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Checklist: How to Choose an Animation Video Production Company

Jun, 20, 2021
Tim Aleksandronets
CEO at Blue Carrot

Introduction

Choosing an animation production company is an important task. The experience and competencies a production agency has will determine how good — or how bad — a marketing campaign will perform.

This decision is especially important for those running a startup or trying to market a new product. As we all know ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ — especially with a business video.

Not everything will depend on the expertise of the production team though (we’ll explain why later), but if you contact someone other than a professional, you’ll almost certainly end up with a video that will provide a poor ‘first impression’ for your product or service

So, where do you start your search for an ideal animated video production company and how can you ensure you don’t make any mistakes when making your selection? Keep reading to find out how to choose the best animated video company.

Summary:

  1. The Ideal Animated Video Production Company — a Myth or a Reality?
  2. How to Choose the Best Animated Video Company
  3. Final Thoughts
  4. Our Experience

 

The Ideal Animated Video Production Company — Myth or Reality?

Before we jump into the subject of how to hire an animation studio, we want to explain what a good animation company actually is. A good, or even ideal, video production team is not the one with the best designers on the market (though this is a huge plus, of course), but one that can balance a wide range of aspects in their work — from hard technical expertise to goal awareness, creativity, and communication skills. 

The right mix of all these characteristics is what makes a video production team an ideal video production partner for creation of videos that trigger emotions, go viral, make viewers laugh, and perfectly meet set marketing goals. Let’s take a closer look and review these characteristics in detail to answer the main question “What is a good animation company?”, and to get an idea of how to choose an animation production company.

 

How to Choose the Best Animated Video Company

1️⃣ Experience

‘Experience’ covers many aspects of the animation production process — from technical knowledge to methodologies and the ability to think outside the box. 

Obviously, a client won’t be able to check all the agency’s competencies during an introductory call, so we advise you to spend your time concentrating on several main areas that will help you understand if the production team is professional enough to create quality animation videos. These are:

Marketing goals orientation

This might be the most important aspect when it comes to the team’s expertise. An agency has to understand that an animation video is not a goal in itself but, rather, a tool that helps to achieve it. In business video production, marketing goals always have to come first: not the creativity or self-expression of the designers, but the measurable results of the campaign. At the same time, professional video agencies can ideally balance creative and business needs, producing digital videos that hit the target perfectly.

Questions to ask:

  • What measurable results do your animation videos achieve for your clients?
  • What projects are you most proud of? Why* exactly?

* — pay attention to whether answers to these questions have anything to do with the actual success of videos developed by an agency. 

Ability to work in different styles

This point is directly connected with the previous one. You don’t want to hire a team that specializes in one or two animation styles, since such a choice will automatically limit a team’s ability to adjust their work to your marketing goals. As a result, you’ll get an agency ‘adjusting’ your needs to their area of expertise.

In addition to the business video itself, an experienced team that works in different styles will be able to provide additional assets based on the created video, like-brand illustrations and other visuals.

❗️ Information to ask for:

  • Check the agency’s showreel — short video clip showcasing the team’s previous work. Here is an example of what this could look like: 

  • Review their portfolio, as there may be business videos relevant to your niche that weren’t mentioned in their showreel.
  • Send agency references or examples of the work you like and ask them whether they have any similar experience or if they are able to create a commercial video in a similar style/type.

 

Ability to trigger audience emotions

Aside from technical skills, the team needs to know how to tell a story and make an effect on the audience. It’s the agency’s job to create a video that will trigger expected emotions from the target audience and, thus, achieve the goals specified in the Brief or Technical Task (TT) document. 

For more information on what to consider when filing a brief, read our article here.

❗️ Information to ask for:

  • If you need to create an explainer video, have the agency show you their past work that demonstrates their ability to explain any complex ideas. Assess how good or how bad of a job they did in conveying those concepts.
  • If you want to develop a promotional video, ask the agency to show you some relevant examples in that regard. Try to watch this video from a target viewer’s perspective, evaluate how clear the video messages are, and whether you understand the main purpose of the video. 

 

Industry versatility

Look for a team that has experience working in different industries. Such versatility can be beneficial for two reasons: 1) the agency CAN actually work with tasks they haven’t dealt with before, and 2) the agency’s script writers can come up with ideas across a wide spectrum of subjects.

Questions to ask:

  • Have your script writers had any experience working on texts for the [add your variant] industry or niche?
  • Have you had any projects where you have had to explain complex concepts in a video? Can you show me examples of those?

If you want more information on how to write a script for an explainer video, take a look at our article here.

Let’s choose a style for your video

 

2️⃣ Service Range

We always recommend looking for ‘one-stop-shop’ agencies that can provide you with all the services you might need. Your ideal agency is one that is able to brainstorm and script the best ideas for your video, do all the drawings and animation, find voiceover talent and record audio, and put together sound and sound effects.

By hiring this type of team, you automatically avoid a lot of the issues that a company can run into when hiring specialists separately. When it comes to the additional benefits of opting for a one-stop-shop team, we can define the following:

  • It’s cost-effective — Different agencies have different pricing policies. Ordering services separately, in this case, may cost you a fortune — boosting expenses by 2X-3X times compared to situations where the job is done in one place.
  • Better control over process and product fit — When the entire production process is carried out by a single team, you get a better sense of how the whole thing fits together and, thus, can track all the development stages much more easily.
  • Turnarounds are quicker — With a one-stop-shop team, workflows become much faster. There’s no need for you, as a client, to jump back and forth to review which part of the video is already complete, and which one is still in progress. 

Questions to ask:

  • Can you show me some examples of your work, where the whole video development process was conducted by your team?
  • What level of involvement do you expect from a client?
  • How do you handle source files? Are these handed to a client once a project is done, or not?

 

3️⃣ Transparency

Successful and mutually beneficial collaboration is impossible unless the production team is fully transparent about their processes and tactics. From day one, clients should get a complete understanding of how the project will be implemented, what the main steps are, their order details, timelines, etc. Every process should be transparent and predictable so that clients know what is happening at any given moment during the business video production. 

NO ROOM FOR THE UNEXPECTED

A production team has to be able to deliver predictable results in a controllable manner

❗️ Information to ask for:

  • Ask for a step-by-step review of the agency’s animation creation process.
  • Ask for information on how quality control is carried out during animation production — does the agency hold any meet-ups with clients to stay on the same page about the project?

Questions to ask:

  • How does the production process flow in your team?
  • How many rounds of editing do I (the client) get?
  • Do you develop a project plan before the work begins?
  • To what extent can clients influence the production process?
  • How do you provide progress updates to your clients?

 

4️⃣ Proactivity

This is a key factor that determines how smoothly the production process will go. The team should be proactive, provide regular updates, offer different options, develop solutions to possible problems, and display a desire to work on your project. A proactive agency will be able to come up with great ideas and develop a unique marketing asset instead of a ‘generic video ad.’

❗️ Information to ask for:

  • A good sign of proactivity is an agency’s awards and recognition, activity on social media, regular blogging activity, and unique ideas implemented in animation videos.
  • Ask about the most interesting ideas that an agency came up with for an animation video, and an overview of the results these ideas achieved for their clients.

 

5️⃣ Rating & Client Reviews

Client reviews are one of the first impressions that other clients get of a business and, by reviewing these, you can get a lot of information about the team’s quality of work, communication skills, work ethic, and so on. A professional production team is guaranteed to have art awards and accolades and a high rating on the most popular review platforms. 

Keep in mind that bad reviews are as important as good ones. By reviewing negative feedback, you can begin to understand how the agency reacts to and handles difficult situations.

❗️ Information to ask for:

  • Look for client testimonials on Clutch, Upwork, Softlist, Behance, Dribble, or Google ‘[Agency name] reviews‘.
  • Ask how you can contact some of the agency’s past clients to get feedback on their experience working with this team.

 

6️⃣ Workflow & Risk Management

A production team should know how to deal with difficult, non-standard situations, and have a strategy set up in that regard. Production challenges can come from anywhere — human factors, delays in deliverables, budget issues, limited client engagement, tight deadlines, etc. The agency has to understand how to handle all these situations effectively with minimal risk to project and video performance goals. 

We also advise you to look for an agency that will be able to make the most out of your budget — even if it’s not huge. If your budget is really limited, look for Eastern Europe-based production teams. Their rates are several times lower compared to those from the US and, while an American team will deliver a basic animation video on your budget, an Eastern European team will be able to produce better and more effective animation videos for the same cost. 

❗️ Information to ask for:

  • Ask the agency to give you cost estimates for a few animation styles and compare them to other offers.
  • Assess how transparent and open the team is regarding their pricing policy.

❓ Questions to ask: 

  • What steps do you take to make the most out of the allocated budget?
  • Have you had difficult customers? How have you dealt with those?
  • How do you handle excessive edits when they are coming from the client?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What’s your editing policy? How many rounds of edits do I (the client) get?

What we can make with your budget?

 

7️⃣ Communication Skills

If you choose to work with an offshore team, a good command of English is a must for the team you hire, as you don’t want to start playing Broken Telephone. A video agency must also be able to work with your timezone.

Some business owners might still be scared of outsourcing; however, judging from our own experience, a professional team can deliver excellent results regardless of location. 

Results can especially be achieved when a team’s workflow strictly adheres to the ‘Follow the Sun’ cooperation model, where a team works on a project during the client’s evening/night time and returns results by the client’s morning.

❗️ Information to get:

  • A short video/audio call can be enough to estimate the team’s communication and language skills.
  • During an interview, ask a team whether they have worked with your time zone or similar. If yes, which challenges have they had to overcome (and how)?

 

How much does an animation video cost?

The cost of animation video production is a fairly broad topic that is best covered in a separate article — but we will touch on it here with a brief overview. To learn more, take a look at our full guide on animation video production. 

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

The costs of business video production typically depend on the animation style, animation type, video length, and number of team members involved in the production process.

A normal price tag for a simple cutout 2D video or Motion graphics starts at $1,000-$2,500/min and can go as high as $4,000-$7,000/min for traditional animation or 3D video with characters and lots of moving objects 

To give you a better idea, here are the types of business videos that you can get for about $2,500-$2,900/min:

And here’s what you can get with a budget of $3,000-$4,000/min:

Note: These examples are for informational purposes only. An exact cost estimate can be provided by a production team only after assessing all your requirements for a business video.

 

Final Thoughts

Hiring a video production agency can be a pretty manageable process if you know what to look for. In this article, we reviewed the seven basic points you need to take into account when deciding how to choose a video animation company

To sum it all up, our main advice on how to hire an animation video company would be — try to check as many marks from this guide as possible when interviewing a production team. 

You can also start your research with fewer points, for example, expertise in different niches (like SaaS or Fintech), service range (e-Learning films, marketing explainer videos, other production services), and ratings.

After you select a few teams that meet these criteria, narrow down your selection by adding other ‘must-haves’ like proactivity and transparency. Continue checking all the marks until you find an animation team that suits you best.

THE IDEAL ANIMATION PRODUCTION STUDIO IS A WELL-CRAFTED MIX OF MARKETING KNOW-HOW, HARD TECHNICAL EXPERTISE AND SOFT MANAGEMENT SKILLS

If you ever need help or extra advice on how to choose an animation video company, just let us know. At Bluecarrot, we always try to be as open as possible and are ready to share our experience with the business community.

 

Our Experience

When working on new business videos, we always strive to come up with something unique and special for our clients; something that will attract the viewer’s attention and hold it all the way through. This is why our work always gets high retention rates. Check out these two great examples from our portfolio that showcase our animation production experience.

🔹 Onfo

With Onfo, the main goal was to convey the concept of a new cryptocurrency platform in simple words — and do it in a native way. We decided not to follow the conventional route and came up with a remarkable animation style, instead, that was also backed with strong storytelling.

The result: five-star feedback from a client and 100,000 organic views on Facebook in only three days!

🔹 Scratchpay

With Scratchpay, we developed a business video that presents a payment service for pet owners. The main challenge here was to actually deliver the core message to the audience. Our target viewer base was veterinarians; however, the end-users of this payment service are the pet owners themselves. 

The client was fully satisfied with the final result, and the video performed well, getting Scratchpay a viewer engagement rate of 86%, and 8.5% in CTA clicks.

If you want to create your own business video but are not sure whether you are moving in the right direction, reach out to us. After having successfully developed 300+ projects over the past seven years, and having provided hundreds of consultations to clients, we know all the possible pitfalls a business owner can come across with animation production. 

Contact us via the form below and one of our managers will get in touch with you! 👇

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