Creating a professional video is exciting and important, but sometimes it can feel almost impossible to get an accurate proposal, but it doesn't have to be. The easiest way to avoid overspending on a video is to make sure you have a clear agreement (in writing) between you and your production company. But you if you are not a video producer, you might not know exactly what needs to be included in the cost of your project.
What is a Scope of Work?
What are you buying? It sounds basic, but a 4-minute company video requires a very different approach than four 1-minute product videos — and even then, there are a number of other details to consider. Be clear about your expectations — for style, length, and number of videos — because those decisions will frame discussions about all of these other factors.
Before you sign off on any agreement with a video production company, make sure that you have a clear statement of work. What's included in the video production process? How many hours of on-site recording time will there be, how many revisions or edits are included, etc?
Here's a checklist of all the different factors you need to consider and talk through with your video producer to ensure that you get an accurate video production proposal for your project.
1. The Shooting Schedule
Will there be multiple characters and additional shooting locations? Will you need multiple cameras or multiple shooting days? Make sure your agreement spells out exactly how much time is allocated for shooting (and how many cameras are doing the shooting), because the video is the foundation for your video.
PRO TIP: Camera crews are typically booked in half-day and full-day increments (5-hours or 10-hours), so major changes up or down in shooting time will have a major impact on your budget.
2. What is the Scripting Process?
Is somebody writing the video script? Is it copy-heavy, or are you doing a documentary-style shoot with real interviews and an "in their own words" style? There is a time and a place for each kind of production — but both require scripting (in the case of the documentary, logging the interviews and then picking the quotes to use).
You'll also want to know how your team will be involved in reviewing this script. Do you see it before any editing is done or will the production company put a draft video together before you get to review the script?
3. Planning and Pre-production
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Ben Franklin
Ben Franklin wasn't a video producer, but his famous quote sure rings true. The video producer will help in the discussion of pre-production, logistics, timing, etc. — but that all takes time, and it needs to be included in both the price you pay and the video production contract you sign.
An experienced production company should know how many hours of preparation are needed to plan the different aspects of your video project.
4. The Video Editing Process
Different styles of production can require more or less editing (short videos of on-camera talent obviously take less editing than longer, documentary-style videos). Editing is where the magic of a video really happens. This is where a practiced company can take hours of footage and interviews and craft it into a compelling story that communicates your key messages and objectives.
For reference, most projects actually have more time devoted to the editing process than the shoot itself. While this process may seem simple, there's a lot that goes into choosing the right imagery and feel to match your story.
5. Supporting Music and Graphics
The right music and graphics can literally make your production sing, think about your favorite movies and how the right music paired with the right visuals can take you to a whole different place, it makes you feel something.
It's important to remember that licensing for popular songs (and some images) can be surprisingly expensive. Production companies have access to a library of great music that can help set your story apart. But, if you have your heart set on something specific, make sure your contract spells out who covers the added expense.
Graphics have grown increasingly popular in videos. From the popularity of soundless viewing on social media to the ability to enhance your message with graphics, it's important to think about this additional element before you start your project.
Graphics can add a lot to your video project, but they will also add more time (and cost). Talk with your video producer about different ways to add graphics and how they might be just the right thing to enhance your video project.
6. Revisions, Revisions, Revisions
Do you expect revisions? While we'd all like to live in a world where your video is done perfectly the first time around, the reality is that most video projects need a revision or two.
Most video production companies have included rounds of revisions or a set amount of time included in their process. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of how much time they will spend making changes that you request.
Remember, this is not about having a chance to charge you more later, it's important to ensure (in any business) that the hours spent on your project are being accounted for.
7. What's the Production Timeline?
Producing a video as part of your company’s video marketing strategy or upcoming event requires a lot of planning, patience and confidence. We know that time and budget are a big concern for you, so it's important for you to know how and when everything is going to happen so we can work together to get your project completed.
The pre-production phase includes:
The production phase includes:
- Setting up the sound/lighting/video equipment
- Conducting interviews
- Recording voiceovers (if they are needed for your project)
- Capturing b-roll (extra footage that is used to support your story)
The post-production phase includes:
- Logging the interviews
- Producing the final story
- Music selection
- Video editing
- Final Delivery
8. Understanding Ownership of Assets
Few people think about this one - which is why it's so important. When the project is done, who owns the raw video and the finished product?
Typically, the production company, as the actual producer, owns those files and all rights to the footage unless otherwise specified. And since video takes time and resources to duplicate, it's worth discussing whether you want to spend the money to get those raw files (which would also require more editing in order to use again), or whether the video production company should store them for possible future use. And if they do, for how long?
9. Payment Details
Every video company has slightly different payment terms, but it's important to understand how they work. Will you pay for the project on the front end, upon receipt, or somewhere in between? Nail down the details in advance.
Paying a percentage upfront, more when shooting is complete, and the rest upon delivery of the final video is a fairly common breakdown, but some production companies do this differently. Like everything else, make sure you have these terms in writing.
PRO TIP: When dealing with an end-of-quarter or end-of-year "use it or lose it" budget, you can always offer to pay for the entire project upfront.
It's the job of a video producer to understand all the details of a video project and how they fit together. But when you are working with a partner company, it's important to make sure you understand exactly what is included with your project and what is not. Don't forget to skim through this checklist after you've gotten your proposal to make sure that all the details are included.