Is it Worth The Expense to Build
an In-House Corporate Video Production Studio?
Or Should We Outsource?
By Greg Ball, President of Ball Media Innovations
These days, businesses can’t stay on top without video. Your company needs videos produced for marketing, social media, training, public relations, corporate communications, etc. How do you get them produced in the most cost effective and results oriented way? There are a lot of options and it can be a confusing situation.
In the last several years a new trend has emerged, with companies doing the following:
- Building in-house video facilities, but staffing them with video contractors.
- Building in-house studios that are only suitable for some production needs, and outsourcing the rest.
- Outsourcing everything!
And of course there’s always the option of building and staffing your own in-house studio for all your video needs.
These days the economy is fluctuating, healthcare and employee benefit costs are increasing, corporate budgets are going down, and so is the number of staff members. Companies are running leaner, and are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs while gaining a higher return on investment in order to compete.
So how do you reduce your video production costs while getting the best return? How do you get videos that achieve your goals on a consistent basis? The answer is that it totally depends on your company.
I’ve been involved in corporate video since the 1980’s, and I’ve worked with all of the above production models. Prior to starting my video production career I was a studio designer, so I understand what goes into designing and building studios. I’ve designed two in-house studios when I worked for Burger King World Headquarters, and I’ve worked as an in-house video production manager for two large corporations, as well as a sub-contracted vendor.
I’ll share the pros and cons of the possible solutions, and hopefully your best choice should become clearer, based on your company’s needs.
The pros and cons of adding an in-house video production studio:
An in-house video production studio is convenient.
Having your own video production studio right on your premises is extremely convenient and saves time.
There are some businesses that need the convenience more than others. For example those who need to videotape busy execs, especially on the spur of the moment, may need an in-house studio.
If you shoot short notice videos and you don’t have an in-house studio, you’d have to find a video production company with a crew and studio time available each time you need to shoot. The crew and studio would have to be available at the same time your exec is available. The studio would need to be located fairly close to your company so that there isn’t much time wasted in traffic. That may or may not work out.
If you have your own in-house studio, there’s no problem. It’s easy. The exec walks a few feet, or hops on the elevator to the studio and voila!
Even if your company doesn’t want to invest in a full studio that will work with all your productions, some businesses build a small studio suitable for videotaping their execs, perhaps some products, and maybe even some green screen. They outsource when they need a larger studio.
With your own studio, if your exec is held up (as I’ve found often happens), there are no extra studio fees. If you have your own crew on staff, there are no additional crew fees for the wait time. Even if you sub-contract crews for your own in-house studio, you have the location available, so it’s one less thing to worry about.
Another convenience of having an in-house video facility is that it offers management and internal clients the ability to just walk into the facility and review a video with the editor present. That saves time and eliminates any confusion about changes.
The studio and equipment are time consuming and expensive to design, purchase and maintain.
If you’re going to invest in a studio, you’ll need to design it to meet the company’s needs. Utilizing an experienced consultant is wise, and can help you avoid costly errors, but it’s an expense. Then there’s going to be a need for upfront investment in building the studio, purchasing equipment, software, people, etc.
Naturally the equipment will need on-going maintenance. Additionally, you’ll need to keep everything updated. This can include replacing computers, software and even camera equipment. All this takes research, money, and time to learn the new technology.
For example your editing suite software will be updated regularly by the company that makes it. At some point the newest updates will only work on the newest operating system and you’ll have to replace your computers. The software company will cease to support the older versions, so it makes it essential to keep up with the changes. Software updates may require additional training. This is costly and time consuming.
Consider that outside professional video production companies update their equipment and facilities on a regular basis so they can successfully compete in their market. If you outsource, your company won’t have to keep infusing money and time to stay current and to keep the equipment working.
An in-house video production studio increases privacy.
Does your company create videos that are confidential for legal or strategic reasons? If you shoot it in your own studio and with your own crew, you can have that confidentiality. Even if you shoot in your CEO’s office, it may not be sound proof like a well-built studio. Nearby employees might hear what’s going on. An in-house studio, an in-house crew, or a sub-contracted crew with a confidentiality agreement in place gives you a greater chance at that privacy and confidentiality.
Your studio can take up a large share of the available office space.
An in-house video department needs dedicated space to shoot and edit within the company. Naturally a studio can take up a lot of square footage, as can an editing suite. Additionally these areas need to be set apart and made sound-proof.
I would strongly advise against having the editing take place in the general office area. It’s next to impossible to edit a video in a small office cubicle. The editing noise will bother those around the editor, and the office noise will distract the editor and make it difficult to work on video sound tracks.
If you’re unable to set aside the needed space, in my experience it would be best to outsource for your video production needs.
An in-house video production studio can give you great shoot quality.
We do a lot of video shoots inside corporate offices. Sometimes this is feasible, and we get great quality sound and images. Some offices are not conducive to great quality because of issues like space, light and noise. With an in-house studio you can control your sound, set and lighting. You can be sure that you have the space to get the equipment set up right.
In the long term, an in-house video production studio and staff may save money.
While the initial start-up costs may be high, if your company does a lot of video, over time an in-house studio could save money. The cost of producing videos in-house can be significantly cheaper than going outside, especially if your productions require studio shoots.
A key variable may be the experience and capabilities of your in-house video team. If they can handle all tasks from scripting, lighting, camera work, graphic design and editing, that combined with the savings from having your own studio could be a plus.
But this is not always true. Whether or not having your own staff and studio will save you money will depend on the quantity and types of productions you typically do, and what’s involved. You’ll need to do a cost analysis of both options to be sure.
Actually I’m not done with the pros and cons. There’s so much to cover that we’ll be posting the next phase of this topic next week on the pros and cons of adding an in-house video production staff, a long-term subcontracted staff, or completely outsourcing. I believe you’ll need that information in order to decide whether or not to build your own in-house video production studio.
(See Part 2 shortly – Should I Hire an In-House Staff & Crew or Outsource?)
While the choice to build an in-house studio isn’t always cut and dry, you can see that a lot will depend on your company’s needs.
Feel free to give me a call if you’re looking for a consultant to help you make these decisions. Also we are currently working with companies to design their studios based on their specific needs, work with their builders and architects, and equip their in-house studios. We can also help with staffing.
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