“What’s your budget?”, “Well, what’s the cost?”… The classic immovable object meets the unstoppable force that happens in project negotiations. The animation studio wants to know how much you’d like to invest to see what the possibilities are, while you’re trying not to get bamboozled into spending too much for something.
This article is aimed at helping you figure out what budgets you should expect for different types of animation projects. That way, when you go into that classic negotiation, you have a better idea of the cost and deliverables associated with that.
Probably the animation industry’s best kept secret is the cost to get something made for your brand. Yeah, strange industry ;). Below, I’ll reveal those secrets and give you an idea of what to expect at different budget levels. Those levels, for simplicity’s sake will be $500, $5,000, $50,000 and $500,000.
*As a note, I will be speaking mostly in generalities here and costs might range from location and project specs.
Let’s jump in, starting at $500! *in the voice of auctioneer*
At $500, you might be able to expect something simple to be made. Possibly a 10-15 second video from an individual freelancer. However, $500 is far below the starting point for many that are experienced and do great work. For many freelancers, this may not even cover their single-day rate.
At this budget level, you can expect to be working with a busy individual that is likely overbooked because of their low rate. This can lead to poor communication, poor quality, and projects taking far longer than expected. You may get lucky here, but it’s absolutely a gamble.
This budget is good for an individual looking to create a minimum viable product for their company for as cheap as possible.
- You’ll likely be working with an inexperienced animator with a busy schedule.
- You likely won’t be able to have a specific deadline.
- The quality you receive likely won’t be very high.
- What’s created for you might be made up of mostly stock or generic assets.
At $5,000, you might expect a decent freelancer or a very small team to work on a 30-60 second animation. This is a realistic starting point to get quality design and animation, but will likely still have some drawbacks.
For urgent projects, you might have some trouble making this budget work for you if you want something truly unique and custom-made. You’ll be limited by timeline, style options, and exploration as well, likely making anything with characters out of the question here. You’ll need to have a crystal clear idea of what it is that you’re looking for and a decisive team to make this budget work.
This budget is good for a growing startup looking to test the waters of animation.
- Limited abilities of animation style.
- Limited availability of timeline.
- Will likely include reused or generic assets.
- Might be able to get 1-2 weeks of work at this price point.
- Must know EXACTLY what you want.
At $50,000, you’ll likely be working with a team of creative specialists including a strategist, a writer, designer, animator, and sound designer to create a 60-120 second explainer video. This team works together to create high-quality work on a deadline. You can expect a robust but somewhat limited exploration of different styles based on your business goals. With lower budgets, the people creating your animation are focused more on a task while at $50,000, they’re more focused on your business goal for working together and creating a great solution.
Little to no assets used will be generic or stock. Most of everything will be created from scratch and maybe in the timeline of 1-2 months to complete.
This budget is good for funded startups and small companies looking to grow their brand in an impactful way.
- You’ll get a team of people working on your project that each specialize in a certain area of an animation.
- You’ll likely receive high quality work.
- Little to no reused or generic assets. Often created from scratch.
- Includes exploration of styles, not simply “ok, tell me what you want”.
- Might get 1-2 months of work at this price point.
At $500,000, you might get an entire team working on a bigger campaign. More value is created with multiple deliverables. Maybe something like a series of videos with an open selection of available styles to choose from. At this budget, you should expect some of the best work the industry has to offer, all completely custom-made with a timeline of 3-6 months.
This budget is good for medium to large companies looking to make a great impact with their marketing dollars.
- You might get an entire team working on a bigger campaign at this price point.
- More value created with multiple deliverables.
- You can expect a very high quality of work.
- A very high level of exploration that’s sure to test multiple directions and provide many concepts before going into production.
- All completely original assets created from scratch.
- Could be 3-6 months of work for a team.
As you dive into what you’d like to spend on an animation project, be mindful that, like most other things in the world, the more you spend, the greater your expectations can be.
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