Save Time and Money: 6 Tips to Maximize Your Video Production Budget

Read the original post on the MultiVu blog, Beyond Broadcast.

video production budget 1

Making a successful video — be it live-action, animation, or mixed media — can be summed up in one word: planning.

Without proper planning, you’re guaranteed to waste time and money.

By following a few simple guidelines, though, you can ensure that your video will make your message stand out and shine.

Here are some scene-stealing (and money-saving) tips to ensure your message shines.

1. Start with the right production partner

To avoid a potential money pit, the answer to “where to start” is simple: Hire a reputable production team. (You probably know a few reliable photogs who produce quality work). They know the questions to ask and have the know-how to get your project completed on time – and on budget.

Do it alone, and you risk finding yourself in unfamiliar territory, where hubris won’t save you.

2. Make [critical] budget assumptions

OK, so you’ve locked in your production team.

Let’s now establish some critical assumptions about video and animation budgets. Every live action video budget needs to include:

  • Script. Sounds obvious, but it’s your roadmap to planning everything else.
  • Shoot day. A crew should include a videographer, audio tech, producer, and basic lighting gear.
  • Transcription. Don’t skip it. If you’re interviewing someone you’ll want this transcription to refer to, saving you oodles of time deciding what to put where in your piece.
  • Editing. If you’ve blown your entire budget on the shoot itself, you’ve committed a cardinal sin of production, earning the unenviable title of “rookie.” Whatever is shot is going to need some editing — usually a lot.
  • Distribution. Do you think if you build it, the audience will come? They won’t. You need to budget for a distribution plan to get your piece seen across multiple channels. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • Makeup. Your talent might insist on this — find out now so you can budget for it.
  • A little padding. We recommend every video budget include at least 20 percent for unexpected costs. Maybe it’s crew OT or graphics your boss decided to include. Or, maybe it’s a scope of work change. Whatever it is, a little cushion can save you.

Every animation budget needs to include:

  • Script. Like your video budget, without a script you have no direction.
  • Style frames. Defines the visual look and style of the piece.
  • Storyboard. A sequence of pictures, either drawn or using still images, representing the shots planned for the animation. These can be used in a live action shoots, too.
  • Editing. This is when your animation editor brings it to life.
  • A little padding. The reasons for adding 20 percent for a little budget breathing room may be different. But they’re still important.

3. Avoid budget surprises

Knowing what’s not automatically included in a production budget is just as important as knowing what is. Again, avoiding surprises is the goal here.

Any production might require these line items in your budget:

  • Custom music. Stock music is inexpensive and available with usage rights. If you want music created just for your piece, you’ll need to hire a composer.
  • Teleprompter. For precise messaging, a teleprompter is a must and certainly can save time rolling on flubbed soundbites or nervous talent.
  • Set and/or food stylists. Usually not necessary for basic shoots, but if needed, expect an additional invoice.
  • Location scouting. This may be needed to assess the space and determine if anything additional is needed to execute on the day of the filming.
  • Permits. Permits may be necessary if shooting in public spaces.
  • Certificate of insurance. A document used to provide information on specific insurance coverage your location may require.
  • T&E. If your location means flying folks in, it’ll be extra and rarely included in the budget. Also, it’s important to budget for meals. Lunch for your cast and crew if they are working a full day, but depending on the size of your shoot and the length of the shoot day, this may need to cover breakfast and dinner, too.

video prod checklist

4. Be clear on the details – and approvals

Now that you know what’s included – and what’s not – in your production budget, the rest is down to the details. You must be able to walk into your production day with utter clarity into what you’re capturing. To that end, it’s critical everyone on the team signs off on the script before a single frame is shot. Having to go back later could result in costly fixes or missed opportunities.

5. Grab a few extras

So what can you accomplish on a shoot beyond the script itself?

Well, there may be opportunities throughout the day that lend themselves to quick and easy add-ons that no one will fault you for because you’re organized, competent, kind – and you’ve given everyone something to eat.

A few ideas help take your message further:

  • Social media-ready clips. Be ready for sharing on these channels with clips and soundbites.
  • B-roll. Footage of the office, or someone doing some action-appropriate work.
  • Shout outs. Share a message to cam for your sales team, or a shout out to your client to say how thrilled you are to be involved in the campaign.
  • BTS. Behind the scenes footage that might be used in a reel later to show how utterly awesome your shoot day was. (And if this is a critical component of the campaign, you may want to budget for a second crew to capture your BTS footage at the get go).

6. Maximize your budget and shine

There you have it.

Maximizing a production budget is all about careful planning. When done well, you’ll avoid kicking yourself during the editing process, wishing you had gotten that one shot or soundbite for the company’s Twitter account.

Paying attention to the details and checking off all the planning boxes, your message will shine and you’ll get the glory – because you earned it!

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Larry Cardarelli is the Vice President of MultiVu, a Cision company, in Production and Creative departments. Larry’s avocation is food and wine. He’s is a James Beard-nominated TV food producer.

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