How much does professional video production cost?
The very short answer to this question is that you can get a video made for your business for next to nothing. How? You may have a friend who is a professional videographer, you could find a film student looking to sharpen their portfolio or perhaps you could do a service exchange with a video production company.
Whatever opportunities are available to you are certainly worth exploring, however if you’re are looking to invest in a professional video for you business and are starting to reach out to production companies or marketing agencies, here is a very general view of how much you can expect a professional video to cost, broken down into one of four pricing brackets.
- Bracket 1 – under £1000
- Bracket 2 – from £1500 – £3000
- Bracket 3 – from £5000 to £10,000
- Bracket 4 – over £10,000
Now naturally these brackets vary from company to company, project to project, but this is a good baseline for what you can expect. Videos can of course cost more, with some upwards of £100,000 but those are reserved for larger brands who have multi-million pound annual marketing budgets.
At first the pricing may seem rather confusing, even within those initial four brackets, there is a massive range in price, Bracket 3 for example has a £5000 variance from top to bottom. Why is that?
My aim with this article is to help you understand what elements influence the price of a video, so that you can start to think clearly about what kind of video you’d like to make and are clued up and ready for that proposal to come back from the production company.
We’re going to cover in detail:
- The different types of videos you can have made
- The video production process and what factors influence price at each stage
- Other elements that can influence price, such as actors, locations and props
- Questions to ask yourself before you embark on a video project
Different types of videos
As video marketing continues to grow in popularity and effectiveness, and as more and more distribution platforms emerge, the types of videos start to merge and become a little blurry. For example what really constitutes a Facebook video or a YouTube video. Nonetheless, below are some good, solid examples of videos that businesses just like yours are using in their digital marketing strategies.
Talking Head Videos
One of the most commonly seen videos online are talking head videos. If you’re a regular on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, you will have seen hundreds of talking heads. As the name suggests these are simple videos featuring one person talking to the camera about a certain topic. These videos might then be complemented with additional footage (known as b-roll or cutaways), graphics such as charts, tables and icons, or supporting text elements. Many of these videos are today recorded with just an iPhone and if you’re looking to make a video to post organically on your social media platforms, is actually probably enough.
However, if you wanted to create a video that was more polished and perhaps something you wanted to pay to run as an advert on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram, then this is a good, reasonably inexpensive option.
You can expect the filming of this video to take around half a day – the production company will need time to set up and they will want to give you enough time to ease into it and feel like you gave your best presentation – after all this video is going to promote your business, so it’s worth the time and takes to get it right.
Following this you could expect the editing to take around one to two days, depending on if you’re adding other elements to the video, like text, graphics etc.
Interview videos take the talking head concept one step further and it is here that we see a slight change in style. Rather than the speaker talking directly to the camera, they will be looking to one side and speaking to an interviewer hidden from view off camera.
Interview videos can feature one person or multiple people, depending on what the video is trying to convey. You may for example want two people sitting side by side so that they can bounce off one another when answering questions, or you may want to interview them one and a time and then cut backwards and forward between them during editing.
For client testimonial videos for example you might want to interview several people from your clients business to present a more rounded story of how you worked with them. They would be interviewed one at a time and then the best bits edited together into a video that moves between them, crafting a detailed story from their point of view. Like talking head videos, these are often complemented with additional footage, graphics and text.
Filming could take anything from half a day to several days depending on how many people are being interviewed and whether they can all be present at the same location, on the same day.
Following this, editing may take around two to three days, again depending on how many interviews there are for the video editors to go through and whether there will be any additional footage, graphics or text that needs to be included.
The term promotional video is, in my opinion, a little misleading, because it only really covers what the video is designed to do – promote something – be it the business as a whole, or a specific product or service. Unfortunately it doesn’t give much away in terms of what to expect from a style point of view.
Whilst this may be confusing at first, it is actually very important, because there are almost an infinite number of ways in which these videos can be filmed and put together. Let’s think about a TV adverts for a moment, a video promoting Coca Cola, is going to look very different to one promoting Lloyds Bank. An advert promoting a toothpaste is going to be very different to one promoting sports clothes.
It is because of this that you want to spend time talking and discussing ideas with whichever production company or marketing agency you want to work with. The most important thing with a promotional video is that not only does your audience get a solid understanding of whatever it is you’re promoting, but that it also grabs their attention and is engaging enough to get them watching and more importantly keep them watching. Ultimately this comes down to the story, the visuals and the message. None of us want to hear it, but the product features, specs and benefits are not as important as the videos ability to get them watching. You can have the best product in the world, but if your advertising is not engaging, people won’t consume it, regardless of what you have to offer.
Take time thinking about your audience, your brand and your product. What do you think could be done to make it engaging and visually stimulating? Have you seen any videos before that you like the style of? You don’t have to commit to the first idea that is circulated, brainstorm, ask the opinions of those around you and will eventually end up at an idea that you love and feel will be powerful enough to grab your audience’s attention and make them want to buy your product or service.
Animation is a genre of video all of its own, with many sub-genres and styles sitting underneath it.
One of the most cost and time efficient types of animations are Whiteboard Videos, you’ve likely seen these on LinkedIn and are a very popular piece of content amongst coaches and consultants. The reason they are considered relatively inexpensive and quick to create is because they are created using specialist software where all of the animation elements are pre-built, reducing the time required to design how each element will move. That being said they still require a significant amount of design work, voiceovers and decision of what will animate, when and where. For these whiteboard animations you can expect to pay around £500 – £1200 and they’ll likely take around one to two weeks to create from start to finish.
Next you have 2D animation videos. Like promotional videos, the style in which these take is totally bespoke and unique. These videos utilise text, icons, vectors, photographs, moving backgrounds and sometimes video clips to create something very visual and dynamic. The beauty of these types of videos is that there are no rules, unlike in a normal video where your images need to be grounded in the real world – for example your Managing Director might look rather weird if they had blue skin and were flipped upside down during an interview – bit extreme I know, but you get the idea.
These are particularly popular amongst I.T, Technology and Professional Services businesses, as they’re a good way to visualise complex ideas and processes to make them easier for potential clients to understand who may not necessarily be that clued up on what you do, but know they need your services, and it also makes them more visually appealing. For these types of animations you can expect to pay anywhere from £2000 – £7000 depending on what is going into them and will likely take between one to two months to complete.
And finally you have 3D animation videos. In all honesty these are mainly utilised by large brands as the process is much more complicated and time consuming, and often beyond the skills of many in-house animators. They may also be used by technology and engineering companies to visualise the specific parts of whatever it is they are manufacturing. For these you’re likely looking at upwards of £10K to create and a good couple of months to complete.
The video production process
Whilst every project is different, all video production projects are split into three main phases:
- Pre-Production (the planning stage)
- Production (the filming and recording process)
- Post-production (the editing of the video)
At each of these stages there are various potential costs that may need to be taken into account that can affect the final budget of the video.
This is the most important stage of all. It is at this point that all decisions will have a significant impact on what the final video will look like and what it will cost.
At this initial stage of the project the video production company or marketing agency will want to spend a good amount of time discussing the video with you: who it’s aimed at, what it needs to show, where it will be distributed and what it will look like.
In addition to these strategic decisions, this is also where the video script is written, concept ideas are sketched and debated, and storyboards are drawn up. Each one of these is incredibly important not only to ensure the video is produced efficiently, but also for you as the client to have a clear idea of what you will be getting as a final product.
Now not all videos require full scripts, for example if you’re creating an interview driven video, it’s naturally difficult to know what the interviewees will say, so you can’t really craft the story in its entirety. However, what you can do is draft out all of the questions you would like to ask to ensure that you’re going to be covering all of the topics you need to.
For those videos that do require a script, this might be a detailed visual description of what is going to happen at each stage of the video so that you and the production company know exactly what shots are going to be needed to tell the story. If these images are then just going to be set to music, then this is all you need.
Taking the script one step further, if your video is going to feature people talking to one another (perhaps using actors), or if the video is going to be narrated by a voiceover, then these spoken words will be written into the script alongside the visual descriptions.
Similarly to scriptwriting, not all videos require storyboards. For talking heads, interview videos and some styles of promotional videos they don’t add any value, but for animations and videos with very specific images that need to be crafted, then these are incredibly important. The aim of a storyboard is to help visualise and show what each part of the video will look like, which can be very useful to you as the client, but also act as a guide for the production team when they are filming each segment or capturing something challenging or complex.
An alternative to storyboarding is to write a shot list. Rather than draw out each shot as individual images, shot lists are designed as a bullet pointed list describing each shot that needs to be filmed. It can be a useful checklist to work through during the filming day.
At the end of the pre-production process you should know: the aim of the video, the audience, the distribution platform, the story (or questions), the creative/visual concept and some idea of what the shots will be.
Production is where all of the footage and audio is recorded and requires a significant proportion of the budget. Regardless of what type of video you’re creating, the project will require at least half a day to record if not more. How many days that are needed will depend on a number of factors:
- Amount of footage that needs to be captured
- Number of locations and where they are geographically (i.e. can they all be done in one day or not)
- Complexity of footage to be captured (the more complex the shots required, the longer they will take to set up)
- Availability of participants. For example if you’re interviewing your staff, can they all be available on the same day or not?
Some projects may be able to be captured by one single person with a single camera, however the larger the project scope, the more that needs to be captured and the complexity of what is being captured, may require multiple people. Whilst you will pay more for a day of filming with multiple people, it can often be more time efficient and therefore cost efficient to capture things with more than one camera than rush around trying to capture everything with one person, or slip into additional filming days.
For example, a conference event video may require 3 people to record and cover the whole event. This might be split up into 2 people filming the speakers on the stage with multiple cameras to capture different angles, and then a third person roaming around the room capturing footage of the audience, interviewing attendees and capturing other points of interest.
Another example might be a shoot involving actors. For this the project might have a director (someone to work with the actors), two camera operators so that each actor’s lines can be filmed simultaneously, a sound recordist to focus solely on the sound to ensure everything is recorded clearly and possibly a lighting person to set up lights and other large equipment that is required. If this project was to be done with just one or two people, it would likely take multiple days and you may not have access to the location, or the ability to get everyone together across different days.
The video equipment also comes into play during the production stage. Now most video production companies and marketing agencies will typically own most, if not all of their own equipment and so this will make this stage a little cheaper for you. However from time to time they may need to hire specialist equipment to allow them to capture your project properly, which may well then be added to the budget. For example if you’re planning on filming inside of a moving car, the company might need to hire specialist equipment to be able to safely mount cameras inside and outside of the car.
It is important to remember that turning up to film a video for a day requires a lot more than simply setting up a camera and pressing record. A lot of time, effort and energy goes into framing the shots, lighting and sound, and you are relying on the production company’s expertise to not only be able to capture everything, but also be able to deal with any issues that may arise.
For example what do you do when the sun suddenly comes out midway through filming? It may not sound like an issue, but if it is not dealt with, it will mean that the look of the images won’t match and the people in front of the camera may drift in and out of bright sunlight. This is an easy fix, but you need to know what you’re doing, so be aware that when the production team takes some time to set up the equipment, they are doing it to ensure the shoot goes smoothly and they capture the perfect footage for your video.
This final stage of the video production process is where the majority of the time goes and a significant proportion of the budget. Once all of the footage has been captured it then needs to then be edited and turned into whatever video or videos are being made as part of the project.
The editing phase is a two-way process. The video editing team will usually edit together a first version of the video, closely following the brief, script and concept that was agreed at the start. They will then send this video over to you for your feedback. At this stage you’ll be able to comment on the structure of the video, the shots used, the pace, the music, the length, graphics, text and provide your comments to the production team, who will then be able to make the amendments or discuss with you why certain suggestions may or may not work and explore alternative ideas. This back and forth typically spans for 2 or 3 rounds before arriving at the final video that is ready to be shared.
Depending on how much footage was shot, the complexity of the video, the length of the video and whether it will require any animation or motion graphics, will have an influence on how long the editing process will take and therefore how much it may cost. Most videos need at least two or three days of editing, factoring in time to make any amendments you’d like.
Be aware that some production companies or marketing agencies may charge extra should the editing process span beyond a certain number of revisions, so it’s a good idea to make sure you understand this right at the beginning before the project kicks off and collect video from each stakeholder in your organisation before you send it over to the production company.
Volume of output
It goes without saying that if you’re looking to create more than one video, then the cost and time required for filming or editing will increase. That being said, there are usually good economies of scale that can be reached when creating multiple pieces of video content. For example you may spend one day filming five different interviews, which will then be turned into five unique videos.
It’s worth speaking with your production company or marketing agency to understand what else they might be able to provide you with to ensure you can maximise your investment and extend the lifespan of your videos. For example, different social media platforms have different formats they require for video content. For YouTube you will use the traditional rectangular format, for LinkedIn and Facebook it will be square, and for Instagram stories and TikTok, it will be portrait.
It doesn’t take much to convert a video into each of these formats and it’s 100% worth whatever the extra cost may be to ensure that your content can be used and optimised across as many different digital platforms as possible.
What else contributes to the price?
Hiring professional Actors, Models & Voiceover Artists
Some video projects may require the services of professional actors, models or voiceover artists. It’s fine to use your friends, families and colleagues in your videos, but remember they are not professionals and therefore there will be a limit to what they can do or how effective their performance might be. Remember, the success of your video comes down to how engaging it is to the audience and your Mum’s best friend may not have the acting ability to drive a specific message home.
Nonetheless, should your video require the services of a professional performer, the production company or marketing agency will be able to source these for you, either by running their own casting calls across a number of professional websites, contacting modelling/casting agencies or by reaching out to people they already know and have worked with before.
Naturally, if you are working with a performer they will have an impact on the budget, and remember that this is their profession and means of making a living and so they deserve to be paid a fair fee for not only their time during production, but also the use of their face and voice for your business.
Fees for performers varies, but you can expect to pay anywhere from £150 – £500+ a day for their services. Of course anyone with significant TV or film experience and credits will be able to demand much much more. Typically the production company will just add this into the budget at cost and will take care of the payments to them.
Locations & props
Many business videos are filmed in the offices of the clients and you’d be surprised how amazing a standard office can look with some clever framing and lighting. However for some videos you might not want to film in an office, or perhaps it doesn’t suit the story you’re trying to tell, in which case you’ll need to look for alternative locations.
For some videos these locations might be very unique, for example our team needed to film in a World War Two air raid shelter for one of hour videos. To achieve this we ended up booking out a large room a local church had available in a barn they owned and then built a set inside.
Depending on what you need it’s beneficial to explore your local area to see what spaces are available. A good safe bet are local hotels. These are very popular venues for recording videos because they often have large meeting rooms that are spacious enough for all of the equipment to be set up in and versatile enough to record a number of different types of videos in. They are often suitable for building sets like we did. Naturally with it being a hotel, you’ll likely have to pay a room hire fee. If the production company or marketing agency is sourcing this for you, they’ll likely just add it at-cost to their quote.
Paying for video production
When it comes to paying for your video, most video production companies and marketing agencies will charge in instalments. Here are some typical examples:
- 50% in advance. 50% on completion.
- 50% in advance. 25% on delivery of the first version. 25% on completion.
- 25% in advance. 25% on delivery of the first version. 50% on completion.
You may also find that expenses might be added on top, though many will just bundle them in. These expenses could be for travel, accommodation, actors, location hire or props.
Questions you should ask yourself
Before you embark on any video project it’s worth asking yourself the following questions to ensure you get the most out of your project and are able to effectively brief the production company or marketing agency.
- What do you need the video to achieve?
- Who is the video aimed at?
- Where do you envision using it?
- How much can you afford to invest?
- When do you need the video delivered by?
- Are there any videos you’ve seen before that you feel would fit your brand?
So how much is your next video going to cost?
As you’ve seen, there are a lot of variables that can go into making a video and no one project is alike, but hopefully the information in this article will help guide you on what you can expect from your next video project.