How Much Does It Cost To Make An Animation Project? A New Tool For Animators

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Animation pricer

By Frederik Villumsen

Co-founder of Craft

Following Craft

How much does an animated project cost? I am an animation studio owner since 2010 and I am still not sure what to reply – at least not right away.

We have created the animpricer.com tool to assist animation professionals and animation studio owners around the world in getting a quick estimate of the cost of their animated project.

Through 9 quick steps you input the details of your project and the animpricer.com tool calculates the estimated cost and production time in weeks. You can then tune the inputs and see how it affects estimated cost and time to land where it feels right for you and your project – your budget and deadline.

A Good Estimate

The Animpricer.com is made to get you off to a good and quick start in pricing your animated project. It is not meant as a detailed budget planner or to give you the exact price – it is an estimate, so please keep that in mind when you use it.

In the following part I’ll break down our reasoning behind each slide and the underlying calculation we take you through. We see this as a starting point for the tool and hope to improve and grow it in the future also based on your feedback – so please don’t hold back – we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so we can adapt and make it the most valuable tool it can be for all our peers out there.

Slide 1/9 – Type of project

We distinguish between two types of projects:

PASSION: A project you do mostly out of passion. Your short film for example, or an animated music video for a friend. Something that needs a budget, but isn’t meant as a money-maker.

COMMERCIAL: A project that you do to make money. (You can still be passionate about it! 🙂

Choosing ‘Commercial’ adds a % based overhead fee that is a pure revenue sum that you get for doing the job. This is something that is usually cut in a passion project or not allowed to budget for when applying for soft funding with Film Institutes and other cultural funding bodies.

Slide 2/9 – Average monthly salary level

We made this as an input field for you to fill, as we decided it the best and easiest way to make the animpricer.com tool useful globally and personalized to your specific project. The salaries on an animation project are usually the highest cost by far and therefor important to get as correct as possible for a useful estimate.

Having fixed settings to choose from like low, medium, high, would very quickly localize the Animpricer.com’s usefulness as salaries are so different around the world. With the input bar we let you decide what a month’s work on your project is worth. All inputs are anonymous and not kept in a database by us.

It is, though, something that we are considering that you can allow us to keep in the future. It would be cool to be able to track the differences in salaries from different countries, but maybe more so between different projects in the same country.

This can help especially new artists in the industry to price their time right.

This is especially something that we are very interested in hearing feedback about. Would you be willing to share the salary input you do with us so that we can do these comparisons? It would still be anonymous, but maybe with a new drop-down menu where you select the country you are in.

Salary can be a sensitive matter, but also something that should not be too ‘dangerous’ to discuss and learn about. Looking forward to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Slide 3/9 – Team size

Slides from 1 to 10. The Animpricer.com tool is made for small and medium animation projects. Feature films and series are huge undertakings with much more complex budgeting and costs spread out across many more requirements. This is why the slider stops at 10.

If you find this annoying, please let us know.

Slide 4/9 – Length of project

Two sliders available needed to be set. One for minutes and one for seconds. This should give you the needed control to set the exact length of your project. 21 minutes is the longest project you can estimate right now.

Beyond this, a project starts to become much more complex and as with team size, require budgeting beyond what the animpricer.com is made to support (at the moment!).

Slide 5/9 – Detail and Polish

There is a big difference in setting out to do a very simple project to one that has a lot of detail and require perfection in style and look. But how to quantify that difference?

Right now if you choose the option ‘High’ level of detail and polish, it will add a 300% increase to the length of the project and the quota of how much can/should be created by one person every day during the production.

This simulates a detailed project requiring 3 times as much time and 3 times a lower quota than a project that selects ‘Low’ level of detail and polish.

‘Medium’ level of detail and polish adds a 150% increase.

This slide is a good example of the balance we try to strike with the tool being simple and easy to use, but still highly useful. Adding complexity here is definitely possible and can help a long a more precise cost estimate, but it will require more time spend from the user and might loose some people who are not into the depth of planning an animated project.

Thoughts on this are highly appreciated.

Slide 6/9 – Deadline

When to deliver a project is very important for the planning as it decides the pace in which you spend your money.

We give three options here:

Anytime: this adds no additional fee to the project.

Middle option is near future: but not high pressure; adds a 20% increase to the cost of the project.

ASAP: Adds a 50% increase to the costs of the project.

Slide 7/9 – Motion density

How fluent the motion in your project is, is an impactful decision. The three available options affect the cost estimate as follows:

Limited: 20 seconds of work created per week per team member

Middle: 10 seconds of work created per week per team member

Full: 5 seconds of work created per week per team member

The lower the quota, the longer the production time or the bigger team needed to finish in time.

Slide 8/9 – Sound and Music

Every project must have some kind of soundscape. Toggle the following categories on to add the listed increase in cost to your project:

Dialogue: 5%

Narration: 5%

Music: 10%

Foley: 5%

Free additions: 0% (Remember to abide by the rules and requests made by the creators extending their work for free use :))

This is the section we have the least experience with so any feedback on tuning this is greatly appreciated.

Slide 9/9 – The estimated cost for your project

There you go! An estimated cost for your project and an estimated production time length in weeks.

Below the estimates you can unfold a menu that overviews all choices you made. You can now change any step you went through and immediately see the effect on the estimated cost and estimated production time.

This way you can explore breakpoints in your project. For example when it’s a better option to hire another person to finish earlier and actually save some money and some time.

This overview can also be a fun and quick way of learning about the effect of the different aspects of creating an animated project.

Help create a great tool for animators

We are very curious to see how the animpricer.com tool is received and what feedback you might have for us. We have released this sooner rather than later as we are firm believers in sharing and learning from others. We hope that you will take part in sharing your opinions and experiences with us to make this a great and useful tool for us all.

The tool is made by the people from the Craft team running the site itsoncraft.com. Craft showcases the creative process and artwork of amazing/great/cool/beautiful/extraordinary projects in visual storytelling. You can start a free trial right here.

The calculation and setup of the animpricer.com tool is based on the experiences of Danish animation company Nørlum, co-producer of feature films ‘Song of the Sea’ and ‘Long Way North’.

Thank you very much for stopping by and reading through to the end! We hope that the tool will be of great use to you 🙂

Now go get the cost estimate of your animated project!