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Why is Video so Expensive?

October 14th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

Pretend you want to build a nice, 2nd story deck for your home. If this deck was your video and you spent $10,000 on it, where would your money go?…

$1500 to hire an architect (Writer) and a contractor (Producer)

The script is like the plans for the deck. Writing this blueprint is one of the smallest costs so it is especially important to get this right.

How to keep costs under control in this area (pre production) -

  1. Take your time hiring the right producer/director for the job
  2. Hire a writer who is also a producer. (Architect + Contractor in one)
  3. More time scripting = less confusion during production (accurate plans)
  4. Get everyone in planning meetings so you have fewer of them. (fewer cross-town trips)
  5. If you need a studio, hire a company that has one
  6. If you need to shoot in a specific format (like HD) hire someone who has the equipment

$3500 for the contractor and his/her team to build the basic structure (production day)

There are a lot of resources needed at a place and time for the production to go well. Most crews and talent are booked for the day so there is no discount for finishing early.

How to keep costs under control in this area (production) -

  1. Make sure you have all client stakeholders sign off on the plan for the video. (Homeowner AND Spouse)
  2. Make sure everyone agrees on the details. (don’t assume they won’t care about the stain)
  3. Schedule a rehearsal, show the client. (A “tester” sample of the work)
  4. Record excellent audio. (Like wiring your deck for lighting as it is built)

$4000 for the contractor to complete and finish the deck (editing and sound)

Cost here is sheer time it takes for a good editor to do his/her work. Many hours are spent sifting through footage and cutting together the best video for your review. Included in this cost is the sound design (music and sound effects) and output rendering.

How to keep costs under control in this area (post production) -

  1. Don’t shoot extra during production, just capture what you need
  2. Collect the entire list of feedback before the editor makes any changes
  3. Descriptive and specific feedback (“can you make the deck more intense?” doesn’t say much)
  4. Deliver assets to editor on time (logos, stock footage, etc.)
  5. Deliver music to editor beforehand (if applicable)

$1000 or more on the finishing touches

Costs can vary significantly for finishing visual and audio effects. It is also not only the hardest to estimate, but costs can quickly spiral out of control.

How to keep costs under control in this area (post production effects) -

  1. Completely script graphic sequences like open and close beforehand
  2. Take precautions during greenscreen shoot so that you can pull a nice key later
  3. Hire someone that knows what they are doing for complex visual effects
  4. Eliminate any other special effects that don’t contribute to the story

For our $10,000 project, here are some sample additional costs
- Greenscreen on location $1000 per day
- Greenscreen studio $2000 per day
- Matchmoving $1000
- 3D modeling $1500
- Music track $750
- Voiceover track $750
- Sound Effects $500
- Compositing $1500
- Motion Graphics $1500
- Cleaning up poorly recorded sound $750

Now, you have built your video and it is sturdy and stunning. Now you are ready for the party!

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