At Hackstone, we’re big on taking big swings

No pain, no gain, some say.

When it comes to DIY video production, your pain tolerance is pretty important. Unless you’ve got a stable of experienced creatives, a full-time film crew, and the right equipment, pulling off true DIY commercials and digital video ads will be tough. 

We say “true DIY” because if you are doing video production yourself with a full in-house team, you’re probably in good shape. Chances are your creative team looks a lot more like a professional agency than a band of DIY weekend warriors.

But if you’re here because your boss told you to “figure out” how to do the company’s next commercial with half of the budget from last time, you may be considering some type of hybrid-DIY approach. 

Or if you just got your first real budget for video marketing, maybe you’re here wondering why a professional crew charges two or three times as much as the college student on Fiverr with a Canon Rebel and drag-and-drop editing software. (Shout-out to the ones with a side hustle and the college kids with a dream!)

While a DIY or hybrid-DIY approach can save you money on video production, the trade-off could leave you with lesser quality – and lower ROI if your ad doesn’t perform well. That doesn’t bode well, considering how pervasive and profitable video marketing is. 

In this article, we’ll look at instances where in-house or almost DIY video production can work well and not cause you pain. We’ll also give you our take on why you might be better off hiring a video marketing agency or creative production house. And we’ll give you a realistic view of what all these options might cost in dollars and cents.

First, let’s see what our crystal ball says about the matter:

You’re Pondering… DIY Video Production Professional Video Production
Money You’ll save some cash overall!You might blow your budget by accident anyway, though, if you’re buying your own cameras, mics, lights, etc. You’ll spend more on services but spend less on equipment and therapy.An accurate quote means you don’t run over budget.
Quality Your video will be as good as your team (or freelancer) happens to be.Mediocre equipment could water down your otherwise brilliant idea. Experience + talent will deliver better results.Top-of-the-line equipment and expertise in editing go a long way.
Time You are in complete control!Filming may be more casual and take less time. Editing/production will probably take 4x longer than you think. Pros will schedule and execute on strict timelines and deliver your video on time.Post-production will be thorough but efficient. 
Your Life Choices Whose idea was it to do an 11-minute corporate brand video anyway? Will the camera guys be weird? (Only if you want us to be!)
Video marketing production professional

DIY Video Production vs. Professional

OK by now you’re suspicious that we just thought up this article to tout the superiority of hiring people like us. Sure, we’d love to work with you! But really, we can think of plenty of times when kind-of DIY or real DIY video production is a great choice. For example:

  • There’s no money

No budget is no fun – especially because video marketing is so effective across the board. If you’re in this boat, watch some DIY tutorials to create short digital video ads and use them for marketing on social media. 

  • You’re on TikTok

The more casual and approachable, the better. For short social media videos, we recommend DIY so that you can operate on volume and show your brand’s personality. 

  • Tutorials/how-tos

A good camera and Lavalier mic, a tripod, and a solid plan are usually enough to film your product manager explaining to buyers how to avoid electrocution or poisoning or whatever CYA management you’re trying to convey.

  • Your exec likes to talk

Live chats from the CEO’s office or video snippets of her on someone’s podcast are great DIY video opportunities. Spend a little on a good lighting kit and make sure you’re saying something interesting and you’re all set!   

  • Location, location, location

If your site or office screams culture and brand, take advantage of DIY filming for short ad b-roll, employee or client interviews, and behind-the-scenes shots for video marketing purposes.  

On the other hand, there are times when you need to create marketing videos that just require a pro (or a large team). It’s a good idea to hire a video marketing firm when your needs involve special effects, VFX, or animation, for example. We also highly recommend hiring the pros when it comes to producing mini-documentaries, long brand videos, or any video for TV or streaming commercials. 

Part of working with a professional crew means you’ll have a variety of equipment for unique shots and approaches (think tracking shots, drones, ultra-high-speed footage, and macro lenses). You’ll also have stronger insights into performance and distribution success – and you may even learn that your increased sales revenue pays for the video production cost and more. 

Speaking of money, let’s talk about realistic video production costs. If you’re contemplating working with a product video agency or you’re sweating a handful of video production quotes as we speak, just relax. 

We’re pulling back the curtain for you in the section below to help you analyze the cost-benefit of DIY video production vs professional.

How Much Does it Cost To Hire Video Production?

First up, let’s say you hire someone internally (or you might fire that jerk soon and you want to know if their salary can just go to an agency). How much is that video creation agency gonna cost? 

An in-house hire for real DIY video production will get you year-round marketing and quick-turn projects for all your channels. You’re looking at around $100,000 for an experienced videographer on staff plus equipment, if you’re planning to be decent and pay your people well enough and provide some benefits, too. (Note: This figure doesn’t account for needing to replace the office espresso machine when the new guy is showing off and overheats the grinder motor).

This is, no doubt, a good value overall if you have consistent video production needs and/or might want to grow a creative team in-house so it makes sense to invest in good equipment. 

For how much you’d spend hiring one person, though, you could afford to work with an agency twice over for a standard 30-second commercial. The need for only intermittent video production with material that can be iterated for several uses is one reason companies find better value by outsourcing this work. 

Alright, now let’s say you already know you don’t want to hire anyone because you have enough problems already. A couple of those problems (the one with a communications degree and the other whose sister-in-law is an Imagineer at Disney) are going to work with a contractor on upcoming video production. What will this cost? 

For almost DIY or what we call “fast-vertising” video production services, you can expect to spend $10,000 to $20,000, depending on many factors. This figure assumes you have a producer or creative on staff who can handle or at least shepherd script development and some other tasks. In this case, you’re probably looking to save money by not hiring talent (rope your employees and clients into acting by bringing in some free food). And if you go for anything complicated – like exotic filming locations, lengthy runtime, a fancy studio, rights to music, or flashy drone shoots – you can expect to spend much more. 

In this category, you can usually save a considerable amount of money but keep in mind the main drawbacks: Iffy quality much of the time, limited creativity, short runtime, and minimal or no post-production performance reporting.

Young team of creatives on video production set

Now for the Big Reveal … 

Saving money would be nice but saving your marketing team’s quarter by producing an actually-effective ad would be nicer. Here’s what to expect in terms of video production costs if you work with a studio or creative agency:

Basic commercial filming/production: $30,000 to $40,000 for simple yet sharp testimonial campaigns like this (with several versions).

Narrative commercials: $65,000 to $85,000 for creative, slightly more complicated shoots and scripts like this. Many corporate brand videos and sales videos fall in this range.

Long-form narrative campaigns: $125,000 to $150,000 for a truly unique approach, with a longer runtime (like this) and advanced techniques or production.

Brand films: This category has the widest range as the approach and budget will vary significantly based on things like filming location, camera crew size, equipment, and post-production needs. You’re likely going to spend at least $100,000 and possibly as much as $200,000 on a signature documentary-style film that runs 40 minutes (like this) or has all the ingredients of a Netflix original (like this).

Now, please don’t print this out and bring it to our first meeting. I mean, you can do that but just bear in mind the team at Hackstone is sincere in making creative and technical recommendations with the quality of your end product top of mind. Costs will fluctuate from campaign to campaign as some require travel and hiring actors or heavy animation or VFX. And runtime looms large in the equation – not every brand film needs to be close to an hour, for instance. 

Here’s the last thing we’ll say: We’ll work really hard to give you great value and once we set a budget with you, we’ll stick to it. We joke around a good bit but we know the money stuff is serious. Hopefully, this piece helped you and your team think through how to approach your next video production project. 

If you’re in the market for commercials, digital ads, and narrative brand films, we’d love to hear from you and work together! Here’s how to get in touch with us and stop worrying about whether the contractor you found on Fiverr is going to show up at the shoot next month.