How much does video cost? Questions to ask when pricing video

People ask me all the time: “How much for a video?” Well, that’s a loaded question. There’s so much that goes into the answer. I’m not going to sit here and quote you $1,000 per finished minute, because, well… I’ve always thought that’s a misguided response. I believe pricing is relative to each individual project. 

Here’s why. It’s kinda like walking into a car dealership and telling them “I want to buy a car.” The dealer will be psyched, but he’ll probably ask you a few questions, like “What type of car are you looking for?” 

So… suppose you call me and tell me “I want a video.” Here are a few things to consider:  

  1. What is the purpose of your video? – Is it a company overview? Training video? Each video needs to be executed in a different manner. A company overview might require a lot of interviews. A product demo might require motion graphics. These factors go into crafting a budget that meets your needs. It’s like telling a car dealer that you want an SUV, and not a sports car. 
  2. Can you provide us with any examples of what you like and dislike? – If you “hate the videos where people just sit there talking,” then we don’t want to put together an estimate of just talking heads. Samples provide us with an understanding as to what type of pacing your team likes, and the type of style you prefer. If you tell me that you like red SUVs, I know to show you red SUVs. 
  3. Who is your audience? – Is your audience familiar with your product or company? Are they young or older? Are they confined in a training room, or passing by a booth? It’s always important to know your target audience. A plumber looking to haul around gear probably doesn’t need a Smart Car. A clear understanding of your target audience determines the look and feel of your video.
  4. Do you have an idea about your budget? – Be honest with yourself, and open with potential vendors. An insight to your budget gives them a much better understanding of what they can provide for you. Why? Well, tell the dealer: “I want a car,” and he has to guess what type of car you want.
  5. What are you shooting? – Are you shooting interviews? Talent reading a teleprompter? A clear understanding as to how you want to execute your video provides an idea as to how much content needs to be shot, how many days we need to film, etc.
  6. Where are you shooting? – Do you need to shoot in multiple offices? Does your office provide enough variety for b-roll? Location is an essential part of creating the right environment for your video. If you’re shooting a recruitment video, your office is probably a great place to start. But if you’re shooting a forklift training video, you probably don’t want to be driving around your cafeteria. And consider where the people actually are that you want to interview. Bring interviewees to one location rather than crunch your budget by sending out a 3-man crew to three different locations over three separate days.
  7. How do you want to be perceived? – This is probably the biggest element that affects the bottom line. First, you need a well thought out and executed story. But almost as importantly, you need it to look good and feel right. What does that mean? Hiring the best Talent goes a long way towards making a script feel believable. Using the right camera can make an otherwise bland room feel perfect.
  8. Is there a pre-determined length? – If we’re creating a 3-minute corporate overview video, we probably don’t need 30 interviews over a 5 day period. I personally don’t like restricting videos where “it has to be under 3 minutes.” The video should be the length that feels right to everyone. If it drags, trim. If it’s 10 minutes and keeps your audience engaged, then why shorten it? Checkout a recent post discussing the recommended length of web videos.
  9. How will your video be distributed? – Is your video for the web only? To hand out on DVDs? We can provide you with suggestions that will get the most value out of your investment. If we spend the time to conduct interviews for a company overview video, why not develop a series of videos? Why not ask a few questions about recruiting? That way you have material for a future recruitment video.
  10. Keep the dialogue open – This is not a question, but a recommendation. We are often asked to blindly submit an Estimate with no information besides “we want this to look amazing.” So we might include jibs, dollies, a high-end camera system, etc. These items serve a purpose, but may not serve your purpose. Allow the vendor an opportunity to readjust the budget based on updated expectations.

So, these are just some of the important questions to ask yourself when trying to figure out how much a video costs. Obviously, you probably still have questions… and maybe I created more. We love to help people through the whole video production process. Asking yourself the above questions will start you thinking about what you need, and will enable us to have a more informed discussion when (and if) you decide to call. 

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Resources

Creating a video doesn't have to be complicated. Here are a few resources to help you along the way.

  • New to Video?

    A first timer's guide to
    producing video.

    Get the Book
  • How Much is
    a Video Worth?

    A complete guide to
    calculating the ROI of video.

    Get the Book
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