How Much Does 3D Animation Cost?

1. Movie VFX & Animated Film 2. TV Animation & Commercials 3. 3D Illustration & Summary

TV Animation Budgets

Unsurprisingly the budgets for animated television shows vary wildly due to the huge variety of style and quality across television. The bigger and more popular a show becomes, the costs begin to increase as scripts demand more complex animated sequences and voice actors demand higher salaries. To try and get a gauge on typical budgets, lets take a look at a range of examples.

 

Peppa Pig – 2D animated children’s show running at a cost of £5,000 ($7755) per minute, so for a 52-show series that comes to £1.3m ($2m).

peppaPig

Kaeloo – 3D animated teen show produced for roughly $4.4m, which equates to around $12,000 per minute.

kealoo

Sarah and Duck – 2D animated children’s show by Karrot Animation comes in at £8,500 ($13,000 ) per minute.

sarah

Pocoyo – 3D animated children’s show from 2010, animated on a budget of  $110,000 per episode, or around $16,000 per minute.

pocoyo

South Park – 2D animated adult show with costs ups to $1m per episode, which is roughly $45,000 per minute. Animated in Maya, the same 3D software used by the worlds biggest VFX studios.

southPark

Family Guy – 2D animated teen/ adult show with costs up to $2m per episode, or around $90,000 per minute. A significant portion of this can be attributed to the voice actors at around $200,000 each per episode.

familyGuy

So it is clear that children’s animation is generally produced on a very tight budget, with the more recent shows being squeezed even further to produce higher quality for less. A recent UK survey placed a median of around £8202 ($12720) per minute for animated children’s shows. The big jump found when moving to series such as South Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons demonstrates that the big money is to be found in broader/ more adult themed animation and the talent involved in those productions are then able to demand higher salaries, driving up production costs.

Commercials Budgets

Commercials and promo videos are where budgets scale from a few thousands pounds, to budgets which far outweigh even feature film expense. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the most expensive feature film ever made at $378.5m, resulting in a cost per minute of $2.76m. Compare this with Chanel No.5’s 2004 commercial which cost $33m, or $16.5m per minute, feature films all of a sudden seem like a bargain! Our focus is on animation, so lets take a look at 3 case studies of animation heavy commercials with big, medium and small budgets to get an idea of what you get for your money.

Big Budget $1m+

Mercedes-Benz 'Fable'

It simply wouldn’t be an article on commercials without a mention of The Superbowl. A 60s TV spot during the commercial break can cost $8m so it is no surprise that brands are willing to pay top dollar to creative agencies to produce a movie quality commercial. Typical production budgets are estimated at around $1m or more and in this commercial animated by MPC, the money involved clearly shows. This commercial level is most definitely knocking on the door of full scale animated feature film budgets, allowing for movie quality character animation, lighting and sound production. Check out the video below to see what a company receives in return for their investment.

Medium Budget ~$100k+

McLaren Black Swan

Superbowl aside, hundreds of highly creative animated commercials are produced each year with budgets anywhere from $50,000 to several hundred thousand dollars. A recent fully CGI commercial by MPC for Mclaren is a perfect demonstration of this mid-high budget commercial. These type of commercials produced by the biggest VFX houses in the world utilise tools developed for creating movie VFX and put them to use in their advertising departments to produce practically film quality visual effects on a tight turn around. These commercials are often part of an international branding package spreading over several years and managed by large creative agencies.

Low Budget ~$3k-$30k

Mario Jumps Into Battle

This category from as little as £2000+ is where you can find commercials and promo videos that punch above their weight. This is the typical price point for small-medium businesses looking for local television or youtube advertising as well as in house promotional, explanation or pitch materials. We couldn’t pass on the opportunity for a little plug of our commercial animation services, so have included one of the dozens of promotional videos we produce here at getwrightonit.com.

More on the making of the video above can be found on this previous blog post. For further examples of the huge range of animation styles we can offer, please also check out our showreels or get in touch now for a quote.

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Posted on August 3, 2015 in blogPosts

About the Author

Dean Wright is a 3D artist and film maker. He writes about the VFX industry, Motorsport and working life in Japan following his time there in 2013-2014. Having worked internationally at major studios, he now lives in London freelancing for a wide range of clients.

Responses

  1. Octavian Ureche
    August 5, 2015 at 7:42 pm · Reply

    Finally, someone sheds some light.

  2. Jordan
    August 28, 2015 at 1:13 pm · Reply

    Interesting look at the costs of 3d animation. I remember that I used to think that 3d animation was “easier” than 2d – “Oh, the computer does everything!” But you don’t realize how much effort goes into these movies that we love. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Ganesh Dhoni
    December 21, 2015 at 2:48 am · Reply

    Thank you so much for this article. Greatly inspired from your attitude of TRANSPARENCY. It can be established if many of vfx studios co-operate which may result in growth of our industry.

  4. Jeff Thomson
    May 8, 2017 at 5:54 am · Reply

    toy story was more expensive than frozen wow 3d animation is really expensive as compare to 2d animated video production.

  5. wstarmls
    May 16, 2017 at 7:48 am · Reply

    The majority of the animated feature movies and short animated skits today are created with 3D animation, and this is a rapidly growing industry.

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