If you are about to create an animation video and are reaching out to various video agencies with price estimate requests, chances are that the quotations you get will diverge drastically — $1,000 per minute, $3,000 for a video of the same length, $5,000, and so on.
Aside from the pricing policy, which will obviously be unique for each particular agency, the differences in prices would be due to such aspects as the agency’s expertise, video length, animation requirements and so on and so forth. So the explainer video production cost estimate is actually a combination of lots of ingredients — like those in your Cheeseburger menu.
To be honest, the question about explainer video production costs has always been a tricky one to answer. And when potential clients reach out to us, we rarely give concrete prices right out of the gate, without first estimating project complexity and client’s needs and requirements.
But since it is the most common request we get, we’ve decided to map out the thinking process that stands behind the numbers clients see in the price quotes.
- Explainer Video Cost: How to Budget Your Animation Video Production
- What Does Explainer Video Pricing Depend On?
- A Detailed Breakdown of Costs Per Animation Style
- How to Cut Animation Production Costs Without Hurting Results
- Our Experience
When deciding what budget to allocate for animation video production, we always advise that you base your decision on the ROI you expect to get. Basically, you want to identify how the $X investments in business video will improve your conversions on a particular stage of the Sales funnel, what outcome in sales or $Y revenue it will make, and — based on this information — determine the budget for your video and distribution channels.
More information about animation video returns on investments can be found here.
After we’ve figured that out, let’s see what options you have in terms of video production, and what outcomes each of them can provide.
Obviously, this is the most cost-effective option when it comes to animation video production.
But is it the easiest? Let’s see.
When doing a DIY video, you will most certainly opt for an animation tool where you will use ready-made assets and templates — illustrations, transitions, ready-made characters — to design your animation. A user with elementary editing skills can create basic animation in a few days.
An animation editor will be able to partially replace the absence of an artist and animation designer on a project. But what about other roles?
To put together all elements of a business video, you will still have to find a script writer, storyboard artist, composer, voiceover artist, sound designer, and studio to record voiceover.
Of course you can shorten your ‘Human resource’ list — write a script yourself and find a voiceover artist on one of the freelance platforms or even try a voiceover generator that will do the job for you. However, such an approach comes with its own disadvantages.
First, doing — or trying to put together — everything yourself means you risk creating an animation video of low quality 👇
Second, the use of premade templates automatically limits the ‘field of actions,’ forcing you to adapt your concept to the assets you have at your disposal. You’ll sacrifice ideas and will have to adjust the script on the go. Your video would lack actions, the script may fail to deliver a target message or elicit specific emotion.
Even if done right, the best case scenario for the DIY approach is getting a generic animation video that won’t be able to create a memorable brand identity for the viewers.
By going DIY, you will be able to save up to 95% of your budget (5% is the cost of the subscription plan for animation editor + voiceover actor services).
On the other side of the coin, however, you’ll be spending your time and wearing out your nerves — you can invest a ton of time into the animation video production and still won’t get a quality result. DIY also won’t replace the five different professionals required to create a business video.
When the DIY goes wrong, the homeowner inevitably has to call in the professionals
Our verdict: the main reason why we wouldn’t recommend going with a DIY option is the major quality issues it poses. Also, basic/generic animation and illustrations are suitable for internal communication with a team, but not for communication with your audience.
To give you a reference point, here’s an example of an explainer video you can get by DIY-ing the whole project:
Another option is hiring a freelancer who will be able to create an animation video for you. The advantages of this approach are cost-effectiveness and ease of recruitment — just go to any popular freelance platform, type in ‘animation video creation,’ and you’ll get dozens of offerings at any price point.
Working with a freelancer would normally mean working with a one-man band who does everything by him- or herself — video editing, script-writing, illustration, animation. As we have already understood from a DIY approach, one person can’t replace an entire production team where each member has its own area of expertise, whether its animation design, script-writing, voiceover, or something else.
One more thing to keep in mind when looking for a freelancer is that your candidate will likely be able to work in one or two animation styles or types, meaning you will be limited (again) in the ideas and concepts to be conveyed via business video. This also applies to the marketing side of your video — because of the same one-man-band situation.
Even if you manage to onboard a professional freelancer, there are still a lot of areas of video production to keep your eye on. Constant feedback and control over the production process will devour your time, stretching the production timeline and your budget.
50% BUDGET ECONOMY
RESULTS STILL MAY NOT BE WORTH TIME INVESTED
DEMANDS CONSTANT CONTROL OVER THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
NEED TO PROVIDE DETAILED ART FEEDBACKS
LESS CHANCES TO MEET MARKETING GOALS
At first glance, opting for a freelance specialist seems to be a viable option: getting a professional that knows what they are doing for a fraction of the explainer video costs — compared to a production agency — is a win-win situation. Here, however, you end up with the same set of problems as you get with DIY projects.
So, to get the animation video done, you either hire one freelancer that carries out an entire production process (which would most likely be impossible) or you hire a few specialists, each of whom will be delivering within their area of expertise (script-writing, illustration, animation, voiceover, etc.) Either way you go you’ll still have to constantly supervise the workflow to make sure that everything stays on track.
One more problem with freelance specialists is that you have no guarantee that they won’t disappear in the middle of the process, leaving you with an unfinished project
Our verdict: hire a freelancer only if:
- you have a solid understanding of how the animation video production process works or prior experience creating a business video
- you know how to provide artistic feedback, at least on a very basic level
- the timeframe for the project delivery is loose
- you know how to pick the right candidate
- you are aware of the outcomes that such cooperation will bring you — as well as those that you won’t receive
Here’s an example of a business video you can get when hiring a freelancer to do the job:
Working with a video agency gives you more predictable results — in quality, delivery timeline and budget. A video agency will look at your project not from the designer’s point of view but more from the marketing side and thus, will be able to advise you on what will work best for your particular case in terms of the results you want to get.
With a video agency, you don’t need to monitor the work progress 24/7 as every professional production agency has a project manager (or a producer) who is responsible for supervising all these processes. This person will be in charge of all the micro-management activities like ‘altering the sky’s color’ or ‘tweaking the table shadow,’ etc. — sparing the need for you to provide a ton of micro-feedbacks.
An experienced production team can also work in different styles and animation types not limiting your vision, brand mission or compromising the quality of the future video.
One more important aspect of creating a video with a production team is that they will never get sick (as is the case with the freelancers). If something happens with any of the team members, the project manager realigns the workload or adds another specialist to keep the project rolling at the same speed.
PROFESSIONAL VIDEO AGENCY
ANIMATION VIDEO OF HIGH-QUALITY
IT COSTS MONEY
PREDICTABLE TURNAROUNDS (TO THE MOST PART)
RISKS OF GETTING A LOW-QUALITY RESULT WHEN WORKING WITH UNRELIABLE AGENCY
WORK IS CARRIED OUT IN ACCORDANCE WITH CLIENT’S MARKETING NEEDS
VERSATILITY OF IDEAS AND PRODUCTION APPROACHES
Now before you say ‘Sure, guys. You are the video agency, so no wonder you are rooting for such an approach,’ let’s explain what the actual point is here.
In the past six months, we have received four new inquiries from clients asking us to fix a video that was poorly-made for them by a freelancer or another team. The saddest part is that we can rarely do anything about such videos — it’s one thing to fix something when you are at the beginning of a process but it’s a completely different thing to do something when you are half-way through.
Poor illustrations cannot be fixed by simply playing with sliders in Adobe Illustrator. Creating quality content and animation takes time and team effort: you can’t just put a skyscraper on top of a two storey building and hope that everything will be fine.
As a result, in such situations, the client is forced to pay twice — the first time when working with an unreliable contractor, and the second time when working with a professional team.
Our verdict: by partnering with a video agency you’re paying not for the video, but for the work of the whole team and the experience they have accumulated over years of working in this business.
Sure, the agency’s services will cost you more than the DIY-ed video, but the agency can help you avoid most common pitfalls that happen during the production process, advise on the style of your video, its core messages and carry out your project in a predictable manner.
“An animation video is a complex product that requires the involvement of at least five or six specialists, each of whom has their own skill set: producer, script-writer, illustration artist, animation designer, voice-over actor, sound designer. Only by having these professionals on your team can you ensure that you will get effective results and not flush your budget down the drain.”
This is how business videos look when they’re developed not by a single person, but a team of professionals:
If you want to get more information on how the animation production process normally goes when working with a professional video agency, review our complete guide here:
When people watch the animation video, they see only the tip of an iceberg, so it’s no wonder that it can be shocking for some to hear that two animation videos of the same length — and even style — can differ in production costs by thousands of dollars.
How can’t this be? Let’s take a look:
An animation video production budget is typically affected by:
- Complexity of animation style and type of animation
- Video length
- Intensity of actions, and
- Additional options
By putting all these variables together, we can get the universal formula for calculating animation production budget:
BUDGET = ANIMATION STYLE & TYPE COMPLEXITY × LENGTH × ACTION INTENSITY + ADDITIONAL OPTIONS
Let’s review each parameter separately.
The level of animation complexity is determined by the complexity of the ideas to be displayed, emotions to be triggered, brand requirements, and budget limitations.
Projects with a high number of characters and complex move animation will take a designer much longer to produce compared to simple screencast-like graphics. For example, a one-minute 3D animation branded video may differ in production costs from a simple 2D app explainer of the same length by more than $4,000.
1) KOA 3D animation:
2) Getupside app explainer video
A video that wants to deliver specific ideas or get a strong audience reaction will demand the creation of elaborate illustrations. Onfo is a clear example of that — an emotional video with a streak of rebellion.
If you want a video to convey the right emotions, then the whole process and animated explainer video production cost will be wrapped around this idea as well.
In the production process, communicating brand mission and values to the audience would mean sticking to a particular style, colors, or characters. For example, if your product is aimed at simplifying customer lives, then going with minimal and clean illustrations would be the best bet. Like here:
By contrast, if a brand has an atmospheric backstory which needs to be presented to viewers, then a video will demand a higher level of scene detalization. Like here:
If the video budget is limited, it does not necessarily mean that you can’t get a quality result, or the video won’t perform well. A professional production team will always try to find a way to get you the best result possible with the budget you have, and create a video that will actually work.
Here’s an example of a simple but effective video (the budget for this one we’d estimate at around $1,500):
Obviously, the longer the animation video is, the more effort it takes to produce and, thus, the more resources it requires; however, there are some important aspects you need to know about.
The industry standard for animation video pricing is based on a ‘per second/minute’ charge and, normally, with each additional minute, the animation video price starts to slightly drop. Here’s an example:
- A 1-minute video like this = $2,000
- A 2-minute video = $3,000
- A 3-minute video = $4,000
- And so on.
On the opposite, if we take a look at shorter video clips, there the cost to create animated explainer video won’t be directly proportional to a length:
- 1-minute video = $2,000
- 30-second video = $1,800
- 20-second video = $1,700
Such ‘small’ decrements in explainer video pricing stem from the fact that, even for a 20-second animation video, a production team will have to allocate an amount of time and resources comparable to a one-minute project since there will still be the same stages present like scripting, storyboarding and so on. This makes a huge price drop impossible in this case.
THE COST OF PRODUCING AN ANIMATION VIDEO DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH LABOR AND OTHER RESOURCES FIRM USES:
LENGTH ↑ COSTS ↓
LENGTH ↓ COSTS ↑
In the same way as with illustration complexity — the more intense the action scenes are that you want to see in a video, the higher the production budget will get. Here’s an example of a dynamic traditional animation video we did for one of our clients:
Additional details and animated elements shown in a scene are created by an illustration artist who had to spend more time drawing each shot, or do more illustrations per shot.
This component includes all other extras that do not fall under any of the sections above, such as:
- Video localization services — includes script translation, voiceover recording for different language(s), animation/illustration corrections (these are required when animation needs to be adjusted to the localized voiceover speed). Each new localized version of a 1-2 minute long animation video will normally add an additional $300-600 to the cost of an explainer video.
- Short video clips for social media (created from the original video) — includes script adjustments, voiceover re-records, and shots reassembling. That would mean stretching the project timeline for another 15-40 hours.
- Buyout fee for the source files — when working with video agencies, clients can buy out all the source files if they want to reuse them on their social media, future campaigns, etc. In some cases, the buyout fee may amount to 50% above your production budget. At Blue Carrot, we normally charge a 30% buyout fee (animations + illustrations).
You may also want to get a video in a different format (1:1, 4:3, etc). The easiest way to do that — for free — would be to change the frame size in the video editor tool; however, in this way, you risk losing some parts of the scene since all the shots are typically drawn in 16:9 size.
In order to prevent having a character half-cut or words missing in the on-screen text copy, the animation designer has to manually redraw and reanimatte particular shots of a video — to make all scenes fit the new format.
We strongly recommend that you think through all the required video formats in advance because trying to adjust it afterwards will blow your production budget
This is why we’ll refrain from giving any price estimates for this particular activity.
If you’re wondering what else should be taken into consideration during animation production, check our guide here:
Now let’s get more specific and talk about the actual numbers. The following are price breakdowns for each animation style to help you better understand the dependencies in budgeting in regard to a particular animation format.
If you want to get more information about different animation styles and types, review our article here.
This type implies rendering three-dimensional objects (and characters) in a corresponding voluminous environment. 3D animation is considered to be the most labor intensive and expensive option. The prices for such videos start way above average, so expect to pay $4,000+ per minute if you want to create a business video in 3D.
$4,000 — $10,000 / minute
If you desperately want to produce a 3D video but your budget is low, some agencies may offer you a 3D low-poly option — a cheaper version of this animation type. Stylistically, for some industries and products, such an approach may actually work well, and you will pay a fraction of a price for the end result, compared to standard 3D animation.
Take a look at our example of a 3D low polygonal video we did for one of our clients:
As the name implies, this is a type of 2D animation where each frame of video is drawn independently by hand. Next to 3D animation, this one is the most expensive and time-consuming animation type. It takes about three months to produce a 1-2 minute video with traditional animation.
Here’s an example:
Here, the animated explainer video cost will start at $4,000 per minute.
$4,000-$7,000 / minute
The other name for this option is puppet animation. Here, the animation objects and characters resemble a ‘cut out’ look from paper, fabric or other materials and are animated in a puppet-like style. An analogy with traditional puppet toys can be clearly seen here.
Take a look at the example of this cut out animation video from our portfolio below:
Due to style specifics, 2D cut out animation is not that expensive in production, and the explainer video cost per minute here starts at $2,000.
$2,000-4,500 / minute
A type of 2D animation video where a story gets ‘drawn’ by hand on a whiteboard. It may include text, moving characters and other objects. In this case, a whiteboard serves as a background for all the actions that take place on-screen. Here’s an example of this type of video:
The price tag for the whiteboard video typically starts at $1,000 — $2,500 per minute.
$1,000-2,500 / minute
At Blue Carrot, we try to avoid giving tips on how to ‘cut corners’ with the animation production process because we clearly understand the negative effect it may have — taking such advice a bit too seriously may lead to excessive cost cuts and poor results in the end.
However, if your budget for explainer video production is tight, you should — at the very least — know how to cut expenses the right way. Here’s what you can do in this case:
- Outsource production process — The price for professional explainer video hugely depends on the market. Hiring a video agency from Eastern Europe may save you up to 50-70% of your budget compared to opting for a local US or European video agency. While EE teams have more affordable price tags, they don’t compromise on the quality of a product, allowing you to get a US-like video for less money (or produce a more advanced clip for the same budget, while with a US-based team that will get you only a generic animation.)
- Adjust animation style/type to your budget — As you have already learned from the previous paragraph, video production budget heavily depends on the chosen animation style and type. Before starting to work on a video, ask your production team if there are any ways to adjust style to the set budget without compromising the end results.
- Find ways to adjust distribution costs — Normally, distribution expenses come as part of the video production budget, so you can try to think of some original ideas on how to save up on those. For example, you can partner with relevant groups or accounts on social media who will promote your video in exchange for some services or products. This is how you will be able to allocate more resources for the video production process itself.
- Produce one video instead of a bunch of them — If your marketing campaign implies creating several video ads, try to think of ways to produce one universal explainer video instead of a bunch of them. Buying ‘in bulk’ will be obviously less expensive.
Phew…seems like we’ve covered everything and anything about custom explainer video costs with this guide. Now you will know where the numbers are coming from the next time you review a price quote from a video agency.
Whatever option you decide to go with to develop your own video — DIY, freelance, or production agency — remember that the only factor that should determine the success of your video is the expected results of the marketing campaign.
Thus, always aim for the production budget that correlates with your goals. It doesn’t have to be a $20,000 animation movie — even modest investments of $2,000-5,000 can get you a high-performing video.
If you still have some unanswered questions regarding this subject, feel free to contact us, and we will do our best to address them!
As you have already seen from the examples above, our portfolio is quite diverse and not limited to one specific animation style. We are always ready to challenge ourselves and develop videos for new industries and markets. Here are two more examples of our work that will likely draw your attention:
Business video done for DNB — Norway’s largest financial services group. DNB has been working on digitizing their credit analysis architecture and reached out to us with a request to create an explainer video that would inform their clients, as well as their employees, about the new system. We created an animation video that — in a neat and minimalistic way — explains how the company and its clients will benefit from the new changes.
Handle is a great app that allows you to get the information about your social media accounts — all in one place. Within one minute, our goal was to describe the main product idea and its basic features, showing viewers the benefits of using this particular app. As a result, we developed simple yet powerful animation that fully disclosed the set topic.
If you are looking for a professional video production service, you have come to the right place. Since 2014, our team has been creating business videos in a variety of niches: Healthcare, Fintech, Blockchain, e-Commerce and more. Over the course of seven years, we developed more than 300 projects — from basic $2,000 motion-graphics to complex $10,000 cartoon marketing ads.
We know how to work with projects of any size and how to use budgets effectively to ensure you get the best quality and outcome possible — even with limited money.
Contact us by filling out the form below and our managers will get back to you within one business day! 😉