Understanding  Production costs
Professional vs. Standard

On a budget? No problem! Where video production is needed for non-broadcast and/or on a budget, there are many ways we can cut back production costs. We prepare each budget on a project-by-project basis. We also work closely with non-profit organizations to help meet their requirements and still stay within their budget. Please contact SEFX3D Films to request a cost/proposal agreement based on your requirements and budget.

My research shows that In the industry, the average cost to produce a PROFESSIONAL video is around $1,000 to $3,000 per minute of "Finished" video.  This is a significant range but it can be easily explained if you look at the components of how the price for a production is developed. Because there are many variables involved in planning, pre-production, shooting, productions values, scripting, talent, post-production and many other elements, it is difficult to get a tighter per minute estimate. Costs depend upon several factors including the locations, travel, original graphic designs, talent fees, and special effects. We prepare each budget on a project-by-project basis.So, a 10 minute PROFESSIONAL video could cost from $10,000 to $30,000. I charge $85 per hour for production services, and $25 per hour for travel time.  Depending on the complexity of the project, on the average it can take anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours of production work for each minute of finished video.Based on our pricing, on the average, you could expect the cost to be from $2,000 to $8,000 for a 10 minute video.  Remember, complex projects can require more time, and be more costly.

SEFX3D Films produces compelling, professional videos and is up to date on the latest technologies of this powerful medium. Ours is a infomercial/promotion style. We typically use narration (voice-over) tell the story. SEFX3D Films videos use the broadcast quality DV video; combining footage, live interviews, still photographs, graphics and music, insuring your story will be told in a professional, engaging and comfortable way. The Recommended length of an informational video is 4-8 minutes and 3-5 minutes for a Promo style video. The average cost is approximately $1,500-3,000 / minute. The estimated time-line to complete a project video is 4-6 weeks.

If you hire a film or video production company to make a video for you the costs are high. The rule of thumb is $1,000 per minute for a completed PROFESSIONAL video. So if you’ve decided that you’d like a 15-minute video to sell a product or promote a business, it will cost you $15,000 for TV applications.


How to Start


Any program produced for the benefit of company employees, managers, stockholders, clients, or the general public is considered corporate video.
There are many ways to present information. There’s the news program, new product introduction, company history, documentary, new employee orientation, training and executive message, to name a few. Each has its own format and purpose: to inform, instruct, inspire, motivate, and persuade.
“Corporate video” is also a general term. You’ll hear and read many names for it, including “industrial video,” non-broadcast video,” “business video,” “in-house,” and “corporate television.”


 Depending on the length and complexity of the subject matter, you’ll spend anywhere between $3,000.00 and $30,000.00 to produce a video. Justifying that kind of money requires support from all of your organization, not an easy thing to do when budget and personnel cutbacks are the order of the day. Companies often jump into video without considering cost, then abandon the medium when it becomes too difficult to control. Production costs spiral very quickly when left unattended. Unless you possess an all-around knowledge of production, you’re going to hire and purchase outside services and materials.


Scriptwriter: $200-350 per page
Director/crew: $1000-$3000 per day
Editing suite: $120-$350 per hour
Talent: $800-1,000 per person per day
Tape stock: $25-$50 per tape
Duplication: $10 per copy

These are merely averages for standard service and based on a simple shooting schedule along with a need for program distribution. If you add music fees, artwork, and sets, a promotional tape for your upcoming sales contest may end up costing more than the contest itself.
Given inflation and the wide variation in production costs, the quickest way to figure out how much your video will cost is to assume $1,500-$2,000 per finished minute of program. Why such a wide variation in costs?

q       Many production companies design packages of services and equipment based on their client’s needs, while others charge flat rates.
Costs very from state to state and region to region.
Equipment quality. Using this year’s technology always costs more than using last year’s.


 Depending on the complexity of your project, it takes a minimum of six to eight weeks to produce a program. For now divide your program into weekly assignments.
2-3 weeks information gathering, scripting and approvals.
2-3 weeks production and post-production (editing)
1 week viewing and program changes
1 week duplication and distribution


Television and film are organized into neat little segments: TV commercials are fifteen or thirty seconds, news shows and sitcoms are thirty minutes, and dramas are an hour. A standard feature film is two hours long. Video doesn’t play by fixed rules. Theoretically, content should determine program length, but business situations dictate otherwise. Many of programs may be watched during conference meetings, some of which last for days. Attendees have to absorb a lot of information in a short period of time and participate in numerous activities. Concentrating on a home office video is not always on the agenda.
Your average program should run between five and ten minutes. After that, viewers won’t remember much of what you say or do. Here’s a guide to help you establish program length.  

q       VNR Video News Report 1-3 minutes  
New product introduction: 3-6 minutes  
Contest promotion: 5 minutes  
Motivational message: 5-7 minutes  
Executive message: less than 10 minutes  
Company information: 10 minutes  
News program: 15-20 minutes  
Documentary: 20 minutes

Training videos were left off the list for a reason. A specific procedure may take ten minutes to explain, while a series of procedures may take up to an hour, with each segment broken up by pauses while an instructor goes over the material with a class. Or you may produce a series of programs lasting several hours spread out over several tapes. In this instance, program time may not be as important a factor as the subject matter.

1. Define your goals.

q       Who will watch the video?
When will the audience watch the program?
Where will the audience watch the program?
What is the program’s purpose?
Why is the program important?

2. Provide specific information about your program.

q       Program type (new product introduction; documentary; training)
Audience (sales representatives; community leaders; customer service agents)
Purpose (to inform; to persuade; to instruct)
Format: Betacam-SP master for VHS dubs
Length (5-20 minutes, depending on program type)
Budget: $1,500-$2,000 per finished minute of program

3. List the people and services involved in project.

q       Scriptwriter
Production company
Graphic designer
Set designer

4. When will project events take place?

q       Program treatment
Script draft
Program reviewing

5. Create a broad outline for the synopsis.

Part 1:

q       What does the audience need to know?
Introduce the subject.
State the company’s role in the subject.

Part 2:

q       What makes this topic special?
What will it cover?
List/show/explain program points.

Part 3:

q       Reiterate your purpose in presenting the program.
Highlight the company’s commitment to excellence.
Reinforce audience need to take action.

In other words-

Part 1: State the problem and the solution.
Part 2: Explain how the solution works.
Part 3: Tell what to expect from the solution.



Here are some guidelines for keeping production costs down without sacrificing the quality and effectiveness of your video program:

#1: Use the talent you have.

Professional actors command high fees. Unless they’re willing to volunteer their services, professionals are out of the question for a low-budget program. Depending on the content of your program, you may be able to use non-actors. A good director should be able to get effective and realistic footage using members of your staff and volunteers.

#2: Keep locations to a minimum.

Shooting is the most expensive element in a video production. Many scriptwriters, nevertheless, make the mistake of writing programs that call for dozens of locations. A script calling for “a fast-paced sequence of the high rises of Downtown Los Angeles, Chinatown, the Sunset Strip, Santa Monica Pier,“ would require at least a day to shoot and would use up the entire budget.  To keep costs down, limit the number of times you need to move the camera.

#3: Use only the frills you need.

A lot of production companies will tell you that no one will watch a straightforward video program anymore. They will tell you that you absolutely must have fast cuts and fancy effects. Remember, however, that your program is designed, in the end, to get a massage across. An excess of frills will detract from that message. Also, most frills are expensive. You don’t want it to look as if you spent the organization’s entire annual budget on a video. That will offend the viewers and turn them off to your message. Fortunately, there are a number of cheap frills that can make even a low-budget program look snazzy. Computer animation, for example, and good quality music can add a lot to a low-budget production at little extra cost.

#4: Make several programs at once.

To save money when producing a video, consider doing two or three programs at a time. If you plan ahead, you can produce a training video, a marketing program, and an employee communication program all at the same time. It’s much easier to plan and shoot several programs at once than to shoot one program and then re-edit it to fit a second purpose.

#5: Put time into the script.

Yes, it’s possible to start with existing footage and develop a video from that. Most people, though, are disappointed with the results. While the most expensive element of a video production is shooting, the least expensive element is scripting. Script first, script carefully, and script thoroughly, and shooting costs will be greatly reduced. Keep in mind that shorter programs are more effective than longer ones. No one wants to sit through a program that’s longer than twenty minutes.

#6: Work cooperatively.

If you can’t afford to produce a program on your own, consider working with others who might benefit from the same program. For example, a nonprofit health care organization wanting a video on home care might pool resources with other area clinics to produce one video program that meets all their needs. While looking for groups with which you can pool resources, remember that you don’t have to make only one program. A nonprofit agency providing health services for people with AIDS, for example, could work with an agency providing meals for people with AIDS or one providing health services for the elderly. With careful planning, you could make two videos for the price of one and a half.

#7: Know what color clothes will make you look best on video.

Stay away from bright yellow or red because they bleed on video.  White and black are also bad, especially if it contrasts with your skin tone.  For example, dark-skinned people should not wear white, or light-skinned people should not wear black, because the camera iris adjusts itself according to the lighting level so the darkest portions look even darker on video.  All other colors are fine as long as they have medium brightness and not too much contrast with accompanying colors.  You should also be conservative in the use of jewelry, for example, don’t wear very large and too shiny earrings that may reflect the lighting and interfere with the shooting.  Your clothes should be styled in proportion with your body shape, for example, if you have a short neck then you should not wear clothes that have tight collars – open-necked tops will make your neck look longer.

#8: Make-up and hairstyle should be conservative.

In addition to the clothes, hair and make-up are also very important.  For example, hairstyles that show your hair with a lot of volume, especially in proportion to you body shape will not improve your appearance on video and may distract from the subject of your video.  It is recommended that you consult with professionals when creating your look for the camera.  Make-up is essential for everyone who will appear on video, no matter how well their complexion and natural facial tone are.  Because of the camera’s video signal response you may appear very different on screen.  For example if you have wrinkles, they may appear darker on screen, or if your complexion is oily that portion of your face will appear very shiny.  Your make-up should be light and use soft tones, to blend with your natural color.  It should enhance your natural appearance.