Realistic budgeting for video production

Many people approach me and ask me to help them make a video either on the good work they are doing or simply on their organisation. The moment I say I agree, the first question they ask is, “How much will it cost?”

“What is your budget?’ I ask them in return.  Most times they tell me they don’t have an idea. Well, I proceed to tell them, the budget is dependent on a number of factors:

  • Length
  • Complexity (will it be shot on location/ indoors/ sets etc.)
  • The ‘story‘ for the video (Yes, every video needs to tell a story)
  • The people involved (actors/ whether talent to be interviewed are in different locations)
  • And of course, the purpose of the video (education/ entertainment/ corporate/ fund-raising etc.).  This, in fact, together with the others, is a major factor in deciding the budget.

All of these factors will decide:

  • Video format: The video format that will be used (MiniDV, DVCPRO, HD, AVCHD etc). Remember, rentals differ from camera to camera.
  • Special equipment & personnel:  Does the video shoot require track & trolley? Cranes? Jibs? Steady cameras?  What are the kind of lights required for the shoot? There goes up the cost!
  • The number of days you’ll be required to shoot.  This is again dependent on the script & the story. Will the film be shot documentary style? Will it involve actors? Different locations? Clients always want everything to be included in their video. It’s your job/responsibility to explain why it can’t be so.
  • The number of personnel involved in the production. More complex the video, more the number of days, the locations and more the number of people involved & hence more the cost.
  • Transport, fooding & lodging:  This takes away at least 30-55% per cent of your total budget. Budget them carefully.
  • Permissions: Many locations require permissions and user fees. Factor these into the budget
  • Production & Post-production:  Does parts of the video need animation/ complex graphics?  These will add to costs.

And yes, before I forget, add 10-15% of the budget towards incidental expenses. Clients will never understand why you need that amount, but shoots can always spring unpleasant surprises.

Remember, every client wants the best video ever made for her. It’s important that you take the time out to explain to them why a video costs that much. 

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Video transitions: How to use them

Video Transitions and effects are amateurs’ favourite! They tend to use a number of transitions and effects, often not realising that each one of them has a meaning and purpose. Let’s discuss transitions this time.

Transitions are changeovers from one shot/scene/sequence to another. A Cut is an instantaneous shift from one shot to another is the most commonly used transition. ADissolve is when two shots overlap each other, with the first gradually disappearing while the next one appears and then remains on the screen. The fade is like the putting on/off of lights in a theatre. Fade-in is the transition from black to the image. Fade-out is the transition from the image to black. When one shot is replaced by another in a geometric pattern, it is called a Wipe.

Each of these transitions have a purpose and meaning and are to be used accordingly. Here’s an attempt to summarise when these transitions are to be used.

Transition Is similar to Is used
Cut Space between two words or a blink When change is instantaneous, shows continuity of action, creates impact, to shows new information
Dissolve Space between two paragraphs To show brief passage of time or change in space. Also used in flash-back and flash-forward
Wipe Shifting from an idea to another To show brief passage of time or change in space. Also used in flash-back and flash-forward
Fade-in Putting on lights in a play to indicate its beginning At the beginning of a sequence or a film
Fade-out Putting off lights in a play to indicate a major break or the end of the play At the end of a sequence or a film

If you are interested in making good videos, purchase the second edition of Video Production, Oxford University Press.



Community Radio: Continuous Improvement Toolkit

UPDATE:  Five countries in East Africa including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania & Burundi have adapted the toolkit and will be using it to assess themselves.

Community Radio in India became a legitimate reality after the historic Supreme Court judgment in 1995 which ruled that “airwaves are public property”. However, it was only in 2006 that the Government of India modified its initial guidelines (2003) that had allowed only educational institutions, to also permit civil society groups to set up Community Radio Stations (CRSs).

As per the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) website, India has around 180 operational CRSs (including educational institutions, KVKs, and those set up by civil society groups), with less than a third of those managed by civil society organisations.

The UNESCO Chair on Community Media (UCCM), with support from CEMCA, New Delhi, developed a toolkit for community radios that will help them self-assess their performance on a periodical basis.

Themes such as participation, inclusion, gender, capacity building, etc. have been treated as core principles that cut across all the nine parameters.

CR-CIT focuses on principles, practices, and processes. Impact of the community radio station on the community is outside the purview of this toolkit. This is primarily to help stations reflect on the extent to which their everyday practices and policies are in tune with the larger philosophy and best practices of community radio.

The toolkit is based on the principle of self-assessment and peer-review process and is a very helpful tool for community radios that wish to better themselves and offer the best services to the communities they serve.

Download the toolkit in English and Hindi.

This toolkit has already been adapted by several community radio stations in both India and Bangladesh. UNESCO Chair on Community Radio plans to build capacities of CR stations in East Africa this year to use this toolkit.