What’s up with video production costs?

By Matt Bertram

By Matt Bertram

Matt Bertram is Head of Digital Strategy at EWR Digital. He is a nationally recognized expert in SEO and the Co-Host of the top rated SEO Podcast, "The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing." Author of Build Your Brand Mania: How to Transform Yourself Into an Authoritative Brand That Will Attract Your Ideal Customers with contributing articles in Forbes, Search Engine Journal and numerous other publications pertaining to digital marketing.

How much does a 15-30 second commercial/video cost?

We get this question almost every week, and the short answer is “it depends.” Your needs, tastes, and many other factors determine the overall cost of a commercial production. While we would love to give every one of our customers a set-in-stone price, the short answer is that producing a commercial could easily range anywhere from $500 to $100,000.

Video Session - EWR DigitalVideo Length: Short doesn’t always mean less expensive

The common misconception with video is that the longer the video, the more work will be required in post-editing; the more work required post-editing, the higher the cost. Seems pretty straightforward – right?

Unfortunately – this isn’t always the case. The length of a video does not dictate the price of the finished product. If you compare a  4-minute video to a 1 min the actual overall cost differential, can often be negligible. Why is this?

The answer is less about the length of the video, but its content. So, before rejecting any quotes and becoming dismayed over the cost for a short or long video, let’s dig deeper and see where these costs are coming from.

Content is king

“Why did I get such a high quote for such a short video?!” The answer to this lies in the details. If you were quoted a high price for a short video placement, the next step is to understand why those numbers are high. For example, because a commercial is so quick, every single second must count. Each moment of that 30 second spot must be carefully crafted, concise, and highly effective.

The nuts and bolts of a video consist of its content. It’s where everything is tied to. From the pre-production, production, and post-production phases, the content will guide the price and direction of your video. From planning for multiple locations and how many crew members and hours it takes to plan and produce and get it edited. This also includes takes, retakes, lighting, composition, sound design, and much more. Remember, choosing to have only 30 seconds to work with – content must be spot-on.

Production Complexity

An elaborative production will always be a higher cost than something straightforward and basic. How elaborate you want your video to be – from a long or a short commercial – can be determined by your budget. If you want a commercial production that includes a carefully crafted and detailed pre-planning/production to get the message across and intense animations or visual effects – you’re looking at a higher price tag. This higher priced piece also comes with a more experienced crew that can also bring additional perks to your final product.

If you’re trying to cut costs, you will need to consider fewer video effects and a less complex production. Cutting some corners to lower the production costs may bring down the production value to a degree. While you can save money by creating a “simpler” production, if you cut this way you may potentially remove team members who are typically involved to help the production process go smoothly, and this could affect your overall timeline and produced piece.

How an experienced crew affects your costs

A larger and more experienced crew will also play a huge role in the expenses involved. A large crew will definitely have higher costs than a small crew would. Similarly, an experienced crew will likely charge more per hour or per day than a little to no experience would. Below are what industry average crew rates look like. (Note: these ranges depend on skill & experience as well as geographic location):Video camera - EWR Digital

Director: $2,500 – $4,000 a day

DIrector of Photography : $1,200 – $1,800 a day

1st Assistant Camera: $500 –  $800 a day

Editor:  $95 – $175 an hour

Actors:  $100 – $500 an hour

Long videos or short videos: the choice is up to you

When trying to decide which one you should go for, be sure the price doesn’t hinge on the length or the effectiveness of your video. Your price will depend on the video’s purpose, audience, and distribution. It is important to be conscious of the viewer’s attention span as there are many techniques that should be utilized to ensure a 3-minute video is watched to the end. Just know, for “long videos” explaining a complicated concept or idea are mainly for the ones who truly care about what it has to say and who more likely support your cause.

Keep in mind, if you want to reach the widest audience, shorter videos have proven to be more effective at keeping your audience’s attention to the end. According to a video hosting site wistia.com, 50% more people will finish a 1-minute video than a 2-minute video. But they also say that 50% more people will engage with a 4-minute video than a 5-10 minute video. So if you’re creating long, go long. If you want to go short, you can be successful with that as well.

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