• The Real Cost of Video: How to Budget Your Next Shoot

    On average, IT Marketers should expect to pay anywhere between $5,000-$50,000 to produce professional-quality marketing videos for their target audience. In this post, we’ll explore these costs and the drivers.

    IT Marketers continue to adopt video as an important tool in their digital marketing mix with 70% of B2B marketers now using video (Eloqua). As you can see with these stats, online video can be an extremely effective way to communicate with your audience, no matter where they are in the sales cycle. Because of the accessibility of the production tools, companies of all sizes are now using video at all quality levels effectively.  For many IT marketers the question isn’t IF they want to be producing content it’s HOW to go about it.

    Video can be very complex or surprisingly simple, depending on the goals. In order to help your team go about creating content, you’ll need to start with planning. This is a deep dive into what some of the typical costs may be for producing video content and some of these may not apply, but better to consider them so you can plan ahead for when they do come up. Unless you plan to produce all your video with your iPhone, a big part of your planning is likely to be budgeting.

    People: Whether you create the content in-house, hire freelancers or a production company, someone has to do the work.  You may be able to get cost-efficiencies by having certain production tasks performed by one person, but this is typically at the cost of better quality results you’d probably get with specialists in each role (which is more expensive).

    Some of the roles that may need filling are producer, director, camera operator, editor, actors, sound recording technician, graphic designer and animator. The cost of each of these roles varies widely based on experience, knowledge, talent and local market prices.  In my experience, the range of freelance talent can vary from a couple hundred to a couple thousand a day.

    Average cost for crew: Approximately $500-$1,000 per person/per day.

    Travel days are typically between 50%-100% of the person’s day rate per day of travel.

    Equipment: In most productions, you’ll need some way to capture images and edit them.  The gear your production might call includes: camera, tripod, dolly or jib, lights, microphones, sound mixer, batteries, data cards, editing computer, software and more.  For basic video, you may really be able to use your phone – this will work for a basic ‘we were here’ event video.  If you are working with even a basic professional camera crew, you should anticipate spending a couple thousand dollars per shoot day.  Because IT attracts so many technical people, you very well may have someone in your organization with the gear, skills and time to help out on a special project.

    Typical video production gear: Typical prices range between $1,000-$5,000 per shoot day.

    Assets: There are additional assets that your project may call for.  You’ll need legal rights to use content that isn’t yours so you might want to purchase a license for some stock/archive footage, photo or graphic assets. The prices vary widely from a few dollars to thousands per asset; generally speaking the more specialized, the more expensive. Tape is largely dead and most video is now data, which means it needs to be stored somewhere. Projects can be hundreds of gigabytes, maybe more. Try and plan to purchase a couple of hard drives that have large data connections and are able to transfer and store the media assets quickly and securely, ideally with a back up for redundancy. We use 500GB-1TB hard drives like they are going out of style. They can be purchased for a 1-2 hundred dollars, making it easy to share assets between parties.

    Typical asset costs: These average between $200-$5,000 for IT Marketing video projects.

    Locations: In many cases, IT Marketers will be shooting video at their company or a partner/client’s office, with their permission. If you want a different location, you may need permission and/or a permit, even if it’s a public place. The rules vary widely. Permits can frequently be anywhere between a hundred or on the steep end, maybe a few thousand dollars, depending on shoot size (how big your footprint is). Some locations can be rented, like a coffee shop or a private home – generally the more corporate, the harder it is to do. You may need to rent a studio for a controlled environment and those can be a few hundred to several thousand dollars per day.

    Locations: These tend to cost between $1,000-$3,000 per day.

    Travel: This can be a big one. Not only might you need the expected flights/hotel/meals, but flying around the world with camera gear also can incur extra baggage fees, transportation logistical fees (like van rental) or even customs/immigrations logistical challenges. It might not be a big deal, especially with smaller crews but it’s not uncommon for a crew to have an extra couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars (depending on gear, travel days, flight legs and bag size) that are directly tied to transporting the gear. Plus, some of the bags can be very heavy and irregular shapes, potentially incurring additional costs. Pro tip: You might need a translator too, which can be a few hundred a day.

    Travel costs: These will vary widely and tend to average between $3,000-$10,000.

    Expendables: There could be all kinds of props, expendables and miscellaneous things that your production calls for: a generator/electricity, maybe an internet satellite truck, etc. It’s probably not useful to outline all possible costs here as they vary so widely but I recommend planning ahead before finalizing any budget.

    Expendable costs: These tend to range between $200-$3,000.

    Music licensing: It’s illegal to use music in a public broadcast that you don’t own without permission, even if it’s posted online. Most professional video producers will help you license music for your video. The costs can vary widely from the 20-50 dollar range for basic music to several hundred for good production music and way up from there if you want to license a well known music act’s big hit.  I’ve never had to license a really big hit for a big fortune 500 client but I’d bet it’s in the 10K-100K range and up.

    Music licensing: Music tends to cost between $100-$2,000.

    While this list is by know means complete nor is it guaranteed to apply to your specific situation, I think it helps frame the issues for you so you can properly plan and budget for the types of video content your organization is hoping to produce.

    THE BIG TAKE AWAY: Most IT Marketing video projects will range in the $5,000-$50,000 range. Above $50,000 and you are in the upper tier of broadcast quality work. Below $5,000 and you are likely in the hobbyist/non-professional amateur market.

    As IT Marketers continue to use more video for marketing purposes, the smart ones will be developing both an internal and external production capability. By being able to put more content out there, you’ll only increase the ways in which your audiences can more easily learn more about your company, your products, your brands.  Good luck and happy shooting!

    For more tips on video marketing, download the new guide “5 Killer Business Uses for Video.”

    Dane Frederiksen owns Digital Accomplice, a Bay Area digital media company focused on creating video content for the tech and marketing industries.

    Dane has been has been creating content for over 20 years and has worked with clients across the world, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, USATODAY, Google, Adobe, Nokia, Microsoft, Sony, EA, Ubisoft, Activision and many more around the globe. His work has won several national awards.

    A big idea entrepreneur with connections across the games/tech/geek media and marketing communities, Dane is helping businesses successfully tell their stories with video.

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