It’s undeniable, online video advertising keeps growing every year. Every day more and more people are interacting with online video ads.
If you have ever looked into hiring a video production company or film studio to create a video for you, you probably noticed they can be quite expensive. That encounter may have made you think…why don’t I just do this myself?
Shooting a great video ad yourself isn’t easy. It requires creative thinking and great equipment. If you don’t have the right gear for the job, your video is not going to deliver the value you are looking for.
Identifying the right gear for the job can be difficult, especially if you don’t have prior experience with film equipment. We have compiled this list to identify exactly what you need to film a great video ad. When it comes to purchasing equipment, budget is always the biggest limiting factor. Because of this, we have created three complete production setups at different price points.
Baller On A Budget (Under $2,000)
If you’re working with a really tight budget, you can still hack together a decent video. Cheaper low end equipment requires a lot more work from you, but lets you keep some extra green in the wallet.
If you want to produce a video as cheaply as possible, an iPhone 8 Plus is the way to go. We recommend the 8 plus because of its different aperture settings. Here is a video that will give you an example of some great wide and close-up cinematic shots taken with an iPhone 8 Plus.
Wide and close angle shots are something you are going to want to include in your video, but don’t use the standard zoom function on your iPhone. You’re going to want a great camera app that allows you to manually adjust all your cameras settings. Filming on auto settings with your default camera app will leave you with lackluster results at best. Invest in an app like Filmic Pro, its only $10 and will give you full control of your phones camera.
After your camera is all set up, you’re going to need some audio.
The best audio set up really depends on the style of video you plan to shoot. If you are filming an interview style video, then the lavalier Rode mic is a great option that will allow you to record directly to your phone through an app.
However, if you are planning a more dynamic type of commercial you will want a mic like the Tascam DR-40. Attaching the Tascam to a pole and using it like a boom mic with give you much more versatility with your sound editing in post production.
Decent lightning equipment is the final piece of the puzzle.
At the bare minimum you need to invest in a soft box lighting set like this one.
Having full control of your light sources from multiple areas of a production is an essential. How your subjects are lit will have a huge impact of the final quality of your video. Don’t forget your lights need power. Pick up a power bar and some cheep extension cords to ensure your lights have juice in every location.
As far as audio, lighting, and camera set-ups go, this is pretty much as bare-bones as it gets. However, you’re probably going to want some sort of a stabilizer to make your life a lot easier. A tripod or Phone Gimbal like the DJI OSMO will make your shots much more smooth and fluid.
You are also going to need somewhere to store your video footage after you finish filming. An external hard drive is a must, if you don’t plan on doing tons of filming the Seagate 1TB Expansion Portable External Hard should be more than enough.
You’re probably looking at about $1000 to get started if you already have the camera phone you want. All of these tools will help you produce a decent quality video on a very low budget.
The “Semi Pro” ($3,500-$5,000)
If you don’t want to shoot your ad on a smartphone, the process gets a little more complex. Its very possible to find a great deal on a good camera at a low cost, but they all need extra lenses and add-ons that start to shoot up the price. Below I have broken down how to get the best video quality without completely breaking the bank.
If filming with your phone isn’t for you, the next level up is an affordable DSLR camera. When comparing the specs and price points of dozens of mid-tier cameras, the Panasonic GH4 is a clear winner when shooting commercial video in an environment with controlled lighting.
The camera itself will set you back about $1,000 bucks, but you will also need some extra lenses. You can find cinema lens package deals for about $1,500. This will cover most of your film needs.
With the GH4 you can film in 4k, which is amazing film quality for most production jobs. The Panasonic GH4 also features a pop out, tilt screen, and has the ability to film at 60fps for slow motion shots. Overall this camera is very easy to use, and has great quality, at a great price point.
You’re going to want to go with the Tascam DR-40 in this price bracket. With the Tascam you will have the quality and versatility to complete most recording tasks.
For Lighting, we recommend stepping your game up to an LED setup. Using a light set up like the Neewer high powered LED’s will give you far more options while filming. They are around $200 and will get the job done.
A solid tripod and gimbal are “must have” tools that will bring your video project to the next level. We highly recommend picking up a Manfrotto tripod ($80) , and a stabilizer like the Zhiyun Crane ($550). A tripod and stabilizer will drastically increase the quality of your shots.
Shooting in 4k takes up a lot more space than traditional HD video. Upgrade your 1TB external hard-drive to a 4TB version. With an investment of about $120 you will get four times the storage space at just about double the cost.
Again, don’t forget, having a few extra memory cards and batteries is never a bad idea.
Professional Level ($7,500-$10,000)
Shooting a professional video requires equipment that is considerably more expensive. A large portion of the cost increase in this bracket comes from the camera itself. Top of the line camera bodies, lenses, and drones cost a TON, but are totally worth it. Here are the tools you will need to make it happen.
The Sony A7s ii is a great choice for professional quality video at a fair price point. Picking up this camera body with a Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens will cost you about $4,000. The Sony A7sii is full frame, and has a 12 megapixel sensor that has the best low light performance on the market. This camera shoots 4k internally and has tons of unique settings such as face tracking, giving you more options than other camera platforms
Arial footage from a drone like the Phantom 4 pro will transform your video. Auto tracking, 4k camera, aperture control, and a 4 mile flight range are just a few reasons the Phantom 4 pro is our go to choice for aerial video, and photography. High quality drones like this one will increase your budget by about $1,500, but will make your video extremely more engaging.
Recording audio at the professional level requires a high quality recorder such as the Zoom h5. The combined setup of this recorder, a boom pole, and a Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun mic will run you about $750, and give you complete control over audio production. You will be able to hold your microphone in the exact positions needed, and adjust your sound levels remotely.
Lighting doesn’t change too much, until you scale into equipment that requires a team to operate. We recommend grabbing the lighting from both the “semi pro” and “baller on a budget” packages. This will give you the luxury of having both conventional and battery powered video production lighting.
For filming at the professional level, a high grade stabilizer is a must. You should pick up the DJI Ronin-M 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer. This gimbal does a great job with the Sony, and will work good for almost any other camera you might end up using. The Ronin offers considerably more versatility than the Zjiyun and is designed for cameras that weigh up to 8lbs.
For storage, you should be safe with the same 4TB set up listed in the previous section. We would recommend picking up a case for all of your gear. It will help protect your equipment and make transportation a lot easier. With all of this equipment you will be set up for success shooting almost any type of commercial you desire.
At the end of the day the equipment you choose to record with will greatly determine the end quality of your video. Your needs may vary based on the specific type of video you are choosing to produce, but this list is a good basis to start with.
Yeah, yeah, yeah……there are always more expensive and better options out there, like the $50,000 dollar 8k RED. The packages we have listed provide practical options that give you the most bang for your buck.