Video production prices might seem like a dark art, but they’re not. We reveal exactly how we calculate a video production cost and show you examples of what you’ll get.

Remember when you bought your car? How much did you pay for it? How much more, or less, could it have cost had you chosen different options? Video production prices – like almost anything else – follows a similar principle.

In video production, there are some fixed costs associated with every production. Then there are extras that you might opt for, or indeed your particular production might require. In this post, we’ll share with you the formula we use for pricing a video production. Hopefully this will ease your mind and allow you to concentrate on the real value a video can provide for your company.

Caption/Description: Mohammed Alasfoor of Designer Shaik being filmed by Gulf Broadcast. Keywords: mohammed alasfoor, designer shaik, luxury products, video production, corporate, film, lights, video camera, cameraman, bahrain

Let’s cut to the chase. Here are some of our previous productions with guide budgets to give you some idea of what you should expect video production prices to be. We welcome you calling us to discuss your particular project and we’ll help you define an appropriate budget for your production.

Feel free to click on any of the sample productions below. These will take you to our YouTube channel which contains hundreds of videos. Let me know if you wish to discuss any in particular.

In the above examples, other than the price brackets, you will have noticed that “shoot and edit days” are specified. These are basic factors that determine the cost of the project. The common denominators in pricing video production include: the costs of people employed creating the film, the equipment they use and the time they use to do so.

You must have noticed the credits at the end of any film you’ve watched. In every film production there are hundreds of skilled people involved, all of whom need to be paid. In corporate filmmaking, we whittle those huge lists of people and skills to the absolute minimum in order to reduce the cost of production. We normally make do with three to five people, adding more skills as needed. Of course the more people you add, the more the production costs will rise.

The primary personnel involved in a corporate film production include a producer and director, a cameraman and sound recordist, an editor and graphic artist and a production assistant. Each of these do a specific function in the production depending on its phase; most will double-up and do multiple jobs out of necessity.

The Production Phases

All film and video production projects go through three primary phases. Pre-production is the first phase where the preparation and project management work is done. The second phase is the actual production phase. This normally includes filming. Finally the post-production phase is where the film, or any other material, is stitched together and edited to tell your story. The number of people and resources involved in each phase will have an impact on the production cost.

Let’s break them down to phase milestones that you can attribute some costs to, to arrive at the final tally.

Pre-production

This is where the vision and mission of the production is defined. In this critical step, initial meetings are held between the producer and the client to define the objectives of the production and the scope of work.

At this phase, the kind of video that is best suited to the project is determined. This can be a live action on-location film, a motion graphics and animation production, 3D, presentation-type film or a combination of all of these elements. Each of those elements will have prerequisites which will affect the final costs. The common denominators between all of these are the time it would take to execute the production, and the kind of talent required to ensure that the vision is delivered.

The actual tasks that impact cost in this phase is the production of a concept, script and storyboard. If any of these critical elements can be provided by the client, then obviously the cost of the production will be lower.

As a guide, a concept might cost BD100 – 300. A script might cost between BD300 – 500. Meanwhile a storyboard is normally priced per frame and also depends on the artist. Generally though, a frame is priced at about BD15. The number of frames required depends on the details of the script and its breakdown. I’d budget BD200 – 300 for storyboarding, and this will be on the conservative side.

The other aspect of pre-production is project management. If the client is willing to take over all the project management tasks, then that would reduce costs. However, I don’t think it is practical to expect that the client would have access to actor and model databases, technical and creative freelancers who might be required for the production or the sourcing of additional production equipment. In the best case scenario, this is a shared task to ensure the success of the endeavour. Usually, project management would cost from BD150 – 450 for the project.

Production

Once all the preparatory work is completed and the script is in place, actual filming can begin. There are several things that need to be considered here too. The kind of equipment required from camera, to lights, to sound acquisition and other accessories like tripods and stands. We have already determined that it will take three to five people to be on-set in most small-budget corporate productions. Those will include the producer and director, the cameraman and the cameraman’s assistant. In addition to these costs – which normally are calculated per hour or per day – the cost of equipment come in. A high definition professional camera will run between BD150 – 250 per day (half day is normally the shortest time a production house would hire their camera equipment for). The audio, lighting and accessories will run about BD50 per day. The personnel’s remuneration will vary dependent on experience and expertise as well. Generally, a producer and director would be BD300 – 450 per day while the director of photography / cameraman would be around BD250. The production or camera assistant would be BD100 per day.

Another factor that would come in here is the decision to whether to use a single or two-camera set-up. The second camera is sometimes crucial to acquire additional angles or footage required for the production and it might need to come with its own set of lights and other accessories as well. We normally film interviews with two cameras to provide a more dynamic edit.

In order to make the production more interesting and more dynamic, additional footage will be required. That material – called B-Roll, cut-aways or coverage shots – will add to the amount of time the kit will be needed as will its attendant staff. Although this is an additional expense, its effect could easily be identified as it will add a lot to the production values, and it is these particular additions that increase the price in some of the more expensive productions noted earlier. Have a look at some of the links above and see if you can spot the difference between productions.

Once the script is broken down into individual scenes and shots, the director will be able to determine how much time is required for the full production. He will be able to determine, through experience, how many days are required. Once that is known, then it’s easy enough to calculate costs of equipment and personnel for that particular shoot.

There are a few additional items that we need to consider for this phase of production too. These include the requirement of any additional specialist equipment like a teleprompter and its operator, models, extras, on-camera talent – like a presenter for instance – hair and make-up, wardrobe, security and many other factors that the production might require. Note that these prices will again vary dependent on availability, skill and expertise.

Post-production

Once all the material is acquired, we arrive at the post-production stage. This is where the story is stitched together and told.

As you might imagine, in a professional outfit, professional editing equipment and software will be used. More importantly, the edit suite will be manned by professional editors who are excellent at their job and who will use their expertise and creativity to quickly finish the production to the satisfaction of the client. Normal costs for editors and edit suites will run between BD300 – 500 per day, and generally, budget films like corporate productions will take between three to five days in the edit suite to be completed.

Post-production doesn’t only contain the editing of the film. It will also include the critical “finishing and sweetening” of that film. This is a process of ensuring that the colours are at broadcast quality throughout the film and that the audio levels are appropriately adjusted and distributed. Additional “foley” sounds might be added as well as “music beds” to make the production more interesting.

Any musical element used in a professional production will be “rights cleared” and licensed for use in that production. The production agency will satisfy that legal requirement to ensure that the film can be viewed and enjoyed throughout the world without it being pulled by platforms like YouTube and Facebook for rights violations. This is just one of the legal aspects of the production that professional production houses will take care of on behalf of their clients.

There are additional items that might be needed for a production. Those might include voice-over recordings (single language or multi-lingual), subtitling, translation, bespoke music production, production of specific animations and graphics as well as the use of stock footage or photographs. All of these items have their own costs to be added. Let’s also not forget the revisions which might be required after client viewing that will need to be factored in. Normally, production houses allow for two minor revisions to be made free of charge. Remember that major revisions cannot be accommodated as the script – on which the whole production is based – has already been reviewed and approved by the client. If a structural change is required, then a substantial amount might be charged.

There you have it. In this industry, we all try to make it as easy as possible for the client and believe me, all of us try very hard to create templates with standard pricing, but I hope I have demonstrated above the breadth and depth of productions and how each one is very unique. There is no one-size-fits-all unfortunately and those who promise this are doing themselves – let alone their potential clients – a disservice.

What I hope the above at least demonstrated is that there are standard prices for the skill-sets to be employed. And the market being as competitive as it is, tend to regularize itself so that an average is established dictated by the market. If a production company is to succeed and thrive, it simply cannot quote the cost of a director or a cameraman much above what is established in their market. Likewise, they will be discouraged from undercutting that average as well as their production values will ultimately suffer, leading their clients to desert them and they will exit the market due to financial losses.

I’m not suggesting that you could not negotiate. If you feel that you could, please go ahead, but I would encourage a win-win attitude. Believe me, if the production house is “squeezed” mercilessly, they will accept the job, but they’ll probably accept it for cash flow purposes rather than to win prizes with the production. So be reasonable and think long term to select the right production partner, then stick to them. Allow them to learn your industry and very quickly you will find that they will contribute to the production appreciably while finding ways to reduce costs even further.

I’d be happy to answer any specific questions you might have. You can either leave a comment below, email me at hello@gb.bh or just pick up the phone and call me on +973-33668811. I’d love to hear from you through any method.

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