We’ve recently begun helping one of our Boston video production clients explore the process of creating an on-site video production studio. This company, like many others, is looking for ways to increase production while decreasing costs. Bringing production in-house is one answer, and it may be the right answer for this company. Maybe for your company too. So here are the pros and cons, along with one very important question.
First, the very important question: Should you invest in an area that’s outside your core competence?
Video is a specialty, and it’s not simple. Does adding this specialty fit your business model? Does it make strategic sense? Or are you getting caught up in the excitement of having a really cool video production studio on your premises?
Keeping this question in mind, let’s look at the pros and cons.
Reasons to bring video production in-house
1. Greater volume
Once you’ve got your studio space configured and equipped, and your staff hired, you’ll be ready to begin in-house production. You can now achieve one of your goals by creating lots more videos for social media, PR, marketing, SEO, internal communications, sales, and more.
2. Greater economy
Your second goal is to decrease costs. To bring the cost per video down, you’ll be keeping your studio booked and your staff busy. These two goals go hand in hand: you’ll achieve greater economy with greater volume.
You may discover that the best way to drive down costs and increase production is to not tie up your studio and your staff with long, complex projects. You might consider sending those to outside vendors, and keeping the simpler projects in-house, so you can maximize production.
3. Faster access, faster turn-around
With on-site facilities, you won’t need to travel to an outside studio or work around your vendor’s schedule. Instead, you can customize your filming and editing schedule to fit the needs of your company. And you can speed up turn-around time, because you'll have personnel who are dedicated to your needs.
4. Ability to work directly with editors and animators
Working with outside editors in a collaborative video editing process requires that you travel to them, and work around their schedule. With in-house editing, in-person meetings are onsite, so they’re much easier to schedule, and to get to.
Having direct access to animators and editors has other benefits as well. You can tap into their creative expertise and ideas as you develop your video projects, and you can access their knowledge of current and new trends to help keep your videos fresh.
You can also build relationships that may speed up future production, as your editors and animators learn what you like and what you don’t.
5. Ability to successfully manage last-minute projects
By making a commitment to on-site production, you're opening the door to more last-minute projects.
It might be a customer who’s on-site for just a day, and you want to film a quick video testimonial. Or it might be a fast filming session for a short video message from your CEO, for a team at another facility. Having an onsite studio means you can accommodate last-minute projects the way you can’t if your only option is an outside vendor.
This all sounds great, doesn’t it? More videos, lower cost per video, plus other benefits - shouldn’t your company get started right now and bring video production in-house?
Hmmm.... Let’s wait on that decision until you also consider the negatives.
Reasons NOT to bring video production in-house
1. Significant investment in space and equipment
Creating an on-site studio requires more than just unused space. Your studio space needs high ceilings, soundproofing, and lots of power. It needs to be large enough to accommodate camera distance, lights and backdrops. Do you have unused space that's appropriate for a video studio?
If you plan to film against a green screen, you’ll need to add more space because green screen work requires more distance between the subject and the green screen.
You also need a physically separate space for your editing and animating workstations.
Once you’ve got your space configured, you’ll need to invest in equipment: lights, one or more cameras, lenses, tripods audio equipment, workstations, software licenses, and a host of smaller items (like carts and stands and camera cards and batteries).
2. Ongoing equipment expenses
Lest you think you’ll make one big round of purchases and then you’re done, let me tell you the truth: in a high-tech area like video, you’re never done. Equipment needs to be maintained and repaired. Worn-out or broken equipment needs to be replaced. New equipment needs to be purchased. You may also need an equipment rental budget, depending on your projects.
It is, literally, always something. The bottom line with video equipment is that you’ll never be done spending money on it.
3. Media management, storage and archiving
You’ll be filming in full high-definition video, maybe even in 4k video, and these files are very large. You’ll also be creating a lot of them, because you’ll be making lots of videos. You’ll need to purchase and maintain a system for storing, backing up, organizing and archiving your video assets – which will be terabytes of data.
4. Significant, ongoing investment in personnel
You’ll need to find and hire staff with the expert skills you need – videography, editing, animation, and project management. You’ll be paying salaries and benefits. You’ll also be paying for staff management, whether your staff is busy or idle.
Ideally, they’ll be busy all the time, and they'll have a backlog of work. But sometimes projects dry up. Or priorities change. Unfortunately, your costs won’t go down if the number of videos you produce decreases.
The Bottom Line
These four points – cost for space, equipment (initial plus recurring costs), media management and personnel costs - boil down to one: regardless of how many or how few videos you create, you’ll incur significant expense.
In order to justify the expense of creating and running an in-house video production studio, you’ll need to make a lot of videos, and you’ll need to keep on making a lot of videos.
If you’re sure you can keep your studio and staff booked, and if you believe it makes strategic sense, then an onsite video production capability might be just what you need.
If, however, you’re not sure you can keep production constant, or if it’s not a strategically sound move, then perhaps you might explore other ways to increase video production within your budget.