What do the figures in the image have in common?
Answer…they are all perfectly reasonable price quotations for a 2 minute video.
In this blog post we explain why there can be a huge variation in cost for a video of the same length.
Well… it all depends on the duration of the film, the complexity of the shoot and edit, and the production values.
But what are production values?
Production Values are all those elements that contribute to the overall quality of your film. Some examples of these are –
- Time and expertise spent in developing concepts
- Storyboard development and script writing
- Planning shoot logistics – venues, props, permissions
- Casting actors or voice-over artists
- The quality of the cameras used, lenses and recoding format
- The number of filming days, locations and crew members
- The skill, expertise and experience of the crew
- Additional equipment – such as cranes, sliders etc
- Presenters, actors or voice-over artists
- Complexity of the edit and narrative
- Duration of the film
- Post production technology and expertise
- Motion graphics and Computer Generated Imagery
- Colour grading
- Music editing and licencing
- Mastering and Digital encoding for multiple output formats
Each of these factors will impact the final production cost. You, as a commissioner shouldn’t have to understand all the intricacies, but it’s important that you are given options to enable you to control costs, while understanding how your decisions will affect the final form and quality of your video.
The video commissioner’s dilemma
So do you go cheap and cheerful or high-end and cinematic?
The answer is bound up with –
- Your brand values
- Your audience
So when do low production values damage your brand?
When you are selling a high-end product or service
Your brand equity is hard earned – it makes no sense to throw this away through video with poor production values, inexpertly filmed on cheap equipment. In a high-end market, your audience will expect a high quality viewing experience to match your brand proposition. If they don’t see this, they’re likely to doubt the credibility of your offering.
In this promotional video for the Manor by the Lake Hotel, the high production values convey a strong sense of the high-end experience the hotel provides.
A video with low production values using cheap cameras, inexperienced camera operators and rough editing, would greatly undermined the high-end reputation of the hotel among viewers.
When trust is crucial to your audience
If you’re in the business of professional services – for example, caring for children, developing dependable products or medical interventions , you will need to convey absolute assurance to gain the trust of your audience, and again, high production values will be essential.
No matter how impressive your message, if your video comes across as shoddy or cheap, your audience will wonder what else is shoddy or cheap in operations – and confidence can be lost in an instant.
This video, produced for the global engineering company Parker Hannifin, uses high production values to portray a trustworthy organisation.
As a provider of technical solutions for vital sectors such as defence and transportation, Paker Hannafin address problems in which safety and reliability are paramount. Consequently, a rock solid trust in their abilities and standards is crucial to their customers.
So when are low-end production values OK?
When your business is based upon stack ’em high n sell ’em cheap – and there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s how you make your money – you may not need a sophisticated production.
If your audience is only seeking a cheap solution or a basic product then they won’t expect much from your video either, so you won’t need to invest in an expensive video.
What if you have corporate brand values to uphold but have a limited budget?
Could we get the graduate intern with a media degree to do it? Can you do it yourself with that camera sitting on the shelf in marketing?
How good is your script writing, your camera work, your lighting skills, sound recording, directing and editing? Only you can decide.
You may be hoping to save money, you may have fun creating your own video and members of your team may be keen to have a go at it, but are the results really going to impress the audience you are aiming to target?
It’s easy to get carried away with the in-house passion-project of making a video, but if you’re going to avoid damaging your brand you will need to take a hard objective view. Ask yourself if your audience audience might really be expecting more from you in terms of production values.
If you’re sure the answer is no, then go ahead and get stuck in.
On the other hand, if there is any risk that a cheap video will undermine your brand positioning, it’s important you explore options with an established video company that has a high quality portfolio of work.
OK – But I’m in the middle of these two extremes?
This is where some smart compromises come in. Effective video doesn’t need to be expensive, if you make some wise choices. An experienced production company should have plenty of ideas to trim cost without losing the sense of a good quality brand.
It’s true, there are times when ingenious simplicity will save you money and still produce highly effective results and a good production company will look for these possibilities.
One of the most memorable TV commercials of all time is for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk – and one of the simplest to film too – consisting of a single camera, one room, one drum kit and a man in a gorilla costume.
No fancy locations, expensive celebrities or CGI. And note that there is not a single crane, steadicam, helicopter or jib used – all extra bits of kit that would involve additional cost.
However, depending on your message, positioning and audience a more complex and crafted approach may well be the best route to take for your video.
Understand where your costs are coming from
Early in discussions you should expect to receive clear cost guidance from your production company. Costs are something that should be discussed as openly as the script, choice of camera or location – because they are bound up with all these production elements.
A transparent conversation from both sides will ultimately lead to a more trusting relationship and a better end product – so be prepared to divulge your budget too.
What? – reveal my budget! – Won’t they just quote to my budget limit?
No. Put yourself in control and set the boundaries – after all it’s your film, and your budget.
By sharing information about your budget constraints, your quote can be refined to give a clear illustration of achievable options for your budget level. This can be more specific, and therefore much more helpful to you in early planning and decisions making.
Divulging your budget also gives you a more meaningful way of evaluating one production company or proposal against another.
In the end, clients will always flush out inflated pricing and if a company cares about its reputation and repeat business, they won’t quote to the budget limit without good justification.
Incidentally, an established track record and long-term relationships with clients is a good indicator that a production company’s prices are fair.
Balanced with realistic expectations, a few financial constraints never hurt anyone – and can often be the creative catalyst that a project needs to bring about fresh ideas and ingenuity.