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October 28, 2022

How Much Does One Minute of 3D Animation Cost?

3D animation can be a great way to convey your message clearly and entertainingly while keeping the audience engaged. High-quality 3D animated videos can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $50,000 per minute. At this cost, you will get polished videos with advanced animation effects. 

From character animation to explainer videos, 3D animation is in great demand, and a well-put-together video has the potential to take your brand to the next level. Hiring the right studio with skilled and experienced animation artists who can deliver stunning and memorable videos is equally important. 

In this article, we will dive deep into the world of 3D animation and see what factors influence the budget of 3D animation videos and what additional services you might need to get the stunning result you want. 

So, let’s get going! 

The average cost of one minute of 3D animation

With so many factors affecting the cost of 3D animation, it isn’t easy to nail down the average price for a 1-minute animation. Two animated scenes of the same length can drastically differ in cost depending on various factors, especially the skill of the animators working on the project. 

Typically, there are three avenues for most people to get professional 3D animation done – a freelancer, a small studio, or a professional studio. 

As you can probably imagine, a freelancer will charge significantly less than a professional. However, a professional studio has the upper hand over a freelancer regarding resources and skills. Here is a rundown of the average price of a one-minute 3D animation from a freelancer, a small studio, and a professional studio. 

Average price from a freelancer

Hiring a freelancer is the most budget-friendly option for creating a 3D animation. The average cost of a one-minute 3D animation done by a freelancer can range from $50 to $3000, which is a huge range. You can find very different freelancers on both ends of this spectrum. 

At the lower end, you will encounter freelancers who might not have experience beyond creating some very basic animations. However, if you hire experienced, skilled professional freelancers, you might be able to get a decent quality 3D animation done at a reasonable price. 

The biggest problem with hiring freelancers is that most will handle almost all the animation aspects themselves. Therefore, one (or several) animation elements can be neglected or half-baked. 

Besides, the animation you get is generic, with animation effects lacking the polish and professional quality that a studio can offer. After all, as they say, you get what you pay for! 

Average price from a small studio

The price for creating a 3D video using the services of a small studio can range from $3000 to $7000 per minute. Most of these small studios have a team of two to three professionals and can give you better worth for your money than hiring a freelancer. 

Animation artists are experienced and skilled in most small studios. However, due to their smaller size, they cannot work on multiple projects at a time, and in most cases, the artists might not have experience working on complex projects. Hence, it should not come as a surprise if you face long wait times before they can begin working on your project. 

Another issue with small studios is that they outsource quite a significant portion of their work, or they might ask you to complete it on your end. The cost can quickly add up in that case, not to mention the inconvenience that comes along with it. 

Average price from a professional studio

The average price of producing a 3D animation from a professional studio can be between $20,000 to $50,000. But with a professional animation production studio like NOON22 you get the best value for your money. 

Most professional studios have a crew of very skilled professionals with expertise in the various aspects of the 3D animation process, from scriptwriting, animation, sound design, and voiceover. 

Professional studios like NOON22 divide the task into small teams that keep the workflow organized and, more importantly, on schedule. Another advantage of hiring a premium production studio is that you can customize every aspect of your animation according to your needs and wants. 

Most professional studios will keep you in the loop at every production stage. You will be consulted at every major juncture of the production process, whether approving the script or choosing the voiceover 

talent. You will also have a chance to give feedback on anything you want to be changed, edited, or removed. 

A professional studio like NOON22 can ensure that you get exactly the quality you expect. Hiring a professional studio might be a bit more expensive, but at the end of the process, you will get the highest quality customized animation that hits the spot. 

Factors that impact 3D animation cost

Apart from the professionals involved in the 3D animation process, several other factors play a huge role in determining the overall budget. Here are the three most crucial factors that can directly affect the budget of your 3D animation project. 

The complexity of the 3D animation project

It is rather an obvious factor. The more complex a 3D animation project is, the more it will cost. But how to evaluate the complexity? Well, three criteria determine the complexity of a 3D animation project: the number of polygons involved, the amount of texturing needed, and the degree of detail. 

Polygons are small building blocks of a 3D object in animation. The higher the density of the polygons in a model, the more details will show. For instance, a high-poly object will have very crisp details and look more realistic than a low-poly model. 

While low-poly models have the advantage of faster loading times, they don’t offer many details. Low-poly models are often utilized in video games and some mobile apps. 

A 3D artist spends much more time rendering a high-poly model than a low-poly model. Consequently, an animation with a higher number of high-poly models in each frame will be more expensive. 

Texturing is another aspect that adds to the complexity of animation. Objects with much texture look more natural but also need a lot more work. 

The length of the 3D animation video

The length of the 3D animation video also plays a huge role in the project’s overall cost. Making a 3D video involves rendering numerous 3D models and then stitching them all to make a smooth animation effect. 

To ensure that the animation is as natural and flawless as possible, a 3D artist must render hundreds of thousands of frames, which takes much time. Consequently, longer-duration videos will require the artists to spend much more time animating, increasing the project’s overall cost.

Extra services required

A 3D animation video involves much more than merely creating the 3D film. Additional services accompanying the animation will also add to the cost of the animation video. 

Scripting

The process of 3D animation starts with a script. A tightly knit script is the key to keeping the message to the point and direct. The process of animation can’t begin if there is no script. 

Several professional studios, including Noon, offer scripting services as well, but it will add to the overall cost of your project. The script will also play a role in the project’s complexity. For instance, if your script calls for more 3D properties, it will increase the overall budget.

Voiceover/ narration

Voiceover is an integral part of most 3D animation videos. You will have to pay the additional cost if you need narration or voiceover services. The price will also depend on the voiceover talent.

Music and sound effects

Music and sound effects help to keep your audience engaged with the happenings in the 3D animation video. High-quality music and sound effects can elevate the video to the next level by providing the context and ambiance for the scene. That said, creating an original soundtrack will cost you more. 

Furthermore, if you decide to license a specific piece of music or track from a popular artist for your animated video, you will have to pay significantly more. 

Number of resources and expertise

Another important factor that is pivotal in deciding the overall cost of an animated video is the number of other resources required and the expertise. In most cases, the more resources your project will need, the more it will cost. 

Similarly, if you will end up paying more for someone with a lot of experience and expertise, an animator who has worked on big projects will certainly demand more time than a less experienced one. 

What is included in the 3D animation cost?

A 3D animation project is complex and is broken down into two major steps: pre-production and post-production. 

Pre-production involves the initial steps in the 3D animation process, determining the project’s look and feel. Some of the pre-production steps include: 

  • Concept creation 
  • Storyboard 
  • Rough script 
  • Character design 

Many animation and VFX studios already receive concept work, character design, etc. Hence, we won’t discuss the pre-production workflow here, but it certainly plays a crucial role in establishing the project’s look and feel. 

Production is the most important service that a professional animation or VFX studio provides. It includes the following important components: 

3D asset creation

Assets are characters or the environment in which they exist in the scene. Other 3D objects in the scene are called props. 

Assets can be further divided into the ones that move during the animation and those that don’t. Static assets that don’t move are often called environment, while animated objects are called characters. 

It takes much time for a 3D artist to create characters. It is also one of the most difficult parts of the process that requires much experience. The level of detail in the characters also plays a huge role in the project’s overall price. 

Asset creation can take up almost 35% of the entire budget of the 3D animation project. 

Shot work

Shot work is what animators do with the properties, characters, and environments they create. The typical length of a shot is about 5 seconds, but it can vary a great deal depending on the type of the project. 

The shot work typically consists of the following: 

  • Animating the characters 
  • Animation of the camera 
  • Lighting 
  • Compositing 

For most feature animations, the shot costs depend on complexity, such as the number of characters to animate. 

Depending on the show scale budget, Noon also includes a production crew. For instance, for about five characters and 20 assets, we are looking at one producer and two coordinators to help oversee the project. 

A production team will take up about 10% of the project’s total budget. 

Wrapping up

3D animation can greatly assist any business wanting to increase customer engagement and promote brand awareness. However, hiring the right animation studio is crucial to the overall success of your efforts. 

Quebec, Canada, is rapidly becoming a hub of animation studios and artists providing quality services to customers worldwide. Some reports say Montreal has become the world’s fourth largest animation and visual effects hub in recent years. 

The Canadian government’s tax incentives are the biggest reason for Quebec’s rapid growth of the animation industry. Foreign customers can save as much as 40% on their animation and VFX costs by choosing a production company in Quebec. 

NOON22 is a rapidly growing professional production company in Quebec with an experience of over 11 years in 3D animation. We have worked on hundreds of film, entertainment, and media projects. 

We are committed to excellence in 3D animation and VFX production. Our talented experts and specialists work with the latest technology to create an unforgettable visual experiences. 

Contact us today to learn how we can help you elevate your 3D animation to the next level. 

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