Ah…animated explainer videos! Over the past few years, they’ve become ubiquitous online, and for good reason—they’re a quick, fun way to explain something to an inquiring website viewer. I mean, why peruse the “about me” section when you can watch 90 seconds of smoothly keyframed goodness? Reading is SO 2003…
Okay…okay, but let’s get down to the nitty gritty: how many shekels will one of these bad boys set you back?
Well, as someone who makes a living working in freelance video production and does a lot of motion graphic/animation work, I get this question a lot, so I’m going to do my best to try and eliminate the mystery and answer it. As a little disclaimer, keep in mind that every animator and project is different. But, enough stalling, on to the numbers!
All in, you can expect to spend around $2,000 to $6,000 per minute of animation.
“But, Ivan,” you say, “That’s crazy! My nephew’s hairdresser’s cousin has a fancy computer and he only charges a couple hundred dollars for his animation work.”
To that I reply, “Bully for your nephew’s hairdresser’s cousin.”
Let me try to breakdown the sticker shock a bit. First off, it’s important to realize that the freelancer you’re hiring is doing a lot more than just the animation work—he’s crafting an entire graphic framework on which to build the video. He’s potentially editing audio and constructing sound design. He’s drawing vectors and illustrations. He’s coordinating your voice over artist. He’s building style frames and storyboards. He could even be writing the script as well. Additionally, us motion designers have to account for the revision process. Even with storyboards, we never get it all right with the first pass. When your boss’s boss finally gets some time to watch it, I can guarantee she’ll have changes.
Beyond all that, though, you should realize that animation itself is very hard work. It’s time consuming, requiring both tremendous patience and creativity. Yes, I realize that computers and software have become quite powerful; there still isn’t a “magically animate” button. Making good stuff takes time. Plain and simple.
Currently, my day rate is roughly $600 dollars (I say roughly because in the world of freelance, nothing is set in stone). So, let’s say that I work on your 60 second explainer video for five days—that’s $3000 for a single week of work. Suddenly, you can see how that initial price range I provided makes sense.
Now, you probably want to know, what sets a $2000 per minute animation apart from a $5000 per minute animation? Again, there are no black and white answers. Mainly it has to do with complexity. Moving icons on the screen is a much simpler task than…say…character animation or dealing with 3D motion graphics with advanced lighting and models. The more complex things get, the more things cost. Of course, to help this process along, I always advocate for you to be a “good client.” What does that mean? Well, the more specifics and direction you can provide the animator the better. In the world of design, constraints are a wonderful thing—they give us a foundation to work from. Remember, nothing is more daunting than a blank sheet of paper.
Okay, hopefully, that provided some insight into budgetary requirements for a good animated explainer video. Again, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to this sort of stuff. If you’re interested in a specific quote or estimate, give me a shout.
As a final world, I remind you of an old adage: you get what you pay for. There’s a reason good animation is expensive. While I don’t consider myself a fancy artist, I do take pride in my work and I work hard. If you have similar appreciation for what your company does, you should reflect that in how you approach its branding. Even if your average consumer can’t vocalize it exactly, aesthetics matter. Instinctually, as humans, we judge things based on how they look. So, let’s make something look good together!