something much bigger than what was expected.
It is important to remember that some companies do charge fees for expediting the editing process. To ensure that editing costs are as low as possible, make sure to schedule the video crew well in advance and be upfront about the expectations.
Businesses send the client up to 3 drafts of the video before the final is delivered. These drafts are opportunities for the client to see the progress of the work, make sure all text is spelled correctly, that the correct concepts are presented, and the style is on point for what the client desires.
Here are the general people used in post production:
- Graphic designer
Other costs may come up. This is a small list of just a few other costs that may be included in an estimate:
- Craft services
- COVID testing
- Driving fees
Special requests may also increase the video production cost. I was on a set where the client required all the crew to wear gloves. Our producer charged the client for the cost of the gloves.
When it comes to traveling long distances, the client pays for airfare/transportation, accommodations, car rental, and per diem. These rates change due to where the location is and the local prices at the location.
Driving fees may apply as well for locations that are not far enough to fly, but still a long distance to drive. If the production company is asked to drive more than 50 miles one way, they will charge for this. The standard mileage rate for 2021 was $0.56 per mile.
As you can see, the overall video production cost depends on a lot of different factors. Each detail adds up but is important to creating the desired vision of the client. We hope that this guide helps you understand why video production costs as much as it does and realize the importance of hiring a professional team.
We would love to work with you on your next video project. Request an estimate here.
For more information on the type of work BW Productions does, check out our home page here.