Let’s say your company has an AWESOME idea for a commercial to promote your business, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you just know you want a commercial or a web promo or a video to explain your products but you’re not really sure what it should look like. Video seems like a great idea, but how much is it gonna cost? How much of a pain is it going to be? How long am I gonna have to wait for my video? Keep reading below for the complete and total beginner’s introduction to working with a video production company.
First, get in contact with us! We don’t bite! Hidden Woods loves getting phone calls and emails from potential clients – every new contact is a new opportunity to get creative. Even if you don’t have a specific idea in mind, we love talking through your ideas and helping you come up with something we can both be proud of. Even if you’re not sure you want a video but want to get an idea of what they cost and what it’s like to work with a production company, give us a call. Some basic questions to consider in advance of contacting us are:
Once we have an email or preliminary phone call with the basic details of who you are and what you need one of two things will happen: either we’ll send you an estimate ASAP or (for more complicated projects) we’ll set up a secondary phone call or in-person meeting to flesh out specific details so we can get a correct estimate out to you. This is the point when we’d like to know an approximate budget for your project.
A commercial or promo video is a lot like a house: you can get all different kinds for all different prices. Giving us an idea of your budget will let us know if we should pull out all the stops and include things like hiring Morgan Freeman for the voice over or if we need to go as bare bones as possible to make your vision a reality while staying within budget. After sending the estimate over to you, it’s now your turn to decide if we are the right fit for your company, your budget and your production needs.
If you think we’re the team for you then great! We’ll write up a contract and send you an invoice for a 50% deposit on the estimate. Now, you might be wondering, “why do I have to pay 50% before I even have a video to look at?” Well, first of all, producing a video involves plenty of expenses on our end. Things like music licensing, voice over actors, hiring additional crew as needed all come out of our pockets. The 50% deposit allows us to get the things we need to produce the best possible video. Second, we feel that a 50% deposit protects both us and you in the event of problems. The advantage for us is that, in the event that we shoot for several days and then have a client pull the plug on the project (it’s happened), then we are still paid for the work we’ve done. The advantage to you is that the carrot of a 50% balance payment keeps us motivated to produce a great video and do it on time.
By the way, if after looking at our estimate you decide we’re not the right company for you, that’s fine too. We’ve got plenty of relationships in the Denver and Colorado video production worlds and are happy to give you some references.
What follows is a quick breakdown of the three main stages of video production: pre-production, production (filming) and post-production (editing). We try to be as comprehensive as possible when putting together an estimate so we budget for our work from the most initial planning phases through the final editing process.
(Above: Executive Producer Patrick Gillespie on a location scout at Red Rocks Amphitheater.)
Pre-production includes scheduling, script-writing (or writing interview questions if we’re doing a documentary-style promo), location scouting, etc. After the contract is signed, we’ll continue to communicate with you as we plan the specific details and logistics of the project, to make sure that everything we plan works with your company’s schedule and in order to avoid disrupting your day-to-day operations. At this point, we are doing things like scheduling times to interview members of your company, or planning when it might be best to come to the company and record some b-roll. Click here if you’re wondering why b-roll is such an important part to your video.
For a 60-90 second video, we usually like to get at least a full day’s worth of b-roll to make sure there is a sufficient amount to cover the interviews and keep your viewers engaged. If we’re filming at locations other than your main facilities, we’re visiting those locations to ensure that they are available for the shoot and making sure that there aren’t any major issues like noisy air conditioners or barking dogs or marching bands that could mess up the audio track.
After we nail down times and dates, now comes the fun part: the SHOOT! Ie, the physical work we do filming interviews and B-roll. At minimum, we have a three-person crew on set: a producer, a sound op, and cinematographer. We also like to bring along a production assistant, as it makes our job easier to focus on your needs, while simultaneously having an extra set of hands in case you or we need anything.
(On-set, shooting a commercial for Silk Almond Milk)
Post-production is the entire process of turning all that footage we captured into an actual video. It’s more complicated than most people would think. It includes things like organizing files, finding the correct song for your video, cutting the footage together into a story that makes sense, fixing audio/color and adding any motion graphics or animations that you need. We usually estimate enough editing hours to cover two rounds of revision/approval. (I.e., we send you a rough draft and you give us your changes. We make those changes and send back a refined cut, you tell us what changes you still have, we make them and we deliver your finalized video.) You are welcome to have more than two rounds however, in this case, we’ll bill for editing at our hourly rate until you are content with our work. After we send you the final product and it is approved, we bill you for the remaining balance: 50% of the initial estimate plus any cost overruns such as additional editing hours, extra music, etc.
(David Stewart editing our upcoming music video for “Skeletons” by Retrofette.)
One concern that some clients have expressed to us is that they might need to change something in the future and they worry they’ll have to produce a whole new video in order to do so. Let’s say you’re looking at the video two years from now and you decide you want to change a couple shots or add a line or take something out, we can handle that pretty easily. We’ll just bill you at our hourly rate for the tweaks and we’ll send along an updated video file. No need to go through the entire process again. Because we back up all footage and all project files onto multiple hard drives and keep all of it backed up to off-site drives forever and because our editing software is backwards compatible, you never have to worry that we won’t be able to open an old file to make changes.
If you are more of a visual learner, we made a fancy flow chart of everything we just explained above! Check it out: