Once you’ve decided on creating a professional corporate video for your business, you need to budget for it and figure out what your dollars buy. A lot of factors go into calculating the cost of a video, so ascertaining what you need versus what you want is a good way to start if your budget is tight. Videos can range from free, if a film student at a local college is willing to do it pro-bono, to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars if celebrities are involved, high-profile directing talent, stunts, exotic locations, or any number of other expensive elements come into play. Most businesses have no need for spending large sums of money on Web videos, but always remember that with a legitimate company, you have to spend some money to achieve professional results.

The first cost for any video is the videographer or cinematographer. The rate the production company can afford does matter to the final quality. For $100, you are probably going to be stuck with a student or low-level wedding videographer with limited experience to shoot your video, whereas $300-500 in most markets is enough to hire a highly professional videographer. At the lower end, the quality of equipment the shooter has in possession is generally going to be consumer or hobbyist at best, whereas mid-range shooters are going to have high-level hobbyist gear or low-level professional gear, and at the higher range ($1,000/day or more) shooters will come equipped with fully professional cinema gear.

The next, essential cost element to consider is editing. For the lowest budget projects, production companies will give you little to no input during the editing process because editors charge substantial rates for their time, talent, and equipment. If, for instance, a video has a total budget of $1,000, a specific number of hours must be budgeted for editing and the total cannot exceed that number for the production company to maintain its margins. In other words, the customer service will be more minimal and your corporate video may not be as custom and polished as you hoped. At higher budget levels, though, any good production company will continue editing until you are fully satisfied.

The shooter and the editor, when they are different people, are required elements to any video production and thus are not the points over which a client will express the most concern, so now to consider the additional trappings of video production. Do you want voiceover? Do you want a spokesperson present for your shoot? Do you want actors? All of these factors will add to the cost. Voiceover is the cheapest option and can be done during editing. A spokesperson can be either someone from your company, which saves money, or a professional actor, which can enhance the quality of the video but also adds cost. If the video involves actors, it also takes more time to find the right talent, which adds costs to production and on talent, possibly also necessitating a director to manage the talent.

Another consideration during post-production is the use of motion graphics. A simple motion graphics logo of your company can boost the production quality significantly and add little cost to the bottom line. A more sophisticated interweaving of motion graphics elements throughout a video, however, will drive costs up substantially, though it can also add flair and a professional touch that many competitors’ videos lack. Most editors can do basic, quick-and-dirty graphics work as part of the overall package, so if budget is a concern and dollars are tight, a simple graphic may work for your corporate video.

Most businesses choose to shoot their videos at locations they already own or lease, so the cost of production is not increased by the filming locale. In certain situations, however, you may want to consider a more exotic location or multiple locations for your video, if the added production value is worth your marketing dollars. Whether a shoot occurs at your business or elsewhere, always make sure the video production company has valid insurance. Any legitimate production company will carry extensive production insurance that covers locations, liability, equipment, and any other unforeseen problems that may arise during the course of a shoot.

For businesses trying to save money on custom video production, a few pieces of advice will go a long ways towards cutting costs. Every company, to different degrees, has limited human resources, so someone has to do the legwork of planning and executing a video. In other words, if you want to cut costs, help the production as much as possible by relieving tasks from the video production company. For instance, if you want actors and know of professional talent in your area, you can hire them yourself and tell the production company not to worry about those details. If you come to a production company with a rough film schedule in hand, a solid idea what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it, and agree to one round of editing revisions, you will get a much more competitive rate than if you want the production company to handle every detail. The real question becomes which is more valuable to your company, time or money?

An important aspect of video production to understand is that spending more money does not automatically mean getting a better video, but increases the chances of a better finished corporate video. Hiring videographers at low rates means that some shooters will be excellent, others will be poor, and most will be mediocre. With our higher budget projects, we work with tried-and-true talent and the chance of a highly professional video is 95% or greater. Sure, you could get lucky and the $100-a-day videographer the budget affords happens to be a national TV commercial director who has fallen on hard times, but more than likely he’s a college student or hobbyist videographer who should not be shooting professional corporate videos.

Finally, readers may want to know what is a good price for a corporate video. What should you spend to get your message across but not waste precious marketing dollars? The answer is too complicated to give a simple answer, but the best way to arrive at a fair and reasonable number is to consider the length of the video, which will determine to some extent the length of the shoot, which also impacts the hours of editing required to craft a finished product. A general guideline that has worked for many projects is budgeting at least $1,000 per finished minute of video, so a two-minute video is going to run roughly $2,000, perhaps more if you are adding extra locations, talent, and motion graphics work.