The importance of a good 'musical' score.

Music and films go hand in hand. It's more important than you think.

In our opinion, every great video / film accomplishes its purpose with music.  In film, composers call this a "score."  
Wikipedia explains this better than I could.  Click here for their in-depth article.

Think back to all the greatest scenes in film making history.  If you hit the mute button on your remote, would it have the same affect? I think you'll agree, the answer is a resounding 'NO!'

Adding a musical score to your project used to be quite difficult.  It involved getting in contact with the artist, their publisher or the original writer to grant permission.  Even with the advances in technology (i.e.: email), the chances of reaching the right person to process your request was nearly futile.  If you got a response, it required a string of emails and descriptions of where the song would be used, for what purpose, what scene, the overall message etc.  If you wanted something original, good luck.  Who has a symphony at their disposal, let alone a composer to create the write feel / vibe for the project.

Thankfully, some great innovative minds have come together and created online licensing services; these allow indie filmmakers to purchase the right song for the right scene, in only minutes.  Finding the right song for the right scene, however, might take a little longer!

At FireCanvas, we're lucky to work closely with a talented musician, Ryan McAllister.  Not only has he written hundreds of incredible songs, but also has written, produced and directed scores for us at a fraction of the cost of most writers. You can listen to Ryan's latest album here while you browse.  Enjoy!


Quality, Delivery and Budget

Your video looks like pie, but you can only have 2 of 3 slices.

OK, let me explain.  When we chat with a client for the first time, they usually ask us, 'how much is my video going to cost?'  "Well," I say, "it depends on a few things..."  These "things" are, in no order, based on a) quality, b) time we have to deliver and c) the clients budget.  But here is the catch...rarely do you get all three!!  YIKES.  Let me explain further in three differing scenarios.

Scenario 1:  Minimal budget.  In this scenario, we can deliver with a quick turnaround...YAY and produce it for a minimal cost.  Thats the good news.  The bad news is quality is usually going to suffer. I swear, the old adage "time is money," came from on set.  Nearly every great video, takes time to put together.  Writing scripts, scouting locations, getting suitable talent, finding the perfect song to accompany your scene, re-writing the script, storyboards, wardrobe, makeup...On and on it goes.  Its pretty rare to find a great video for minimal cost.  They are out there...but they're rare and usually based around an exceptional idea.

Scenario 2: Quick turnaround (the client needs it yesterday!!).  We can do that!  likely for a small hit to the pocketbook.  That's the good news.  The bad news is, once again, quality is going to suffer.  There are always exceptions to every rule.  If you're extremely organized, have tonnes of help, a great script and phenomenal actors, then perhaps we can hit it out of the park.  But who really has all this?  Only on TV right?  Extreme Makeover seems to have this one figured out.  If you have any ideas, be sure to let us know!

Scenario 3: Incredible quality!  We're talking Lord of the Rings here!  The client wants extreme quality and they have the funds to make it happen.  We can do that!! That's the good news; the bad?  Its gonna take some time.  How much time?  Depends on how good you want it to look!  Some films take years to make.  One of our most recent films "Reveal'ution" took 6 months to organize, write, film, direct, find talent, license and organize the musical score etc.  Well worth it, but this isn't for everyone, nor suitable for every project.

Of course we haven't covered every scenario here and that's likely impossible.  Every client has differing needs / goals etc.  So regardless of what scenario you fit (or don't fit) into, be sure to contact us and let us drum up some suggestions. 

Our goal is to create something that works perfect for you.  On budget and on time, with the quality you need!  Chat soon!


What kind of gear do we use?

Gear is important.

With all of the rental houses in the lower mainland, you can have the Red Epic and any cinema lenses you choose.  But it comes with a big price tag.

We mainly film our productions on the Canon C100 mark II.  Its cinema grade that films up to 1080p (high definition).  Unless you own a 4K TV, our cameras will use every square pixel of your screen!

But just as important, some would say more importantly, is capturing sound.  Have you ever seen a great video, but the sound is awful?  It nearly makes watching the piece a chore.  Great sound, on the other hand, with shabby video is much more pleasant.  The majority of the old classics, the real old ones, prove my point.  We mainly use RODE microphones for live 'run n gun' filming.  For voiceovers and the more fancy stuff, we head to the studio and tap into the PRO diaphragm microphones.

We have dolly's, which provide a smooth left to right (or front to back) shot and glidecams, which really add that cinematic feel to every take.  Here is a quick glidecam example.

We also use standard tripods and monopods (a straight stick the camera sits on) as well.  Our cameras also shoot at a high frame rate, which allows us to slow the footage down in playback to get that sleek and sexy SLO MO.

We have a wide selection of lenses too.  From wide angle to PRIME lenses and most of them are L series (PRO) lenses by Canon.

Friends are good to have, and we have a few, that are always willing to lend a hand with other gear too.  Drones, jib cranes etc.

Send us a message if you have a project that needs something super fancy and we'll see what we can do to make it happen.

The breakdown and cost of making your video

All of our clients have the same question. Whats the cost and what will we get in return!? Well, I'm glad you asked; but its a little like asking "how long is a rope?" Read below for the behind the scenes look at the breakdown!

We  been receiving SO many emails asking about the cost of doing video and quotes for their various video ideas.  We’re pumping out the quotes and thought it suiting to blog on the cost of business video.

So, ‘what is the cost of business video production’?…here are 15 factors (roughly listed in order of importance to the overall quality of the video) that affect the price of a video:

1. Video Production Expertise.

The old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ comes to mind here. When doing your homework on video production companies, check out their sample work to gain an idea of their ability and level of production.

Costs: You can pay $25/hour for a recent film school graduate or $250/hour or more for a top flight video veteran. On average most production companies will charge between $75/hour and $150/hour for the people involved in key activities such as shooting, editing and directing a corporate video.

2. Pre-production (Concept / Script / Storyboard).

Many businesses are jumping on the web-marketing train and making a video just for the sake of having a video. The results of this are hit-and-miss. They may still reap some benefits of having video on their website, however video marketing is a VERY valuable tool if used properly and intentionally. You want to make sure your video will be ‘going to work for you’ to bring in some solid business. This begins with having a clear understanding of the objective you are trying to achieve. Then, do you trust the people creating your video? Do they have the experience and guidance to convey your message/product in a way that will move your business forward?

Costs: Expect to spend between $60/hour and $150/hour to develop a concept, script and storyboard that serves as the blueprint for you video.

3. Production (filming) time and Locations.

The number one factor here is the total amount of production (filming) time required. This is where good planning and organization can save you time and money. Consider the following factors; how many locations? how far apart are the locations? where are you filming? how long will each interview/shot take? are you inside or outside? if you are filming outside is weather a factor? how much set-up time is required?

Costs: It’s simple math, two days of shooting is obviously twice as expensive as one day. {however, if shooting extends for many days or is regularly scheduled then most companies offer a discount}

4. Post-production (Editing/Graphics).

The editing process gobbles up a lot of time, it is very detail-focused work. Editing is where you create the style and substance of the video – you sequence all of the available footage into a cohesive story that communicates your key messages in a clear and engaging manner. Editors arguably should be the most highly paid (and skilled) in the entire process – quite often they are not. Graphics and animation are also part of editing process, as it is difficult to separate the use or importance of graphics and animation from the editing process.  Some videos require simple graphic elements and some videos are completely animated.

Costs: Typical editing costs run between $60/hour and $175/hour. (Complex 3D graphics or key frame animation can cost between $100/hr and $300/hr).

5. Equipment.

The more experienced video production companies tend to have a wide variety of tools and equipment on hand for filming. A track dolly will create a shot with movement, field monitors will help you know exactly what you are getting in the shot, professional audio equipment (lav mics, direction mics, booms) are used to capture the perfect audio, not to mention proper lighting for a variety of shooting scenarios as well as a selection of lenses (wide angle, fixed focal length, etc).

Costs: Equipment cost can run anywhere from $25/hour to $100′s/hour or more depending on what specific equipment is required.


Have you ever watched a movie or television show being filmed and wondered why there were so many people standing around on set?  Most business promo videos don’t require more than two people (sometimes one is enough), but depending on the complexity you may require more crew. Concept videos or commercials may require a cameraman, sound man, director, maybe even an interviewer.

Costs: If you are simply wanting a business web video, you can cut your costs considerably by choosing a production company that sends just one or two people trained in all areas (filming, lighting, audio, support, interviewing).

7. B-Roll.

B-roll (often called cut-away shots) is secondary footage that adds meaning to a sequence or disguises the elimination of unwanted content. Say you are interviewing a business owner who is talking about their products, you should cut-away to shots of the various products as they speak. Showing the viewer what is being described in the video is more informative and also helps to keep the attention of the audience.  It is also worth mentioning, the quality and creativity of b-roll captured will largely dictate the look and feel of your video.

Costs: Capturing great b-roll often requires planning, time and the use of cinematic equipment (jib, dolly, slider, glide-cam and now drones etc), which will obviously increase production costs.

8. Narration.

Will you need a voice-over to tell your story or to tie the video together?  We always suggest some form of audio to support what is being shown on screen, you will have a much more powerful video.

Costs: Many voice artists work from home and can produce great work for almost any budget. $100 – $400 for a 2 minute video is reasonable depending on their experience and demand.

9. Music Licensing.

You cannot just pick any song you like from iTunes and slap it on your video, you must obtain a license to use copyrighted music.  That is, unless you like legal fees and incarceration?? YIKES!

Costs: Good quality music for video starts as low as $60 and run upwards of $400 for a two or three minute track. Often the price of the music license is dependent upon the use of video and the size of the company making the video. Custom audio is also an option. Hiring an experienced musician create a custom track for your video can cost $1,000 or more.

10. Teleprompter.

Even the most rehearsed and experienced speaker can bomb a shoot when placed in front of the camera’s and lights. Some tend to loose their train of thought when they see that little red light flashing on the front of any camera!  Using a teleprompter may produce a less natural feel, but it just might save a shoot from tanking.

Costs: Teleprompter and teleprompter operator usually cost between $350 and $600 for a half day.

11. Media Ingestion, rendering and uploading.

Video recording uses up a lot of space on memory cards, especially if shooting in RAW. It takes time to transfer the content into your editing system, and after you complete the edit you have to render it to a presentation format (for web, for broadcast, etc.) Then, depending on where it’s going, you may have to upload it (to a web server, YouTube, Vimeo, etc). This can eat up a lot of computer and human time, which you pay for.

Costs: Sometimes these costs are buried, sometimes they are line items.  Rendering and uploading times are usually buried in the costs but can also be charged out at an hourly rate ($30 – $75 per hour).

12. Length of the Video.

Typically, the longer the video, the more it is likely to cost. A website promotional video usually runs 2-3 minutes, but can vary depending on the style and purpose. However, consider this…filming a basic 30-minute interview (with no b-roll and limited editing) is much cheaper than creating a 30 second commercial.

Costs: So…consider longer to be more expensive, but like I said it depends entirely on the style of video. Adding an extra minute of video might only cost you 10% more if you have planned the extra requirements into the overall workflow and initial filming.

13. Language and translation.

More and more companies are requesting close captions to aid those with hearing impairments. Or maybe you need language versioning or onscreen text translations.

Costs: Language versioning can add 15% to 20% to the overall cost of the job. (Editing and proofing of different languages is usually much more time intensive than one language alone.)

14. Miscellaneous fees.

Don’t forget to consider the miscellaneous items when budgeting. Video production like many other services has ‘Miscellaneous fees’: Travel costs, meals, mileage, hotels, transportation, out-of-pocket… it all adds up.

Costs: Usually in the $100′s and sometimes in the $1,000′s of dollars on larger shoots.

15. ‘Other Costs’.

– Hair and Makeup: If you’ve got the budget it is a great idea to go and get your hair and makeup done professionally on the day of the shoot. Proper make-up makes a significant difference on camera, especially in this day and age with high-definition – they really do capture every detail. On lower cost projects a brush and a compact of neutral powder (to remove an oily or sweaty appearance on the subject’s face) can go a long way. A professional Hair/Make-up artist hired for on-site filming can range from $30/hr to $75 per hour.

– Location Rental: Depending on what you are shooting you may have to pay for the use of a desired location and this can be well worth the cost. If you are filming a basic interview with little b-roll to capture the audience attention, it is important to find an interesting and engaging location as the back ground.

Costs range considerably – you can pay your local community centre a couple bucks or you can get access to an art gallery for hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Now that you have an idea of the factors (and their associated costs) involved in producing a business web video, let’s see if we can really answer that question ‘what is the cost of business video production’?
At FireCanvas a healthy starting point for a 2-3 minute promotional business video may cost between $2500 and $5000. This adequately covers many of the 15 factors described above. You can trust that no one will work harder than us to stretch your budget to provide an outstanding quality video that will move your business forward.

We would love to connect with you, take you for coffee and hear your business video ideas to give you an accurate quote. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at FireCanvas!