How much does it cost to make an online video?
Part 2: Pre-Production Costs
Pre-production is what we call the stage before we start filming or animating. We use this time for ideas development and planning to ensure a successful project delivery. There are various costs to be aware of during this important stage of a project.
Once we have received the brief and our proposal has been accepted we will be commissioned to undertake the job. This is agreed through a contract with the customer (who after signing becomes our client). As a business we ask for 50% of the project budget on commission, which is worth bearing in mind in for your cash flow forecasting.
2. R&D – What’s the big idea?
Sometimes our client’s brief is very specific and at other times it requires development during pre-production.
Either way, for us there is always a process of research and development at the start of any project. This typically includes looking at what our client’s competitors have produced, identifying exactly who the audience should be, understanding that audience, setting project aims and objectives, defining the metrics that will be used to measure our success, brainstorming ideas, sometimes developing a mood board (an arrangement of images and text that help us convey a particular style or concept to the client and project team), creating concept art, shooting test videos or creating animation examples.
The cost for this phase really depends on how much R&D is required. Some jobs will need very little (e.g. filming an event) and other jobs a lot (e.g. creating a new online global promo).
3. Do I need a script?
Once you have the idea the next step is to draft a script. Variables that can affect the cost of scripting include the number of drafts and re-writes and whether the client gives us a head start or we have to write a script from scratch.
Not all videos will require scripting per se, for example most talking heads would not (although we still need to draft the appropriate questions to ask the interviewee to guarantee that we get appropriate answers).
4. Should I expect to see a storyboard?
The storyboard usually comes after the script is ‘locked’ (or ready to shoot on). Storyboarding can be time consuming and so we only start this process once the client is happy with the script.
Storyboarding is not usually necessary for something like a talking head video. It really comes into its own once we have multiple or complex shots. It’s also very helpful when there’s a lot of onscreen motion graphics or animation. In these instances it can be a false economy not to create a storyboard because it’s a great opportunity to flag up potential issues before production.
5. What kind of kit should the company provide?
Advances in technology mean that some equipment has come down in price recently. What this means for the client is that you now have access to kit that until recently was out of the reach of smaller production companies e.g. drones and 4K cameras.
However, investing in this equipment is still an expensive pursuit for production companies. So whether the kit is in-house or rented in for your job you should expect to pay something for its use. A good production company will advise you about the kit they believe is required to meet your objectives and they shouldn’t try to bamboozle you with technical jargon.
We own our own professional camera, light and sound kit. Occasionally we might need to hire in specialist items (e.g. certain prime lenses, a track and dolly, cranes or underwater cameras etc.).
The bottom line is that it pays to use the best and correct kit you can for your production. It will mean your video stands out from the crowd of generally low quality online video.
6. Whose responsible for organising everything?
Project management is one of the most important aspects of any video production, without it things would quickly unravel. It includes planning for meetings and phone calls, booking crew, organising logistics for filming, preparing proposals, budgets, contracts, release forms and call sheets as well as securing permissions and licenses. It’s generally the job of our producer Samantha to take care of this side of things; essentially she keeps the video production ship on course.
7. Is a longer video more expensive?
Video length can be a misleading indicator of cost because a longer video doesn’t necessarily mean it will cost more to produce. For example a 1 minute animated video will most likely be more expensive to produce than a 3 minute talking head video shot from one or two angles. In any case we generally advise that shorter is sweeter when it comes to online video because audience attention spans are ever shrinking. The bottom line is that your video should be the right length for your audience.
Now read Part 3: Production Costs