Animation is an effective form of communication because it uses visuals to enhance and accelerate understanding. Telling a story using motion helps you engage your audience through narration, instruction and/or explanation, and hopefully adds a bit of magic to what the viewer is seeing. You may not see much of a cost difference between using animation and using live action for your marketing video, but animation will give you the flexibility to further customize your message and the impact of the visuals presented to your audience. We'll touch on the following topics in this article:
- Length of Animation
- Style and Complexity of Animation
- Turn-Around Time
- Scale of Deliverables
- Size of Team Needed
- Audio and Sound Design Needs
So, how much does animation cost?
Many variables need to be considered when planning an animated-video project. Below are some of the factors that determine its cost.
Length of Animation:
The longer the animation, the more it will likely cost to create — though it should be noted that an increase in length doesn’t necessarily yield an equal increase in cost. The increments in cost depend on many factors, especially the amount of time invested at the beginning of the project, during pre-production. Once the team is brought up to speed on the project, the stakeholders have approved the plan, and the production is in full swing, the effort is minimized because the team is now solely focused on the animation work.
Style and Complexity of Animation:
The style of animation also factors into the cost heavily. Some types of animation are more labor intensive than others, which means they cost more. For example, if After Effects animation works for the story that is being told, it is likely going to cost less than a fully cel-animated video. If the direction for the project requires complex 3D animation and visual effects, then that would cost a lot more than 2D animation.
Time plays a fairly large role in determining the cost of creating a particular animation. If the animation team needs to be scaled up to accomplish a project in a very short time period — especially if they'll need to work around the clock and through weekends — then you should expect to pay extra in rush fees and for the additional manpower.
Scale of Deliverables:
Every animation project is different and will have different requirements, depending on the process of animation established by the studio and the client. For example, if a studio is doing the work from concept to completion (including illustration and design work), that would cost more than simply doing an animation wherein you provide the concept and artwork to the studio.
Size of Team Needed:
The details of an animation project will help define the number of artists needed to accomplish the animation. Even freelance animators will sometimes need an assistant to help complete their tasks. Larger studios will often have many more full-time team members, enabling them to assign larger teams to a project, rather than just one or two people. A single freelancer doing the animation work is going to cost less than a full studio that has a team of artists and animators doing the work.
Audio and Sound Design Needs:
Voice-over, music and sound design will be presented at a flat rate, or hard cost, as those tasks are typically handled by a vendor who specializes in that area. As a rule of thumb, there is a fee for the session and then a usage fee. Usage fees are often referred to as licensing fees or buy-out fees, and are paid to voice-over talent, musicians or actors to compensate them for the value they add to the project over a defined period. Usage fees often come at a package price, which includes session fees and usage fees combined.
Many times, budget plays a large part in determining how you’d like to tell your animated story. Be sure to consider the factors presented here, as they will help you avoid hidden costs and navigate your many cost options.
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