Here’s my response to an email from a friend in the Learning & Development world who is getting into making educational videos for a potential client. I’m posting this response here because I’ve given answers like this to several people, and next time I can just point them here :)
Establishing the specs of the deliverables is good to do upfront, yes. But honestly it doesn’t affect the outcome much.
Once you’re exporting, you can export in 20 different formats about as easy as 2 if you’ve set your workflow up right. The more you know about the distribution, the fewer questions you really need to ask.
Courses on an LMS? I’d plan on 720p MP4s in mono unless someone told me otherwise, and try to reduce bandwidth everyplace I could that doesn’t noticeably compromise quality. If they think they want 4K vertical videos or something silly, insist on user testing before solidifying the spec — otherwise it will likely change at the end of the project when you’re already in deep. “Interactive” isn’t really a video format, it’s typically an overlay over a series of videos. If they want that, it’s a very different project indeed. Not an LMS issue as much as a browser one.
Scoping and TESTING (with end users!) upfront are what will save you. People don’t generally want to build this into the budget because they think they know what they need. Personally, I tend to pad it in and do it anyway when no one is looking ;)
The best way to estimate the time is to make one video. Seriously, just make one. Whether the client asked for it or not, they’re never going to want to turn down looking at a sample. The content doesn’t have to be real, but the length and tone and format and graphics should be the best guess you can make. It won’t be “right” but it will help you (and them) find what right is.
Then figure you can make the second one with higher quality in 80-90% of that time, and the third one in 50-60% of the time.
Then you offer a price based on 75% of the time it took, because there will be surprises.
Hope this helps!