How many people does it take to produce a video? This is a great question. The costs and quality of your video will vary depending on the number of professionals needed to complete your project.
Some people will tell you length is the largest determining factor when it comes to the cost of a video but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.
In general, you have four options when producing video:
I’m going to walk you through the differences of each video production option and how the variables affect the cost and the quality.
In a previous blog, I talked about my inadequacies when it comes to fixing my lawnmower. For this post, I’m going to compare a few more videos in the lawn mowing industry to show you the pros and cons of each option.
The goal is to help you see the progression of quality as the number of video professionals increase. So, let’s see how many people it takes to produce your video. Here are your options:
Option 1: Intern or internal employeeNumber of professionals required: Zero
Costs: Low (Possibly under $500 - depending on employee salary)
More and more companies are exploring the option of using staff to produce videos. Let’s face it, people have grown up with video and many tinker with video on the side. So, there’s a good chance someone on your staff has the desire and maybe even the ability to produce your video.
Often, this approach meets the needs of the company, especially if it’s an internal training or simple message from the CEO. While it might appear you are saving money, this decision often comes at the cost of employee productivity. While professionals cost a lot more per hour to produce videos, they are faster and more efficient.
What could take a professional 5 hours to produce, could take a non-professional employee five to ten times longer to complete. You must weigh this cost when deciding whether to use your internal staff. Is it worth it to remove your employee from their regular tasks?
Note: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should
Just because you may have someone in your office who can operate a camera, doesn’t mean they are qualified to shoot professional videos for your business. Users are more selective (and educated) than ever, and they can spot a video that looks like a cheap commercial in a heartbeat. And if you’re planning on choosing an internal videographer, there’s certain equipment you’ll need to have:
- Video Equipment: Though cellphone footage has come a long way, you’re still missing the essential equipment for quality video. Sure they shoot HD video, but with a fixed lens, built-in microphone, and rely on ambient light.
- Audio Equipment: Professional videographers often argue that audio quality is equally (if not more) important than the visuals. If you don’t have your subjects properly mic’ed up and are relying on your camera’s built-in microphone, be prepared for the wind and ambient noises to take center stage.
- Editing Software: You have more “wiggle room” to fix a shaky video shot with some of the editing software out there today (though you should also be using a tripod!). Even so, post-production shouldn’t be a crutch, and you also need to know the ins and outs of a professional editing software to do it well.
- Lighting Equipment: For some reason when people are on a budget for a video, they typically axe this. Big mistake! Even if you’re shooting outside, you can never bank solely on natural light. Plus, relying on artificial overhead lighting indoors won’t highlight your focal point and can leave subjects looking shadowed or discolored, even if you white balance the shot a dozen times.
Watch an Example
Here is an example of a video shot by a non-professional. It gives you the intended info but is fairly rudimentary. It accomplishes its goal but is not broadcast quality by any means.
Option 2: Solo Videographer
Number of professionals required: One
Costs: $500 - $5,000
Quality: Decent but room for improvement
A good way to keep costs down but bump up your production value is to reach out to the independent videographer, often known as the one-person-band. This person does it all: shoot, write, edit, graphics, etc. However, the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind.
Often, the lone videographer is excellent at some tasks like shooting or audio but might lack skills in editing or writing. That’s okay though. You are still going to get a quality product that you’re comfortable showing the general public.
The video might not be flashy but it’s going to serve its purpose. Usually, you’ll use an employee for the on-camera talent. You’ll stick to one location for the shoot. Graphics will be limited. But again, you will get a decent product.
Note: Limitations on Solo Videographers
Simply because they don't have a team to back them up, solo videographers may not be capable of everything that you'd ideally like done to your video. Also, since they're jack of all trades but masters of none, it's important to know where their strengths lie and if they have all the proficiencies needed for your project.
- Camera Angles: A videographer team working together allows for multiple cameras running at the same time, which means there can be various camera angles for cutaway scene, B-scene, or just varying up a long stretch of conversation by switching between frames.
- Editing Techniques: While there are many “beginner” editing systems out there today, they lack some of the efficiencies that a more complex editing system can offer — from special effects, graphics, transitions and more. You’ll have to make sure that your solo videographer knows their stuff when it comes to editing. A professional video editor is trained to know what looks pleasing to the eye; how to arrange shots in a particular sequence; how to eliminate any audio “pops,” how to spot a jump-cuts — the list goes on and on.
- Unnatural Scripting: Video expert or not, one thing every viewer can pick-up on is an awkward vibe. Think of the last cheap commercial you watched. It probably contained cringe-worthy scripting that made you feel slightly embarrassed for them. Professional teams have editors and script writers that know what to say and how to say it, whereas someone who is working solo may not have that experience and definitely doesn’t have the manpower to help.
Watch an Example
In this example, the first thing you’ll notice is the animated open. This automatically tells the viewer this was done professionally. The videographer used a tripod and the lighting is okay.
The on-camera talent is an employee but appears comfortable and knowledgeable. There are cut-away shots to show the action. Lastly, there is music in the background. All in all, this is a successful video in that it shows me how to replace a drive belt.
Option 3: Video Production Company
Number of professionals: 2+
Costs: $5,000 - $50,000
When production value is important, it’s time to reach out to a professional video production company. This usually happens when messaging is important, a strategy is required, and the final product needs to be visually appealing. Examples include company culture overviews, product launches, etc.
As I mentioned, the number of video professionals required to complete the project determines video cost. At a minimum, a video production company will provide you a videographer and a producer/director.
There are instances where one or two more people like an audio technician, makeup artist, or a lighting professional are included. This increases the quality and the budget.
A video production company has experts who write scripts, develop the creative strategy, and ensure you have a high-end video you want to show the world.
Watch an Example
Here is an example of a training video that was produced by a video production company. Notice the beginning of the video starts with a jib or crane shot.
The on-camera talent is a professional. The company chose to shoot the video in several locations to create more visual appeal for the viewers. The end of the video contains motion graphics.
All in all, this is a well-produced video.
Option 4: Ad Agency
Number of professionals: A lot (10+)
Costs: A lot ($75,000+)
Quality: Off the charts
You need a video that is visually stunning. Maybe you’re hoping to broadcast it nationally. Heck, maybe you’re ready for the big time! I’m talking Super Bowl ad! This is where ad agencies shine.
They have video professionals to work with you on strategy, concepting, scripting, demographics, buying airtime, hiring Hollywood directors. They’ll even provide catered meals, pop artists to sing your jingle, and Johnny Depp to be your spokesperson (if the price is right).
I think you get what I’m saying. Ad agencies will produce the highest quality video for you, but the costs can be astronomical.
Watch an Example
Ad agencies tend to shy away from “how-to” videos, so I had to get creative. Here is a promotional video from Toro for a line of snowblowers. The first thing you notice is this is a highly stylized video. They hired professional actors. The sound is just as important as the visuals. It’s a really cool concept. (Cool, get it, snowblowers, snow, hockey. Sorry about that).
Ultimately, when producing videos for your company, you have options. You simply need to take a look at your goals and resources.
Maybe an intern is perfect for your next project. Maybe you need a little help, so a solo videographer is the best choice. Whatever you choose, just remember, the cost isn’t determined by length. The number of professionals needed to complete your video determines the cost.
So, how many professionals does it take to create your video?
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