If you’ve worked in animation for any length of time, I am sure someone has said to you, “I have this great idea for an animation, how much will it cost?” When I hear that question I take a deep breath because yet again I will take time to answer a very complex question. It’s like asking a building contractor how much it costs to build a house, without knowing anything about construction–How many bedrooms? Do you want paint, brick, or stone? Do you want a double oven in the kitchen? How many bathrooms? I spend time explaining the animation process, how the costs vary, etc. So here, I will explain it to those who are new to the industry.
When building a house you usually start with...not the drawings...the BUDGET! Surprise! The first thing you have to ask yourself is how much do you have to spend? Animation costs vary with style, length, number of characters, complexity of the backgrounds, how fast you need it, etc. I hesitate to put any numbers out but on the LOW end animation costs start around $15K per finished minute for a simple animation. If you think that is high, consider Croods cost an estimated cost an estimated $135 million to produce. It was 98 minutes so that means it cost $1.4 million PER MINUTE, which is on the low side considering that Toy Story 3 cost out at $1.94 million PER MINUTE and that is before ANY MARKETING costs!
BUT, you say, I have a son, niece, or cousin going to school for animation and you’ve written a script! Okay, great. First, have you ever written for film or animation before? And your relative...they are going to do the animation, RIGHT? Let’s consider, just for argument sake, that an experienced animator takes five days to create seven seconds… (no, not minutes). If you are going to pay their wages for the number of weeks/months/years it will take so they can pay their rent/utilities, phone, car, groceries, purchase equipment/software, etc., not to mention their healthcare…okay, I think you get the point.
Also…animation isn’t just about the art. There are producers, directors, writers, composers, editors, voice talent, bookkeeping, legal and more needed to produce seconds of animation. SO, the next time you consider asking someone to give you a quote for turning your idea into an animation, ask yourself, how much would it cost you for a few months of work…Now, are are you ready to make that call?