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Is a professional video expensive?

Conservation videographer in Ontario Canada

Is a professional video expensive?

It’s not unusual to have an email inquiry come in to the office inbox and the first sentence is “How much does a video cost?”

The one ingredient missing from that approach is considering that quality matters too. No email has ever arrived in the inbox asking for a poor quality video at the cheapest cost possible.

There are many factors that impact the cost of environmental visual storytelling (equipment, location, hours, etc.). Just remember that if you want a win-win solution, the goal shouldn’t be to create more lower quality content for your organization. That’s what your smartphone is for. You use it to wing it and pump out a quantity of minimally edited staff-generated quick clips. Instead, when you are looking to complement your video efforts on a more professional level, you should use your budget to produce fewer, but more effective, high-quality conservation videos. Producing dozens of low-cost and low-quality videos can hurt your organization’s brand image. However, investing in quality can create video content that ages well and creates value for your conservation organization.

Quality over Quantity

Video is everywhere today. Billions of hours of video content gets uploaded every day. Most is low-quality and amateur. Think all those cat videos! And it is a crowded space. Reaching eyeballs is challenging.

So it’s no surprise that some people in some organization question why video even matters. But it does. High-quality storytelling content made by professionals with professional equipment enhances your brand. And, yes, it can stand out from all the low-quality amateur videos.

The old cliche Quality, Not Quantity certainly is valid when it comes to video production. Churning out an endless stream of low-quality smartphone videos can make your brand image appear amateurish. Professional video is an investment because it lasts longer and it converts better. Every video you produce should tell an original story. And when they are filmed professionally, these stories will have interesting visuals, personality, and voice. This requires a higher production budget.

How Much Does Video Cost?

It depends. That’s not a deliberately vague answer. There are many, many factors affecting cost. While video production costs more than any other content medium, it’s often the most effective. If you want people to watch your video, you have to produce a video that’s worth watching.

If you create a good video production brief you will help outline your goals of the video and define the scope of your conservation video project. It will also help you – and the videographer — determine the best way to go about production with your budget in mind.

Specialists in environmental visual storytelling have been there and done it many times, so can be sure that field experience will ensure you get an accurate project quote.

Factors That Go Into Video Costs 

If you’re looking for a detailed answer about how much your video will cost, then here are some factors that go into rates:

Video Type:

The cost of video production depends on what type of video you would like to produce. A video explaining your organization may require different production skills than a cinematic video shot in the field featuring your employees doing conservation work. Do we need to travel in a canoe to the filming location? (P.S. That does actually happen sometimes). Do you need aerial footage? Do you need footage filmed of a specific species (or can we source it through other means)? Are multiple locations required for filming? The higher-quality video you need, the more you can expect to spend.


The duration of the video that you would like does factor into video cost. A one minute video will require less footage, less filming time, and less edits and production time vs a five minute video. Generally, our experience tells us that about 20 video clips are needed for every one minute of video duration.


If in-person location scouting is needed, that takes time and possibly travel expenses depending on distance. Sometimes we can scout landscapes using Google Earth. If permits are required, that takes time. If you require meetings and storyboarding, that takes time.


Does the videographer work solo, or is there a crew? Two extra people doubles the cost. Three extra people triples the cost. A half-day shoot for a solo videographer could cost $350-$500. A three-person crew could be $1500-$2500 for a half day.

If you need to hire talent (ie. actors, narrators, or hosts), that will cost extra. But the odds are you won’t have to do this. Most conservation organizations that we work with mostly use employees or supporters in their videos.


Most professional videographers charge by the hour, half-day or full day.


Conservation videographers factor many things into setting their rates. One of those factors is equipment. Video equipment is very, very expensive. Editing software is expensive (we don’t use Windows Movie Maker). Specialists will have the right equipment for the video work that they specialize in. Yes, even having hipwaders, a canoe and kayak. Rates help us cover the cost of purchasing and upgrading equipment every year. And trust us, these equipment costs really add up. But the good news is that investing in our own equipment over the long run, helps us avoid going the rental equipment route for each project and passing that eexpensive rental cost onto to each project. By owning our own equipment, we can save money and be more flexible. We can also scale up which of our equipment we use, or scale down, depending on your budget.


Most of the work that goes into producing a high-quality conservation video is done in the post-production phase. Generally, you can expect post-production work to be 2x to 3x the number of hours required for filming. Example: If filming takes two hours, then production will take four to six hours. That’s up to eight hours in total for the project. During the production step, your video will go through cuts, story editing, adding titles and graphics, sound editing, colour grading, and several rounds of uploading drafts for review and feedback.

Remember, it all begins with starting conversations to find a way forward to get the quality video that you need to accomplish the goals you desire, while keeping your budget in mind.

Gregg McLachlan
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