Making the Most of Your Video Production Budget


Making a video – any video – successful, be it live action, animation or mixed media, can be summed up in one word: planning. Without proper planning you’re going to waste time and money…guaranteed. By following a few simple guidelines, though, you can ensure that your video will make your message stand out and shine.

Scene Stealing (and Money Saving) Tips to Ensure Your Message Shines

calculator budget

Start with the Right Production Partner

To avoid a potential money pit, the answer to “where to start” is simple: hire a reputable production team. They know the questions to ask and have the know-how to get your project completed on time – and on budget. Do it alone and you’re very likely to find yourself in unfamiliar territory where hubris won’t save you.

Make (Critical) Budget Assumptions

Okay so you’ve locked in your production company. Let’s now establish some critical assumptions about video and animation budgets. Every live action video budget needs to include:

  • Script. Sounds obvious, but it’s your roadmap to planning everything else.
  • Shoot Day. A crew should include a videographer, audio tech, producer and basic lighting gear.
  • Transcription. Don’t skip it. If you’re interviewing someone you’ll want this transcription to refer to, saving you oodles of time deciding what to put where in your piece.
  • Editing. If you’ve blown your entire budget on the shoot itself, you’ve committed a cardinal sin of production, earning the unenviable title of “rookie.” Whatever is shot is going to need some editing—usually a lot.
  • Distribution. Do you think if you build it, the audience will come? They won’t. You need to budget for a distribution plan to get your piece seen across multiple channels. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • Makeup. Your talent might insist on this—find out now and then you can budget for it.
  • A Little Padding. We recommended every video budget includes at least 20% for unexpected costs. Maybe it’s crew OT or graphics your boss decided to include. Or maybe it’s a scope of work change. Whatever it is, a little cushion can save you.

Every animation budget needs to include:

  • Script. Like your video budget, without a script you have no direction.
  • Style Frames. Defines the visual look and style of the piece.
  • Storyboard. A sequence of pictures, either drawn or using still images, representing the shots planned for the animation. These can be used in a live action shoots, too
  • Editing. This is when your animation editor brings it to life.
  • A Little Padding. Just like above, and no less important, even if the reasons may be different for adding 20% for a little budget breathing room.

Avoid Budget Surprises

Knowing what’s not automatically included in a production budget is just as important as knowing what is. Again, avoiding surprises is the goal here.

Any production might require these line items in your budget:

  • Custom Music. Stock music is inexpensive and available with usage rights. If you want music created just for your piece, you’ll need to hire a composer.
  • Teleprompter. For precise messaging, a teleprompter is a must and can certainly save time rolling on flubbed soundbites or nervous talent.
  • Set and/or Food Stylists. Usually not necessary for basic shoots, but if needed, expect an additional invoice.
  • Location Scouting. This may be needed to assess the space and determine if anything additional is needed to execute on the day of the filming.
  • Permits. Permits may be necessary if shooting in public spaces.
  • Certificate of Insurance (COI). A document used to provide information on specific insurance coverage your location may require.
  • T&E. If your location means flying folks in, it’ll be extra and rarely included in the budget. Also, it’s important to budget for meals. Lunch for your cast and crew if they are working a full day, but depending on the size of your shoot and the length of the shoot day, this may need to cover breakfast and dinner, too.

Be Clear on the Details – and Approvals

Now that you know what’s included – and what’s not included – in your production budget, the rest is all down to the details. You have to be able to walk into your production day with utter clarity into what you’re capturing. And to that end, it’s critical that everyone on the team signs off on the script before a single frame is shot. Having to go back later could result in costly fixes or completely missed opportunities.

Grab a Few Extras

So what can you accomplish on a shoot beyond the script itself? Well, there may be opportunities throughout the day that lend themselves to quick and easy add-ons that no one will fault you for because you’re organized, competent, kind – and you’ve given everyone something to eat.

A few ideas help take your message further:

  • Social Media-Ready Clips. Be ready for sharing on these channels with clips and soundbites.
  • B-roll. Footage of the office, or someone doing some action-appropriate work.
  • Shout Outs. Share a message to cam for your sales team, or a shout out to your client to say how thrilled you are to be involved in the campaign.
  • BTS. Behind the Scenes footage that might be used in a reel later to show how utterly awesome your shoot day was. (And if this is a critical component of the campaign, you may want to BUDGET for a second crew to capture your BTS footage at the get go).

Maximize Your Budget & Shine

There you have it. Maximizing a production budget is all about careful planning. And when done well, you’ll avoid kicking yourself during the edit wishing you had gotten that one shot or soundbite for the company’s Twitter account. With enough planning on your part, your message will shine, and you’ll get the glory – because you’ve earned it!

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Larry Cardarelli is the Vice President of MultiVu, a Cision company, in Production and Creative departments. Larry started in business news writing and producing for Lou Dobbs on CNN. He also freelanced for the BBC, Fox, and ABC News, and several independent production companies. In 2004 Larry joined MultiVu as a producer. He was promoted to Senior Producer in 2007, and Executive Producer in 2012. As Executive Producer, Larry led the development of a creative team as the industry was changing from broadcast-centric production to content creation. In 2013, under his leadership, his team brought in more than $600k in new creative production revenue and $2M in 2014. Larry was named Vice President in 2015 and continues the development of the creative department within MultiVu.

Larry’s avocation is food and wine. He worked in several New York City restaurants including the former New York Times 3-star restaurant, March; he has written for Food Arts magazine; and he attended the certificate program in Restaurant Management at The French Culinary Institute in conjunction with Cornell School of Hotel Management. Larry is a James Beard nominated TV food producer.

About MultiVu

MultiVu, a Cision/PR Newswire division, produces and places compelling content strategically across multiple channels globally to deliver targeted results and drive desired engagement. Created in 2002 from network news veterans and media relations professionals, MultiVu has grown into a content creation and media strategy company, leading in the broadcast communications industry. More information can be found on

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