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the top tens

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with more information that was not included at the time of original publication.

Video is a powerful way to promote your business online. Done well, it can drive traffic to your site, boost your search rankings and serve as a salesperson for your business 24/7.

Over the past four years, I have worked on more than 100 video projects and the most commonly asked question is: how much does a video cost? From my experience, and from what others in the industry have had to say, these are the 10 most important factors to consider.

1. Experience. The experience of the key professionals involved (director, cinematographer and editor) are without a doubt the most important factor to consider when producing a video. You can gauge the experience of the professionals involved by checking out their reel or portfolio. If they don't have samples of their work online, you should think twice about hiring them to create a web video for you.

2. Creative. Every video should be produced with the goal of achieving business objectives. Whether you are providing your own creative or hiring an experienced marketer to help you, a blueprint must be created. Creation of a concept, script and storyboard are essential and even if your production is an unscripted, documentary-style video, there should still be a plan.

3. Talent. One thing that will be determined during the creative process is if your video will feature real employees from your business (who are typically free), or hire professional on-screen talent. Specialized on-screen talent can make a huge impact on your final video, but are one of the most costly line items in a video production.

4. Planning. Once there is a concept in place for your video, a plan of how it will be executed needs to be created. Making budgets, schedules and booking the key personnel, equipment and locations are all part of the planning process. A simple business profile video might only need a few hours of planning, where larger productions can take days to plan.

5. Location. Will your video be shot on location at your business, in a studio, or at third-party locations? Shooting on location at your business is free, while renting a studio can cost several hundred to several thousands of dollars per day, depending on the studio. Additional locations, even if sourced for free, will add time to the production – and time is money.

6. Crew. Although many corporate videos can be shot with a small group of key personnel, bigger productions will require a larger crew. Production assistants, sound engineers, lighting techs, hair and makeup artists … the list goes on. These people will go a long way to making larger-scope videos possible, and they will also add to the final tally on your bill.

7. Camera. The camera used in your production can make a huge difference in the quality of your final video and will often be an extra cost on top of your shooter/director. This can range from a few hundred dollars per day to over a thousand. If your video is being purposed for the web, a DSLR Camera with a good lens kit (and a capable shooter) should do the trick.

8. Additional equipment. Small productions can usually be executed with a camera, microphone, a few lights and a tripod, but as you increase the scope of your production, you may need to bring in additional equipment. This might include camera rigs like a dolly, jib or crane, special sound equipment or additional lights. These items will likely need to be rented and will certainly add to the cost of the production.

9. Post-production. This is where raw footage is magically transformed into a polished video ready for your audience. First, we need to consider how long it will take to actually edit your video, then, consider all those little extras. Things like titles, motion graphics, sound mixing and colour correction can go a long way to add to the look and feel of your video and also to its cost. There might also be charges for things like rendering, encoding and outputting.

To understand exactly what's included with your video, ask for a clear breakdown of post-production services in your estimate.  You should also ask about their revision policy and determine exactly how the video will be delivered to you.

10. Bells and whistles. Will you need professional voiceovers, wardrobe or set pieces? What about special permits, green screen or stock footage? Maybe you need animation or an original music score produced?  The point is, there are dozens of line items that can be added to a video production. The bigger you go, the bigger the bill.

10+1. Optimization and distribution. Although it isn't part of the production process, how a video is optimized for search and distributed online plays a huge role in its overall success.

At the end of the day, when answering the question of "how much does a video cost?" The answer is: It depends. The scope of the production and all the elements involved will determine how high the price climbs.  For more of a detailed breakdown of the cost of video production check out these articles:

Just remember that you typically get what you pay for. When creating content that has to do with how the image of your company will be perceived, make sure those producing your video have experience making other companies look and sound great.

Christopher Stasiuk is the owner and creative director at the Signature Video Group, a Toronto based video production agency. He helps businesses of all shapes and sizes make their mark with video. Follow Chris on twitter @chrisstasiuk.

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