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By Cycle Productions

“How much does a video cost?” is the most common question we get. So, we’ve asked video creators to identify a video they like & let us know what they thought it would cost to produce. The only catch: IT’S NOT THEIR VIDEO (so all posts are merely an estimate by each video creator on what they thought a similar video might cost). Enjoy the series!


Estimated Hard Costs

Pre-Production: $20,000

Elements considered: Producer, Creative, Meetings, Location Scout, Writer, Casting

Production: $100,000

Elements considered: Director, DP, On location crew, On location amenities

Rentals: 2x Arri 235 Camera w/ film, Russian arm, Lenses, Grip

Post Production: $75,000

Elements considered: Film processing. Develop & Scan, Editor, Colourist, Rotoscope, Original Score & licensing, Voiceover & audio mix and master, various finishing costs.

Miscellaneous Expenses: $40,000

Elements considered: Travel, Catering, Contingency, makeup/wardrobe,

Estimated Hard Costs Budget: $235,000

*We understand there would be substantial profit margin on all of these numbers, but for us to speculate on them would be a bold assumption.

As a team of creatives on the hunt for inspiration we spend a lot of time searching Vimeo for standout directors and DP’s. Andre Stringer and Max Goldman fall into that category. Their spot “What is Strong?” is an engaging 1 minute ad with a thought provoking script. We based our estimated budget on a series of assumptions. This being a campaign for Saucony that included a top director and DP, we can assume they didn’t cut corners when it came to production expenses. We also made the assumption that all the featured locations were relatively close to each other.

A major element that would contribute to high production costs was shooting the spot on film. In a world where everything seems to be going towards digital cinematography for many reasons – affordability, ease of use, and quality that is comparable with film (especially from the consumer’s perspective), the production team still chose to utilize film.  Shooting film is a creative decision between the Director and DP.

The pre production expenses would have mainly consisted of the creative between the writer, director, DP and client. Once the creative is established location scouting begins. The locations look to be very dependent on the position of the sun (time of year and time of day), and the production team most likely would have been conducting camera tests on these scouts.

Visually the spot has a natural look. They chose to keep the feel organic, as opposed to some sports-brand commercials that are stylistically over-lit. This means they probably lit mostly with big bounces, letting the sun play as the hard backlight in most of the shots. The shots that have a soft key light all seem to happen either on a cloudy day, or early in the morning. Subtle artificial lighting may been used to kick up the power of the bounces while still maintaining the natural look.

The camera movement plays a big role in maintaining the organic feel of the spot. Most of the shots are handheld (probably stabilized by an Easyrig), bringing us into the action along with the subjects we see on screen. There are a few dolly shots that track people running, and there are a couple car follow shots (due to the high and low angle tracking shots of the character running on the road they most likely used a Russian Arm on a pursuit vehicle).

Production likely ran for 5-7 days.  Though the footage could have been shot on an expedited timeline, waiting for light probably forced a longer schedule.

A major expense in postproduction is film processing and scanning. Once scanned the offline editing begins, which includes multiple rounds of revisions. The director, editor, advertising agency and the client themselves would have to be involved in the revision process.  Once the production team had picture lock the colourist would take over to complete the grade. 

Again, our numbers are based on major speculations and assumptions, all of which drastically affect the budget. We understand we are making a rough estimate and this spot could have been created for a lot less or a lot more money depending on their creative choices.

See more from Cycle Productions on their Notch Video account, or check ’em out on FacebookInsta.

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