Video Production Cost Comparison

The video production industry today is much like the medical industry and clients are as much in the dark about the cost, just like the medical patient. Patients have a need but don’t really understand the process of medical care, so they pay $20 for a band aid. The same scenario happens to clients who contract the status quo production firms.

For many years, the standard video production companies take advantage of the corporate market. Clients don’t understand the process, so they are willing to pay for whatever the production company says is needed.

I must admit, we conducted a cost comparison for a video project in Charlotte, NC, we are shocked by the outcome. No wonder businesses are wary of putting their trust in a film company. Allow me to explain the scope of the project before we get into the cost variances.

The project is a 3-5-minute video for a large commercial landscaping company which just opened in Charlotte. The request for quote (RFQ) is for a one camera shoot, two locations, for one day.

The first location would take place the client’s office and would showcase the facility and the employees conducting daily duties… smiles on faces. The RFQ also asks for a few interviews in the office of some of the key staff members-these stories would drive the video.

The second location would capture B-roll of the landscaping process at one of the Landscaper’s client’s location in Charlotte. So, to recap, here are the specifications:

Video Production Requirements

1 Camera
Camera stabilization-dolly
2 Local locations
Lighting Kit
Lavalier microphone for the interviewee

Video Editing Requirements

3-5 min finished video
Royalty-free music
Motion graphics
Sound Recording
Sound Effects

Now! Are you ready for this? We collected four different estimates from local corporate video production companies in the Charlotte area, and here are the results.

Company A:
Company B:
Company C:
Company D:

If I were to ask for an estimate and had gotten spread of pricing represented here, I would certainly be extremely confused. How could a 3-5 minute video vary in price by $6,900? Six thousand, nine hundred dollars! By the end of this posting, you will have a better understanding of why. Camera cost range from $2,500-$100,000 or more. Each camera has its place in the production process. I can’t say that one is better than another, but that it’s designed for its own purpose. Many of today’s Blockbuster Hits use both ends of this camera spectrum.

Film Director looking at monitor on set.Key crew members also varied. The largest of the quotes lists a Director, which we found extremely funny because we only asked for a single camera shoot. Before companies got greedy, the Director and Camera Operator was one person- the Cinematographer. Why would you pay for someone to sit and watch a video feed from the only camera operator?

Another extraneous position included a Camera Assistant (they hand batteries to the Camera Operator from a bag lying next to the Cameraman’s feet). After being on countless sets, it seems that most of these crewmembers mostly stand around looking at their phones, which in turn is paid for by you.

The editing all included the same responses, however, we again found humor in the fact that the largest quoted price listed editing times of over 13 hours per one minute of finished video.

Now let’s look at the other end of the price variances. The lowest RFQ’s were single-man operations, which is totally fine. There are many one-man production companies who produce some fantastic results, after all, anyone can buy a camera and start shooting, but this is only one-third of the production. It’s difficult to give proper attention to the visuals and the audio recordings at the same time.

The perfect crew size is one that fits the parameters of the project. For most corporate videos, tradeshow videos, and marketing videos, a good three to four-person crew is ideal. I would argue this point with any professional production company. After all, we’ve shot national network TV shows with this size crew, so I doubt most requests would require any more.

So, where does Episode 11 Productions fit within this wide range of pricing options? I’d say somewhere north of the middle, with value-added production tools only seen in the most expensive corporate videos. Another added bonus is our very own female co-owner and chief editor extraordinaire-Beth Sowell. Editing mostly with Autodesk Smoke, an editing software package only understood by the most technically savvy, ultra-creative Hollywood editors, Beth has a huge advantage over most other editors-the female brain. Let’s face it; there are lots of studies, which show that women are great communicators.

The next time you need to judge cost versus outcome, pick up the phone and call 704.451.5073. Our customer-focused team will help you understand what’s needed, but most importantly, what’s not needed.