A Comprehensive Guide to 3D Animation Cost

To most people, 3D animation looks attractive and sparks the interest of investors for many reasons. There are a variety of art styles, and animation types which are used to create 3D games, movies, tutorial videos, and so on. However, many fail to fathom the cost, time, and effort that goes into the smallest 3D animation projects.

When you dive deeper into the complete 3D animation process, you will find several professionals involved in it. There are 3D artists, modelers, animators, technical artists, scriptwriters, sound designers, and so on.

Explaining to potential clients what goes into 3D animation cost ensures reliability and transparency in the process. Read on to find a detailed guide on different ways to determine the factors influencing the cost of 3D animation services.

Key factors influencing 3D Animation Cost

Any reputed 3D game development studio offering animation services considers several criteria to determine the overall cost of 3D animation. The art styles, complexity of the process, expertise of the artist, and animation duration all influence the 3D animation cost. Usually, the cost of the project is determined based on per minute of the animation.
Usually, the cost varies from one project to another as well as depending on the game studio. The studio sets different rates for each part of the project. The following are some of the criteria that help with calculating the overall 3D animation cost:

Animation duration

As the 3D animation cost is estimated on a per-minute basis, the animation project duration is a crucial factor to consider. The cost increases in proportion to the animation duration. This is because the longer animation displays more visual effects which take much time and effort to animate and render.

The cost of creating 3D animation for explainer videos, cartoons, and promo videos, is calculated based on per minute or second rate. However, for 3D video games, the cost is estimated depending on the number of animated characters and objects in the scene. The cost estimation depends on the overall complexity. In the case of per-minute rendering, the cost is significantly less from the second minute as the majority of the cost-intensive factors get absorbed in the first minute. These factors include script writing, 3D modeling, sketching and storyboarding, and texturing.

Complexity

The more details and realistic the animation, the higher the cost of 3D animation services. The complexity of the project is defined by the number of characters, realism, and detailing, the fluency of the character movement, and the dynamics of the scene. A team of 3D artists as well as a few 2D artists will need to get involved in the animation process. Qualified 3D artists can create an illusion of movement in any detailed environment. Often the form of animation is highly complex which leads to a higher cost of rendering. The 3D animation cost significantly increases because of detailing, simulation, and textures. The cost of animating a 5-minute explainer video with minimal character and elements is much less than creating an animation trailer of 30 seconds for any AAA game. It can be considered one of the most critical factors affecting the cost of 3D animation services.

3D Animation type

Reputed 3D animation companies can create a wide variety of art styles and animation renderings. The animation cost is influenced significantly by the type of animation. As art and technology have evolved with time, we come across a variety of 3D animations for different projects. Digital 3D videos, films, interactive 3D videos, 3D animation for VR- each type of animation has a different price range. The technique, design approach, and technology vary from one project to another. While certain types of 3D animation are not as complicated and hence do not require many work hours to render, other styles are highly detailed and labor-intensive. Thus, this is another factor that influences the budget calculation.

Art Style and Character Design

The time, effort, technology, and skill required for 3D animation vary based on the art style and character and environment design. The more realistic the 3D character and environment, the more manipulation of the animated setting is required to seamlessly integrate the character. The process includes setting proper lighting, texture, and materials to make the characters look seamless in the animated project.
The client can choose between abstract, realistic, stylized, cartoon, and even more styles that are evolving by the day. In video games, hyperrealistic 3D animation is specifically used in VR, console, and PC games. The art style and visual aspects of the project influence the overall cost, alongside the other factors shared here.

Developer’s experience and qualification

Another crucial factor influencing the 3D animation cost is the experience and qualification of the 3D artists and developers. Whether you choose freelancers or among the best 3D animation companies, the cost will vary accordingly. Depending on the project stature, the team size as well as seniority of the developers, the cost gets determined accordingly. An average 3D project size would require a team size of approximately 5-7 3D animators and artists. There will be a necessity for specialists as well in case the project has a specific need. Often 3D animation studios offering outsourced services can provide senior, junior, and mid-senior animators for the project. Accordingly, the 3D animation cost is determined.

Scriptwriting and refining

The overall scripting of the 3D animation films, game’s cut scenes, and cartoons is creative and time-consuming. The storyline can make or break the entire 3D animation production. The client may have a vision, but the animation studio has a creative team that creates a concrete script based on the idea. The scripting takes time as a result, at least 5-7 working days and that adds to the overall cost of the animation process.

2D storyboarding

It is not impossible but rare to produce 3D animation without relying on 2D storyboarding. The hand-drawn 2D storyboards give a proper reference point to the artist as well as the client. It also helps them determine modifications, that also help to quote precise cost estimation.

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How long does it take to create different types of 3D Animation?

The hourly rate is a crucial factor that depends on the type of 3D animation created for the project. The following are the broadly categorized types of 3D animation and the average cost involved in them:

Non-game 3D animation

Non-game 3D animation includes explainer videos, motion graphics, and animated ads. Such projects have design and animation, scriptwriting, and sound effects requirements. The time required to develop such projects is anywhere between 100-120 hours.

Simple game animation

Video games with basic environment design and 3D characters are simple enough. The expertise, tech requirement, and time needed are all comparatively less. Such projects also need design, animation, sound effects, and scriptwriting. The time to develop required for such games is 120-150 hours.

Complex game animation

This include hyper realistic games, and AAA games with complex plot, characters, and environment design. As a result, the software, expertise, and time required for such a project are the highest. The approximate time needed to create such a project is 150-180 hours.

What factors are inclusive of the 3D Animation Timeline?

Each aspect of the development process has a specific timeline. The total timeline is calculated based on the overall average possible time required for each of the stages of 3D animation. The following are some of the factors that are inclusive of the 3D animation timeline:

Scripting- The scripting takes approximately 5 days to complete. The stage includes brainstorming the idea as well as refining it.

Storyboarding- The storyboarding stage takes up to 10 days to complete. The visual representation of the script is done in 2D in such a situation.

3D modeling and rigging- The 3D modeling and rigging is the most complex and time-consuming part of the animation process. It can take up to 30 days to complete, depending largely on the type of the project.

Texturing and Coloring- The texturing and coloring give the finishing touches to the animation and make it life-like. It can take up to 10 days for the 3D animators to complete the process.

Animation and sound engineering- The graphics are animated and spontaneous motion is added alongside sound effects and music. The sound editing and animating can take up to twenty days.

VFX and rendering- The VFX and rendering takes approximately 10 days to complete.
The total work hours needed for a 3D animation project of moderate complication is 80 days or 640 hours.

Hourly rates of 3D Animators

The 3D animators’ hourly rates vary from one location to another. There are various reasons behind the variable cost like the socio-economic condition of the region, the reputation of the game development company, and the overall qualification and experience of the animators. The following table has the hourly rates as per location:

Country  Rate
US $25-$35/ hour
UK $20-$30/ hour
Poland $10-$15/ hour
India <$10/ hour
Ukraine $10-$15/ hour
Germany $25-$35/ hour

 

The 3D animation cost for hiring professionals from the US for approximately 100 hours project is between $2500 to $3500. It can get more expensive depending on the type of 3D animation service you need. However, it is comparatively cost-effective without compromising the service quality when you choose service from animators in India, Ukraine, and similar regions.

Factors that determine hourly rates of 3D Animators

The following are some of the reasons affecting the hourly rate of 3D animators employed by reputed 3D animation studios as well as freelancers.

Location
The 3D animation hourly rate is different for in-house professionals and freelancers. Many reputed game development companies offer augmented staffing and outsourcing services at a lower rate to specific industries. A small trailer designed for animators in the US will cost more than a moderate-length animated series developed by professionals located in Asian countries.

Expertise
The specific expertise of the professionals also affects the hourly rate. Often if the professional has rare expertise and is in demand, the hourly rates are comparatively higher. Also, the rates for different designations like 3D artist, 3D modelers, and scriptwriter varies.

Experience
The hourly rate also varies based on the expertise, qualifications, and experience of the professionals. The rates for someone with up to two years of experience are significantly less compared to professionals with five years and more experience.

Team size
Lastly, the overall cost can vary depending on the team size. This entirely depends on the complexity of the project. The team size can be anywhere from a couple of professionals for a simple trailer to ten or more people for a complex project. The team will comprise professionals like project managers, 3D animators, scriptwriters, and so on.

Tips to successfully use 3D Animation Services

Making the most of 3D animation services means ensuring the outsourced team has maximum productivity. Here are a few tips that are tried and tested ways to get such productivity:

  • It is crucial to define the overall business need for the 3D animation studio. There should be clarity among the entire team about the project vision.
  • Choose the 3D animation studio carefully to ensure they have all the necessary technology and experience to execute your project successfully.
  • Ensure the cooperation model is chosen correctly so that the team can be scaled easily later as per growing requirements. A reputed 3D animation studio can suggest the best team composition and size for your project.
  • Supervise the progress occasionally. Choose an experienced project coordinator to streamline the entire development process.

Conclusion

The overall 3D animation cost is affected by several factors ranging from the location of the professional, and their expertise to the complexity of the project. The cost also gets influenced by the type of 3D animation style required. Analyzing all these thoroughly and hiring a 3D game studio or outsourcing the requirement is possible when the above-mentioned factors are considered.

Juego Studios is one of the top 3D animation studios providing a variety of relevant services like 3D modeling, 3D art, animation, and more. Seasoned professionals can help make your visions an animated reality using the latest technology and software.

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