Two cowboys stand at either end of an Old West town at high noon. Their hands hovering over their guns. One calls out, “What’s your price?” as the other calls back “What’s your budget?” But who’s gonna draw first? This sounds ridiculous but asking how much an animated video costs, can feel like a stand-off in a Western.
Greater than the sum of its parts
If you take a mechanic, they can quote for parts, but the labour of assembling the items is where the craft and quality assurance comes in. For us, we create every aspect of an explainer video, so putting a price on what we do presents an interesting challenge. One which is complicated further because putting a specific amount of time or money into a project, doesn’t always produce a formulaic result. In other words, you can’t just say X+Y=Z.
So to begin to answer this question, let’s look at the various components that make up our 6-10 week process. First you start with the writing and storyboarding. This is where we construct the backbone of the narrative that runs the course of the entire video. It’s then given an illustrated form in the design and visual storyboarding stages. Before we animate these assets – going over them with a fine-tooth comb to get the desired effect. And finally the combined sounds of the voiceover, the music and the audio effects are layered on, creating a holistic experience. Not to mention plenty of admin and meetings along the way.
Questions, questions, questions
But there are so many more factors to consider when taking on and costing out a project. How complicated is the subject matter? This is a big one. From the initial Discovery call, we may need more than a crash course in the service or product we’re explaining. Because if we don’t get it, how can we tell an audience? And that’s not just scripting. If a designer or animator needs to construct a schematic or biological representation, how much detail is needed? How do these things move and can we take stylistic liberties for simplicity purposes?
The overall look and feel of the video can also directly impact the cost. So what about the style? Are there characters present? So many clients want to see figures in their video, but drawing these models in a unique way takes a lot of time. And because the human eye is extremely adept at picking up what is and isn’t natural human motion, this means comprehensive puppeteering.
And have we considered how much of what we see on-screen is moving? From the background to the foreground, you could have a wealth of complexity and what’s called component interactivity. I.e. stuff touching other stuff. Do we cut to the majority of scenes or transition to them? Are there what’s known as 2.5D or faux 3D elements? Which are two dimensional drawings that are flat but give the impression of depth. And that’s before we address video length, the type of animation and how many days it will take to animate each scene.
The price is right
But we’re a business and we can’t just put a sign in a window saying, “Ask about our amazing products.. but not how much they cost because we have no idea.” So we devised a series of pricing bands. That way, we could give an honest and fair assessment of the type of animation you’ll get, as well as reasonably managing our time to produce them. So let’s take some real-world practical examples.
2D animations at this level are attractive and engaging thanks to their clean designs and cognitive simplicity. By focussing on iconography, smooth and straightforward transitions, and direct messaging, we’re able to clearly demonstrate a complicated subject – in this case Know Your Customer (KYC) with the help of avatars to represent customers.
This step up in cost reflects the complexity involved, as the visuals and scenes will require more attention to perfect. This is because the art style moves into the world of textures and we see the inclusion of characters. These are simplified, charming individuals with uncomplicated movement. With this video for Chatham House specifically, we embraced a hand-drawn aesthetic, which took time to animate smoothly.
Beyond the first two bands, we step confidently into critical intricacy. Sounds fancy, we know. It means taking on the aforementioned styles, transitions and characters and infusing them with nuance and sophistication. That could look like multiple different styles, elaborate transitions and fully puppeteered characters. For CEPI, with the characters alone, we had to factor in things like walking and running cycles, character interactions and various perspective changes. All of which required eagle-eyed precision to finesse.
Obviously, these are base costs and we can add extra features like social hooks to support your needs. But bear in mind, no two videos are alike. And as each message, approach and final output is different, the price guide acts as.. well.. just that: a guide. It’s an indicator of the dedication and quality of work you can expect.
But to bring us back to the initial question, regardless of your budget, you’ll get something truly spectacular that aligns with your expectations. Every single animation that we produce is given a five star treatment. Because we see our stamp of approval as a seal of quality. A guarantee that this video is something we can look back on and be proud of. To know that we took on the challenge, gave it our all, and created a powerful, unique, memorable and engaging piece of work, that both met and exceeded the brief. So if it sounds like our passion matches yours, and you want to figure out what price works for your budget, there’s a simple solution. Get in touch. Let’s have a chat.