Training & safety managers are always asking me "why does this costs this?" and "why is that more expensive than that?"
There's plainly a lack of clear explanation as to what goes into the cost of a custom training video.
Yet the principles are simple enough.
A custom training video - or any video for that matter - comprises Pre Production, Filming and Post production. So we'll look at the training video production costs from these three component points of view.
The runtime or length of the video has one of the biggest bearings on cost.
The longer the video is, the more shoot days are required, the more editing is required, the more of everything is required.
But 10 minutes doesn't necessarily cost double 5 minutes.
Style is the next factor.
Is the video a short, straight point & shoot, how-to video?
Or is it a 15 minute motivational masterpiece?
Or demonstrate interpersonal skills in-store?
I'd suggest a longer video needs more style to keep the audience sustained and motivated.
Without saying exactly what style is (if you have to ask then you don't know!) you'd expect to pay more for a stylish production with a great concept, than a simple show & tell.
Script & storyboard - the words and visuals - will need professionally crafting, which costs money.
Some trainers and safety managers like to write their own scripts, and get a bit of help from their video company for the visuals.
This saves money.
But you have to be certain that - since the subject matter is likely to be fairly dry - you're genuinely keeping the audience engaged with a homemade script.
A script that reads like a chopped up version of the safety manual rather defeats the point of having a custom video made. A custom script should be more interesting and audience specific compared with a generic off-the-shelf training video.
Foreign languages make up a large portion of the total production cost especially if full localisation - rather than mere subcaptions - is used.
Having a large number of foreign language videos with full localisation on each version can double the cost of the whole video production.
The number of days shoot is the biggest training video cost in this stage of production.
An extra day of filming is not just the extra cost of crew, cast & travel. It also means more editing as there's more footage being filmed.
If you need to keep costs down, try to manage on less filming days of you can.
Locations also makes a difference.
If everything can be filmed in one local area - say a plant or construction site or retail store - then costs are contained.
But if the crew have to travel an hour or so in the middle of the day to get to a new location, a lot of filming time gets wasted in travel. Or if the locations are so spread out that an extra day of filming is required even though there may not actually be a full day of filming to do at the remote location.
Shoot costs are one of those things that can creep up without you realising it.
Actors and presenters can add mightily to video production costs.
Yet they're almost essential on many productions, particularly longer videos - like a 17 minute Induction video - where you need professional actors to keep the audience engaged & watching.
The same for a presenter. Professional presenters don't come a dime a dozen. They're experienced professionals and their fees demonstrate this. Yet they can bind a whole production together, making it more memorable.
Since we now have industry data to indicate that much training material is uninspiring and is forgotten inside a week, it might pay to spend more on production.
Camera operators are best used in pairs.
The footage from 2 camera operators creates a multi-dimensional effect that one camera cannot achieve. It looks more natural to the eye.
But the extra camera op costs more, though not necessarily double.
Editing is probably the least understood cost of all.
If only a small amount of footage needs filming, and the scenes are fairly plain and instructive, then editing can be relatively quick - and therefore cheap (you pay by the hour or day)
But where the video is longer, or a lot of scenes have been filmed, it takes a star editor to stop the video becoming dull & monotonous. And this takes longer too.
Graphics & animation can bring a training video to life, explaining the learning points, highlighting key messages, and generally lifting the quality of the whole production.
Yet it's quite easy for graphics and animation to acquire a "stuck-on" look in the hands of the wrong editor.
Usually a motion graphic designer (who may well also be the editor) is required. And they command a higher fee.
Voiceover, music and audio mixing is possibly the least thought about area of any training video production.
Professional voiceovers all cost around the same, unless you're buying a super cheap "local good voice" - compared to a professional, relating-voice that breathes life into every spoken syllable.
Music should provide energy for the video. It only costs a little more to have really great music, a tune or two actually worth listening to on headphones on the way to work
- compared with low cost "lift music" offerings. It's worth spending the little extra to get a few decent music tracks.
Audio mixing is little understood and is complex. But a great audio mix will leap out of the speakers and engage the audience from the get-go.
It'll be punchy and live, drawing all the voiceover, music tracks,. interviews and sound fx into one giant power track you'll be proud to play.
So far I've counted 11 major cost elements in a custom training video.
There are probably more - like special fx or using animated safety video cartoon characters.
Nonetheless, if you're thinking of buying a training video, you can ask for your quote to include all 11 elements detailed as separate costs - so you can see exactly what you're paying for - and ask for an explanation if something doesn't seem right.
I hope this provides a useful framework for you to understand what makes up the cost of a custom training video.
More to read on training video costs: