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    Popular software demo styles

    Figuring out the cost of a software demo video production

    You've seen a video presentation online that you like, and want to know what it costs.

    Your technology product demo video cost depends almost entirely on the style of video you choose and the length or runtime of your presentation.

    The advantage of knowing your cost in advance is:

    • you can plan your video marketing budget more accurately
    • avoid the disappointment of wanting a particular style and then finding you can't afford it

    You'd be surprised if you knew how often I get asked::

    "How much for a video like this one I've seen on youtube?"

    This is the moment of truth for many customers, when they discover their £10,000 dream presentation doesn't match their £1,000 budget!

    To help you formulate your video marketing strategy I've analyzed the 6 most common presentation styles & costs

    - so anytime you see a presentation you like, you can reference this page, work out its cost and see if you can afford it.

    To start, the 6 basic product demo video styles are:

    1: Screenshot & caption

    2: 3D animated presenter

    3: Animated infographic

    4: Stock footage & animation

    5: 2D animated characters & scenes

    6: DIY production packages

    If you're not sure which style is the most effective for you, learn how to plan your demo video by using easily available data to help make your style decisions

    The next step is to look at each of these 6 basic costs & styles - so you can estimate which price bracket you're in.
    Once you've decided on your probable price bracket, use our video pricelist to calculate exactly how much your product demo will cost.

    1: Screenshot & caption video

    Software demo video cost - Screenshot & caption video

    This style of screencast video cost is low. The main feature here is that it uses only screenshots & captions set to voice, so the viewer can get a feel for your app, and understand the benefits and processes more clearly. It captures a live product demo.

    You can get it made cheaply for you by a specialist production company

    - or you can hire a professional voiceover online, and make the whole thing yourself using Camtasia, if you're prepared to write the script & storyboard.

    For example, in the screenshot image above, you can see how animated text boxes are used to highlights the key point in this screenshot of a calendar/scheduling application. These are the key features you'd be pointing out in a live presentation.

    To highlight key points, graphic arrows, boxes, circles and captions can also be used. They're simple & effective, and support the spoken message.

    Cost: Screenshot & caption video

    £300 - £1,000 for 60 seconds or more

    This is the lowest cost product demo solution.

    It'll cost you under £300, including professional voiceover to make it yourself.

    Or for around £1,000 you can hire a professional producer who's got all the equipment, scripting ability, and the rest of the know-how to do it for you.

    If you want to go the cheap freelancer route then look on Fiverr. You'll find people with the skills to assemble all your screenshots, together with any voice artist you supply, but don't expect much advice, compared with using a full time video producer, who'll charge more.

    2: 3D animated presenter video

    3D animated presenter video

    Using a 3D Animated Presenter. means your audience see a lifelike, graceful animated person talking to them naturally & professionally, while running through the key benefits & functions of your app or technology platform.

    You can include as many screenshots and photographs as you want to feature in this style of product demo video.

    There's also a wide choice of animated icons to highlight your take-home messages.

    Look at the image below. Not a screenshot in sight, just icons and text with the presenter.

    3D animated presenter video

    You can see the 3D Animated Presenter is explaining the benefits of an app's functions in human-relating way.

    3D animation is much more interesting to watch than a product demo of endless screenshots.

    3D Animated Presenters come in different styles too, with many different movements, poses, outfits, and ethnicities

    - all built-in to the package, male or female.

    For example, here's a different presenter using a cellphone device. She could easily have used a tablet instead of a cell. And look, there are animated finger swipes available as well.

    Overall this is a more professional delivery than using just screenshots and voice narration. Audiences will be more engaged, while your product demo cost may well go down a lot compared to other visual ideas you had.

    3D animated presenter video
    Cost: 3D animated presenter video

    £1,000 for 60 secs

    This is a good low cost app or product video solution, especially if your presentation is short, say up to 60 seconds. This cost should include script, animated icons, everything.

    The reason it's inexpensive for such a great looking result is because animated 3D Presenters come ready built and only need adjusting for each individual programme you produce.

    This saves you big compared with originating an animated 3D Presenter from scratch.

    It's far more compelling visually than a mere screenshot-only presentation, which always has a large hint of "bedroom developer" about it.

    The animated presenter narrates to a synced professional voice for natural realistic speech.

    The downside for this level of video production is that you need a skilled animator, or possibly a production team, to make it for you, as it needs Adobe After Effects which is complex & expensive. And you'll probably want a professionally written script too.

    Cost cutting by using your own voice / own script is often regretted later, unless you're super confident in your powers of scriptwriting and vocalisation.

    3: Animated infographic video

    Animated infographic demo video

    This style of animated explainer video comes into its own for business applications which are primarily time & cost saving apps.

    But equally, you can use this visual style to describe an enterprise scale technology platform that, for example, eliminates multiple layers of manual processes.

    It focusses much more on animated graphics and much less on screenshots

    - with the high level message more concerned with the benefits of the application, rather than how someone might actually use it day to day.

    It also looks quite posh, which is important if you have big clients to impress, and don't want to break the bank.

    Here’s another example:

    Animated infographic demo video

    This example above uses screenshots but in a much more impactful way, intended to give the audience a feeling for the application, rather than explain everything in any great detail.

    Animated infographics excel at explaining concepts, which is often the case with a new technology, say a game-changing new tool or disruptive enterprise platform.

    Below is another example, this time for a SAAS tool showing an actual screenshot that's had a studio makeover for a clearer, faster-to-grasp appearance.

    Animated infographic demo video

    This motion graphic example below makes extensive use of animated icons:

    Animated infographic demo video

    Photographs can also be used in this animated infographic style, as shown below:

    Animated infographic demo video
    Cost: Animated infographic video

    £2,000 for 60 secs

    Animated infographics costs vary widely, from dirt cheap icon-dancing packages to mid-cost more sophisticated productions, as seen in the examples shown above.

    This style of product demo video costs around £2,000 to £3,000 a minute, depending where you buy from.

    You can expect original art design & animated graphics, scriptwriting, and possibly some market research too, to establish accurate target goals & audiences, backed up by a production schedule.

    To save money, eg, get the cost under £1,000, you can offer to supply the script & storyboard outline for a designer/animator to finish for you. It won't be as polished looking as a complete outsourced job, but it'll tell your sales message better than just using screenshots (as in example 1 above)

    4: Stock footage & animated graphics

    Stock footage and animation demo video

    When it's important to show real people with real reactions & emotions, a product video using stock footage will do it for you.

    The example below shows a potential customer, a C level executive, struggling with the issues of an existing manual process. The situation looks & feels real.

    Stock footage and animation demo video

    Showing real people in real situations helps audiences to relate to your app in a direct, immediate way

    - using screenshots where needed, but always keeping the focus on real customer situations, and the use of your product.

    It's a powerful alternative to more conceptual animated infographic styles of production

    - while still using graphics, icons, charts to assist delivering the key messages.

    Stock footage and animation demo video
    Stock footage and animation demo video

    Combining stock footage video clips with screenshots and animated graphics is a very effective way to present your app demo if "looking real" is important to you.

    Cost: Stock footage & motion graphics

    £1,850 for 60 secs

    Product demo costs using stock footage as well as motion graphics will vary.

    The cost of buying-in stock footage is a big part of this.

    Can you use free public domain stock footage, or should you use premium stock like Shutterstock? There's a big cost difference.

    What you need to consider is:

    Do the people in the stock clips look like real people you might meet in an office

    - or more like highly attractive models with fake model smiles?

    Are their hairstyles or clothes dated?

    Have you seen the same clip everywhere else on the web?

    Do they lack diversity, or show only token diversity?

    I have to be honest and say much public domain footage sucks, but not all. Expect to have to look harder to find what you want.

    It's also easy to innocently steal somebody else's copyright when trawling free public domain footage, so be careful you don't accidentally become a bootlegger.

    Bear in mind that bulk buying deals are available for professional stock clip purchases for as few as 5 clips. You can save this way.

    Typical 60 second programme prices range from sub £1,000 for a common stock and low budget animated graphic production

    - to over £2,000 for a higher quality production with cool footage and attractive editing.

    5: 2D animated characters

    2D animated characters demo video

    2D animated characters, or cartoons, can combine with screenshots to tell an animated video story around the sales benefit message

    - showing situations in a near-real way that is very convincing. Saas companies use them a lot, but they work equally well to win leads for your salesforce.

    Screenshots can be included to become part of the video content, part of your story telling.

    Many sales videos adopt this animated 2D character approach especially B2C mobile apps as they focus on telling interesting little stories that users, your target audience, will relate to.

    eg "John is always struggling every end of month, while Mary has this sorted, no problem, because ..."

    If done well, the 2D style of storytelling can work brilliantly.

    When done poorly, it looks "toy" or cheap.

    So the aim is to inject enough quality into the production to retain your audience for the whole runtime of your message.

    2D animated characters demo video

    What makes for quality in a 2D animated character production?

    Obviously everything begins with a compelling script. This has to be a given for any presentation.

    The next simple rule is that some action or activity must take place onscreen at least every 2.5 seconds

    - otherwise the magic spell of animated characters is broken and it all starts to look like a bad comic.

    2D animated characters demo video

    What does the 2.5 second rule mean exactly?

    Breaking the 2.5 second rule means losing the magic of animated people in your video.

    For example, at the cheaper end of the custom animation market you'll see many static scenes lasting well over 2.5 seconds, as this is how money is saved, as it's quicker and less costly to produce.

    4 second or even 10 second static scenes are the norm for many.

    And while 4 seconds might not sound like much right now, it's enough to disengage your audience, and lose a customer.

    Another common video production company trick is to cut costs by soaking up runtime is the technique of jumping around a single scene from one area of the picture to another, without any actual character motion taking place

    - except maybe the odd token head nod or eye blink.

    These tricks run the risk of making your story become waffly, meaningless, and generating video abandonment.

    Now you've become aware of them, you'll probably notice these time & cost savings tricks are used everywhere on the web.

    They verge on becoming a kind of "visual spam".

    So how can you tell whether the standard animated characters & scenes you're about to buy is any good or not?

    The 2.5 second rule is your simple guide as to how long scenes can remain static or barely moving, without breaking the magic spell for your audience.

    Try this: When you next see a 2d animated story on youtube, observe how many scenes remain mostly static for longer than 2.5 seconds.

    Is it just the occasional scene? Or is the trick used everywhere?

    If you do this test, you can start to understand why some programmes are dirt cheap and others cost a great deal of money.

    Another factor influencing cost is whether to pay more for your animated characters to look more likeable.

    Too many 2D animated character designs look stupid & cheap. They just do.

    The goal is to use 2D graphics and animation as real characters in inventive ways in real life stories that inspire your audience.

    Cost: 2D animated characters

    £1,000 to £4,500 for 60 seconds

    Product demo video cost will vary dramatically here from sub £1,000 to £10,000 plus.

    It depends on the originality of the visual concept and story, the character design detail, the number of individual scenes, and the amount of movement used in the scenes.

    This what to retains your credibility with your audience, and what compellingly draws the viewer into the cartoon world.

    Good quality low cost 2D character animation costs around £1,200 a minute maybe less.

    High end animation can cost £5,000 per minute or more.

    Cheap animation is around £500 per minute. This is because it cuts corners at every stage without you quite knowing how or why it's happened.

    All these prices can vary from production company to production company, but hopefully it gives you an order of cost for budget purposes.

    Last thought: If money is an issue then always aim first for The Killer Script. Nothing engages audience passion like a motivating script, based on thorough research.

    6: DIY packages

    There's a whole world of low cost DIY animation & video packages out there that are suitable for making an app video yourself.

    These packages can make in-house costs drop dramatically, while making it potentially easy & quick, especially if you have an in-house media department. They're serious value proposition if you can't afford a pro video production service.

    If you don't have an in-house team, and haven't the time to learn, then you can go to Fiverr and find a freelancer who'll do it for you, using one of the packages below.

    All you have to do is provide the script, storyline and screenshots. They'll do the rest.

    But don't expect much help, or lots of revisions, or favours.

    Freelancers compete to be the cheapest, and customer support can be reduced to almost zero if you buy from the cheapest.

    Expect to take responsibility for almost everything except the actual production assembly process.

    Low cost DIY packages that use animated graphics in a software demo include

    - Toonly for character animated demo video

    - Powtoon for animated graphics and stills

    - Wondershare Filmora is a low cost video production package

    - Animoto's big feature is drag & drop video production

    - Wondershare Demo Creator ffor screen recorded product demonstration video

    - Techsmith Camtasia screen recorder and video editing software

    - Techsmith SnagIt screen capture and recording app

    - Promo marketing video maker

    - Doodly whiteboard animation software

    - Sparkol animated whiteboard package

    Any app from the above list has its own strengths. They're usually as good or as bad as the person using them.

    If you're confident, or have good in-house resources, or are simply a startup strapped for cash, then any of these could be the go-to answer for your next app demo video.

    And for a bit more outlay, you can have it made for you by a dedicated specialist in the particular package you prefer.

    Cost: DIY packages

    £30+ pm

    Your cost will plunge if you go for a DIY package.

    They're all inexpensive. Some are £30 per month SAAS cloud packages offering AI such as Lumen5 which is particularly good for social media marketing.

    Toonly costs only £50 as an outright purchase, and is complete with free tutorials plus a subscription Masterclass. It maybe all you'll ever need.

    Many offer a free or very low cost trial.

    If you can identify the best package for your needs you can save big, but you'll need to try out 2 or 3 of them first until you find a way of working that delivers a quality of result to meets your needs.

    If you're inexperienced you can expect a fairly steep learning curve, but it can be worth it if you're able to produce a suite of programmes for very low cost.

    The typical DIY experience is quickly mastering the main knobs & buttons functions, but still needing lots of attempts to get the feeling of animated movement right, and avoiding looking super-clunky or over-amateurish.

    Searching on Fiverr will reveal a host of freelancers who can probably help you out for little money. 

    Demo video production cost summary

    There are 6 basic styles each with a different cost.

    Knowing this, you'll be able to quickly analyse any presentation you see online, and work out how much it costs.

    Here's a quick cost reference summing it all up:

    1: Screenshots - up to £300 one off cost

    2: 3D animated presenter - £1,000 for 60 secs

    3: Animated infographic - £2,000 for 60 secs

    4: Stock footage & animation - £1,850 for 60 secs

    5: 2D animated characters - £1,000 to £4,500 for 60 secs

    6: DIY software demo video production packages - £15 pm+

    To figure out the cost for your specific runtime, you can always check out our video prices here.


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