Commercial video production cost breakdown
The world of video production is vast and varied, encompassing a wide range of projects from simple, budget-friendly options to expansive, high-budget commercial productions. Understanding the spectrum of video production tiers is essential for businesses, content creators, and marketers as they plan and execute their video strategies. This article serves as a guide to navigate the differences between affordable video production and comprehensive commercial productions, shedding light on their unique characteristics and requirements.
Peeling back the cost layers
Commercial video production is a multi-phase journey starting with pre-production, which encompasses brainstorming, scripting, and planning; followed by production, the actual shooting of the commercial; and finally, post-production, where the footage is edited, sound is mixed, and visual effects are added. This intricate process combines creativity, technical skill, and strategic planning, forming a foundational framework that explains the substantial costs associated with creating compelling commercial content.
The proliferation of digital platforms has sparked a creative renaissance in commercial video production. With the barriers to entry lower than ever, brands, big and small, have the freedom to experiment with unconventional formats, styles, and narratives. This has led to a surge in innovative and boundary-pushing content that not only entertains but also engages audiences in meaningful ways.
Pre-production: The strategy behind the scenes
Pre-production might seem like the calm before the storm, but it's where strategic and creative decisions are made. It involves tasks such as concept development, storyboarding, location scouting, and casting. Each step requires expertise and time, contributing to the overall cost. For instance, securing the perfect location might involve permits and rental fees, while casting the right talent can include audition processes and casting agency fees.
Role Description Salary (per day)
Producer Oversees the entire project, from planning to execution. £350-£500
Director Responsible for the artistic aspects of the video. £400-£600
Scriptwriter Crafts the video's narrative or message. £300-£500
Storyboard Artist Creates visual representations of the script. £250-£400
Location Scouting Finds suitable locations for filming. £200-£400
Casting Director Selects actors or models. £250-£500
Production Designer Designs and oversees sets and locations. £250-£500
Total (per day) Approximate cost for pre-production services. £2000-£3400+
Production: The price of perfection
The production phase is where the concept comes to life. This stage is visibly resource-intensive, requiring a crew of directors, camerapersons, lighting technicians, and more. High-quality equipment rental or purchase—ranging from cameras and lighting to cranes for aerial shots—further inflates the budget. Additionally, logistics like transportation, meals, and accommodation for on-location shoots add up, making production a major expenditure bucket.
Role Description Salary (per day)
Director of Photography (DoP) Oversees the visual aspects of the film. £450-£700
Camera Operator Operates the camera under the DoP's direction. £250-£500+
Sound Technician Manages audio recording and equipment. £250-£500+
Lighting Technician Manages the lighting setups. £200-£500
Production Designer Designs and oversees sets and locations. £250-£500
Wardrobe/Makeup Manages costumes and makeup for actors. £150-£500+
Equipment Rental Quality and quantity of equipment needed. £500-£5,000+
Location Fees Varies widely depending on the location. Variable
Permits and Insurance Necessary for filming, costs can vary. £500-£2,000
Medic (per day) Required for bigger productions. £350-£400+
Catering Food and beverages for crew and cast per day. £10-£20/person
Logistics Equipment delivery, crew travel. £100-£300+
Total (per day) Total fee for the production stage. £3,500-£13,000+
Post-production: The art of finishing touches
Post-production is where the raw footage is polished into a final product. This phase involves editing, color correction, special effects, and sound design, each requiring specialized software and skilled professionals. The painstaking attention to detail and hours of labor necessary to refine the video justify the significant investment in this phase.
Role Description Salary (per day)
Editor Edits the footage to create the final video. £300-£500+
Sound Editor Edits and mixes the audio tracks. £300-£500+
Colorist Adjusts the color grading to enhance the visual style. £200-£400
Visual Effects (VFX) Artist Creates digital effects. £300-£500
Motion Graphics Designer Creates animated graphical elements. £250-£400
Why does it cost so much?

  • Talent and expertise: From directors to editors, the human talent involved in video production commands high salaries due to their expertise and experience.
  • High-quality equipment: The technology used in commercial production is top-notch, ensuring high production values. Renting or purchasing this equipment is a substantial cost factor.
  • Complex logistics: Organising a shoot, especially in multiple locations, involves intricate logistics management, from securing locations to coordinating travel, all of which require budget allocation.
  • Post-production precision: The post-production process is time-consuming and requires precision. Special effects and color grading demand high-end software and the professionals capable of using them effectively.

Affordable commercial video production

Package Minimum - £1,000

  • 1 Videographer for 3 Hours: This time frame allows for the setup, filming, and de-rigging of equipment. It's sufficient for capturing straightforward, focused content without requiring extensive location changes or setups.
  • 1 Camera: A professional-grade camera capable of capturing high-definition video.
  • 1-3 Lighting sources: Basic lighting setup to ensure the subject is well-lit and to enhance video quality.
  • Simple audio equipment: Essential audio recording equipment, such as lapel mics or a shotgun mic, to ensure clear sound quality.

Additional costs you might face

  1. Editing: £200-£500
  2. Drone footage: £400-£600
  3. BTS (Behind-the-scenes) photographer: £200-£500
  4. Studio rental: £100-£800 per day
  5. Additional lighting and equipment: £50-£300
  6. Voiceover talent: £250-£500
  7. Music licensing: £50-£1,000
  8. Motion graphics and animation: £300-£3,000
  9. Actors/Models: £100-£500 per day
  10. Makeup and wardrobe: £150-£400
Cost-saving tips for commercial video production

1. DIY pre-production: Handle conceptualisation, scripting, and storyboarding in-house to clarify your vision without the extra expense.
2. Smart location scouting: Opt for free or low-cost locations such as your home, a friend’s property, or public spaces. Always secure necessary permissions.
3. Use your network for talent: Recruit friends or followers as actors/extras to add authenticity and save on costs. Ensure agreements are in place for using their likeness.
4. Outsource editing creatively: Hire talented, emerging editors looking to build their portfolios for competitive rates and fresh perspectives.
5. Don’t compromise on production quality: Invest in professional production quality and expertise. High-quality equipment and experienced crew are crucial for a video that effectively conveys your message.
For businesses and creatives eager to produce commercial videos in a cost-effective manner, there are strategic steps you can take to significantly reduce expenses without compromising the impact of your final product. While professional production quality is non-negotiable, there are aspects of the production process where savvy planning and resourcefulness can stretch your budget further. Here's how you can save on costs without cutting corners on quality.
Affordable commercial video production in London is not only possible but can also result in content that engages and inspires. By focusing on clear objectives, efficient planning, local resources, and smart post-production strategies, businesses can create compelling videos that resonate with their audience without overspending. Partnering with a video production company like We Stream, which prides itself on striking the perfect balance between affordability and quality, can be the key to unlocking the potential of your next video project.
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