Determining how much video production costs comes down to a number of choices. Whether you go with an amateur film freelancer or a group of seasoned professionals capable of pulling in experienced actors, the project will require careful planning and trust, it is always a good idea to look at the company’s portfolio and who they have worked with in the past.
In this article we will cover the pre-production and planning stage, hiring a camera and production crew, scouting a location and the costs that go with it, creative team members such as writers and actors, and finally the actual shooting of the video production as well as post editing and sound.
Pre-Production and Planning
Quite possibly the most important stage, the pre-production lays groundwork for everything else, and as such has the potential to collapse your entire operation. Pre-production costs involve everything from scripting and story boarding to finding cast members and scheduling shooting locations.
This is the first stage of many where you will need to avoid being taken advantage of by scammers and con-artists. An honest planning stage is needed, and if your video production company seems sketchy, you need to vet them until finding one you trust. Considering a few factors will help weed out the yes-men and those just after your wallet.
Going in you will want to know your video production costs breakdown without tipping your hand too early to the companies you are considering. You can let them know how much you are willing to pay, but give yourself some wiggle room for negotiations. Some of the video production costs in Australia can be worth it to a fledgling company for the art and professionalism, and you may get a better deal with a unique project that will look good for them as much as it does for you.
And as always you catch more flies with honey – being confident, honest, up front, pleasant, and knowing your limits will make things go smoother and give assurance these are the folks with whom you want to do business.
The next step is to create a clear plan and write it down. Communication rules the nation. You will find that being on the same page every step of the way, and knowing what to expect, will create harmonious teamwork between you and your video production company. Like the rungs of a ladder – every step needs to be visible and reachable within your limits, or you will struggle and fall.
Ask questions and narrow down specifics. Vagueness is dangerous and can lead to poor communication which ends in unexpected or poorly delivered products. You may go through several drafts until the final budget is found. During this planning stage avoid yes-men or those too quick to agree.
Remember this is a stage of back and forth where you and your video production breakdown will evolve and set the stage for the entire project. You want to establish a solid schedule; a budget and what could alter it down the line; how many expected amendments the production company usually goes through; what deliverables to expect during each stage; and any licenses you may need to purchase and what rights are needed and for how long.
Amount of Cameras and Cameramen
Depending on the type of production, your cameras could be the 12.2 megapixel camera on your phone if the production is as simple as a low budget YouTube commercial, or you may need a $20,000 RED camera flanked with $3,000 DLSRs and a fully optioned top of the line $15,000 HD camera.
Whether you are going high end or low, you will want to compare your project to similar ones to be sure your video production costs are not wasted on unnecessary technology. The number of cameras needed will depend on the crew using them.
There is much more to be gained from a quality cameraman than the tool he is using. Sam Raimi invented some of the most innovative camera techniques with a few tennis balls and his college camera. The most expensive camera in the hands of an amateur is not going to get you far, and that leads us to the crew or cameramen you will hire.
Cameramen or cinematographers are broken down into key groups. In a high budget project you can expect the following video production costs breakdown on average:
- Director of Photography: $2000
- Camera Operator: $1100
- Digital Image Technician: $600
- Gaffer/Key Grip: $500
- Grip/Electric: $450
- Swing: $400
- Sound Recordist: $1000
Equipment such as cranes, booms, and lighting sets can all be rented, and some crews will come with their own. Certainly every project is unique, and all of those above crew members may not be necessary. The best way to find a rate is to shop locally and present your plan logically to weed out any unnecessary costs. Standard-definition cameras work great for some projects, saving you money down the line. Or you may go with a Sony or Canon HD cameras, that in the hands of a professional crew, will set your project apart.
Additional Production Crew
As you plan your project you may find some of these roles are ones you can fill yourself. The larger the project the bigger the crew, and the following are some production crew responsibilities that may be required:
The man in contact when the project begins. The producer will discuss with you the goals and costs to expect. In most projects you will fill the role as producer. In 2012 the average producers salary was $70,000 or about $34 an hour.
Overseeing all parts of the video production, nearly all questions go through the director. To get the job done they assist in building your crew, as well as making adjustments to the script, and keeping the video on budget and on time.
The director has experience dealing with your talent and should be the only one giving them orders. Directors have the final say with lighting and anything that affects the final video. Director’s average salary is about the same as producers at $72,000 annually or $35.50 an hour.
Audio Technician or Sound Engineer
During the shoots, especially in post-production, this crew member works with the director on all sound issues. They record audio, adjust sound levels, and use a PA to assist in rigging the audio. An Audio Technicians annual salary averages at $60,000 or $29 an hour.
Designing then creating the set for your production is a set designer’s charge. Any background, foreground, and minute details go through them. The look and feel should match throughout the video. Every detail of the environment the actors interact with and the lighting touches needs to be uniform.
Designers can range anywhere from $20 to $150 an hour. However designers often set a fixed rate for their work instead of going by the hour. This cost is one you and the producer will want to work out during the pre-production stage. Generally, your overall set budget correlates with how much you will pay the designer to set it up for you.
PA or Production Assistant
Production assistants are the entry-level support in the video production agency, and the video production costs in Australia for a PA can range from nothing (aka paid in experience) to generally $15-$18 an hour.
This role is where most anyone involved in video production starts out. Getting coffee, hauling gear, taking notes, ordering lunch, or anything else that needs to be done – their job is to take simple but time consuming tasks out of the hands of those needed elsewhere. A great PA will keep things on schedule and maintain positivity throughout the day.
Location and Travel Costs
When calculating the location costs, it is crucial to have everything planned in the pre-production stage. Rates for locations are based on where you are shooting, and for how long. Sometimes a location will even provide your production with more than just a location. They may have sound stages, editors, actors or talent, and cameras or crews that come with your rental of the location.
Location costs can vary widely depending on where it is your video is set. Sometimes, costs can range upwards of $500 per day or more. Often, if you will require renting a location for a prolonged period of time, you may be able to negotiate a lower fee per day.
Another thing to keep in mind is travel costs for your video production team. Depending on how far the shoot is from their home base, you may incur costs associated with travel, room, and board.
Script Writing and Creative
If you’ve got the talent and expertise, you may be able to provide the script writing yourself. However if you are looking for a professionals who guarantees high levels of engagement from your actors lips, you will need to hire a script writer.
Generally, stories or scripts cost about $216 per minute of dialogue. If you are shooting a commercial then this is more than enough time – but as video production costs rise you may just hire these writers for gaps that need to be filled. Regardless of experience, stories and teleplays can be the most expensive costs to hire for – as these require not just writers, but creatives.
Speaking of creatives, it is time to delve into the most “dramatic” costs: your talents and actors…
Talent Fees – Actors and Voice Overs
If you are lucky, you can snag some voice over work from a package provided by the location or production crew. Voice actors are generally specialised in videos about products or services, history or philosophy behind an organisation, or a specific company process or internal directions (such as a company training video). Review the voice actor’s work before hiring them or going with their package deal, as there is rarely a cost-effective option for a one-size-fits-all voice actor.
In general, narration costs for non-broadcast voice overs range from $300 to $2000 for every project up to five minutes in length. This cost includes the dry run, a cleaned up audio narration, a final version, as well as several extra takes. These talents book by the day, so use them as much as possible – and be sure to have extra key phrases ready for them to throw in. Ask professionals to improvise, and in general get as much out of them as possible.
A general fee for freelance voice actors can be a $50 per minute starting point, with a $275 minimum. Some fees can increase based on audience size, the length of usage (such as one year, two weeks, etc.), word count or length of project, using a phone patch, and lastly pickups (aka rewrites and re-recordings).
It is possible to hire friends or family, or use yourself in the video, depending on how much focus is on the acting. Maybe the voice over can carry the scene and you can use real customers instead of actors. While the costs of video production for actors in Australia can be steep, they are generally worth the investment. Just imagine the Sham-Wow ad without that high-energy sales guy, or the Progressive commercials without Flo – it’s just not the same. A good actor can bring the whole project together and give memorable audience appeal.
Actor fees can range from freelancers individual rates to union or screen actors guild standardised market rates. In general a local, non-broadcast commercial or video production will cost between $50-$400 an hour for the talent. It is important to compensate actors fairly because their effort and commitment is directly on the line. You get what you pay for, and on that 10th re-shoot these actors are going to start wondering if it is worth it and whether or not they need to put 100% of their energy into the project.
Cost saving measures for actors would involve planning and talking with your videographer. Find out how they source their actors, where do they hire from, and for exactly what is needed. Hold auditions or get reels from talents and go over them with the videographer. When you have settled on a talent, be sure they are given their lines and cues well before the shoot begins. You will save money on re-shoots if they come in knowing the score.
Number of Shooting Days
This goes almost without saying, but is enormously important in the pre-production stage when measuring your video production costs breakdown. Every day of shooting means paying for everyone involved. If something on day three goes awry and you need to re-shoot a continuity error to coincide with day one, that’s a lot of money wasted. You and your videographer should have already planned a day by day schedule. Getting behind this schedule could bankrupt your entire effort, and it’s one of the most important reasons to make sure you hire a crew that knows what they are doing.
Post Production Editing and Sound
It depends on your region, but the video and sound editing rates vary by the experience of the professional. These can range from $75 to $150 per hour. A good rule of thumb is 2 hours of sound recording per 2 minutes of a marketing video. Expect to make an average of 10 cuts per minute of finished film.
Cost Saving Measures
With all these costs, let’s talk about a few ways to save money on your video production costs breakdown.
Time is money, so do as much pre-planning on your own as possible so the videographer is not wasting billable time. The talents should know their cues and lines ahead of time – before they are paid at all.
Pre-production meetings by phone or in person should be scheduled to clearly lay out how all expectations will be met. These meetings are usually optional and not billable, but professionals will attend in order to get the most out of themselves and the project.
Buy packages for locations, crews, production team members, or wherever you can. Often times crews or talents may work together, and costs can be saved by hiring them as a group. The same goes for equipment. Everything comes down to pre-planning, and if you know what you want you can buy in bulk.
Filming local can avoid travel fees and mileage. Often you can do the scouting yourself and your location may not have much cost on video production.
Hire the Best Video Production Crew For You
Creswick Creative has been connecting business to the world with video for almost two decades. Not only have we built a dynamite team of videographers, filmmakers, and editors – but we’ve also developed a streamlined process to make the most out of every project we undertake.
You could hire a mish-mash of different talent from a variety of companies and freelancers, but all that work adds up to extra headaches for you, and probably extra expense as well. Rather than do all the hard work yourself, get Creswick Creative to do it for you on time and on budget.