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Suppose you have a game and a team that develops it. You need a video about your game and you have not decided yet whether to do it on your own or outsource it. Let's see how the situation may turn out if you choose the first: create a video yourself.

From this article you will find out what expenses can be hidden behind the decision to make a video about your game on your own. A word of warning: this is a longride with furious details of the video production. Let's go?

Written in Alconost

In preparing this material, we relied on our own experience in creating videos about games: we have made more than a hundred of them over the past 8 years. And to translate time costs into money, we used the InGame Job survey on salaries in game devs. Based on experience and knowledge, we’ll try to calculate how much the average gamedev studio can do to create a video about the game on our own.

Game videos are very different. Sometimes it’s cutting video captures, and sometimes it’s animating characters or 3D models or even animating. Of course, different complexity is also different labor costs, therefore, commercials about games can be significantly different in price. Sounds logical, but too abstract, right?

To get into the core of the issue, we simulate a conditional situation. And by her example, we’ll analyze which employees of a game development company can participate in creating the video, what contribution each of them makes and how much - at least approximately - of the time each person can take their own part of work.

Let's start with three assumptions: which video you need, which employees you have, and how exactly you will build the video production process.

  • Movie : let's say you need a movie trailer, lasting no more than a minute, for posting on the game’s website and on Google Play. Let the video be in English, with voice acting as a native speaker of the English language, with music and sound effects.
  • Team : suppose there are guys in the team who have enough knowledge, skills and qualifications to write a script, create graphics for the video and animate it, as well as make the sound design of the video. We also assume that the team has complete mutual understanding, and everyone in the team can devote half a day to this task without prejudice to other duties.
  • Process : maybe you decide to follow the process of creating clips in Alconost : write a script, make a storyboard, record voice acting, pick up a background track, collect animation, edit music, add sound effects. It is possible that in your case the process needs to be tuned up, but how exactly can be judged only by knowing the features of a particular game and a specific team. Since the situation itself, the video and the team are conditional, even if the process is concrete and universal.

At the beginning of work on the video, the team will conduct a brainstorming session to decide for which target audience the video is being made, which game features need to be shown, what the main message should be on the video and what emotions it should leave.

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Photo: StartupStockPhotos , Pixabay

Script


We will entrust the script to the narrative designer or copywriter - to the one who writes dialogs, quest texts or other messages visible to the user for the game.

In order for the artist, animator and announcer to understand exactly what they need to do, the script must answer such questions:

  • In what visual context will the whole action take place? Is it a simple gradient, flat detailed art or a 3D environment? This must be dealt with at the very beginning, so that all decisions on the visual part are consistent. Add references to the script.
  • In what order will the main features of the game be shown in the video and in what way? If some features do not look photogenic enough (buttons, a lot of text, small icons interfere), you need to consider in the script how exactly such features will be displayed.
  • What will be the voiceover text? The announcer voices the phrases provided to him, without making adjustments to his taste, so the scriptwriter needs to make sure that the voice text is capacious, accurate and folding.

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Photo: Free-Photos , Pixabay

The decision on how to display gameplay features can greatly affect the production process or even predetermine it. Possible options:

  • Simulate the gameplay in the engine and capture video captures directly from the development environment (this is especially true for games on Unity).
  • Take video captures from a release or test build.
  • Collect scenes with gameplay from the source of the graphic (the necessary content, such as location or inventory, is modeled from static assets, which are then animated).

It is possible that all scenario solutions need to be subordinated to technical capabilities. For example, if developers are busy and you cannot puzzle them with setting up scenes in the engine, the script should contain only such game events that can be shown with video capture or animated graphics.

Suppose that in our conditional scenario video there will be 4 scenes with animation of game graphics in 2D (close-up characters, a rich assortment of game equipment, achievements, game logo) and 4 scenes with video captures that the team decided to remove from the release build, mount, crop and embellish a little.

Suppose that the scriptwriter spends 4 hours creating a draft, the same amount will be spent on making corrections as a result of coordination with the team, and finishing grinding will take another hour. We’ll add another half hour to the selection of references (under the words “brisk animation of the slogan” the scriptwriter and animator may mean different things, so it’s better to find a good example) and the same amount to think over the equipment for the heroes of the video. After all, the bracers of a frightened nymph do not fit the armor of absolute invulnerability, is not it?

Of course, time deviations are equally possible in both directions. Sometimes a script can be written in an hour or two, and sometimes it takes several days to reconcile and edit. Not to mention the cases when, when working out the details, there is a desire to radically change the scenario. But let's assume that in our conditional situation, 10 hours was enough to write a successful script: interesting, logical, and amenable to practical implementation.

Storyboard


This is the creation of static graphics according to the plot prescribed in the script. Let us give this work to an artist who draws, for example, locations and game objects.

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Photo: VitalikRadko , Depositphotos

First of all, the artist gets into the script, looks at the references and selects art from the already drawn assets (he finds the graphic sources of the characters and, of course, the bracers of the frightened nymph in the archive of game graphics). Then he develops a visual style: prepares the background, draws the dice, selects the font.Since the script provides for cropping video captures, the artist needs to think about how to compensate for the difference in the proportions between the aspect ratio of the cropped video (it can turn out, for example, 1: 1) and the height and width of the frame (usually 16: 9).

When the visual style is approved, the artist prepares the full storyboard: composes the remaining scenes from the finished elements and draws the missing ones. If it is decided to buy some parts for the video on the stock, the artist will need to enter the purchased elements in the storyboard: tweak the brightness or saturation, add a shadow.

Suppose that in our case, the artist devotes a storyboard to 4 hours a day and does it in a week, including one or two revision cycles. In this case, it will take about 20 hours.

Of course, if the video consists of only video captures, and the artist only needs to draw dice for slogans and a scene with a logo, the time required to create a storyboard will decrease. But if all or almost all the scenes in the video are animation of static graphics, and even more so if you need to draw this graphics from scratch (for example, if you want to tell the background of the game world in the video), the time spent on the storyboard will increase significantly. So 20 hours for a storyboard for a conditional clip is speculative: in a specific project, it can be smaller or much larger.

Animation


The animator gets acquainted with the script, watches the references and animates the storyboard prepared by the artist. The animator also mounts video captures: the project manager (about it later) already shot them and provided the animator with time codes of successful fragments and instructions for cropping and improving them.

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Photo: sonerbakir , Depositphotos

We collect the animation for the already recorded track of voice dubbing, so that the events in the frame go synchronously to the speaker’s remarks, and under the metronome of the selected music - this was also prepared by the manager.

Suppose that the animation of the graphics takes 30 hours, and the work with captures - 10. Suppose the team will like the whole draft assembly as a whole, but you can’t do without improvements. Let's skip the draft animation after three cycles of edits (let them take 4, 3 and 2 hours: the closer to the final version, the fewer adjustments) and give the animator another hour to polish the final version. With this course of work, the animator’s labor costs will be 50 hours.

The time spent on animation is critically dependent on the script. What happens in the plot in scenes with animated graphics: “leaves move on a palm tree” - or “a ship swims to the shore, pirates run ashore, the islanders scatter”? These are events of varying complexity, their animation will take a different time.

The number of animated scenes, of course, also matters. And with video captures, everything is not so simple. If you add patches from static graphics on top of the capture, or mount one large “canvas” from a dozen captures so that the camera can slide over locations and move into different areas, the upper limit of labor costs rises significantly.

Sound Engineering


Of course, the track can be written specifically for the video. But suppose you want to save time and use an existing melody.

You can use either a “native” game track for the video, for example, ambient location or a combat theme, or stock music. Suppose that the track was selected on the drain - and they did it at the stage of storyboard so that the animator could assemble the video sequence to the tempo of the selected music.
When the animation is ready, it remains to mount the music for the duration of the video and add sound effects so that the change of scene or the appearance of the logo is accompanied by the corresponding “hot” and “whim”. Then we do the mixing with the voice, adjusting the volume so that the music and effects do not interfere with the perception of the narration.

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Photo: princeoflove , Depositphotos

We will assume that the installation of music, the selection of sound effects and mixing the sound engineer will take about 4 hours, and another hour will be required to make corrections after agreeing with the team ("whirlwind" did not fit - you need "boommm", and the like). Total 5 hours.

It remains only to ask the animator to mix the final video with the final audio track - and the video is ready.

Management


The manager does everything to ensure that the process of working on the video is productive and the team gets high. Otherwise, why is this all?

In our case, the manager not only removes video captures according to the script, selects the best fragments and selects music, but also organizes teamwork. He sets tasks, accepts intermediate results and coordinates them with the team. If corrections are required at any stage, the manager assumes the formulation of comments and suggestions that take into account the opinion of the team and do not contradict each other.

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Photo: ilixe48 , Depositphotos

In addition to team members, the manager will also interact with freelance artists. In our case, it’s a translator and broadcaster - native English speakers (after all, our video is designed for a foreign audience).

We ask a native English speaker who speaks Russian to translate our text of voice acting and slogans on the dice. For voice acting, we also turn to a native English speaker, a professional announcer. By the way, the manager will need to make sure that the selected voice actor has no accent or pronunciation defects.

The main problem that a game development studio runs into when creating videos on its own is the lack of a streamlined process of working on atypical subtasks. Even finding a foreign speaker and testing it can take a surprisingly long time - simply because you haven’t done this before.

It is very, very difficult to accurately estimate the time spent by a manager - therefore, we only assume that it will take him about 30 hours to complete the project. Real time costs can be either more modest or significantly higher: it depends on the manager himself, and on the team, and on the specific circumstances in which a specific video will be created.

Perhaps the majority of atypical tasks will fall to the manager’s lot, because he is involved in the process of creating a video at all stages. In this regard, it makes sense for the manager to take on another role on the project - creating a script. Or vice versa: the author of the script could take on the duties of a manager. So the video will have a screenwriter, director who has a holistic vision, is fully responsible for the result and knows exactly why in the scene with the outfit you need to show the bracers of a frightened nymph and nothing else.

Summarize time


Let's calculate how much time it took to create the video in our case.

  • Scenario: 10 hours
  • 20 hours storyboard
  • Animation: 50 hours
  • Sound Engineering: 5 hours
  • Management: 30 hours

Total: 115 hours .

The conditional game dev team took about 115 hours to make a conditional video about their game. Of course, our imaginary guys could cope somewhere faster, and somewhere to stick for a long time.Maybe the team was in a hurry with the script and when creating the storyboard it turned out that not everything turns out to be shown as planned? Or when assembling the animation, it turned out that the script did not mention something important, and had to go back a couple of steps? Or maybe the guys managed to connect the developers to the creation of the video, remove the perfect gameplay from the engine - and they managed to reduce the time spent on assembling the animation and assembling the captures?
It is a pity that there is no crystal ball that would predict the course of the process and give the exact (or even better - a small) number of hours needed to produce any video about any game by any development team.

The real time required to create a specific video about the game can be either 20 hours or 200. The exact calculation, which would be true for any video about any game, is hindered by the nuances. And there are dozens of them: from the specifics of a particular game and its photogenicity to the nuances of development, technical and organizational, which are unique in each case.

In light of the unpredictability of the process, in which the team is drawn in for the first time and which may take an indefinite amount of time, it is reasonable to order a video about the game at the outsource, agreeing on the cost of the video at the stage of verifying the script. In this case, you pay for the product itself - the finished video, and how many hours it takes the team of the performer to create it - this is not your headache. A gamedev team can do direct duties without changing clothes on the go from narrative designers to screenwriters and directors.

We translate into money


"Do it yourself" does not mean "do it for free." The video is made by company employees, they get paid, which means that every hour of their time costs money.

Let's try to calculate how much an average gamedev company would cost a conditional video about a conditional game.

To do this, we’ll use the study by InGame Job , which in 2019 surveyed 2,000 employees of game companies from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and calculated median salary of specialists in different positions.

The roles that game development studio employees perform in our conditional project, we will correlate with the positions mentioned in the study. To find out how much one hour of each specialist’s work costs, we divide the median monthly salary by 21 working days, and divide the resulting number by the number of hours in the working day - 8.
Project Role/Position in the InGame Job List Median Salary, $ Cost of 1 working hour, $ Time spent on video, h. Cost of hours spent on video, $
Copywriter/Narration Designer 1100 6.5 10 65
Artist/2D Artist 950 5.6 20 113
Animator 1420 8.5 50 423
Sound Engineer 1200 7.1 5 36
Project Manager 1800 10.7 30 321
Total 958

It turns out that the time spent by a conditional team to create a conditional video is equivalent to approximately 960 dollars. This does not take into account the time costs that the team needed to negotiate with each other when discussing intermediate results. Let us leave this time in brackets: the spread of time costs here is almost unpredictable, up to an order of magnitude difference, and the number of assumptions in the calculations is already approaching critical.

But there is something else that lends itself to relatively accurate calculation, and we have not yet reflected this in our calculations.

Other expenses


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Photo: Arek Socha , Pixabay

  1. Translation : $ 20. How much does it cost to translate 1000 characters from Russian into English performed by an English native speaker in the service Nitro Professional Translations . 1000 characters is just 120 words of voice acting (ideal for a minute video) and 8 short slogans.
  2. Announcer: : $ 100. Prices for voice acting depend on the volume of the text, and on the particular artist and his conditions, including the minimum cost of the order. Suppose that we have chosen an experienced announcer from the United States, who is recorded in a professional studio and whose list of services contains exactly what we need: voice-over of videos for the Internet, up to 1 minute in duration - for a fixed rate.
  3. Stock track : $ 30. There are tracks for both $ 15 and $ 50, and the price will increase many times if you need an extended license — for example, for use in a video that will be placed on TV. Let’s say we have chosen a not-so-expensive track under a standard license, which is just suitable for publishing a video on Youtube.

Add these costs ($ 150) to the previously calculated amount. $ 960 + 150= $ 1110 .

Conclusions


Creating a video on your own leads to hidden costs, which can be roughly estimated at about $ 1,000. The team will be engaged in a creative task, which can take an unpredictable number of hours, because for employees of a game development studio this type of work is not specialized.

Order an outsourced video - or do it yourself? Each gamedev team decides at its discretion.

If you decide to outsource the video, look what videos about games are made in Alconost .

And if you decide to do it yourself - do not forget to wear the bracers of a frightened nymph or other artifact that brings good luck.

About the Author


The article was written in Alconost . We have been creating advertising and educational videos for 8 years , including trailers, teasers and prerolls for games and applications. And we also do application localization , games and services in 80+ languages.

Learn more: alconost.com . Follow us on VKontakte , Facebook or Twitter to be the first to see our latest work and announcements of new publications.

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