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How Much Does It Cost to Make a Commercial Video?

Back in the day, professional video production services used to be pretty expensive. Every aspect, from pre-production to editing, required top-level tools and knowledge. Nowadays, the market offers a wide range of options. In addition, it’s not that hard to make a video yourself, having only basic skills and cheap equipment.

While you’re counting the potential costs of outsourcing the production of a commercial clip to a third-party company, online videos are becoming a major game-changer in marketing. Thanks to rapid technological progress, the cost of hiring a production team has dropped. Of course, the final result greatly depends on how much you’re willing to pay, but most companies today can guarantee a decent quality of a finished product. This video production pricing guide will help you figure out the cost of an average commercial clip.

Video Production Cost: What's It Made of?

So, how much does video production cost these days? The answer to this question always depends on the amount of work that needs to be done. Here’s what drives the cost of a professionally made commercial video aside from crew salaries, equipment, and editing.

Scenery, Film Sets, and Actors

The scenery and film sets used in the project can bring the price of the final product up significantly. For instance, the script might involve some complex staged scenes, including expensive special effects and hard-to-reach spots (maybe you’re planning to shoot somewhere in mountains or underwater). And keep in mind that you might have to involve professional actors in your video if needed. Depending on the scope of the project, you can lower the cost by hiring university students or graduates.

Script

Any high-quality video product starts with a good script. It can be both simple and complex – it’s up to you to choose. If you wish, a professional team can undertake all the work on the development of the script. For this, every self-respecting company has professional scriptwriters in their staff. This can be slightly more expensive than you expect, so the final video cost might surprise you (not in a good way). If you already have a script, though, you can scratch this point off the costs list.

Video Type

Depending on the type of video you want to get in the end, the cost may also rise or drop. For instance, if you want a fully animated commercial clip instead of a standard video with actors and all that, you need a team with an absolutely different set of skills. Interview clips require a bit less effort than a full-fledged commercial video, like those you see on TV, so they end up cheaper too.

Computer Graphics and Animation

Practically not a single modern blockbuster or even an advertisement clip on TV can do without a bit of basic animation and computer graphics. The graphics will certainly make your video look professional, but it's not that cheap. With a reasonable approach to graphics, you can reduce the cost of it, while not losing the product’s quality.

Production Time

In your case, a shooting day is a unit of measurement. The number of shooting days depends directly on the complexity of the project. So shooting a simple 2-minute clip won’t be too pricey, but an ambitious project involving actors and complex scenery might be too heavy on the wallet.

Talent

Naturally, the more talented the crew you hire for your project, the better the final result. Just like in any other sphere, in commercial video production, high-skilled and experienced professionals ask more for their services.

Transport and Accommodation

When working outside the limits of your city or even in another state, the video cost will include additional expenses for transportation and accommodation of the film crew. Consider that as well.

If you can handle some of the tasks, like script writing, location scouting, and so on, you should consider hiring a freelance team to help you implement your ideas. This can greatly lower the costs if your budget is tight.

Video Production Crew

A good script won’t write itself, and even the most advanced equipment can’t shoot videos on its own. To create a masterpiece, you’re going to need a crew.

Producer

The producer is the skeleton of the whole team that coordinates the work of every member, from managers to gaffers.

Director

Well, you’ve already guessed what the director does. This person is the star of any project, and every other crew member revolves around them. The director and producer get the biggest cut, but that’s not surprising, as the success of your commercial video almost fully depends on them.

Camera Operator

No camera operator, no video. This person works under the director’s guidance. They’re responsible for every detail captured on camera.

Pre-Production Manager

That’s the person who keeps everything under control during pre-production. “Everything” usually includes keeping the equipment ready for shooting, scheduling every task of the project, and budget management. A good manager brings the video production cost up but saves a lot of time.

Post-Production Manager

Post-production manager keeps every other crew member responsible for video editing in touch with each other to make sure no one misses anything.

Video Editor

Video editors turn all those bits of raw footage the operator captures into a video, so their job is just as important. They also add sounds and music (if needed) to the clip.

Visual Effects Producer

Visual effects producers are responsible for visualizing the video’s scenes before they’re shot, giving the client the idea of what the project will look like.

Gaffer

You can’t shoot a decent video without proper lighting, and that’s where the gaffer comes in. This person’s job is to design the lighting plan and manage the equipment.

Drone Pilot (If Needed)

In case you need a breathtaking view, a drone pilot will shoot it for you. You might think that drones are just toys even a kid would be able to control. But in fact, drone pilots have to undergo special training and even get a license to shoot in certain places. The more skilled the drone pilot, the bigger the video production cost.

Video Production Salary

There are four major aspects that define the average salary of a production crew: experience, equipment, region, and market. If you’re planning to shoot a stunning commercial clip, you’ll need some high-quality tools and a team with a lot of expertise in the field. Naturally, the price of the clip will rise, so as the crew’s salary per project. Rates can vary significantly, but here are the average daily salaries of different crew members.

Director

Since the whole project depends on this person, their rate is the biggest. The typical video director salary is around $650-$2,000 per day.

Producer

Coordinating the job of the crew and keeping everyone busy isn’t an easy task, so the video producer salary can reach $700-$2,000 per one day.

Commercial Video Editor

Next up is the one who stands behind the camera. The average video editor salary is between $400 and $1,000.

Gaffer

Skilled gaffers don’t make as much as other crew members, though their job is no less important. They get around $300-$600.

Drone Operator

As mentioned above, drone pilots do much more than you think. Their skills cost approximately $500-$1,400 per day.

Involving hosts or actors will increase the costs. But if you’re not doing a top-quality ad for TV, friends, family members, or employees will cope with those roles perfectly.

Video Editing Cost

You can get a brilliant director who will ensure the best-quality footage ever. But hand it to bad editors, and they’ll distort it beyond recognition. So when it comes to the video production cost, it’s better not to save on quality editing, especially if you need a short commercial clip.

Video editing usually includes putting the pieces of raw footage together; adding menus or chapters (if needed); working with motion graphics (any title or logo you want to be featured in the video); adding voiceovers and music; polishing the picture (adjusting color, contrast, and brightness); stabilizing the image in some takes (if needed), and so on. But these aren’t the major factors that define the cost of editing. Here’s what editor’s salary largely depends on.

Video Type

Not only vloggers benefit from entertaining videos. Businesses can also attract attention with a short funny clip promoting their products or services. But the most popular option for a commercial video is the “explainer” video showcasing the product, accompanied by a voiceover. Such clips are cheaper, as they take less time to edit. Once you decide on the type of project you want to get, you’ll be able to determine the cost of editing more precisely.

Video Length

Obviously, the longer the video, the more it will cost you. It takes a lot of time and effort to sit through hours of footage, put it together, and make it look watchable. Apart from that, longer videos mean more time spent on polishing it, setting the right color, putting voiceovers where they should be, adding music, and performing lots of smaller tasks so you could draw the viewer’s attention with the final result.

In general, depending upon the editor’s skills, type of the clip, and its length, professional video editing rates for a 2-3 video range from $75 to $150 per hour.

Low-Cost Video Editing Software

Let’s say you want to do the editing yourself and cut the costs. To create a commercial clip, a home movie, or a professional video with your own hands, you need the right tools. Luckily, there are dozens of decent programs out there, so all you need is to pick one that suits you. Here’s the best low-cost video editing software.

AVS Video Editor

This one is almost as good as professional programs, but it’s easier to work with and costs less. The developers did their best to get you acquainted with the program fast and left a lot of links you can follow to learn all the nuances. But the editor’s UI is simple enough to figure out in a few minutes. The program combines utilities for capturing video from a camera or a screen, cutting, processing, editing, recording, and adding audio tracks. You’ll get a variety of transition effects, filters, and all sorts of settings.

Pinnacle Studio

Pinnacle Studio is another professional video editing tool. Its functionality isn’t worse than that of Adobe products, but the principles of work, as well as menu and visualization,  are somewhat different. You can download the trial version of the program for free and test it for 30 days. And then decide whether you want to stick to it or try another tool.

CyberLink PowerDirector

CyberLink PowerDirector is a professional video editor that allows for editing, recording streams, cutting and converting captured video, replacing audio tracks, as well as creating full-fledged DVDs, Blu-Rays with menus, etc. With it, even an amateur can process video that usually takes professionals to work on. The interface is clear, the possibilities are extensive, but the license costs a bit higher than that of the previous two programs. If you’re ready to fork out, video editing will turn into pleasure.

Video Equipment Cost

The best thing about modern video production is that you can simply create a short clip, having your own equipment. Technologies become more and more affordable, so if you want to shoot a simple promotional video, you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars on high-end tools. So, what will you need apart from a camera?

Tripod ($20-$200)

The main rule in video production is to keep the camera steady all the time. Some modern recorders already have decent built-in stabilization, but they usually bring the video camera cost up to a few grand. That’s why most filmmakers prefer using a tripod or monopod when working. In case you’re planning to shoot a dynamic clip, tilting and rotating the camera, you’ll need a tripod with a fluid head. There are also other types of tripods with special features, but they cost too much and require some expertise. So a $100 dollar tool will fit your needs perfectly.

Backdrop ($50-$300)

Instead of wasting hours looking for a perfect spot for a shoot, just get some backdrop and add any scenery you want, from car traffic to Martian deserts. Be ready to spend at least $70-$100, but there are also cheaper options.

Lighting (Around $300)

When shooting in a room or studio, plain daylight won’t be enough. You’re going to need more control over the lighting. The good news is that you don’t have to purchase expensive professional kits – simple five in one reflectors should be enough. Working with them, you’ll learn more about the general rules of lighting during video shoots. If you plan to film on the go, consider buying some LED lamps, though they usually aren’t cheap. All in all, you probably won’t have to spend more than $250-$300.

Quality sound ($140-$220)

Unless you’re OK with traffic noise or studio echo, you’ll need to get a lapel or rifle microphone. A good video should not only look but sound professional too.

Low-Cost Video Cameras

No matter how good your smartphone is, its camera doesn’t fit for commercial video production. If you’re looking for a budget solution, check out these recorders.

Hausbell HDV-5052 ($120)

How much does a video camera cost in your opinion? We mean, a pro camera for commercial videos. A lot! An average cost is around $3,000. This little thing should work for an amateur video producer, and it costs almost 30 times cheaper. You can even control it remotely. It’s not that good at zooming but should manage close-ups.

Seree HDV-S33-FBA ($120)

This camera doesn’t need too much light to provide a decent picture. One of its main pluses is a convenient touchscreen. And just like the previous one, it also allows for shooting remotely, so you won’t even need a helping hand.

Sony HDRCX405 ($190)

This cutie is much more powerful than it looks. Despite its size, it offers more features than its pricier competitors. It’s probably the best option in case you need to shoot outdoors.

Canon Vixia HF R800 ($195)

This one is a bit more expensive, and if you compare the shots taken by the Canon Vixia and the previous two cameras, you’ll see why. It offers the best lens in its class, providing some decent quality for its price.

Panasonic HC-V180K ($198)

This one is the best low-cost video camera on this list. For its price, it even offers image stabilization, so it’s perfect for making videos on the go. Its monitor is also a touchscreen, which makes it easier to operate.

Bottom line

How much does video production cost? With so many factors and potential pitfalls, it’s impossible to tell for sure. Aside from the type of video, production crew expertise, and your region, the costs largely depend on you and your vision of the project. Just plan the budget for the clip and stick to it to avoid any unwanted expenses.