How much does it cost to produce a video?

This is frequently the first question that we hear from new clients who might be unfamiliar with the video production process. Many do not understand the many components that make up a professionally produced video. And most of the time we cannot provide an immediate estimate until a number of issues are discussed and options are explored. What is the purpose of the video and who is the audience? How it the video going to be used and distributed? What is the desired “production value” or quality of the finished work? Some clients want network TV quality with multiple cameras, professional actors, and sophisticated graphics and other clients are happy with a well written video shot with a single camera, simple editing and a more cost-effective approach.

Budgets will help define options. Multiple days of shooting with special camera rigs or complicated 3D animations can be costly. Having an original music score or using a well known voice over artist can add value to your production but can impact your budget substantially. Sometimes these extra touches are necessary for the success of the project. Our challenge is to develop and create quality video solutions no matter what budget the client has to work with.

Whether a video costs $5,000 or $100,000 the primary concern shouldn’t always be determined by how many bells and whistles were used but rather, how effective was the “messaging.” Did the video attract more customers? Can your employees use their tools properly? Was the meeting more memorable?

Vision Star Media understands the importance of these goals and places great emphasis on providing value for our client’s dollars. We firmly believe that the more our clients know the production process and cost structure, the closer we can build a collaborative environment. The more understanding and the greater the collaboration, the smoother the project will go and ultimately, the more money saved.

What do I need to provide?

The short answer is: YOU!

First, film and video have long been referred to as “collaborative mediums” and the truth is this concept is at the heart of the Vision Star philosophy. Video is not a simple transaction; every video is a custom piece of work. This is why a spirit of partnership and cooperation is so important.

You are subject matter experts. Your knowledge of your products, services, markets, competitors, customers and prospects speaks volumes – far more than we could ever hope to learn during the Pre-Production phase of a video project. This information forms the foundation for the content of your video presentation. It “cuts to the chase” meaning less time (and money) spent on research and concept development on our part. The more information you share, the faster the project will come together.

Our role throughout the process will be to work with you to glean the information that is important to your target audiences and translate this into words, images, and graphics. Experience has taught us that the more involved our clients are, the better the end result.

Should we shoot in a studio or on location?

It depends. Both have their merits and both have their limitations. Let’s take a quick look at the two shooting environments for video production.

A studio – and we’re talking about a studio optimized for video shooting – is a controlled environment. By that, we mean that we can control the lighting, the sound, the setting, and the action. Think of a studio as an empty, soundproof shell. We often times refer to this as a Sound Stage. We can take that shell and build the set pieces that we want filled with the props we need. We can add whatever lighting we need, including special lighting effects. We can place microphones where they will best pick up the sounds we need to record and we don’t have to worry about outside noise interfering with our scene. We can rehearse the talent and record our scene when we are ready. And because we are in an isolated space, we don’t have to interfere with a location office setting and disrupt any workplace activities.

Studios often times provide a fair amount of open space to accommodate multiple cast and crew members as well as sophisticated production equipment. In a workplace environment, open space can sometimes be limited and can challenge the needs of the production.

Many studios have designated make-up and wardrobe areas as well as client lounges and commissaries.

Some studios feature a number of backdrop options. These can include solid black or solid white where the talent is the focal point and the background completely disappears. Another backdrop might be a Green Screen or Blue Screen cyc or curtain used for special effects. During editing, the special colored background can be digitally replaced with any imagery or setting. If you want your talent to appear as if they are in an exotic remote location or in a restricted area, shooting against a chroma backdrop gives you that option.

Location shooting is a way to capture the action in the real world. Depending upon the simplicity of the scene and the locale, it can be less costly than studio shooting. If the location is the client’s place of business, the look and feel of the environment will be realistic, frequently eliminating the need for added sets and props. Sometimes it is essential to shoot in the client’s workplace environment to capture a meeting, record a building exterior, an office procedure or special piece of equipment.

If multiple employees are involved in the recording, the on-site shooting location can increase convenience and reduce logistical concerns. Many times there will be time and space restrictions in a workplace environment, so set-ups and crew requirements can be challenging.

There is the added benefit that the clients can continue to work while the video equipment is being set up. And while the goal is to be as undisruptive as possible, a video shoot at a client facility can create a buzz and excitement in the workplace.

If the location is a public space, permits will need to be secured and public notices and releases will need to be obtained. Local law enforcement or private security may also be engaged for crowd control and safety. There are additional costs associated with these efforts.

What is B-roll video and how is it used?

Video, like any other technology-based industry, has its own vocabulary. One of the terms most frequently used is “B-roll.” And while the term’s roots go back to the early days of television, for our purposes, B-roll can be defined as “supporting” footage useful for adding visual interest to an event, place or presentation. It is frequently used during interviews or “talking head” videos. During the start of an interview, viewers will usually see the person talking on camera. Then, while the speaker’s voice continues to be heard, the video image might “cut away” to show secondary footage – usually illustrating or complementing the topics being discussed. This secondary footage is referred to as B-roll (the interview footage would be considered “A-roll” but nobody calls it that anymore).

B-roll can be video or still images or even historical or stock images. Its primary purpose is to enhance the story by providing imagery that increases the understanding and comprehension of the viewer. It can make an interview far more engaging and exciting to watch and can accentuate a point or concept. B-roll is particularly effective in training videos where seeing the action being discussed is critical.

But B-roll can serve another purpose. This is best exemplified by one of our clients, the John Wayne Airport. The airport’s public affairs team was constantly fielding requests from media outlets for video footage – terminal activity, aircraft on runways taking off or landing, and other sights and sounds of the airport.

Vision Star Media was brought in to develop a “B-roll Library” for the airport. Several days of shooting yielded hundreds of short video clips, all organized, labeled and indexed by Vision Star for the airport staff. Now, when a request comes in, the public affairs group merely goes to their B-roll library, reviews and selects the appropriate clips, and electronically sends them to the requesting media outlet.

If your organization deals directly with news or other video media outlets, having a B-roll Library is an ideal solution to quickly meeting requests.

How should we select a video vendor?

Start with trust. When you produce a video, you’re putting your image, your reputation, your brand on the line. That’s an important consideration – you’ve worked hard to build these and you need to continue to enhance them with your video project. So having trust in your vendor is probably the most important element when selecting a video partner.

Trust is built over time, but there are some clues to look for in the short term.

Credibility. Begin with how credible the video vendor is. Do they have a proven track record of producing a variety of video projects? Are their samples relevant and watchable? Do they understand the power and importance of video as a communications tool or are they just enamored with the glitz and sizzle of the medium?

Concern. Do they show a genuine concern for your needs and objectives? Do they care about content and quality in their work over everything else? Do they show a real interest in understanding your products, services, and customers? Do they respect your time and budget?

Competence. Do they know their business? Are they versed in the constructs of storytelling, marketing, and psychology? Do they understand the technology available to them and know how and when to apply it? Can they take you to the next level with this project?

Confidence. Are they up for the challenge you have for them – is it in their wheelhouse? Do they understand what you’re hoping to accomplish? Has their past experiences prepared them for your project? Can they bring a fresh energy to the assignment?

Talk with some of their past clients. Understand their work process. Ask questions about the equipment they use. Watch their sample portfolio. Review some of the scripts for these projects. Good video vendors are open and forthcoming and more focused on saving you money than spending your money.

Remember, a video project is all about solving a business communication challenge – about reaching the most people with the right message that helps to move your organization to the next level. Choose a partner that gets it.