Why is video so expensive?

Too many times, we have heard this remark and many times we have to inform them on why it is so. Here is a clearer understanding why video is expensive but something that pays its dues many times over if executed properly.



A video is measured not in the length of the clip, but in the amount of manpower it takes to pull it off. Take your TVC or superbowl ad for instance. Those are a huge crew of at least 9-12 people to capture the footage. That does not take into account the talents, the production crew that sets up the logistics for the shoot as well as your post production team to handle it. Even for a small and inexpensive youtube video, it would take a generalist who can shoot, edit and produce a video anywhere from 2-6 weeks to do it by himself. Taking into account that video is a skilled worker similar to an accountant, how much would he cost before considering all the other few factors?


Location and Casting

I put location and casting together because it is what we refer to as production cost; amount of money spent on set during production. Even staging, make-up, equipment and transport falls under this category. Location and casting can get extremely expensive very quickly based on 2 factors; namely fame and numbers. The more well known a location or a talent is, the more expensive it would cost to execute it. Likewise for numbers of cast and location.


Equipment Cost

Think about video as cooking a meal for a group of people. Sometimes, it can be a simple catering effort (aka doing basic videos to put out information) while other times it could be a 8 course meals at a Michelin Restaurant (aka branding and strategy video). The equipment varies based on what is needed to capture the scenes and how the video is to be distributed. You will not want to shoot a video with your iphone and then use that footage to be placed on tv even though it is HD ready, right?



Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TV, Outdoor Media. In the industry, we called it platform. The more offline the platform is, the more expensive it is to make. This is because in order to make the video visually stunning for that platform, we need to get cameras that allows us to shoot video in RAW in order to preserve as much colour and data for us to maximise in post production. If we shoot with a camera that does not preserve those data and simply creates a video with the colours burnt into it already, it will then become near impossible to increase the saturation, boost the contrast without the video becoming pixelated or have noise everywhere (like how you try to take a picture in the dark with no flash).


This is the most subjective item in the whole list. Ideas can range based on which company came up with it to the amount of justifiable man-hours it takes to arrive on this idea. However, ideas are erratic and not like other forms of labour where it is justifiable by a certain amount hours it takes to execute it. Generally, ideas and gross profit is counted together as an easier sum to bill clients with based on the potential time and effort takes to execute it. This means an idea could account for around 10-15% of the price charged to clients. This does not mean you should play hard ball and press the price down further, but rather understand that it is a measure of the amount of sleepless nights, snacks, coffee and major department efforts to come up with an idea that is succinct and speaks to your viewers directly.


With those factors in mind, it is then easier to figure out what works best for you in terms of video and perhaps you will have a greater understanding how cost is calculated in the video.

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