How Much Does a Corporate Video Cost?: Preparing a Budget for the Costs of Video Production

We dive into the realistic production cost of making a video project while helping you better understand corporate video pricing so you can maximize your budget.

The short and basic answer? Corporate video production can range from $2,500-$25,000. The honest answer? It all depends on your budget and what you want. There are multiple factors to consider when estimating how much your corporate video is going to cost from time spent on the script to finding an experienced editor for post production. In this article we are going to break down descriptions for all of the puzzle pieces needed to complete a video production project and how much each of them are going to cost. Depending on what you need, who you want to work with, and what you are willing to spend, this article will help you determine the cost of your corporate video.

Here is a list of factors that may potentially increase your corporate video costs: 

  • Pre-production Involvement
  • Actors/Talent
  • Direction
  • Camera Operators
  • Editor
  • Animation (Custom and web-based tools)
  • Graphics & Motion Graphics (custom and web-based tools)
  • Narration
  • Music & Sound Effects
  • Location(s)
  • Production Equipment (gear, teleprompter, props )
  • Crew
  • Extras/Background
  • Studio/Location Filming
  • Stock footage & Photos
  • Catering/Craft Services
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Digitizing, transcoding, transfers, rendering & uploading and their formats
  • Language & Translation
  • Miscellaneous

This might seem like an overwhelming list, so we will go over each of them briefly in the order of the stages of production.

Video Pre-Production

Pre-production is the most important part of any corporate video production project. It sets the tone for the other stages of production and the decisions you make in the beginning could save you money in the end. Any film project begins with an idea. That idea then develops into a story which develops into a script made for screen. If you want a quality script it would be smart to invest in a writer and possibly a storyboard artist.

Video Marketing Writer

The writer won’t just simply be writing a script. They will be putting time and effort into the outline, style, structure, tone, and format of the script. They will be working to get your vision across to the director and eventually the audience. This typically includes some level of market research including comparing similar productions in the space and contrasting previous efforts.  These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before beginning a script. Fortunately, an expert scriptwriter will help you answer some of them so that you can avoid most of the heavy lifting.

  • Who is your audience?
  • What do they care about?
  • What problem is your business trying to solve?
  • Which measurable business objective are you trying to achieve?
  • How is this video specifically going to achieve that objective?
  • What do you consider important elements that need to be included in the video (people, products, locations, etc.)
  • What tone are you going for?
  • What are the key messages that you need to deliver in that video?
  • How do you want the viewer to feel after watching the video?
  • What do you want the viewer to do after watching the video?
  • What is the best way for your audience to view your video? (social media, TV, etc.)

An experienced marketing writer and creative team will cost between $75-$250 per hour.

Storyboard Artists

The storyboard artist works on the visual aspect of your script. This is the person that will bring the script to life in pre-production. It can be very important to get a storyboard artist involved early so that everyone is on the same page with ideas that can be vague or amorphous when only in written form. Storyboards can be invaluable on set as well to establish tone and feel for the production crew. These things can be very hard to explain without concrete visual examples.

Production

You will also need to prepare for the size of the crew, often consisting of some or all of the following: producer, director, director of photography, audio engineer, camera operator(s), camera assistant, gaffer, key grip, swing grip, hair and makeup, production assistants, actors and extras. In addition you’ll be deciding the appropriate props, wardrobe and production equipment. You also will have to decide if you want to film in a studio, on location or both.

Studio/Location Filming

Depending on whether you’re shooting in the studio or on location that will determine the need and/or cost of a film permit. To shoot in a studio costs from $100-$400 per hour and shooting on location can cost between $200-$2,000 a day. Private residences are often rented which typically negates the need for a film permit but can be quite expensive.

Crew (the bulk of your video cost)

A typical crew will consist of the roles listed above but can also include teleprompter operators, DIT/DMT’s (data wrangler), rigging crew, art department specialists, or even production chefs. Depending on what you are shooting there may be other factors you will want to include, but these are the most common and most important crew members you should include in your prepared budget.

Director

Their job is to translate the script and storyboard into a collection of scenes for the editor to interpret and cut into a finished video. A director will cost between $75-$250 per hour.

Director of Photography (DP) 

The director of photography, or cinematographer, is responsible for anything that has to do filming the scenes. They give recommendations on how to frame a shot, what gear and motion rigs are best to use, and ensure the lighting reflects the mood of the scene. Depending on whether you’re filming a talking head or an action sequence will depend on the cost. The DOP will cost between $75-$400 an hour.

Producer

Their job is to ensure that the overall project stays on track. They are the hub through which communication flows and they converse with the client, crew, and talent to guarantee an efficient and cost-effective production experience.

Actors and Extras

For anything live action, you’ll need actors. On bigger shoots, if you want your video production to have natural action and look lively, you’ll need to add extras into your budget. Your main actors will cost between $50-$500 per hour and extras normally cost between $15-$30 per hour. This includes licensing and union fees for actors that are members of SAG-AFTRA or other unions.

Audio Engineer

An experienced audio engineer with their own equipment can cost between $65-$150 per hour. These people bring high-end audio equipment including wired and/or wireless lavaliere and shotgun microphones, mixers, and a multitude of specialized accessories.

Camera Operators

Camera operators are responsible for anything from static shots to hand-held shots to car or gimbal rigs. If you require a camera operator with extensive steadicam experience, it will probably cost more. Camera operators range from $75-$400 per hour.

Gaffer

Gaffers are in charge of the technical aspects of lighting and power and work closely with the DP. Gaffers cost between $60-$150 per hour.

Grip

The word “grip”, at least in non-union work, denotes a utility position that may operate in the grip and electrical department. To put it simply, the grip is the person who moves around the lights, cables, and gear. On a larger set there may be multiple grips needed and they may need to be able to handle various duties with the grip trucks. If you require a Key Grip who operates as the head of a grip department then this will cost more. Grips cost between $50-$75 per hour.

Production Assistants

There are many types of production assistants. There’s set PAs, location PAs, runners, you name it. On a smaller set you might not need more than one but on a larger set you might require multiple. Production assistants are normally paid between $150-$550 per day. 

Catering/Craft Services

Whether it’s a small set or a large set, it is important to feed your hard-working crew. Catering costs about $25 per person on a small shoot. 

Hair and Make-up

Hair and make-up isn’t just about making your actors and extras look good. You need professionals that are adept at matching skin tones and removing excess oils that will deter from the look you want to achieve with your overall project. Aside from that, perhaps the most important job of a HMU artist is to make the person about to go in front of the cameras feel comfortable, confident, and ready to go. Hair and makeup artists cost between $50-$150 per hour.

Production Equipment

You may need gear, props, wardrobe, or a teleprompter for your shoot. Sometimes your crew will come with their own equipment (which is usually included in their cost), but you should have a budget that includes renting equipment for your project. For example, a teleprompter could be useful for you if your actor or company CEO has trouble remembering their lines. The teleprompter itself as well as a teleprompter operator will increase the cost of your corporate video production.

Production equipment costs range from $25/day to thousands of dollars.

Post-Production

Post-production is where the magic happens. In your budget, you’ll need to consider animation (custom and web-based tools), graphics & motion graphics (custom and web-based tools), a narrator, music and sound effects, stock footage and photos, digitizing, transcoding, transfers, rendering & uploading and their formats, language & translation, and other miscellaneous items. 

Animation

There are two types of animation you can incorporate into your corporate video project: Custom and Web-based tools. Custom animation is when you hire an animator (freelance or from a company) to interpret your storyboard into 2D or 3D animations. Hiring an animator can cost between $75-$250 per hour generally. If you require 3D animation or key graphics it will cost a little more per hour.  

Web-based tools allow room for good quality that you can do yourself. There are multiple tools to choose from on the internet and the cost will vary, but licensing costs are billed monthly and range from $50-$200 a month.

Graphics and Motion Graphics

Just like animation, graphics and motion graphics can either be custom or web-based tools. To hire graphics specialists for custom graphics and motion graphics will cost between $75-$150. Web-based tool templates will cost between $25-$200 per template. 

Narration

Most voice-actors now-a-days work from home which will automatically save you money. An average 2-minute read will cost between $200-$500, but if you want a high-quality read and an experienced voice-over artist, it will most likely cost more.

Music and Sound Effects

Music and sound effects set the overall tone of your script. It’s important that you plan for your budget to include this. A quality music track can cost as low as $30 for two or three minutes, but if you want custom made audio it can cost up to $1,000.

Stock Footage & Photos

Your corporate video production may require images to support your message. Instead of capturing your own images and paying someone to edit a time-lapse video, you can save money by purchasing some. There are many websites that offer prices for stock images and videos that typically cost between $3-$25. High-end websites like Getty Images will cost from $30-$500 per clip.

 

Digitizing, Transcoding, Transfers, Rendering and Uploading Video

Transferring video to clients or specific destinations, rendering files multiple times before delivering, or uploading your video to certain platforms are important factors you need to consider in the post-production product. How is your corporate video going to look when it gets to your client? When it’s posted on your website? When it’s aired on TV?

Transfers are very expensive and can cost hundreds of dollars. Rendering and uploading costs between $30-$75 per hour. It is however usually included in the overall post-production budget.

Language and Translation

Many videos today require closed captioning for online distribution. Fortunately, costs have come down and much of the process can be (somewhat) automated. If you are trying to reach an audience in multiple languages, consider language translation in your budget. This includes closed captions, language versioning, and a translator for your video and/or for dubbing. Language translation services vary but can cost between 5% and 15% of the overall cost of the job.

Miscellaneous

Never forget to consider other items such as contingency fees, travel costs, hotels, transportation, and out-of-pocket expenses. These can range from $100-$1,000 or much more in the case of travel.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, corporate video production may seem complicated, but when you have a solid budget and are aware of the costs of all the elements that make a video, it’s not as complicated as it seems. A qualified professional producer will be able to make the process simple and understandable with specific line items for all the required elements.