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EP MAILBAG "How Do I Choose the Right Corporate Video Production Company?"

Regularly on the Austin Video Production Blog we address questions often asked of our Executive Producer that may be helpful to others. For this installment we are focusing on questions in the context of choosing the right corporate video production company after the initial vetting period. So you’ve already reached out for video production company recommendations, done the Google search for “Austin video production,” you’ve seen the work on their sites and you’ve picked a few corporate video companies to reach out to. These are questions we often get as brands are making their final selections.

1. I’ve seen companies refer to themselves as videographers or production companies, what’s the difference?

We touched on this on the blog before but it’s worth diving into. There isn’t necessarily a difference but GENERALLY speaking a videographer is going to be more of a small scale solution and a production company is generally more of a full scale production. What does that mean? Often you can associate a videographer with a wedding videographer. They’re there to more or less get footage and deliver footage. Usually with a production company they are going to be more hands on with the general creative process and the deliverables will include the full package of editing, music, etc. Does that mean that videographers are less skilled than a video production company or that a video production company will be more expensive than a videographer? No, not at all. Either can go either way. Just know that very broadly speaking the verbiage that companies use are pretty telling as to what the scope of their video production services are.

2. How do you charge? Is it hourly, by service or is it a full package?

If you really prefer any company will probably price projects any way you’d like but generally speaking, as mentioned above, a more “videographer” style company will charge hourly or by line of service (x amount for shooting, x amount for post production, etc). And generally a “video production company” will charge for a full package that will include everything; the shooting, the editing, the animation, the voiceover, production studio time, whatever. We have hourly rates but we’ve almost always done things as a package. That is simpler for us and it’s nice to have a fuller grasp on how the video project turns out if you have input throughout the process. But the main reason we prefer package pricing is because the clients do. Companies like knowing upfront what something is going to cost rather than getting a surprise bill in their inbox down the road. This is particularly true with editing. You may be able to control hours charged for the shoots but you really have no control over how many hours of editing a video company takes to complete your project. And I don’t think this is a phenomenon specific to production in Austin Texas, I think companies everywhere would prefer their video production company vendors price as a package. If you do package pricing 50% payment upfront is pretty industry standard.

3. Are there any hidden fees or other options that I should know about?

Hopefully the video production company you are working with will do their best to stick with their pricing and not nickel & dime you. We’re happy to say we’ve never had to go back to a client and ask for extra money but sometimes variables happen that are unforeseeable. Here are a few things to look out for:

A. If you are interested in the raw footage ask if it is included or if it’s an extra charge. The reason video companies don’t always give the raw footage for free is that they want to make money for editing any future projects you want with this same footage. And they certainly don’t want you to take their shot footage to another company that charges less for editing. It’s like if you get engagement photos. They don’t usually give you the digital files so you can go do whatever you want with them, they want to make money on the prints as well as the photo shoot. So make sure you ask first, they will either include raw footage for free, charge extra or they won’t even offer the raw footage at all.

B. Make sure travel is included. Most of our clients are local to Austin Texas but we often go out of town for shoots so we always have travel expenses baked into our pricing. It could be a dishonest video company does not include travel expenses into their pricing, so make sure you ask. Often times it’s just a misunderstanding and they assumed travel was taken care of separately.

C. Find out what happens if you need an extra shoot day. This happens a lot where a client decides that they need an extra shoot day to get what they need. What we try to do is give a range of shoot time that is included with our pricing (8-12 hours included, etc) and a price for what an extra day or half day of shooting would be. We haven’t needed to charge for extra shoots as of yet.

D. Find out what happens if the runtime of the video goes long. Hopefully your video vendor won’t charge extra for only an extra 30 seconds of video or so but make sure just in case. Also, find out if they charge if you ever need a small edit down the line. Maybe there’s a 3 second clip that isn’t relevant to your company a year from now that you’d like taken out, would they charge for that? We don’t charge for that small stuff but it’s worth finding out.

E. Make sure you own the footage. You don’t want a video production company to sell your footage to include in some national commercial campaign down the road so make sure you have rights to everything, without having to pay extra. This probably isn’t going to be an issue but just in case.

4. Do I have to come up with the concept for the video?

This kind of goes back to the videographer/video production company conversation but a good creative media production company should be able to help you out with creative concept and give you ideas and have a vision for the project. They may charge extra for this service, often called “concept” or “scripting” but ideally they will have some capabilities here, whereas a videographer might be more of a “tell me what you want” situation. Typically a client will have a general idea of what they want; whether a company culture video for recruiting employees or company product video to drive sales, etc; and a good corporate video production company will go from there and come up with some cool ideas for slick production aesthetics or an interesting storytelling technique that makes the video unique. You can even ask the company if they have any ideas for the video. They may or may not have ideas for you but try and get a sense if they would be willing to or have the creative abilities to really come up with something to make your video stand out. Because this is what truly separates the great video production companies from the rest.

Michael Mason is the owner and Executive Producer at Perfect Chaos Films. Perfect Chaos Films is an Austin video production company specializing in corporate videos. We also know the good Austin TX pizza places.

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