The cost of making a YouTube video

Cost to make youtube video

It’s so easy these days to criticise and complain about automotive videos on YouTube, with so many great sources of content. The good thing about YouTube is everyone can have a go, but to produce something of high quality is actually very difficult due to the time and cost involved.

Yes, anyone can vlog by essentially sticking their phone camera in their face and hitting record and it doesn’t cost much at all, apart from perhaps your ego. But the stuff we all love to watch is the cinematic, high quality stuff. 

The cost of producing a film, particularly those cinematic quality car films, is incredibly high especially when quite often, the return is marginal. A few years ago now Chris Harris acrimoniously left the YouTube Drive channel and ranted about the cost of production and relative lack of financial return. 

Yet we keep hearing about six (or seven) figure incomes YouTube vloggers are reportedly making, which only serves as a dangling golden carrot for those wishes to make a good showing of it. With YouTube now changing the rules on what constitutes a monetised channel, those starting out face a huge uphill battle, especially considering the amount of competition on the platform. 

And the quality expected has now encroached upon professional standards, with many matching it. Indeed a lot of channels do have professionals working behind the scenes, and paying their way is often capital or seed funding, investors, if not the might of a broadcaster like the BBC or NBC. 

Want to give it a go yourself? Alright then, first is the equipment required, and we’re going to talk the minimum requirement for maximum quality. Better get yourself a 4K DSLR if you want to impress. Next time you see a video you enjoy, just have a look at the amount of different angles employed. Often each of those will be run by different cameras, GoPros and the like, which all need their own SD cards and if you’re running 4K which all the viewers demand, that’s not cheap.

Then there’s the microphones for ambient sound, and lapel mics for presenters. Two people presenting? That’s two mics. 

Like those smooth slow moving panning shots? Video tripods, sliders, drones, and gimbals give a cinematic quality and feel to videos but each can cost many thousands. They also weigh a bit and are quite cumbersome which means…

…you need people to assist. And a second vehicle to carry everything in, which naturally consumes fuel. 

One of the most costly aspects is time. Liking those golden hour scenic shots? Everyone will have been up at 5am or earlier to be on location and you’d better move fast before that golden sunlight disappears. 

Like seeing and hearing the cars go by on a road? That means finding the corner, where you can stop, set up and then direct the driver to find a place they can turn around and drive past, hopefully without other cars disrupting the shot all for about 5 seconds of film. Didn’t get it the first time? Turn around and do it again. And again. 

Think you’re done? Ha! Far from it. Next is lugging all that home or to the office, pulling out all the SD cards you’ve hopefully labeled, or maybe you’ve transferred them to a portable back up. Next is editing and sound mixing and if you’ve got Adobe CC with Adobe Premiere Pro, that’s an $800/year subscription. But if you thought filming was a time sucking exercise, try editing. We’re talking days. Want to add music that isn’t free Chill Hop? That’ll be a music license thank you. 

Even those videos which aren’t 4K or cinematic take a lot of time to organise, prepare, and produce. And if it’s your livelihood, add on some marketing. So next time you feel like complaining about something in a video, just hold onto that thought and empathise with those who are putting in the effort to deliver something they are passionate about. They might not get it right every time, but at least they’re having a go, and providing you content for free. 

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