Written by Merry Fidler
Video making is now more accessible to the average person than ever before. So, why are professional videos still so expensive? Ultimately, the answer is relative — one’s definition of “expensive” and the type of video desired are significant variables. Nevertheless, we want to outline a few reasons why a professional ad will likely be more than a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars (but also why it’s worth it!).
Professional video making is a service that is just like any other; it’s a skill that takes a lot of education and time to hone. The prevalence of videos can make them seem easy to produce, but just because someone can film a wedding or has a Youtube channel doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to produce something like a staged commercial. What’s more, one person isn’t usually enough to create a well-polished video. Our crews typically don’t dip below four people, and even that can be considered a skeleton crew.
But before and after the shoot, there’s other labor involved — a lot of it. Scriptwriters, producers, actors, location scouts, production designers, hair and makeup, wardrobe, storyboarders, editors, sound mixers, animators, music supervisors, and colorists, to name a few. Sometimes team members will wear several of these hats, but the work involved in planning, designing, and executing those multiple roles remains the same.
Your video’s price reflects the small (or large!) village required to properly make your commercial.
Quality cameras are easy to find these days; your phone can probably even shoot in 4k. But cameras are just a portion of the equipment needed for a professional shoot. Something that sets professional camerawork apart is its use of multiple quality lenses, and these lenses can be more expensive than the camera body itself. Professional lights are arguably the most critical factor in creating a high-quality image; it can take many of them to illuminate something like a windowless studio or abandoned warehouse. Even scenes with “natural” light can require the boost of artificial light sources. And don’t forget audio equipment, which, if it is subpar, will sink your video faster than anything.
Post-production also comes with a host of its own equipment needs. Cameras can now shoot in mind-boggling resolutions (like 4, 6, 8, or even 12k), resulting in footage with mammoth data proportions. To process this footage without system crashes, editors require top-of-the-line computers with an ocean’s worth of RAM, external hard drives, and cloud storage subscriptions. Professional editing software is also a fixed expense; there are only a few options, and their pricing is not something that users can change.
In addition to the expense of acquiring equipment, there’s the expense of having a place to store it, a way to transport it, and insurance to cover it.
Finally, as we all know, time = money, no matter the industry. Let’s talk about how the timeline of your video can affect the cost. If you need a video expedited, it will raise prices. Firstly, a production company will be paying its staff and subcontractors overtime. Secondly, there isn’t a lot of time for finding good deals or waiting on scrappier solutions; production design is an excellent example of this. Say your video requires a human-sized banana, as many do. Our Production Designer could make this herself with materials she sourced for a sensible price if given a standard timeline. But if you need to shoot in two days, our Production Designer will have no other option than to go to humansizedfruit.com and expedite the already more expensive banana.
Similarly, if a video project drags beyond a standard timeline, there’s a lot of room for extra costs. We’ve run into this with prototype issues and seasonal/weather conflicts. Stopping and starting production means doubling back on work, particularly on the Producer’s part, which adds cost. Read more here for some helpful tips on avoiding these delays, especially when working with a prototype.
There are many ways to cut costs and save money, and a production company that’s worth its salt will know how to help you do that. But because there are so many videos in the world, it will take some level of investment if you want your ad to shine. Are you ready to invest in such a video? Fill out our contact form to get started!