There are a lot of misconceptions about the time, money, and effort required to produce high-quality 3D animated videos and films. If you want to produce a true masterpiece, you need to know how to draw and understand anatomy, physics, and the principles of animation.
There are many people involved in making a 3D animation video, but if you take a closer look at the 3D animation production process, you’ll find out there are many more people involved in the whole production process than just the director and producers.
From our point of view, we believe it is critical to explain to our clients what goes into the expense of 3D Animation.
The information in this article will help you learn more about 3D animation services while also making it easier to work with a 3D animation company. It’s critical to get an idea of the cost of 3D Animation before beginning any project planning or budgeting.
You can take advantage of this animation cost calculator guide to figure out how much it will cost to produce 3D Animation.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started.
The Price List of 3D Animation: The Key Factors
Despite the perception that the animation industry is expensive, 3D animation prices may vary greatly from project to project and studio to studio.
Each project has its own unique characteristics, such as the amount of time it takes, who the intended audience is, and the funding available. For example, varied art styles, character designs, complexity, and so on all affect 3D animation pricing.
Studios might charge varying prices depending on the stage of the project they are working on. There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to the ultimate cost of 3D Animation, so be prepared!
The duration of the animated video
This is an important consideration in determining a final 3D animation pricing: as the length of the animation rises, so does the price.
Long animations are typically required to show more visual effects, and as a result, they necessitate more technical expertise and render time.
When it comes to animated cartoons, explainer videos, and promotional films, you can estimate the cost of 3D Animation per minute or per second.
The intricacy of a scene and the number of animated people or objects determine the 3D animation expenses in games.
The 3D animation project complexity
The more complex the animation, the more expensive it will be. Characters and their movements in dynamic scenarios are details that create intricacy.
Creating the appearance of movement in complex 3D landscapes may need a team of 10 professionals, whereas a 2D animator can make flat items move in a very dynamic way.
2D Animation costs less than 3D Animation because of this. In this market research, you can learn about the expenses of 2D Animation. It’s also worth noting that 2D and 3D Animation use different approaches.
There are different tools used to sculpt, from generic shapes to fine details in 3D Animation and 3D modeling. Special textures are employed to get realistic results. The complexity of 3D modeling and animating human features alone is mind-boggling.
The type of 3D Animation
There are many different types of 3D animations, including digital 3D movies and films, virtual reality, interactive 3D videos, and more.
3D animations can also have a significant impact on the ultimate project price. Project-specific techniques, designs, and methods necessitate more precise specifications for more accurate budget predictions.
Some are simpler and need less time and effort than other types of projects. You’ll pay more for 3D Animation in V.R. games, for example, than for less technically complex videos containing 3D models.
The art style and design of the 3D characters
Putting a 3D character in a realistic environment becomes increasingly difficult as the character’s level of detail increases. 3D figures in Animation need certain textures, materials, and lighting to seem realistic.
A 3D character’s motions and postures must all be perfectly smooth to produce a cohesive image. This is especially true when the figure has to move a lot.
As a result, each 3D Animation is created in a distinct graphic style to better express its intended message. Before the project began, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish.
In general, 3D graphics can be stylized or cartoony, realistic, abstract, or photorealistic. 3D art styles are continually evolving, and this has nothing to do with how 3D models are generated but rather how they are used and for what purposes.
Stylized, bright, and cartoon-like 3D visuals are used in educational and entertainment projects for children as well as in casual games for adults.
When it comes to shooters that take place in real-world settings like war zones, lifelike dark graphics are commonly employed on P.C.s and consoles. It’s a good thing that modern technology allows game artists to make artwork that looks as good as the actual thing.
Besides the aesthetic characteristics of any project, the cost and all prior criteria are determined by the art style. While modifying cartoons requires less time and talent, realistic 3D creations require a higher level of expertise.
The project’s objectives in 3D Animation
You can either hire a 3D animator to work with the pre-existing 3D models, or you can start from scratch and develop a screenplay from scratch. Because of this, several groups will be assembled to handle various responsibilities. The number of steps in a 3D project might vary.
To create a controlled character skeleton for future manipulations in 3D animation, rigging is a necessary step.
In contrast, if you incorporate idea generation, scripting, storyboarding, 3D modeling, and texturing, the process will take longer to complete.
All of these aspects of the project are considered and meticulously prepared beforehand in order to produce an accurate cost estimate.
The number of resources and their expertise
Consider the fact that 3D Animation is a team effort that requires a variety of talents from a variety of people. Concepts need to be created before they can be brought to life through 3D modeling, and so on and so forth.
The scope of the project dictates the number of team members required. At the very least, you’ll need to engage at least five animators for a typical 3D production.
A team of 3D artists and modelers will work under the direction of an art director to create visuals that match the aesthetic of the project.
Models and characters will be applied by a team of 3D animators to create the appearance of movement.
3D animators must know how to utilize timing, when to edit, how to move characters, and so on in order to be successful in their work.
It is possible for 3D animation companies to bring together a wide range of experts under one roof. The hourly wages for junior, medium, and senior 3D animators vary.
Even if you hire a junior 3D animator, you won’t be disappointed with the results. They’re just as qualified as elders, but you’ll save money and have to wait a bit longer to get your services.
P.S: If you wish to know about the whole 3D animation process beforehand, then do give a read to our blog on: how to make a 3D animation.
The 3D Animation Production Process: A Run Down
Creating a 3D-animated scene is a complex and multi-step process that requires precision and attention to detail at every stage to produce the highest quality final product.
This process is similar to a 3D rendering service, but with additional elements added to create a more dynamic and realistic animation.
Every aspect of the animation, including lighting, shading, character movement, and camera angles, must be carefully planned and executed to avoid any errors that could detract from the final outcome.
Any oversight, no matter how small, can result in a subpar final product, emphasizing the importance of meticulous attention to detail throughout the entire process.
Stage #1 – Pre-production
In the process of creating a 3D-animated scene, the first step is the pre-production stage where all the necessary elements are gathered and prepared to build the base of the animation.
Scriptwriting and Storyboarding
During the pre-production stage, animators work on the script and storyboard, similar to the method used in 2D animation.
They read the script and comprehend the storyline of the animation to create facial expressions, gestures, and movements that align with the visual flow of the animation.
If a script is available, animators also ensure that the speech and lip movements of the characters are properly synced to create a realistic effect.
3D Assets Creation
Animators also work on creating 3D assets, which are objects that will be used in the scene. These assets can be either purchased pre-made and then customized to fit the project requirements or created from scratch if the project calls for unique characters.
Texturing and Coloring
After creating 3D models, animators add textured and colored layers to them to create a sense of surface and volume.
This is accomplished by overlaying 2D images onto the 3D models. Some characters possess complex properties, such as eyes that reflect and absorb light simultaneously.
In product 3D animation services, a 3D model of the physical product is usually created in a highly realistic manner.
Lastly, rigging is done. This is the process of adding a skeleton to a human or animal figure, and configuring the joints to allow for natural movements.
Every 3D object can be rigged. Once the raw materials are ready, the animation process can move on to the main production task.
Stage #2 Production
The next stage in the process of creating a 3D-animated scene is production. It involves controlling the 3D models to give them the required movements according to the script and storyline.
Additionally, animators also incorporate additional visual elements such as lighting and special effects during this stage.
The animation process involves making the 3D models move, by utilizing the range of motion determined during the rigging process.
For characters that resemble humans or animals, rigging should mimic their natural skeletal structure to achieve realistic movements.
The aim is to provide the models with a wide range of motion but keep it within natural limitations, yet in some cases, the storyline may require excessive rigging.
In 3D animation, lighting plays a crucial role in creating a believable and lifelike appearance. It needs to be adjusted and set for every single frame as the movement of objects within the scene can greatly affect the lighting.
For example, a cloud passing in front of the sun will change how much light is visible on the scene over time and also cast different shadows in each frame.
During the final stages of 3D animation, visual effects (VFX) and compositing may also be added to enhance the overall atmosphere of the virtual world.
VFX, such as wind and rain, are used to create a sense of realism. Compositing, on the other hand, is the process of merging multiple files from different sources to create a single cohesive scene.
In order to streamline the process, animators will only set keyframe positions for the 3D models and the computer will fill in the natural motion between those keyframes.
A single second of animation can contain 24 or more frames, depending on the frame rate, to ensure smooth motion.
This process is highly detailed and time-consuming, requiring the animator to pay close attention to every aspect of the animation, even for just a minute of video.
Stage #3 – Post-production
Once the final stage of production is reached, all of the visual assets for the animation are prepared to be brought together.
During the post-production stage, 3D animators perform final adjustments and revisions as necessary to make sure the animation is polished and ready for the final presentation.
Music and sound effects are added to the animation at this stage. Careful attention is paid to syncing up dialogue with the animation, ensuring that a character’s speech lines and facial expressions match perfectly.
Review and Edit
Once all the assets and effects are assembled, the animators will review the entire animation by playing the scenes in sequence to identify any errors or mistakes.
Depending on the issues found, minor and major adjustments will be made to ensure the final animation is polished and without any mistakes.
The final step is to compile and convert all the animation files into one video format, ready for release, all at one time only.
It’s worth noting that big animation studios such as Pixar and Disney typically have more elaborate procedures in each stage compared to smaller animation studios or freelance teams providing 3D animation services.
However, regardless of the size of the team or studio offering 3D animation services, the basic production process remains the same and needs to be completed one time only.
Various Alternatives to CGI-based 3D animation
In the field of 3D animation, there are primarily two types of animation techniques: CGI-based animation and stop-motion animation.
Stop-motion animation uses actual physical objects, rather than digital models, as the raw materials for the animation.
It involves taking photographs of the physical objects in various poses, which are then rearranged in a specific order to create the illusion of movement.
This can be a very labor-intensive process, especially when precise motion or multiple objects are involved. For example, if an object has to rotate 360 degrees, it must be photographed multiple times, at 30-degree increments, in order to create the illusion of a full motion.
Stop-motion animation comes in several forms, such as Claymation, which involves using clay or similar materials to create the objects, sometimes with metal skeletons to make them more rigid.
Additionally, some animators use puppets, which are traditional instruments that require skeleton rigs to keep them stable.
There are also other forms of stop-motion animation like cut-outs and silhouettes that are classified as stop-motion but are 2-dimensional.
The production process of stop-motion can be quite time-consuming, depending on the fluidity of the animation and the complexity of the scene.
More photographs are needed to achieve a smoother animation, but that also means that more frames must be captured.
Additionally, different lighting configurations may be required for certain frames, adding an extra level of complexity to the process.
Estimated completion time of CGI 3D animation
The timeline for a 3D animation project can vary greatly depending on a number of factors such as the complexity of the animation, equipment, and software used, and the number of people working on the project. There is no set timeline that applies to all projects.
|Stages of Animation||Action Items||Completion Time|
|Creative Brief||Project Scoping||3 Days|
|Scripting||Narrative Writing||2 Days|
|Storyboarding||Script Visualization||2 Weeks|
|Modeling||Character or Product Creation||2 Weeks|
|Rigging||Complex Character Creation & Animation||2 Months|
|Animation||Bringing Together All the Assets||1 Month|
|Sound Effects/Music||Synchronizing the Music/Sound Effects||1 Week|
|Rendering||Generation of Photorealistic Image||1 Week|
However, we can estimate a general timeline by dividing it into stages and assuming an eight-hour workday (5 workdays per week and 20 workdays per month).
Under these assumptions, it’s possible to estimate the completion time to be around 95 days or 760 hours.
In terms of cost, hiring a mid-level freelancer, with a rate of $45 per hour, could bring the total cost to $34,200 for a few minutes of high-quality 3D animation with complex characters and relatively fast rendering time.
While product animation might cost less due to a lower level of complexity, the quality of the animation should remain the same. If the budget is a constraint, a freelancer may agree to negotiate the cost, such as extending the completion time or lowering the resolution.
Additionally, if a project needs to be completed quickly, it can be done by hiring more team members and using high-performance computers, but this will be resource-intensive.
Good communication between the client and the team throughout the project is crucial to ensure everybody is on the same page and to avoid delays in the rendering phase.
The 3D Animation Video Cost According to the Video Length
When compared to 2D or motion graphics animation, 3D Animation is way too costly. You won’t believe it, but some of the popular Disney movies like Frozen cost $24,510 per second.
Similarly, the newly released masterpiece of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is another one of the most expensive 3D animated films. Each frame of the movie cost around $900, which is insane.
This signifies that 3D Animation is pretty expensive because a lot of tools, techniques, and expertise are required to just make a single shot.
Yet, the cost of each 3D animation video varies as we have discussed above the key factors that can influence the cost of a 3D animation video/movie.
The average cost of a 60-second 3D animated video is approximately $10,000 – $20,000. On the other hand, a 30-second 3D animated video costs $5000. If you wish to get a high-transition 3D animation video, it can cost you around $20,000 to $50,000 per minute.
How Much Time Does It Take to Create A 3D Animation
As a starting point for budgeting your own project, use this table to estimate the number of hours needed to produce any of the 3D animations.
When it comes to production costs, there are several variables to consider. The best way to get a more precise estimate of the Animation’s cost is by speaking to a company representative.
Hourly rates of 3D animators worldwide
Data from internet review sites such as Clutch (Top 3D Animation Companies) is used to calculate hourly rates, which are then compared to those prices.
There are a number of aspects that might affect the hourly rate, such as educational background, certifications, job experience, and extra talents, that must be taken into consideration.
The most expensive video animation companies are found in the United States, where the hourly rate ranges from $100 to $199. If you employ an American 3D animator for 100 hours of work, you’ll have to shell out $10,000 to cover their expenses (in the case when minimum price ranges are taken into consideration).
We may also compare the prices in other countries like Ukraine and Poland. A 3D animator at an hourly rate of $ 25 (which is tough to find in the countries mentioned) may be hired for $ 2,500 for 100 hours of work.
In India, you may locate reasonably priced 3D animation studios, but take in mind the reputation and experience of each company on your shortlist.
Let’s take a look at the cost difference charged by a freelancer and an animation studio.
How much does a freelancer animator charge?
Having a limited budget for a video project can make it challenging to find cost-effective options while still achieving a reasonable level of quality.
One option to consider is working with freelancers, who often charge lower prices than studios due to lower overhead costs such as office rental or sharing revenue with superiors. As they typically work from their own homes using personal computers, their main expenses are likely just electricity and software license fees.
Freelancers offer flexibility in terms of pricing and may be willing to negotiate the cost of a project based on its complexity. They might use a standard pricing strategy, but the final cost can vary from their base rate. For relatively simple projects with no strict deadline, it’s possible to secure a lower price.
Freelance 3D animators are often a good option for shorter marketing content, product demonstrations, educational materials, and non-commercial projects.
One potential downside to working with freelancers is that they may specialize in only one aspect of 3D animation, such as modeling or rigging, and not offer other services like sound effects or VFX.
To get a fully-realized animation, you may need to hire multiple freelancers, such as a scriptwriter/storyboard artist, a 3D modeler/rigger, and an animator/renderer.
Each will have to work independently and depending on the stage of the project one might have to wait till the previous step is complete.
Also, the hourly rate for freelance 3D animators may vary based on location and experience level and those based in the United States have an estimated average rate.
Working with freelancers may require hiring multiple individuals to complete a 3D animation project, as they typically specialize in one area of the work. For example, a freelancer who specializes in 3D modeling and rigging may not also provide sound effects or visual effects services.
This means that to get a fully-functional animation, you may need to hire a scriptwriter/storyboard artist, a 3D modeler/rigger, and an animator/renderer. The scriptwriting and modeling can be done concurrently while animating is done after the assets are ready.
The cost of hiring a freelancer may depend on their experience level and location, with hourly rates varying depending on where they are based. This is particularly true for animators based in the United States, whose hourly rate will depend on their location, experience, and the complexity of the project.
The hourly rate for freelance 3D animators varies based on several factors, including their location and experience level.
|Level||Years of Experience||Hourly Rate|
|Mid-level||2 – 4 years||$45-80|
In developed countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Western European nations, the average hourly rate is generally similar. However, a freelancer’s education, qualifications, certifications, and work experience can also affect their rate.
Freelancers with only two years of experience will likely charge less than those with more extensive experience in the field.
How much does a professional 3D Animation studio charge?
Another option for 3D animation is to hire a professional animation studio. One of the main benefits of working with a studio is that they have an in-house production team, all working in the same office.
This direct collaboration allows for faster turnaround times as problems can be addressed and solved more quickly. The studio will have a dedicated project manager who acts as a liaison between the client and the production team.
This project manager will not only convey questions and answers but will also have a deep understanding of the project, ensuring that all aspects of the production are handled smoothly.
A professional studio would provide an end-to-end service, meaning that the project manager will handle all aspects of the production, including invoicing, billing, progress, deliverables, file format, and estimated completion time. This is a significant advantage as it eliminates the need for the client to interact with multiple people.
Studios often work on different elements of the animation simultaneously. For example, while the script is still being written, the rigging team may begin designing the objects or characters.
This allows the studio to take full advantage of the time available and complete the animation faster. However, it’s worth noting that certain elements of the animation can’t be created simultaneously, such as modeling, rigging, animation, voice-over, and rendering, they will be created at different times and then joined together to finalize the animation.
Hiring a professional animation studio can be more expensive, but the advantage is that you get a full-service and accurate end-to-end production service, with a project manager and a dedicated team working on the animation, reducing any potential delays.
To achieve your goal of getting your hands on high-quality 3D Animation on time and on budget, follow the advice provided below.
Helpful Tips on Using 3D Animation Services for Your Benefit
- Determine your company’s requirements before you begin. If you know what 3D animation is and why you need it, interviewing 3D animation companies will be a breeze. Through good project planning, avoid any potential misunderstandings with future partners.
- A 3D animation studio should be carefully vetted to ensure that it can satisfy all of the project specifications. You need to search for competent 3D animators on all platforms. Find out as much as you can about their abilities – will they be capable of completing the task at hand?
- Focus your attention on the most effective solution. It’s up to you, but it’s best to make your final decision based on the most favorable circumstances. If you want to have access to worldwide talent, you can consider hiring a team of 3D animators in Ukraine or another outsourcing location.
- Work with a 3D animation team to discuss all of your concepts. They can better define the scope of the project and assign duties if they know what you’re thinking about.
- Are you aware that the ultimate cost is influenced by the scope of the work? This means that you should figure out your needs and communicate them to the rest of your team.
- Please don’t hesitate if you have any reference materials that you can share with us in order to acquire the most accurate results possible.
- Keep an eye on the project’s development at all times. Project management services from a 3D animation company are available if you choose to handle it on your own. The entire manufacturing process is well-managed by experienced project managers.
So hopefully, you’ve learned how much it costs and what factors are involved in 3D Animation.
Looking for a Credible 3D Animation Agency? Get in Touch with Us
Now that you know how to hire any 3D animation studios and companies and what factors can influence the cost of your 3D animation project. It’s time to ponder which animation production company you should hire for your 3D animation video.
If you survey the websites like Manifest, Clutch, Google My Business, and LinkedIn Company Directory, you’ll find innumerable animation studios that are 3D animation services. However, finding the right one is an intricate task. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.
But don’t you worry, we have just the right solution. If you’re looking for a credible video animation services agency, we recommend you hire BuzzFlick, one of the animation studios in Toronto offering exceptional video animation and production services.
We have a competent team of 3D animation artists who encompasses all the skills an experienced should possess in order to make top-class 3D animation videos.
Be it custom whiteboard video, 3D explainer video production, or 3D promotional video production service, we offer it all.
In a Nutshell
As per our understanding, 3D Animation is pretty expensive because of the tools, techniques, processes, and expertise it requires when compared to other types of animations.
We hope this conclusive guide on 3D Animation will help you to determine the cost of your 3D animation project.
3D Animation Cost – FAQs
- How much does 3D animation cost?
Compared to other animations, 3D Animation is more expensive. A 3D animation video can cost approximately $10,000 to $20,000 per minute. However, the price can vary depending on the number of 3D characters and other advanced features.
- How much is a 30-second 3D animation?
A high-quality 30-second animated 3D explainer video can cost you around $2000 – $4500, depending on the chosen style and the number of revisions that come in the process.
- How much is the cost of 3D Animation per minute?
60 seconds 3D animated video costs $20,000 to $50,000. Often the cost is not mentioned as it varies from project to project.
- How long does it take to animated 30 seconds and 1 minute long 3D video?
If your video is 30-second-long it takes up to 5 days. Whereas, creating a 60 second 3D animation takes between 6 to 12 days approximately. An animator will plan to work additional days to accommodate the tasks of creating storyboards, generating ideas, and other related activities.
- How much does a 3D movie cost?
When it comes to the cost of 3D Animation, we determined after researching that an estimated budget of $24,156 is spent on each second of a 3D animation video which later on sums up to $1.5 million per minute after the final cut.
- How much do 3D animators charge per hour?
A mid-level freelance animator charges $40 to $80 per hour.
- Is 3D animation cheaper than 2D?
No, 3D animation production is pricier when compared to 2D animation as it requires more artists, resources, and a budget.
To learn how 2D is different from 3D Animation, check out this blog – The difference between 2D & 3D animation.