Video Production Rates: The Variables and Associated Cost Factors of Video Production by Dane Frederiksen, Digital Accomplice

14.06.2013 16:47

Video Production rates range wildly.  In the age of video everywhere, we have all become more accustomed to watching & sharing online video.  But by lowering the bar to entry, we have raised the bar for engagement.  With a sea of content available, it’s more important than ever to try and stand out, or you risk getting lost in the background noise.  It’s for these reasons that I feel that video production rates need to be more clarified for any company considering video content creation for their business goals .


For this post, I wanted to just lay out a bunch of considerations as food for thought when clients are looking at video production rates for a project that can involve a wide variety of quality-related variables.

Part of the reason for the range of video production costs are that there are many quality variables:

  • The video Product (The deliverable asset, typically the video file that goes online)

  • The video production Service (The service of having that video plan developed and put through production to deliverable)

The video Product can be comprised on many different types of assets, which can all be shared as a video:

  • Footage shot with a camera

  • Motion graphics animation

  • Photos

  • Text

  • Interviews

  • Scripted voice over

  • Music

  • Sound effects

Video Production as a Service may include any of the following:

  • Concept development – what is the creative idea of what the product can be

  • Script writing

  • Story boarding

  • Planning the logistics of a shoot

  • Gathering, renting and/or purchasing props

  • Scheduling availability of people, places, etc.

  • Camera operation

  • Sound – microphone placement, setting levels, monitoring for problems

  • Editing

  • Graphics design

  • Animation

  • Much more!

To further complicate video production rates, all of the Services can be provided by people with a wide variety of:

  • Skills: The technical skill to be able to use the cameras, lighting equipment, graphics and editing software, etc.

  • Experience: Developing the honed craft of editing can take ears to master

  • Talent: Everyone has different talents, and some can be very powerful when combined with the right other factors like skills and experience.

  • Equipment: Even with talent, experience and skill, some tasks can only be handled if they have the right equipment, like a powerful camera and lenses.

There are other project factors that can come into play when determining costs:

  • Timeline

  • Access to people, places, props might involve permission, scheduling, acquiring rights for music, footage, etc.

  • Locations: of what you might want to shoot, where the production team is

  • Where the video lives both online and the assets

 The Real Costs: Video Production Rates

This is what every client seems to want to know right away, and with good reason. You can probably tell, however, that the wide range of variables in scope and quality make this a very challenging process to estimate. I think a good rule of thumb is to understand that if you want to hire people who are competent and professional, you should expect to pay somewhere between $300-1,000 per day in most metro areas, depending on the role and variables outlined above. Many people may be cheaper, even working for free at times – but I wouldn’t expect them to be able to stay in business very long that way, or be available when you need them!  There are of course many professionals who can demand much more than that per day: directors, producers, animators, DP’s, many of the best ones can command a premium.

I see many cases where clients think they just need ‘a guy with a camera’ but when you really get into the details, it’s frequently more involved than that.

There are also endless combinations of equipment. There’s the basics like a camera and an editing software/computer set up – but then there are specialty items like a dolly or time-lapse camera that can really help make a production stand out. You’ll probably be relying on your production partner to help determine where you can get the most bang for your buck so choose your vendor wisely.

Buyer beware: you typically get what you pay for. There may be someone out there who is cheaper but can you really afford the time to find them and will they do a pro-level job? By hiring professionals with the right experience, talent, skills and equipment, you can typically get a product you can stand behind. Cut corners and you’ll probably pay the price.

The Importance of Standing Out

With the explosive growth of online video it’s increasingly important to stand out in the increasingly crowded marketplace. Getting customers to engage with your brand can be challenging , they have many forces competing for their attention. By allocating enough budget to produce quality content, you greatly increase your chances of engagement with your audience and make a positive impression for your brand.

What questions do you have? Feel free to contact me and I’ll try and help.

Dane Frederiksen
Digital Accomplice