Corporate Filming: Whats it’s cost and value?
September 17th, 2013
This article is geared toward any business considering paying for corporate filming. The aim is to provide you with an understanding of how a production company arrives at a quote and how best to either drive that price down or decide which quote to run with.
There are costs involved with any video production, though not all are necessarily associated with every kind of filming. Creating a promotional video, for instance, requires a different cost structure from filming an event.
This list will show the various factors that go into a production company drawing up a quote, and gives you the chance to decide what you might want to do in-house, thereby giving you the chance to leverage your quote down, and what factors you might wish to query as being immaterial to your needs if they do appear in your quote. You might even find aspects of production that you deem vital but have been overlooked by the production company!
1. Provision of labour
Just as you’d pay your dentist or accounting firm for a service, here you are paying someone for their skills and expertise to provide you with a production service. This is where it’s best to shop around. The old adage that ‘you get what you pay for’ may be true, but it’s also best to ensure the company or individual that is quoting you those prices has the knowledge and skills to provide you with a finished product worthy of your time and money. Look for video testimonials from their existing clients, see the quality of the information they provide on their website that is pertinent to you and your proposed video, and check what else they have done in terms of video production.
2. Scripting & Storyboarding
Whatever your business or product, there is no possible way any production company can know it better than you, for that is not something they invest their time in every day. But being able to take the information you provide, distill it into a finely honed script that tells your story in a way that will captivate your audience is something they should be able to do, including drawing up a storyboard. You may feel, quite rightly, that you are able to draw up these yourself within your own business, but it’s always recommended that you share that work with the production company prior to filming, as there’ll undoubtedly be aspects of production, both creative and technical, that may not have occurred to you and will impact on your planning.
When and where will you be filming? Does the video demand indoor or outdoor filming? Does it require more than one location, which would imply a unit move? Filming outdoors may require permission from a local council and can also expose production to the variability of the weather. Shooting indoors might resolve those problems, but unless you own or rent a suitable location, it can prove costly. Indoor filming should allow for controlled lighting as well as relative quiet, but finding both may prove difficult. A recent example is an interview Ceres Productions was commissioned to film, for which a client had organized a room in a London hotel. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to the client, the lighting for that room was connected to the lights of all the adjacent rooms, which were being used by others and thus could not be turned off. Not only that, but the air conditioning for all those rooms was also linked, which meant it could not be dialed down for absolute quiet. Fortunately we were able to negotiate another room at the hotel, which satisfied all those conditions, but it could just as easily have not ended so well. If you decide to source your own location, bear in mind these three key determinants: space, controllable lighting and sound.
4. Actors & Presenters
Who would you wish as the face of your company or the spokesperson for your product? Will it be someone from within your business, who may have little experience being in front of a camera but can provide the passion and personal touch? Or will you want to pay a professional actor or presenter to do that for you? We have generally found it is best to find someone or some people within the business to perform this vital function, and if this is the route you wish to take we highly advise you to peruse our article on ‘Top Tips for Presenting to Camera’, for the downside to this approach is it often requires more production time to get the best take, which can also impact on cost. Regardless of who you choose, their preparation is key.
What camera will be used to shoot your video and how many will be required? There are so many cameras available – from standard definition, to high definition, to super high-def cameras – you may decide to leave this decision to the production company. While we at Ceres Productions are able to provide you with all of these options, we generally advise shooting in high definition rather than standard definition, as a means to future-proof your video.
6. Other equipment
Aside from cameras, there’s other equipment to be mindful of, and which will all bring with them associated costs: audio equipment, from radio mics to shotgun mics, necessary to capture good quality sound; lighting, from interior lighting to exterior lighting and flags; as well as other bespoke equipment: dollies and jibs to provide smooth camera movement, green screen equipment, auto-cue or tele-prompter to assist with presenting to camera, etc. What you can and can’t live without will not only be dictated by your budget, but also by your script and shot-list.
On a corporate filming shoot, there are times when you can get away with just one person who really knows their stuff – a videographer who can also capture good sound, and who has a keen eye for detail. But there will also be times when additional crew will be required: a lighting assistant; a professional boom operator; a make-up assistant; extra camera operators. All these people will cost more money but by having them there it may mean you get everything filmed in a timely fashion, which can ultimately bring costs down and provide you with a better quality end-product, which can only drive the value of your video up. These are decisions best decided between you and the production company, based on your video proposal.
8. B-roll or cutaway shots
These are extra shots outside of the main interview/general product shots that will be needed to tell your story. They may be quite easy to get during the main shoot, but sometimes because of location or time it’s just not feasible. A properly planned shooting schedule, script and storyboard at the pre-planning stage should tell you whether you will need to allow extra budget for this kind of coverage.
When discussing actors and presenters, we asked who you would want to be the face of your company. Here we are concerned with your company’s voice. It may very well be the same person and you may very well be able to record this on the day(s) of your shoot, but if the answer is ‘no’ to either of those assumptions, then you will need to budget for that.
10. Editing & Graphics
This is where your pre-production work pays off, to an extent. A well-planned shoot generally makes for a smoother edit, but editing is still a fundamental part of the story-telling process: the final stage in which your video can be finessed. It can be a make-or-break as to how an audience receives it, and is therefore worth doing well. If you plan to include motion graphics into the edit, be aware that it can dramatically increase your costs. Whilst advanced motion graphics can definitely add production value to your video, it takes both time and a particular skill to get right, and while it is usually well worth the investment, you need to budget for it.
There is a lot of royalty free music online, and quite frankly a lot of it is awful. The good stuff that you eventually do find you will probably be hearing on someone else’s corporate video before long. That’s not so say you shouldn’t take a listen to them. The bottom line is, whether you decide to go for the fairly cheaper option of pre-made online music or the more expensive approach of paying for a custom-made piece of music, it is going to cost you something. A good production company should offer both alternatives and then build your choice into their quote.
12. Digitizing, rendering & uploading
Most production companies will wrap this cost into their quote for editing. Depending on the length of the finished video as well as the various files of which its comprised, the processing time to get that video out in a format of your choice can take up quite a bit of computer time, for which there often is a hidden charge. This is another reason why companies generally prefer to provide their clients with one free opportunity to make a set of changes and then start charging for later amendments: a minor tweak in one part of a video might take seconds to do, but days to re-process and export. It is therefore always best to take your time when checking over your video’s rough cut, ensure everyone who needs to have a say has had an opportunity to see it, before putting into writing the changes you would like to see happen. And it is also a good reason to be absolutely clear at the beginning, when approaching a production company for a quote, how many various formats or versions of your video you would like to have – to be played on a DVD player and/or on YouTube, versus on the iPhone or iPad?
13. Portable hard drive
Finally, we highly recommend you check with the production company as to what format and size hard drive to provide to get a copy of all material pertaining to your video: that is all video content as well as project files. After all, this is your corporate video and corporate content. You paid for it! And so you should claim ownership of it. Who knows, perhaps a little later you would like to grab a still from the video shoot to use as a graphic element on your website or as part of an ad campaign. Do you want to have to approach the same production company you paid all that money to simply to get those stills from them, and have them charge you for it? By claiming ownership over the material, you will always be in a position to return to that company with that hard drive to get further work done, or approach another company, if you so chose. Better that than to approach them a year or two later, only to find your footage was accidentally wiped from their system.
So those are the associated costs with corporate filming. Some of them may not be appropriate to the shoot you have in mind, but most – to some extent – probably will be. But what is it about a corporate video that makes all these costs worthwhile? Wherein lies its value? Very briefly then:
1. Use it over multiple platforms
You can reach a large audience by uploading it to your website, putting it up on YouTube, linking it to your company’s facebook page, and even playing it on a television in your office reception area. It can be used as a marketing tool, as part of an awareness campaign, or in-house for review or as part of staff induction. The options are endless.
2. Visual medium
It’s become a bit of a cliché to say it, but it is true: a website that has an associated video component generates more traffic than one that doesn’t. Traffic generally also sticks around for longer and increases the click-through rate across your site. Video content can therefore improve your website’s SEO and google ranking.
Getting your message out there has never been so important. Just as important is that your message be consistent. Word-of-mouth can easily turn to chinese whispers, but with corporate video there is less chance of vagueness or miscommunication as you’re controlling the message every time.
4. Video Testimonials
Getting a client testimonial on video is so much more powerful than simply having their words printed on-screen. Your other customers can see them as living, breathing people, and so can more readily identify with them and take in what they’re saying.
In a short corporate video you are able to distill the essence of what your business is truly about, what are its core values. This is good not only for prospective customers but also for new and existing employees. Finally, video is the only medium that is able to incorporate all other elements of communication into one format – by using both moving and still images, sound as well as text, you are able to reach out in a unique and powerful way.