Cost for Video Production in the San Francisco Bay Area
The analogy we often use is that you can think of video production companies like construction companies – we build videos. A 4000 square foot mansion is going to cost more than a cottage. The construction company can build both. Which one do you have in mind?
As a business, the question you may consider is how will this video generate a return on my investment? Can I predict how much profit it will generate?
Do you have a product you’re selling on Amazon? Potential customers want to see your product and how it works. Videos tend to drive sales more than a list of statistics do. If a promotional video is one of the key components to your advertising campaign, the main thing that your potential customer is going to click on, then it’s good to have an idea how much of an increase in sales is necessary to justify the cost of the video. Or, you can say, what kind of video budget do I need that’s appropriate for the potential profits it will generate?
Of course, there are many videos that have a return in employee productivity, morale, and other things that are not as easily monetized. It’s good to have a sense of the value the video will bring and the size of a budget you have in mind.
Maybe the question you should be asking video production companies is, “What kind of video can I get with a $3,000 budget?” That way, you’re going to get a real apples to apples comparison of the services that each company is offering at the same budget. Then you can decide if you’d like more or less than what they offer. Asking the production company what they recommend and what the associated cost is might give you other choices to consider.
Many of the productions we produce are done with a two or three-person crew, one or two camera packages, and a small audio and lighting kit, and are shot at our clients’ office using the people from their company in the video. The majority are one to two minutes long and have a budget of between $3,000 – $5,000. The longer the video, the higher the labor costs. The more days of shooting, the higher the labor and equipment rental costs. Location or stage rental fees can be several thousands of dollars per day, actor fees can be a thousand dollars a day per actor. Videos for broadcast, like national or even local commercials require different camera gear than videos that are shot quick and dirty for Internet or email blast. So, giving a fixed price for what a 2-minute video will cost is not really possible without knowing what the client has in mind.
Why do movies have multi-million dollar budgets? Because they have the potential to generate more in return than the cost. Studios spend the money to create one product, the movie, which they can copy and sell tickets to around the world. To stand out from the competition, they hire well-known stars and create a unique event experience that will get audiences out of their homes and into a theater with the expectation that they will make all that money back.
Movies produced by the same studio can have $100 million budgets or $5 million budgets, normally based on the expected return on the investment.
Name Your Price
We propose that another strategy, when talking to video production companies, may be to say, “What kind of video can I get with a $3,000 budget?” That way, you’re going to get a real apples to apples comparison of the services that each company is offering.
Basic Production Costs
Keeping a crew on payroll standing by every day, hoping that a job comes in, can get really expensive for a production company.
As a rule of thumb, assume that including payroll costs and taxes, most freelance crew members are going to cost around $700 for a 10-hour day.
What Does the Crew Do?
Budgets normally break out the costs of each item. Here are the crew members you are likely to see in the budget, although as a rule, on most of our smaller jobs, all these jobs will be done by many fewer people:
Head electrician in charge of lighting, works with the Director of Photography to create the “look” through lighting
Ways to Cut Cost for Video Production
Manage the Length of your Video
In terms of budget, every minute you add to the video increases the amount of time the video will take to produce. The budget is tied to the number of hours required for labor plus equipment. Although your shoot day will generally be based on a ten-hour minimum for crew and equipment rentals, the more material there is to be edited, the more time it will take the editor to put it all together, and the more graphics and animation will need to be created to keep it interesting and informative.
So the best way to manage the cost of your video is to keep it brief and to the point. The rules of marketing and advertising are the same with video as with print: know what your message is and keep it clear and simple.
If you have a lot of stories to tell, you may want to break them up into several topic-centric short videos. Breaking a long video up into several short videos should not have much impact on your budget and will probably be more easy to digest by your audience.
If budget is an issue, consider starting with a general video that tells your audience who you are, an overview of the products and services you offer, and what makes what you sell different from everyone else in your sector. Then add individual product or service videos as you can. Keep in mind that most production companies and equipment rental houses do not offer half days, so it’s often most economical to shoot several products in one day to get the full benefit of the 10-hour day.
Spend Time Planning and Developing the Script
We bill for our services on an hourly basis, so any work you do on the script or assembling the ideas will help you keep the costs of scriptwriting to a minimum. Crushpix takes your notes and organizes them into a compelling video by weaving your facts into a story that the audience will enjoy following. We offer creative ideas for various ways your story can be told. Give us the nuts and bolts and leave the rest to us.
Your script is the blueprint that will drive the production and become a storyboard that outlines details of what the shot will look like as well as who and what are needed for each shot.
The finished video will turn out very much like the script. With a well prepared script, there is a great deal of vetting and approvals that can happen within your company and by your legal team to make sure everyone is on board before the camera starts to roll.
That will save you headaches and money when you get to the edit, knowing that everything that was needed was shot and was on point.
Incremental edits based on comments from a number of decision makers will also run up the number of hours you’re paying for. Editing is a very slow and technical process and each time a version is completed, it must be rendered out, converted to a compressed version, optimized for a hosting site, uploaded to a site where your company can view it (such as YouTube or Vimeo) and be further processed by the hosting site. Even converting each version to .wmv and sending it is a lengthy process.
Your production company will probably outline how many rounds of edits you will get for the budget you’ve agreed on, so make the most of each version. Collaborating with your editor will yield a video with better content and a project that stays on budget and on time.
Use Your Own Employees as Actors
On larger-budget projects, there will normally be a casting session, especially if someone is going to speak on camera. There is a fee for a casting director and for the studio where the casting will take place.
This process can run into a few thousand dollars, even for casting just one person.
On a recent job, we were quoted a session fee of $750 for a model with no lines or acting required, plus a 20% agency fee. Since the client requested unlimited usage of the video for online use, trade show, mobile, and print, the usage fee was an additional $2000 plus 20% agency fee.
For another job, we were quoted a price for a model who would be having the clients’ makeup products applied at a rate of $500 for the one-day session plus 20% agency fee with usage restricted to only the client’s website for one year. Total cost was $600. With this particular agency, we could choose our model from several photos on the agency’s website. This is less expensive than having people come in, but you also don’t get to see the actual person until the shoot day.
So, keep in mind that the costs of your talent will be made up of a session fee, usage fee, and agency fee.
Alternately, you could either use someone from within your organization to present your products or you could hire someone to do a How To voiceover that plays over images of your products and services as they are being used by people from your company.
Shoot the Video in Your Office
Studios in the San Francisco Bay Area generally rent for $1000 – $2000 per day.
Finding a suitable area at your business may be a challenge but it’s an affordable option and we shoot in offices all the time. Considerations are the ability to control sound and having enough room to set up camera and lighting.
It’s generally easier to get access to stakeholders and executives who may appear in the video if the place we’re shooting them is right down the hall from their office.
We can give you advice where the best areas might be to shoot in terms of visual interest, sound control, and accessibility.
Who We Are and What We Do
Our clients are located in and all around San Francisco. We have produced videos for San Jose-based companies such as PayPal, Google, Hitachi, and Flexstar. We have created television commercials for The Wine Group in Livermore and for The California State Fair shot in a barn nestled in the Napa Valley. We have created website instructional videos and sales videos for practically all the The Clorox Company brands at locations throughout the East Bay and have travelled to Hawaii, Washington, DC, Denver and Los Angeles to shoot and edit for Kaiser Permanente, based in Oakland.
Crushpix creates point of purchase videos, high-energy sizzle reels for sales meetings, conventions, and trade shows.
If you’re based in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, the Napa Valley, or places in between, we’d like to help you out with providing an outstanding video to promote your business. Please contact us so that we can send you a quote.