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3D Animation Video Cost: What You Need to Know

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3D animation is a fantastic way to produce compelling and exciting content which can positively impact customer conversions.

Before you begin your 3D animation project, you must understand the work that goes into it and its cost. Then, you can create a budget that suits your company’s funds and aspirations.

If you’ve weighed up the 2D animation vs. 3D animation cost, you’ll already know that 2D, while a little less impactful, is more affordable.

Let’s analyze the factors that impact 3D animation freelance work costs and what you should expect to pay for varying projects.

How Much Does It Cost to Produce a 3D Animation?

Firstly, your project’s objectives will define the amount of money you invest in a professional 3D animation.

For example, a complete set of 3D graphics for a console game will cost much more than a 30-second business explainer video!

The average cost of a 3D task starts at $10,000. That figure can increase up to around $20,000 per minute of animation time if you’re going for outstanding quality.

Cheaper options are best avoided because a low-skill 3D campaign could do more harm than good. To turn a fantastic concept into a 3D reality, a production requires tremendous knowledge, experience, and creativity.

What to Look for in a 3D Animation Freelancer

A great animator will have a broad range of skills. They’ll need to be familiar with elements such as character anatomy, physics, and animation principles. An animator also requires exceptional design skills to create an award-winning campaign.

However, it’s not only the 3D animator who contributes; depending on their skill set, they’ll usually work in conjunction with several collaborators, such as:

  • Character designers
  • Concept artists
  • An art director
  • 3D modelers
  • Animators
  • Technical artists
  • Sound designers
  • Scriptwriters

While 3D animation might seem expensive, the costs vary between studios and professionals.

Every project will have a unique price depending on how long it will take, the target audience, and your total budget. Which is why it’s important to receive a full quote, with pricing breakdowns, before getting started.

Cost Factors in a 3D Animation Video

Now that we know how variable animation costs can be, let’s clarify the main drivers that will significantly impact your final quote.

The key elements are:

  • The duration of your 3D animation.
  • How much work you want (from creative design to finished production).
  • The animator you work with and their experience.
  • Additional contractors required.
  • The style and design of the animation.
  • How detailed your animation video should be.

We’ll run through each of these factors to quantify the potential cost of your project.

3D Animation Video Length

One of the biggest criteria will be the length of your finished animation – the longer the video, the higher the cost. Lengthier videos are usually created with more dynamic effects and take longer to make, so they’ll demand a higher skill level and require additional time. Freelance animators can estimate a cost per minute or second, but they’ll need to know the nature of your video and how long it will be.

The Scope of Your Animation Project

If you already have 3D modeling available, the artist won’t have to create animations from scratch. Likewise, if you’ve got a storyboard and a full suite of research, you can reduce the total budget. A lot also depends on what sort of characters or landscapes you require. Character animation means creating rigging to build a controllable skeleton, and the more texturing and concept development needed, the higher the cost.

3D Animator Skills and Experience

Animation isn’t a single skill – it’s an interdisciplinary project, usually handled by a team of creative professionals, each bringing something unique to the table. Therefore, your video cost will depend heavily on the skills of your freelancer or animation team and what outside knowledge they need to bring in to complete the job. Usually, you’ll need to have around five to seven people working on one quality animation project. An art director typically supervises the overall work, and the modelers and 3D artists concentrate on the visuals. There’s a big difference between junior, intermediate, and top-quality animators, and all will charge substantially different rates – but the better your team, the faster they can work.

Animation Style and Design Factors

3D animation, like any media, can be as simple or elaborate as you like. The greater the detail, the more manipulations are required to create a real-life landscape.

Animators use multiple techniques to create movement and imagery, depending on the style you have in mind, including:

  • Lighting
  • Delicate textures
  • Special materials

There are unlimited graphic styles, so you’ll need to know what design you want to use, so the animator can convey the look you’re aiming for.

3D Video Animation Complexity

Finally, the complexity of your project will have a significant influence on the overall price. More characters, more movement, and more dynamic scenes mean that the level of complexity increases. For example, if you want to create a bespoke 3D world with several characters to play out a story, it usually needs about ten specialists to develop the correct movement illusions. 

2D animation is cheaper since it’s easier to make flat objects move dynamically without as much manipulation or attention to detail. 

However, if you’re interested in incredible visuals and creating characters with nuance and captivating expressions, 3D animation is a powerful tool to add to your marketing arsenal.

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