How to budget for video production

Woman giving an interview with a Sony camera in the foreground.
Ryan Pratzel

Budgets in 2023

I've written about how to budget for video production in the past, but in this post I want to discuss the current economic environment and provide some advice for how to budget a video project in 2023. I'll also provide some tips that will help set expectations and make the process smoother.

Inflation hits video budgets as well.

While video is mostly digital files these days, it's still a product, and like many products some costs have increased. With that said, depending on the scope of a video project, you can control some of these costs. For example, if your production requires travel, budget appropriately. We travel frequently for clients. Last summer we experienced a steep increase in airfares and hotel costs. Which makes sense as many people hit the road for the first time since the start of the pandemic. We expect costs to remain higher in 2023. 

If your project involves a conference or event venue you might see increased costs in 2023. Venues are filling up and the price of doing business has increased at many popular locations.

General overhead has increased. We have a talented team and we like to ensure they are compensated fairly. We've adjusted salaries appropriately. This helps us ensure our clients have an outstanding customer experience and their investment with our team has a strong return.

Developing a budget.

There are a few things to consider when drafting your initial budget. We're also here to help if you have questions. Consider the following:

  • How much creative help will your team need?  This includes scripting, storyboards, concept development, etc. If you want to create a 2-minute corporate video promoting your services and need a script written, budget $3-10k for project management, development and consulting.  (Consider this a decent starting point) Tip: Do you need illustrated storyboards? If not, you can save thousands on your video.
  • Do we need to record original footage? If yes, how much. Will the footage include paid actors, organization members or executives, etc. You will need to estimate how many production days you'll need. Keep in mind each filming location might require a production day. Let's say you want to capture a day of testimonial interviews at your office, estimate $4,000-5,000 per day for a 3-person video crew consisting of a producer, director of photography and audio technician. Tip: Consolidate production into as few days and locations as possible if you need to keep costs down.
  • We typically budget a video for three rounds of edits. This includes a first cut, second cut and final cut. This is a common workflow and provides for two rounds of client feedback. Estimate $4,000-5,000 for editing a 2-minute, testimonial or interview-driven video.
  • Does your video need motion graphics? This would include your logo on an animated title screen, name graphics for people who appear in the video, etc. If your video needs more complex graphics, such as charts, statistics, moving maps, etc you'll need more time. For a basic logo animation and some branded title graphics estimate $1,500-2,500. Tip: This budget will increase if your video requires more graphics, custom illustrations or 3D animations. 
  • Will you need talent? This includes professional voiceovers and on camera narrators. Voiceover for a 2-minute script will start around $600 and go up from there.
  • Budget about 10% for project incidentals, accessibility (such as closed captioning), or other items.

For this example, producing a 2-minute interview-driven video, with 1-day of production, without travel, a good estimate is in the $10,000-13,000 range. Can this video be produced for less? Absolutely. This is just a guide, and we customize each estimate based on the actual scope of work. For example, not every production needs a 3-person crew. Sometimes just a producer and director of photography will suffice. Also, our budget included two cameras for production, but one camera is always an option. 

Final Thoughts.

Hopefully this article has given you a better idea of what goes into budgeting a short video. Here are some final tips to keep in mind:

  • Motion graphics, both 2D and 3D will increase your budget. Motion graphics are time consuming and the old saying time is money is definitely true. Don't let this discourage you, but budget appropriately.
  • Give your project ample time. For example, 6-8 weeks from start to finish for the 2-minute video example we used above. Rushed projects may require more resources to be dedicated to a project, pushing costs higher.
  • Write down a scope of work. This will help you determine exactly what you need and help us create a estimate.

We're here to help. Reach out to our team to start the conversation and plan your next video.