At first glance this could be seen as a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question, but if you know what your after and can answer a few simple questions you’ll soon be able to find a cost for a professional promo video. We will give you an overview of the production stages needed to create a professional video or animation for your company, product or service. You’ll then be able to confidently contact a production company like Stormy Studio asking for an accurate quote. You’ll be safe in the knowledge that you know what to ask, what processes are involved in production and what sort of quote to expect back.
So let’s work out what sort of video your after?
It’s a great idea to do some research into videos that have a visual style that you like, perhaps a tv advert you’ve seen, a video a friend liked on Facebook or a viral video that has achieved something you’d like to replicate. It may also be worth checking out your competitors current video content on YouTube or their own website to see what production level your looking to exceed. By providing these ideas to a production studio it will help them quickly see the sort of work you like and can then use their expertise to work out a cost for that video or animation technique. So take a minute to gather a few video examples that reflect what it is your hoping to create. Vimeo and Youtube are a great source for ideas, try searching for similar products, campaigns and keywords that describe the tone of the video your hoping to develop. i.e. “2013 corporate conference opener”, “hand drawn paper style car advert”, “fast paced friendly ident”.
Filmed video or animation or both?
A production company will often be able to offer filming services as well as in house animation of all types. A video project can vary wildly from a simple filmed interview (often called a ‘talking head’) to a full blown 3D animated extravaganza. The decision of what style and technique to use will often depend on the product, audience and video destination (i.e. Conference or Youtube). Advanced software means that any visual style and design can be produced using 3D and 2D animation software. Hand drawn effects can be applied to filmed footage, 3D objects and characters can be seamlessly added into a scene and special effects once the reserve of Hollywood are now readily available and affordable from the small studios with talented teams.
Do you need a creative idea or have you got one of your own?
It may well be that you or a member of your team consider themselves rather creative in which case you can work directly with a production company to see your vision come to life. For many though the thought of dreaming up a clear creative brief can be a daunting one. There are many creative agencies that offer this service for a fee and it can also be worth going direct to a production company who will often offer creative process as part of a package. A good creative is often fine tuned after firstly producing a handful of ideas before examining on one or two producing storyboards and scripts.
Do you require a script writer?
Another cost that goes into a video production is often a script whether its for a presenter on screen, a voiceover to be overlaid on a video or the on screen text. It may be that again you or one of your team are happy to put together a script that you feel is suitable for the video. Most companies aiming to promote a product or service will be aiming to produce a video between 2 and 5 minutes, some times less is best as it forces you to pack in the key concepts of the video and deliver the information to a viewer before they get bored and move on. As a rule of thumb it is always best to read a script out loud at a steady pace to work out how long your script is, leaving short gaps between section headings or bullet points.
What’s involved in a storyboard?
A storyboard is a collection of quick drawings which detail the different shots needed in a video. They allow a production company to work out the exact camera angles or animated scenes to save time later on when production and time become more expensive. Storyboards can vary in needed quality and are often quickly hand drawn, though it can also be useful to see scenes mocked up in photoshop to make it easier for a client to visualise the finished result.
What is an animatic and will my project benefit from one?
Whilst not always necessary an animatic is a great tool when dealing with higher end film or animation work. An animatic is constructed from the storyboard stills, placed on a timeline and arranged giving you exact timings for each shot. This allows you to produce the exact number of seconds of video or animation reducing the time wasted creating unnecessary video. It is particularly useful when create animation as the time spent creating a single second of finished work can take some considerable man hours. Once created an animatic also allows you to lay down a music bed, voiceover audio, character voices, title sequences and really picture the finished video production early on.
What’s required for the animation?
Depending on the sort of production the animation may require lots of 2D assets to be created from scratch or they may be supplied by the client. 3D models may need to be created or reworked from supplied CAD models. Textures and backgrounds can be sourced from online sites or be originally created in 2D image software like industry standard software Adobe Photoshop. A talented animator / motion graphics artist will have a good knowledge of a wide range of software to be able to create and edit assets quickly to a given specification. They will also no a number of good we bites where you can purchase stock assets. These can include full animation project waiting for images and text to be dropped in, filmed stock footage of a particular subject, graphics, and sounds. A talented animator will also be up to date with the latest design trends and software plugins, allowing them to create new rich visuals faster and quicker by constantly improving their knowledge of their software. Adobe After Effects has countless 3rd party plugins which can bring amazing new techniques to the 2D/3D animation software.
What’s involved in the animation process?
Whether it’s 2D or 3D, full animated characters or motion graphics an animator will take the given brief create using any assets (logos, characters, visual FX), mix them together in their chosen software package to created the required visual. An animator should be able to export their work every day or two and give an example of how the work is progressing, and get approval on the animation style and visual aesthetic. An animator will go through a number of stages on a single section of animation to create a final image style, these vary depending on the animation style and software being used.
- – Creation of assets, (character models, rigs, logos, maps, globes, backgrounds, graphics)
- – Rough animation timing
- – Final animation timing and smoothing
- – Visual FX (Particle layers, smoke, shadows, reflections, noise)
- – Camera effects (chromatic aberration, lens flares, depth of field)
- – Render passes (common to 3D) Shadow pass, velocity pass, z-depth etc.
- – Compositing (mixing the different render passes together to make a final image)
- – Colour grading (tweaking colour levels and contrasts)
- – Export final animated shot ready for editing in with the rest of the video.
The Video Editing Process
Once you have all your animation and video content created it is put together in an edit suite. A production company will normally use one of three popular editing software packages. These are Adobe Premiere, Apple’s Final Cut and Avid. An editor will put together shots, cut out unwanted material, do simple transitions, colour grading to assemble a professional edit. Some video shoots may have many hours of footage and require just 3 minutes of highlights or best takes. Animation is often already cut to length and the editing process is simply used as an efficient way to bring each shot together. Last minute colour grading and transitions can also be added at this stage.
The Review Process
Through production as well as on completion of a full length edit a low resolution video can be exported and sent over to a client for review. The file is often shared over a file sharing site like Dropbox or YouSendIt. The client can download it and review the video with colleagues and make any feedback or simply tell the production company “its great, we love the style, please carry on!”.
Final video formats
When the edit is 100% signed off a studio can export to any format required whether it’s HD video to be played online or a format destined for television broadcast or BluRay duplication. It’s always useful to know your preferred format early on, but every production company today should be working in full HD, with some now gearing up ready for 4K video production.
What to ask for in a video production quote?
So you now have a good grounding in what is involved in a professional video production. Below we’ve put together a brief well worded message that you can rework to fit your own project and send on to a production studio like Stormy Studio to get your project quoted.
'F.A.O Sales at Stormy Studio We're looking for a 2 to 3 minute light hearted 2D animation promo video mixed with some live action footage for our new product launch. The below examples show the sort of animation look and feel we are after. - Example 1 - Example 2 - Example 3 We would like to have a crew film one talking head with our lead product designer which can be filmed at our offices in Bristol, as well as some shots of the new technology product in use If you can please put together a quote for the scripting, storyboarding and animation of the video. I need the quote back within the next 3 days. The animation will need to be completed by the 28th of July (3 weeks time). Please give me a call or email if you need any further details to give an accurate quote. Many Thanks Joe Bloggs.'
That’s a wrap!…
Hopefully by reading this article you’ll now have a basic understanding of each aspect of production and be able to put together a clear email allowing you to get some accurate quotes.
Now contact a range of production companies, including Stormy Studio of course and get the answer to the big question of how much your corporate promotional video will cost to produce.
I hope this article has been of some use… good luck with your project.