Estimating production times for screencasts and elearning

Screencasts and video based learning content are growing in popularity, and we’re seeing a rise in the number of enquiries for this type of content.

Estimating the time required to develop this type of content can vary quite considerably. The easiest way to estimate the time required is to use metrics based on the duration of the screencast or video.

A simple walkthrough of a task or applications screen can take between 10:1 (ten minutes to produce  one minute of a screencast) and 100:1. The most generally quoted figure we’ve seen is 30:1.

If you want to add audio to your screencast, this is likely to be closer to 200:1. That’s because you’ll probably need to write a script, record the audio, adjust the audio quality, add the audio to the animation, and so on.

If you want to include video of a presenter, this will make the presentation look more professional, but it will mean you’ll need to allocate more time to development and production. In this case, you’ll be looking at a ratio closer to 300:1.You can reduce the time by using avatars (images of a presenter) instead of a real presenter. Adobe Captivate comes bundled with sets of avatars to help you do this.

Another factor is the level of professionalism you want to achieve. It can take time and effort to produce high quality audio and video. Lighting, in particular, can be a challenge. Adding quizzes and exercises will also have a significant impact on the time required. Creating your own music bed (a musical background to the narration) will also increase the time required. In the past, we’ve purchased audio background music files under licence, as it saved time.

What’s your experience? How long does it take you to create this type of content. Please share your thoughts below.


Diana Logan

I agree with the ranges you have. I think setting a cut-off and budget for how long you want to spend is important. To help calculate this, I would look at what the life expectancy of the video is. Software videos can age very quickly. Are you prepared to spend 300:1 on a video if the feature gets a big update within 3 months? If you have videos on public-facing web sites or youtube, use the stats from past videos to help you figure out when your views “peak” and when they start to tail off. This can help to come up with a rough estimate for your return on investment per minute of video, then work backwards and adjust your time ratio/budget if necessary.


Useful article as I have a feeling that I am going to be asked for videos very soon – well, I already have and I am hiding at the moment. It seems like a daunting task. Can you recommend the best (free?!) tools? Sorry if you have already posted about this.

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