Re:Animator The Real Cost of Animation

February 6, 2021

3d animation cost


Animation is not (and never was) child’s play.


In the COVID-19 era, on-location/live-action video production has become far less feasible. This reality makes animated videos more essential than ever. Innovative brands are cozying up to animation to build brand awareness, better explain their value proposition, and engage broader audiences with unmatched immediacy, clarity, and style.

If you’re considering adding animated video content to your marketing strategy arsenal, consider the below guidance on process and pricing before you hire a video production studio. 

Regardless of your animation style or duration, the process has a very similar sequence of live video production: 

  • Pre-Production: Planning Phase  
  • Production: Creation Phase
  • Post-Production: Editing, Finalization, and Delivery Phase

    cost of 3d animation



Where concepts take shape and design finds direction.


Creative Brief: $1,200 – $3,500+

The Creative Brief document is critical. When done right, it sets high-level art/creative direction on paper and thus serves as a useful tool for aligning client/vendor expectations. Creative Briefs detail overarching creative concept and the visual language which will be pulled through in your final video. This includes what colors will be used, how visual assets such as; on-screen text, logos, how animated characters should look and move, what the environment and background suggest about our message, and granular details such as typography. 

We collaboratively develop the Brief, comprising visual concepts and components as mood-boards for an aesthetic framework of your brand’s look and feel. This should include a presentation of details like color palette, typeface, style frames (final deliverable exemplars), and motion/animation samples that might serve as inspiration. 


Scriptwriting: $900 per page – $1,500+ per page

For every minute of screen time, there’s roughly one page of words that deliver the video’s narrative. The Script lays bare your messaging, creating a framework for your brand narrative. It will unlock your service offerings for key audiences, from stakeholders and donors to the public. A top production company will incisively know how to translate your message visually. But there is a particular genius in crystalizing cogent, clear visuals to connect the seed of an idea to a flourishing bit of animation. In short, your script will guide your audience along their animated journey.


Storyboarding: $1,800 – $6,000+ 

A full animation takes shape when a Storyboard artist converts each Script scene into rich visuals. It usually commences with rougher, hand-drawn illustrations with text, but can be created with vector graphics (potentially serving as a design guide for final animation). Storyboards can range anywhere from 6 to 30 ‘frames,’ one for each scene, depending on duration. 




Whether you’re working in two or three dimensions, you’ll need forethought concerning brand stylings and deliverable running time. 

2D animation: $10,000 to $60,000


This style comes to life with vector graphics like logos, moving shapes and images, and/or anything your imagination can conjure. Vector graphics are all created digitally and often use basic shapes. The shapes are then broken into pieces which can be moved or manipulated independent of the whole to create smooth animation. On the other hand, animation can be illustrated meticulously, frame-by-frame. Remember making little stick figure flip books when you were a kid, re-drawing your stick figure in a different position on each page, then flipping through the pages to see the figure move? Well, 2D hand drawn animation is very similar, but on a much larger scale with more complicated and detailed characters. Either approach speaks to every character, element, and movement — finessing keyframes* requires hours and hours of pure skill.

*Keyframes indicate where the character or object will be on-screen at key moments in time. 

3D Animation: $20,000 to $150,000+

If you’re a fan of any recent Disney movies like Soul or Moana, you are familiar with 3D animation. Obviously you wouldn’t want to make a full length Disney film for your marketing strategy, but a 30 second to 2 minute 3D animation can breath a whole new life into your brand. Fueled by pure creativity and 3D software such as Cinema4D, MAYA, or Blender, three-dimensional animation consists of:


  • Modeling: sculpting an object or character 
  • Texturing: designing a character’s outfit or creating a texture for an object
  • Rigging: building the bones of the characters so that they bend and move naturally 
  • Animating: making the character move

Each of these phases requires a handful of artists, as every part of the 3D animation process is labor-and-time-intensive. How long do you want your animated video to be? This determines the project timeline and how many animators will be needed.



Yay, we’re finished! Oh, wait. We still have to breathe sound into the animation. 


Sound Design & Mixing: $800 per day – $2,000 per day

Unlike a live shoot, animated content is made in silence. So every sound has to be fabricated. Want to hear a child’s footsteps? A nuclear explosion? A mother’s whisper? This will require an Audio Engineer to generate each sonic bit. 

Stock Music: $150 – $700, Custom Composer: $1,000 – $5,000+, Licensed Track: $30,000+

Give me a beat. We’ve broken down the virtues of stock music before, but custom tunes for your animated video will mean getting hooked up with your own Composer, which is as expensive as it sounds. And oh, you want a legit pop song? If you’re looking to score a track from a licensed artist, you’ll need to buy the copyright, which will be easily five figures or more. 


Voice Over: $500 – $2,400+

We all want Morgan Freeman or Sam Elliot to narrate our lives. But even less prodigious talent will cost you. If the on-screen text and visuals beckon a more thorough explanation of your message, you’ll need this. 

The Best Animation Value in DC

Animated content blends the real, hyperreal, surreal, and magical, matching the zeitgeist of a time where our digital avatars and physical selves are more hybridized by the day. As the real and business world(s) continue to be distanced, animation can and will bring us together, and your content marketing team should see the value in that brand of connection.

Please be encouraged to reach out to our talented team if you think animated video may be up your alley!