I have always found these questions to be difficult to answer in specifics. When someone asks 'What are your rates', or 'What would a trailer cost for my new game?' It's not exactly a bad question either, it's just it's a little more complicated than giving any real number stright up. There are a lot of things that go into the price of a trailer. I have written this article to outline some of my considerations, and own reasons as to why why certain trailers might cost more than others.
My first reply often is, what sort of trailer are you after? Different trailers are created for different reasons. Not every game is sold the same way, to the same person, and different production costs might not always add value even if it produces a better trailer in the end. In this respect, just because a trailer is super high in production value, it doesn't mean the game is going to be a hit, or the trailer is going to be popular. I've seen trailers which are no more than 20-30 seconds, and look like they could have been made within a few days, that perfectly reflected the game and ended up being an invaluable marketing tool. This is directly down to fantastic planning, and understanding the goal of the trailer. Cost doesn't always equal a better trailer, but that said, it can certainly help to identify where best to spend time and resources to make the trailer as effective as possible. We need to identify these things and work to create a plan which gets the most out of our trailer for our budget.
It is so important to plan out things before hand. It gives me a goal of what both our ideas are for the trailer, and how we'd like to work together. Alongside this, it also gives me an idea of how much you want to be included in the process.
Once I know all of these things, we can begin to form a plan and structure to the trailer. We will also need to figure out what assets we need. If our trailer requires certain voice over work, has a lot of visual effects and custom animations, it will add a significant amount of time and costs to the production. This is, of course, assuming they all add value to the end product. Not every trailer benefits from this, so that's why planning is essential. I like to work on a fixed fee contract, so getting the planning right is important to me. That said, some projects benefit from hourly fees. Here are a few things I consider during the planning stage:
I use mind maps to consider new concepts and ideas when creating my trailers. It is a great method of breaking down individual features and elements of the trailer.
Once we have a plan, we can begin production. Every game needs to be promoted in a different way. Are we looking at creating a conventional trailer and is it worth writing in extra time for experimentation? What sort of footage would best shows off your game, how will we capture it, and are we allowing for re-capture should we need it? Who is your audience, and what sort of trailer are we producing? (Are you launching your game, announcing it, or updating it?)
Another quick way to get planning and costs figured out is bringing a few reference links. Whether that's for similar games or a completely different product, not only do these help us identify what sort of trailer and style you are looking for, but it also gives us ways of examining what was done well by the video, and what wasn't, so we can figure out how best to apply these concepts to our trailer.
As I mentioned before, not every trailer will benefit from a higher production value. Even if your budget is low, there are ways we can promote the game very effectively through video. I like to identify the scope of the project before hand so we can safely develop a plan for the budget.
Much like the costs, this is entirely dependent upon the game and the trailer we are trying to make. I work on a lot of launch trailers, and more often than not, the game is not yet complete at the point of starting the trailer production. To plan for this, we look to schedule extra days which allow us to record draft footage, or we record what we can nice and early, and leave the collecting footage or assets which are to be fixed until the end. This ensures that we have a trailer which is representative of the game your audience will get. It shows your game in the best light possible and gives us an excellent way of refining the workflow.
I also like to leave time for feedback during the course of a project. Being critical of your productions is key to getting the most out of them. I like to make time for revisions, if we feel like the game might need a lot of them. This can impact the cost significantly though, depending on the amount and scale of the revisions being done.
A trailer can take anything from less than a week to several weeks to complete, depending on the scope of the project.
I thought I'd also talk a little about an asset list. Depending on the trailer, there are quite a few moving parts to be considered, and planning for them while making their costs apparent is key to producing a great trailer alongside the schedule.
The best way to know for sure would be to get in touch and tell me a little about yourself and your game, and what you hope to achieve with the trailer given what I have mentioned here. I hope this article helps you understand a little more about what goes into my process, and how a project might go when we work together on a trailer for your game. If you'd like to get in touch about creating something together. You can send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org