How to figure out video production cost and budgets 2017


Pricing out HD video production and now 4K Video Production can be kind of a tricky task especially in 2016.  IF you Ask someone in the film/video industry for help on’ll likely get the typical answer… "it depends" . Not a very helpful answer when you’re trying to plan on spending or on a budget. Most of all trying to figure out your personal or business video production costs.  Now with 4K Ultra HD the variables are much higher and the post production (Video Editing) and Motion graphics arena has changed substantially.   We also are filming on RED Camera and in some 6K Digital Cinema formats which makes the whole task much more complicated internally then it sounds.  But we will try to break it down modestly for you as well.

So many video production companies don’t advertise their prices but there is various reasoning behind it and most of it is actually for the benefit of the client or consumer. It drives me a little crazy when I can’t find pricing or payment information at a website, so I will at least try to give some ballpark figures. We’re also happy to prepare a simple quote for you anytime you or your business is planning a budget. While I’ve had plenty of clients and prospects thank me for that, I thought a more extensive blog post on how we break down our costs might be worthwhile explaining.  On a side note, sometimes you can find video package promo's if your super lucky.  Be sure to always check video production portfolios first.

While you’ll probably still have to contact me or another director if you have specific questions, my hope is that this post will give you more insight into what goes into producing a regular HD video as well as a 4K video so you know where your money is going.


First things first, we don’t charge by the hour. We’re sometimes asked for a 1-hour video shoot; however, clients don’t see all of the pre and post-prodution activities that take place which usually includes multiple meetings, emails and phone conversations. Things like travel time to and from the shoot, color correcting the video in post-production (which is a major key), and converting the files into something they can use (encoding process). In short, video production takes a lot more than an hour and for 4K Production process its much more extensive.  


We charge by using day rate, $5,200/day for up to 1 camera, or sometimes a half-day rate of $3600 – $4800. Basically, we figure out how much time will be spent on a project (how many days), then we apply the day rate to come up with our total cost.  That is just camera and cinematographer.  Other variables to consider:

1. How Many Cameras?

2. Lighting?

3. Professional Audio?

4. Motion Graphics (logo) or specialty animation?

5. Pre Production Scripting, Editing and Hours with your business to efficiently portray your marketing message.

The most frequent question we get is how much does a 3-minute video cost… or a 2-minute video… or a 60-second video? Regardless of the video length, the answer is always… it depends… and here’s why.

Let’s use the 3-minute video as an example. The finished video might be 3-minutes, but each 3-minute video can vary greatly in how long it takes to produce. We’ve had 3-minute videos that took just a few days to produce costing about $6,000. We’ve also had a 3-minute video take nearly 2-4-weeks to complete costing over $15,000. It all depends on what has to be shot and how much time we’ll need in post-production.  Most Videos are around the 2 min mark and take a Month of pre production, then a shoot day or two and then 30-45 days in post production video editing making it a 60-90 day process.


Red Camera Video Productions are basically the (Lamborghini) of productions.   Commercials such as Nike, Under Armor, Geico, Doritos and Pepsi are all solid examples of the RED Look.   You can just tell when you see a commercial or film done on RED because...well.....Its just the best.    Its very distinguished and viewers know the high production value when they see it.   These Productions are Next Level and really the highest platform for production.   These require much more all around work, and if you are interested in these, high budget productions can be discussed as well.   We have been working on RED platforms for 10 years and cater to the highest level of production as well.   

A number of major films have now been shot on the Red system including The Martian, Guardians of the Galaxy, District 9, Book of Eli, Social Network, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Green Zone. Peter Jackson is an avowed fan of the system and is shooting the upcoming Hobbit movie with 48 of the Red Epic cameras.


Let me walk you through the process for how we breakdown our time to help you understand it better.


The first thing is simply getting on the same page with the client to make sure we’re producing what they need to meet their goals. At this point, we’ve likely already met with the client before preparing their video proposal, so this concept planning meeting typically only takes about 30-minutes to 1-hour and can be done in-person or over the phone. We do things like:

  • outline the approach to the video (Treatment Planning)
  • discuss with client the subject matter and raw video that must appear in the video
  • discuss how many on-camera interviews will be conducted; select interviewees and discuss plan for contacting and coordinating each person
  • Go over locations, Talent and any other on set variables we will need (this can get time consuming in the process)   NOTE:  Talent, locations and Sets all are additional costs that can be discussed up front.  


Next, we start to assemble all the things we’ll need during the shoot. This can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. Preparations include:

  • Create the treatment or outline of the video including all talent, graphics, shots, scenes and scripts
  • create any necessary shot lists (based on the concept meeting)
  • prepare interview questions (based on the concept meeting)
  • prepare equipment (checking/testing the camera, lights, media cards, tripod)

NOTE:  most of the time there is multiple cameras, lighting, electric (grip), full audio set ups, make up artists, directors, cinematographers, talent and producers on set.   ITS ALOT:)


The day of the video shoot (SET) is the most obvious to people because we’re on-site so what we do is on display and you can actually see whats going on. This is a big part of the “it depends” aspect of things but also plays the biggest role in pricing sometimes. How many video shoots will be required to capture what we need for the video?  How many days?

NOTE:  Talent and location also charges daily as well.

It’s talked about and decided in advance when the video proposal is being prepared. Sometimes everything we need to shoot is in a single location and all available on the same day. Perfect.

On the other hand, sometimes there are multiple locations involved, someone critical to the video needs to be interviewed on a different day, et cetera. All of these things add-up.

As far as the shoot itself, here are some of the things we do:

  • cinematographer visits each site to shoot everything on the shot list. (location scouting)
  • cinematographer also shoots other raw video he/she finds relevant or beneficial
  • cinematographer interviews predetermined people

Most of Hilo Motion PIctures videos only require multiple cinematographers, but there are cases where additional resources are needed or requested. We have helped coordinate things like additional videographers, sound technicians, an live online streaming coordinator, a teleprompter operator, hair and makeup, et cetera. Adding professionals like these does increase the production’s cost.


This is where a lot of the time gets spent that the client never gets to see. It’s the other “it depends” variable. How much time gets spent in post-production varies depending on the amount of raw video there is to sift through and how complicated the story is to tell. It could take anywhere from 2-5 days in most cases. Some of the things that need to be accomplished are:

Logging Raw 4K Video

  • review all the raw video that was shot
  • transcribe sound bites from interviews

Video Edit

  • edit video according to the approved script
  • relevant graphics are created
  • preview video is provided to client for viewing
  • minor changes are discussed by phone, changes requested by client are made

Motion Graphics and Animation

•This is one of the most time consuming and longest processes in the mix.   Also the most expensive hourly so all motion graphics and animations are discussed before the Production including CGI if necessary.  


  • digital files are created

Taking into consideration each of those phases… concept planning, pre-production, video shoot, and post-production… most projects take 60-90 days to complete, costing about $15,000 – $60,000.

Price is always agreed to in advance with our clients, so they know what the cost is before production begins. We have had a few situations where a project takes longer than anticipated and the price has changed during the process. In all of those cases, the clients added shoots, or other components, and then agreed to an accordingly higher price. Communication is the best way to avoid any potential cost issues.


We do have a low-cost option for small business owners with tiny marketing budgets. We produce some really nice short videos for around $4,000-5,000.

Those videos are all about keeping a very strict production schedule. From beginning to end, the entire production needs to take us less than a day to create the video. We do that with a 1-hour video shoot, during which we ask a string of questions leading to answers that essentially create the script on its own, then we edit everything together.

Basically, these clients relinquish that control to us and trust we will deliver a video that’s on-message. Clients do not get a script to approve or a preview video that allows them to ask for changes in the final video.

This cuts down on a lot of the time it takes us in post-production. If a client wants editorial control in one of these low-cost videos, they can purchase it for an additional charge. We have never had that situation come-up, and our clients who have purchased our low-cost videos have been thrilled with the end result, and of course, the cost!


6. Videos For Crowdfunding Campaigns

This is one of my favorites because it breaks the mold of regular video production.  Crowdfunding videos are a whole different ball game and alot of the time when you offer incentive packages for the production team, they may cut the rates down.  As for me, I am always willing to knock some money off the crowdfunding production budget since most of these people are passionate start ups.   I put together crowdfunding video packages that help young business owners launch their crowdfunding campaign a little easier.  


Those basic steps for how the videos are produced should be pretty universal from company to company. Of course, every production company prices things in their own way, but that’s how we determine the cost of a video.  I hope this at least gives you some understanding behind the process.


Here are some samples of price ranges:



PRICE RANGE:  $30,000.00-$60,000

Filmed in 6K Ultra HD on RED digital Cinema Cameras, this first ever viral commercial campaign for NeoCell was created as a series of product and brand promotions for the "burst a move" campaign.



PRICE RANGE:  $20,000-$40,000

This Company Profile video was done for KDA in Irvine California. Filmed in 4K and 5K with multiple motion shots, aerials and multiple angle interviews this company profile video is a marketing centerpiece for the Kda Marketing and advertising teams. Contact us for more info:



PRICE RANGE: $9,000-$22,000



PRICE RANGE:  $20,000-$50,000


Cinema style aerials of this Unique Central California area makes this lifestyle tour video of San Luis Obispo a remarkable visual experience. Within the tour, Avivo homes makes its presence with its amazing San Luis Lifestyle and surrounding area landmarks. Enjoy the lifestyle of San Luis Obispo with close proximity to the ocean and wine country. Avivo gives you the perfect location to relax and yet still be a short commute away from the main city. Come visit us and see how easy it is! Visit the website at:


PRICE RANGE:  $3,500.00-$10,000


3Minute Thursday 4K Web Video Series Produced by: Savannah shares her social media management checklist with you on this episode of ‪#‎3MinThursdays‬. Want a printable version of the checklist? Click here: