Every video is different, that’s a given. A multitude of factors come into play when putting a budget together, and the final price can vary greatly. So much so that most clients simply have no idea what their video might cost when contacting a video agency or videographer.
This is not an uncommon question. Most clients will contact multiple companies just to get a ‘feel’ of what their budget should look like. Sentences like “Are we really off the mark?”, “Wow, that’s like five times more than I expected” shows the clear gap between clients and professionals.
In order to give clients a better idea of what to expect when briefing their project and a better understanding of how videographers come up with their prices, here’s a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider when putting a budget together for a video project.
Type of video
The first thing to consider is the type of video you’re going for. In two cases, prices will automatically jump:
- Animated video: it requires a certain level of skill and takes much longer to create than a traditional video, so on average, animated video will cost you more. However, you don’t have to consider any logistic costs (transport, equipment etc), which will balance your budget a bit.
- Wedding: videographers know this is a special event in your life and you have the budget for it, so wedding videos are typically more expensive.
Pre-production consists of all the tasks that need to get done before the first day of shoot, such as writing a script, scouting location, getting permits and scheduling shoots. Typically, professionals might include it in their daily rate if the work required is small, but would add it as an extra if it’s more significant.
If you’re looking at saving some budget for your project, pre-production is a perfect place to start. Video agencies usually take this off your plate for an additional fee, but you can certainly create your own script in-house without dramatically impacting the final product. Location (and actor!) scouting is another activity that you can easily do yourself, provided you know what you’re doing.
As you’d expect, the more film crew are required on the day of the shoot, the more it will cost you. While you might get away with just one videographer to handle a single camera for a simple seated interview, more complex shoots requiring multiple camera angles, a drone, additional lightning or else will require more specialised staff. Below is the daily rate you’re looking at for each role:
- Drone operator: $600-800 depending on the drone
- Sound recordist: $750-1500 depending on how complex the needs are
- Camera operator: $800-$1500 depending on gear and experience
- Camera assistant: $400-750
- Director: $500-1200 depending on experience
Moreover, the more experienced a videographer is, the more expensive your project will be. However, it’s also important to factor the fact that their experience will also end up saving you money in other areas. For example, they won’t have to reshoot anything because they will get it the first go, or editing time will be dramatically reduced because they’ve done it hundreds of times before. Additionally, a good videographer can also wear multiple hats and take on the role of director, drone operator or sound recordist and dramatically reduce your costs.
Equipment cost is typically included in the daily rate of a videographer. This helps them pay for their original equipment purchase over time. If they rent their equipment, they may either pass those costs to you as expenses, or include them in their daily rate. Specialised or additional equipment that is ‘outside the ordinary’ is also classified as expenses.
Here’s a short list of specialised equipment and their price to give you an idea:
- Drone: $500
- Extra lighting: $200-$1000 depending on what you need
- Second video camera: $150
- Teleprompter: $150
- Still photography: $250
Being upfront about what you really need for your shoot might give your videographer some flexibility with their pricing and help you lower your overall budget.
Unless the location of the shoot is within around 50kms of your videographer, you might end up paying for transportation in some capacity. If your project involves multiple locations, there may also be a cost involved.
If you decide to fly your amazing filming crew to an exotic location, you will end up being charged for transportation, but also accommodations and meals. If this is not an option for you, they may also decide to sub-contract some of the work to a local crew to reduce costs.
No surprise here: the longer a filming crew has to stay on set, the more it will cost you. Videographers typically charge daily (up to 10 hours) and half daily (up to 5 hours) rates that include pre-production as well as gear costs. Beware: if you only book for a half-day shoot, your videographer will charge you for more than a half-a-day rate to make up for the lost opportunity of booking a full day with another client.
It’s also important to note that how much end up being filmed is irrelevant to the pricing – the crew and equipment are already there and paid for.
Post-production costs can be included in the overall quote from a videographer. Most videographers charge a fee based on the total estimated hours for the project, including shooting and editing. Others charge a different rate for each type of work, reflecting the difference in your quote.
Consider as well that the longer the shoot is, the more editing is required, increasing your overall budget. The amount of editing necessary will also play on the final price: do we need to fix bad lighting on the day of the shoot? A poor sound that needs to be corrected? Does the video require a lot of voiceover, special effects or graphics? If the work required is important, it will certainly be included as an add-on.
Other factors to consider
The bigger the production agency is, the more people and intermediaries there are to pay for. Typically, you should account for sales, marketing, management, operations that include account owners, project managers and even accounting, on top of your videographer and video editor. Nothing comes for free: agencies with big expenses will always pass the buck to their clients through their rates.
It might sound like a cliche, but the more you can afford, the more likely your budget will be increased. Like in any industry, if you come upfront with a budget or sound like money is no object, you run the risk of being quoted accordingly. It’s the nature of salespeople to extract as much money as they can from their client. So beware before giving any figure away.
It’s not always a good idea to go for the big shot agency – if they are always busy, they might increase their price because they can afford to be picky with their work.
So, what budget are we looking at?
Typically, your average videographer daily rate is anywhere between $600 and $1500. Count an additional $150 for extra equipment such as a teleprompter or additional camera. Editing only can fetch anywhere between $500 and $800 per day.
Save money with a freelancer
Here’s a little known secret: big agencies often subcontract their work to freelance videographers.
Sounds crazy? Perhaps. But the reality is that agencies have an inconsistent stream of work and must maintain their expenses to a minimum. So the only solution is to use freelancers when demand is higher than what they can usually handle.
Therefore, you can save a lot of money by cutting the middleman. Good freelancers can usually handle both filming and post-production, and are more flexible with their time and rates than agencies with multiple expenses.