Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants

Why are there no cost reductions in TVC production since going digital?

Film vs digital TVC

This post is by Clive Duncan a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. As a Director and DOP he has an appreciation for the value of great creative and outstanding production values, while also recognising the importance of delivering value for money solutions to the advertiser.

When did we stop using film? Not many of us really know as there has been no change to the on-air image quality of our TVCs since we all switched to digital movie cameras.

So the passing of the 35mm film camera has come and gone without a major disruption to the industry or the way we work on set or in post-production.

What has happened is that the digital camera and filmless post-production has brought change to the production process, but it would seem no cost reductions. Why is this so?

Why are there no cost reductions since going digital?

Firstly, there are no film stock costs included in the budget. Typically up to $10,000 would be allowed for film stock and processing for a 30 second TVC.

Now a director does not have to worry about the film budget and curtail the number of takes they indulge in. Unfortunately this has become a double edged sword as the director who does take after take, runs the risk of getting behind in his or her schedule.

This can have major consequences at the end of the day when the light is failing and there are still several scenes to shoot. It is still the job of the producer and 1st assistant director to make sure this does not happen.

With digital cameras the camera crew does not have to worry about having the right film stock and filters to suit. They do not have to worry about running out of film half way through a take, changing magazines, noisy magazines on a sound shoot or film scratches occurring in sandy or dirty locations.

Digital cameras weigh less than film cameras requiring less man power to get them into position for various setups. This means a 3 man grip crew could be reduced to a 2 man crew, even more savings. Tricky special effects shots can now be previewed on set or location. The advantages and cost savings that can be obtained in the digital capture stage of production grow every day.

In postproduction, the need for an expensive standalone telecine suite has been done away with. Now, colour grading can be done at on-line stage at significantly reduced cost. Now a suitcase editor can colour grade edit and on-line at the agency.

These suitcase editors do not carry the baggage and expense of bricks and mortar overheads. The cost of archiving 1000’s of feet of film has disappeared along with other costs associated with the old film model.

Why has management and price remained stagnant?

But what has not changed is the way we all manage the production process and what also has remained stagnant is the price we pay. We often hear the axiom, “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it”.

If this were the case then we would all be using fixed line telephones and working in offices with secretaries and typing pools. With new technology comes new opportunities for the way we manage our lives and our businesses.

Take responsibility for the production of the media you require

I personally believe it is time to step up and take some responsibility for the production of the media you require, rather than leaving it in the hands of advertising agencies and their myriad third party suppliers who all have a personal interest in maintaining the status quo.

The best way to do this is engage an industry expert who has no vested interest in the outcome and get their overview and suggestions regarding a more efficient and cost effective way to improve your production outcomes.

This may require multi-skilling your existing personnel or employing or subcontracting a specialist that will take charge of the multiple third party suppliers and substantially reduce your production costs – a small investment for a good return.

Some advertisers are already doing this with great results. After buying media, production is the next largest cost. Senior marketing management, CEOs, CFOs and procurement all need to discuss the possibilities.


To find our how TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants can help you further with this, click here.

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    Clive has spent all his working life in the film and television industry and was invited to join the TrinityP3 team as their TV production senior consultant. Clive has the unique advantage of having hands on experience at almost every level of TVC production and understands the complex relationships required to produce creative and cost effective TVCs. View Clive's full bio here

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