How Much Does it Actually Cost to Make a TV Commercial or Corporate Video for My Business?

While some of our videos are produced for as little as $600, others can cost tens of thousands. So why the difference?

Basically because videos come in all shapes and sizes, depending on what the client may need, there are: interview led corporate videos, property walkthroughs, event videos, TV commercials and so on. However, for our example here, let’s look at one of the more expensive types of videos, with some bells and whistles, like a TV commercial or high end corporate video – see our Tourism Korea or Sanctuary Cove videos. Roll camera!

But first, a disclaimer. These prices are for reference only and should not be quoted. Crew and equipment rates do vary depending on the type and duration of the project and may be more or less than what is stated here. Also note that when it comes to high end TV commercials, say for an international brand, budgets can go into the hundreds of thousands.

However, for our purposes here, we will be talking about local productions and from our past experience, this is a good ballpark. Also note that while some productions shoot over a number of days (or weeks), the rates here are based on a 1 day shoot.

Ok aaaaaand action!

EQUIPMENT

Cameras

Bordertown Films video camera equipment

Firstly, let’s look at cameras. With these 2 clients, we’re selling travel and lifestyle.

It’s aspirational, so it has to look premium – which means using higher end cameras and lenses. Something like an Alexa, Red or a Sony FS7 with cine lenses. These more expensive cameras shoot at higher resolutions with faster bit rates and better codecs than your prosumer cameras.

Essentially, they can capture more information and process that information more effectively, giving you richer colours, greater latitude (the amount of detail in the highlights and shadows) and ultimately produce a more pleasing image. These cameras though are not cheap, costing tens of thousands to own.

Camera Rental – $1,500

Lenses

Having nice lenses also makes a huge difference. You could write a book on the intricacies of lenses, but essentially a nice piece of glass on a camera can really lift an image.

A good lens can capture better colours, allow more light onto the camera’s sensor, give you a shallower depth of field (the distance that is in focus), affect the bokeh (the shape and detail of the out-of-focus area) and affect the sharpness of your image. Ultimately a good lens will treat the overall image with an artist’s touch and give you images that you fall in love with time and time again. However good lenses are often
more expensive, again, they can go into the tens of thousands to own.

CP2 Prime Lens kit – $500

Lights

Bordertown Films lighting equipment

Next is lights. Some people wonder why we’re bringing lights when we’re shooting in the day time. The short answer is, even when we shoot in the day, the ambient interior light is very flat and boring.

Having lights allows us to shape the light around our talents’ faces, making them more angular, more interesting or more beautiful. Lights can also help your subject stand out from the background capturing the viewer’s attention.

Another reason is if you want to try and balance the interior and exterior light . If you have an indoor scene and it looks out to a beautiful park, you may want to try and see as much of that park as possible, however if you don’t use any interior lights, the park will be over exposed, as the outdoor sunlight is so much stronger than the interior ambient light.

We therefore use lights to increase the interior exposure so it more closely matches the intense exterior sunlight.

Lighting Van – $1,000

CREW

Producer

Let’s start at the top. The Producer. Even though The Director may beg to differ, the producer is in charge of the entire production. They’re in charge of the budget (and are therefore rather scary), they approve if you really need that 40ft crane or if you can just settle for a dolly shot.

$700

Director

Next is The Director. The Director is in charge of the overall story. They’re the ones with the creative vision, the one who decides if you’ll shoot handheld at 25 fps or in B&W slow mo. They should have a fair idea of how they want the finished video to look and feel even before you all walk on set. They will work closely with the actors to make sure their performance has the right tone. They will also work closely with the DOP (he’s next) to make sure the video has the right look they’re going for. Perhaps most importantly, the director should be working closely and communicating frequently with the client, ensuring that they’re informed of what’s going on and are happy with what they see.

$2,500

DOP

Having nice cameras, lenses and lights means nothing if you don’t have someone who knows what to do with them. That’s why you need to hire a dedicated DOP or Director of Photography. They’re the ones that handle the camera and (along with the gaffer) the lights.

A good DOP is extremely important, as not only are they in charge of the technical aspects of operating the camera, but they’re also responsible for the composition of the image and the direction of the light. DOPs are extremely important when you need to achieve high production values and they charge accordingly.

$2,000

1st AD

The 1st Assistant Director is the Director’s right hand wo/man. Often the 1st AD will only be used on bigger sets like large TVCs, TV Shows and Movies. They’re responsible for the running of the set and making sure everything runs on schedule.

They’re the ones cracking the whip, hopefully with a smile.

If the sun is about to set and the Director is being indecisive or decides he needs another 3 shots, it’s the job of the 1st AD to manage the situation. They must be highly organised, have excellent communication skills and command respect.

$700

Camera & Lighting Assistants

Bordertown Films production crew

Having more lights, bigger cameras and better lenses also means having more crew to help manage and move them. That’s where our amazing camera and lighting assistants come into play. They help our DOP with the technical aspects of the camera, such as changing lenses and filters, they help wrangle data (transfer files from the camera to hard drive backups) and they help move lights and grip equipment around location. Having good assistants is extremely important in ensuring the shoot runs smoothly and on schedule.

$650

Grips

Grips are in charge of all the equipment that helps move a camera: dollies, cranes, jibs and rigs. Lifting heavy bits of steel-laden parts and machinery all day means they’re usually the strongest members of the crew and are therefore not to be messed with.

$800

Gaffers

Gaffers are the DOP’s right hand man and look after all the lights on set. Similar to grips, gaffers lug around heavy lights all day and will usually win any lunchtime arm wrestling championship.

$800

Hair and Makeup

With the clarity of the cameras nowadays, having a good hair and makeup person is imperative. There’s nothing worse than having a beautiful actor looking like they’ve just walked out of a hurricane. A good hair and makeup artist can make your attractive talent gorgeous and work miracles on the frumpy plumber you had to ring in at the last minute.

They can also help save you when your lead talent rolls up his sleeves to reveal full arm tattoos that the client hates. With a bit of time they can make those tattoos disappear!

$700

Sound(wo)man

One thing that separates amateur videos from professional is having good sound. Having crisp, clear, rich sound is crucial to producing a great piece of work. While not all productions need location sound, when you have talent speaking or multiple actors in a scene, sound peeps are a must-have.

$900

Talent

Having the right talent can make or break your production. Usually they’re the focus of every video, therefore it’s super important to ensure you get the right ones. Not only do they have to have the right look, they also have to be able to give the performance you need, particularly if you’re doing comedy or drama.

However for these purposes, let’s use the example of a lifestyle TV commercial – someone who
looks good, acts naturally and knows where to hit the mark.

$600 (Non-agency talent)

Editors

Bordertown Films video editing

While filmmaking does attract a certain amount of geekery, editors are usually the geekiest of the lot. Often with pale skin and bad backs from hours seated over a bunch of computer monitors, they’re the ones who take days’ worth of raw footage and piece it into a 30sec or 1-3min masterpiece. While there are a lot of editors in the world, good ones are a dime a dozen and are an essential element in the filmmaking process.

Editors are the major cog in the wheel of what we call Post-Production, because it’s after the production’s shoot. As well as the offline edit (assembling and structuring the footage into a coherent story), you also have online editing, which is the finishing touches such as colour grading, sound design and motion graphics. This process can take days or weeks depending on the type of project. Post-production could take
up a whole post in itself, but for these purposes, let’s just focus on the editor for this example.

$700/day

Ok so let’s add it all up:

Camera Equipment – $2,000
Lighting Equipment – $1,000

Crew
Director – $2,500
DOP – $2,000

Producer – $700
Grip – $800
Gaffer – $800
CA’s – $700
Soundie – $900
Hair & Makeup – $700
Talent – $600
Editor x 4 days – $2,800
$15,500

Keep in mind, that’s what it costs the production company, before they add their margin to keep the lights on. Also as mentioned above, it’s for a 1 day shoot and is a very rough example. There may be other costs in a production such as: Writers and Concept Development, Catering, Transport, Wardrobe, Location Scouts, Casting Directors and so on.

Well that’s it, hope that gives you an idea of how costs are calculated when producing a video. As we mentioned earlier, this is for a lifestyle TV commercial with nice production values. Something like the examples found here.

If you’re after a more simple, interview-led corporate video, the cost will be far less, as you won’t need as much equipment or crew. If you’re not sure what you need, don’t hesitate to contact us or give us a call just to have a chat, we’re really cool (mum says so anyway).