3 Steps To Understanding Video Production

I often get approached by a client that wants an estimate based on the length of the end product ( IE: 60 min, 1 min, 30 sec). Unfortunately, most video productions are not cookie-cutter, and the length rarely gives you enough information to accurately give a realistic price. 

Since length is typically not how production is generally priced, then how IS it priced? I’ve seen full-length documentaries that were almost 2 hours long shot by a recent college graduate, produced for less than 100k. I have also seen a 60 sec Super Bowl spot, directed by Michael Bay that cost millions. Cost is based off of what has to go into the production to create a good and unique product, not necessarily how long it is. The production process is complex and can be broken down into three sections. Price is usually determined by what and WHO goes into each of these sections. I have broken down each part to better understand the workflow and its importance of them –

  1. Pre-production
  2. Production
  3. Post-production

Pre Production

Pre-Production is exactly what it sounds like; it’s everything that happens before production happens. This is where meetings, concepting, research, scheduling, storyboarding, and script writing occur. A flat fee for pre-production is usually applied based on an estimate of the amount of work needed for this process. This also opens up the creative process and allows clients to come to us with new constructive changes without feeling nickeled and dimed. If we start making more changes than anticipated such as added scripts, or are put on accelerated deadlines, we have to bill beyond our initial quote but always make sure everyone is aware in advance.


Production is the actual shoot. If it is live-action then this will require shooting at real locations. The price for shooting on location is based on how many days it will take to shoot your product, and what kind of equipment and crew you’re going to need for each day. Talent is also a huge factor in Production costs. We can handle most of our clients’ needs with a lean in-house crew. It consists of a Director of Photography (Camera operator), a grip, and a Producer/Director. This also includes our in-house cameras, lights, and audio.  The cost of scope may go up or down depending on who fills those positions and if additional crew/ Equipment is needed, such as a Sound Op if there are several speaking roles. Some other potentially needed things would be studios, location cost, makeup, and additional lights. Each production is unique which makes the price unique as well. Animation is a little different and will be discussed in another blog. 


After we shoot what is needed, we bring all the footage back to our office and begin the process of turning it into a video. This is called post-production. Post mostly refers to editing but before the editor can begin, They will need the script in order to know what order to put the clips in, What are the sound bites that are needed, B-roll, graphics, and music. All this takes time to track down and can take days just to prep depending on the project. This can affect costs due to having to purchase music, stock footage, or image licensing. After all of the assets are put together you also have the option to get the audio mastered at an audio house or get it on lined and color corrected at a 3rd party location. 

In conclusion, All video productions are unique and length does not matter when it comes to getting a quote. Make sure to always consult with a professional company such as Miller AD Agency. We will make sure to think out the whole project and give you an accurate quote based off of your needs. We also have an in-house creative team that all provide insight to ensure the final product is the best it can be.