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Stop measuring animation by its length
When buying something, we always want to know exactly what we're paying for, what's included in the price? In this article, we talk about the pricing of animated videos.
If films were measured the same way, then they would all cost pretty much the same, but the difference between George Lucas's Star Wars with its own universe and The Breakfast, where the characters are locked in one room, is obvious.

We're used to that in everyday life, most things are measured by quantities. The cost of an apartment depends on the number of square meters, bakeries measure cakes in grams and kilograms, a wedding buffet - in the number of guests, and video production in minutes. But no. Unfortunately, this method doesn't apply to video production, just as it doesn't apply in bigger bakeries, where the cost of all ingredients is taken into account.
Many clients come to us with their vision and references. Most often, their request sounds like this: "We need a one-minute video", and this is already a good starting point. Our clients aren't video production experts and shouldn't know the differences between production tools. Our mission is to correctly explain to the clients the pros and cons of every approach.

At this point, we implement the power of examples, simple and relatable. Over the years most effectively works the one where we talk about Betty White in the Snickers commercial. Imagine that you and I were filming a commercial for Snickers, where your or my grandma is the basketball player. We love our grandmas, but even though the videos are exactly the same, the advertised object is the same, the cost and viewers would differ significantly.
Voice actor choice can also greatly affect the final cost of the video. So, for example, the price per minute for most actors varies from $250 to $300. But if the client asks for the famous voice of Cree Summer, the cost increases significantly and additional fees for renting a studio and working with a sound engineer are applied.
With animation itself, similar examples can also be given, but they aren't as obvious. Each video and illustration is a separate story with different approaches and necessary resources. For example, to draw a 2D version of such a robot, a couple of hours is enough, but to model it in high quality in 3D, it may take up to a few weeks.
The ongoing phrase "one-minute video" doesn't tell us how close the deadline is, how many people are involved in the review process, whether the client has a brand book, what is the target audience, where the video will be placed, what its main tasks and goals are.
Below are two video with similar length, but they are completely different in terms of style, approach and characters.
    Despite all of the above, we had to come to the conclusion that we need an estimated cost that will help us get started with the client. The cost that we can tell the clients straight away at the initial stage of the dialogue, so that a person who's working with animation for the first time has a rough understanding.

    It's like asking me how much a three-deck yacht costs. I know that it costs a lot, but I can't even give an approximate range.


    We've tried to estimate this cost. At the beginning of 2022, one second of an animated video costs around $65, which includes:
    • Briefing session
    • Script development
    • Style development
    • Storyboard and illustrations
    • Voice over recording
    • Animation
    • Music and sound design
    • Final delivery
      $65 is just a starting point, it's mainly based on our clients' average requests. Further down the line, with the help of a brief, we clarify the details, offer specific solutions, tools and approaches, style.

      We always recommend our clients to get inspired with the help of references, to understand in which direction they want to move. We talked about how to find references and where to look for them in our article.

      "One-minute", "short video", "video for Instagram or Tik-Tok" don't displace the necessary information to specify the cost. It's like walking into a store and asking for "red packaging", "a kilo of fresh" or "the most delicious".

      By the way, there are some "professionals" on the market who will gladly accept your offer and also quickly name the price. Most often, these are young businesspeople who have completed courses and are ready to sell you the service now for 5 bucks and then add extras for $500. A brief and an estimate will help to avoid this. But we'll talk about them in the next article.