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.