The Creative Toolkit for Marketers

How To Shoot and Produce A Video on a Budget

Chelsea Sassara

Video production crew filming two parents and a child in a living room setting


Whenever you’re looking to buy a new product, one of the first questions you’ll likely ask (if not the first) is, “How much does it cost?” The same goes for a video, whether it’s a marketing or corporate video.


We’ve laid out a generic price range of a video, both live-action and animation, that’s dependent on a variety of factors.


However, we also understand that a follow-up question to learning how much something costs, including a video, is often, “Can we get that or do that for cheaper?”


The answer is yes. Some sacrifices may be needed, but you can strategically get a professional, high-quality video on a budget. This article will break down how so you can have a realistic plan of action moving forward with your video production needs.


How Much Does a Video Cost? 

Before we dive into how to get a video on a budget, let’s first talk about how much a video, on average, costs. Because of an ever-evolving, project-specific list of factors, the range for a live-action or animated video, is wide. In general, however, the numbers below are a good ballpark estimate.

  • Live-action video cost: $17,000 – $100,000+
  • Animated video cost: $15,000 – $35,000

Just like with buying a house or a car, there’s space for negotiation and budget-focused solutions in regard to these price ranges.



Getting a Video on a Budget

If you’re looking to get a video on a budget, it’s important to define how much you’re willing to spend up front. This will help a video production studio or marketing agency find the right solutions to ensure you still end up with a final product you’re looking (and paid) for.


It’s important to keep in mind that each production company will have different parameters for finding cost-effective alternatives. With this in mind, here are 6 solutions VMG Studios offers to clients working on a tight budget within the three main categories of video production – pre-production, production, and post-production.


1. Become More Involved, Especially in the Pre-Production Stage

With a higher budget, a production company normally takes the reins on all facets of your video. If you’re looking to cut costs, however, you’ll need to be more involved from the get-go.


That can include, but isn’t limited to creating a story outline, writing the video script, finding a shoot location, securing the shoot location, and coordinating the shoot.


Does your shoot location require specific permits? You, as the client, would take care of that.


2. Cut Back on Production Costs 

For a live-action video, this might mean we wouldn’t hire professional talent, hair, make-up or wardrobe. The good news is there are plenty of cases where professional talent isn’t required. If you’re shooting a customer testimonial, you’ll want to feature a client. If the video is an internal training video, use someone on your team as the on-camera talent.


Another cutback includes a smaller production crew for the day of the video shoot. With that, there’s a strong likelihood the client, or someone on their team, will play a bigger role such as a script supervisor or talent wrangler.


When it comes to animation, this could mean being limited to 2D animation versus 3D options.


2D animation of man on public transportation and woman at airport and a 3D animation of "talking" pots and pans in a kitchen setting




3. Limit the Amount of Revisions 

One simple way to cut costs in post-production is by limiting the amount of revisions. At VMG Studios, we often offer up to 3 versions of a video. Version 1 goes to the client, the client sends back feedback, we address the feedback, send back Version 2, and the process is repeated until the final video is approved.


There are cases when a client gets more than 3 revisions. That generally includes enterprise-level corporations that need a video to be approved by their branding and legal departments, respectively.


On a budget, we’d likely knock down the amount of revisions to just 2. If you’re worried you might not get the same final product with only 2 revisions, don’t worry. It simply requires your team giving detailed and definitive feedback in those first two rounds.




4. Keep the Supporting Graphics Package Small

Another limitation you may face in post-production is the amount of supporting motion graphics. Motion graphics can include lower thirds, icons, logos, and transitions.


Let’s say you have a budget of just $10,000 for your live-action video. In this case, you’d only be able to add lower-thirds, like a name identifier, to your video.


However, if you have a budget of $40,000+, you’d be able to get a lower third, logo, infographics, and illustrations added to your piece.




5. Limit Video Length

Regardless of whether your video is live-action or animation, the math is simple: the longer the video, the more expensive it will be.


The solution? Keep your video short. In fact, years of marketing statistics have found that shorter videos generally perform better than longer videos.  


6. Loyal Customer Perks

This cost-effective solution doesn’t work for first-time video ventures, but it’s something to consider when you’re shopping for a production studio or vendor.


Loyalty programs are big in the consumer world. Think of all the coffee shops that offer a free cup of joe after 10 drink orders.


The same idea can be applied to an agency by returning to them for all your video asset needs. The company may even offer additional services for a lower cost to maintain your business and build a relationship.


So, if you’re shopping around to find a production company to produce your first video, be sure to do thorough research. If you find a great one right off the bat, you can start building loyalty and save money.


Video Budget Comparison

To put this all into context, let’s show you what you’d get in a video for 3 different budgets. Keep in mind, what you see in the table below is negotiable based on each individual video project. We just wanted to give you a better idea of how budget can affect the different assets of a video production, on average.


  VMG logo_black_square

$12,000 $20,000 $40,000+
Production Company Oversees all Pre-Production Assets No Shared Yes
Professional Talent No No Yes
Professional Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe No No Yes
Full Production Crew No Modified (client plays some roles) Yes
Motion Graphics Lower third only Lower third + logo + minimal supporting text on screen Lower third + logo + infographics or illustrations
Number of Revisions 2 3 4 – 6 
Video Length 1.5 – 2:00 minutes 1.5 – 3:00 minutes 1.5 – 5:00 minutes
Animation Length >1 minute >1.5 minute >3 minutes

Note that video is very subject and custom in nature. If you have a very specific request or want to explore other options, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and would love the opportunity to discuss your video, messaging, goals, and deployment strategy to provide a competitive cost estimate.


Now let’s look at some examples, both live-action and animation, for each of these prices points.


$12,000 Live-Action Video Example




$12,000 Animation Example




$20,000 Live-Action Video Example




$20,000 Animation Example




$40,000+ Live-Action Video Example




$40,000+ Animation Example



Getting a Video on a Budget

Can you get a professional marketing video for your business on a budget? Absolutely. Will you need to make some adjustments and sacrifices to meet your budget restrictions? Yes.


However, a video on a budget is still better than no video at all. Research found that 73% of consumers say they are more likely to buy a product after watching videos that explain how it works.


If you’re working on a tight budget, there are plenty of cost-effective solutions to producing a video to ensure you’re happy with the final product.


As with all projects, communication is key, so as long as you lay out your budget guidelines with a production studio up front, they’ll work to scale your project to meet your needs.


Want to have a handy resource on the cost of live-action videos? Click the link below for a free downloadable price guide. 

Free Price Guide


Tags: Video production, Video Cost, Video budget

Chelsea Sassara

Written by Chelsea Sassara

Chelsea Sassara is a Content Manager at VMG Studios. Chelsea is an Emmy award-winning journalist with a background in local TV news. She loves to write, her dog & cat, the Pacific Northwest, and the Oregon Ducks.

Lists by Topic

see all