Costs and Calculation of video production and video editing

How much does a 3-min video cost?

Industry ballpark numbers are: $5oo to $15oo / per minute of video, depending on complexity, length of video, goals, number of locations / shoots, and pre-production (script / concept) work involved. Complex videos with cool storyboards can be $2500/minute and more.

A budget of 2k would be a good start.

The ‘parts’ of a video project

A video production projects involves multiple steps:
PRE-PRODUCTION (planning)
PRODUCTION (video capture)
POST-PRODUCTION (editing)

Video production is time-consuming:

Planning: consists of e.g.: creative direction, brain-storming, calls, meetings, story board writing, script writing, scouting, shoot planning, permit gathering, etc.

Video Capture: crew (single videographer, team, assistants), equipment set-up, location readiness, number of locations, number of cameras, restrictions, shot list, talents, weather, and more will influence the time needed to capture everything.

Editing: evaluating source material, organizing, video editing, audio editing, color correction, multi-cam considerations, number of cuts, audio complexity, script et cetera.

As a ballpark figure: Editing time == capture time * at least factor 2 (or a higher multiplier in most productions). The number of revision cycles is also an important factor that could drive the multiplier up.

To make a simple example: a 1/2 day production will at least result in 8 hrs+ post production. That is the factor 2: twice the time for editing. Factor 2 is very low and mostly unrealistic. A PRODUCTION-to-EDIT ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 and higher is more realistic and means for every production day we will need 3 to 4 days to edit.

A more precise approach to estimate the EDIT time would be to know the exact amount/type of source material and the number of cuts per minute (either slow or fast). Such approach allows to establish a SOURCE MATERIAL-to-EDIT ratio. Let’s say we have 1 hr of source created during the half-day shoot and let’s assume we stick to the formula above which yielded the estimate of 8 hrs. If that were realistic, we can establish that 1hr source material leads to 8 hrs edit which results in a 1:8 ratio.
That is way low as you will guess: you need to download the footage, watch it back, organize it/logging, pre-cut it (rough cut), edit (cut, color correction, etc), render, deliver. Not mentioned revision cycles, audio syncing, B-roll, and any not anticipated difficulties. I would say a factor of 1:16 is more realistic.

Having said that, it would be important for an estimate to guess how much footage could result from the allocated production time — that can be, depending on the project, difficult.

However, to keep it simple, if more time is allocated for production you can expect more source video and that the final edit is more complex and the multiply factor is likely higher.

It will come down to the type of project, amount of source video, number of takes, angles, cameras, cuts per minute and so on.

Editing time is very unpredictable and may be the hardest part to estimate up-front and only after you see all the material you can more accurately estimate the time needed for the edit.

A simple low-budget cost example (client e.g. can help with script writing etc. / lowest ratio applied / all-goes-well assumption applied):

Planning: ~$400.oo — 5 hrs@$80 for shoot planning. punch lists, meetings, calls etc. (no time included for e.g. script writing).
Production: ~$440.oo — half-day filming, time can be spend for set-up, video shooting or moving to several locations.
Post-Production: ~$960.oo — 8 hrs @ 120.oo (estimated at the lowest ratio)
No travel costs, no talent hiring, no assistant, no services / equipment / props hiring, no licenses, only 2D text, no location rental, et cetera.
TOTAL: ~$1,800.oo

 

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