The word cheap means different things to different people. For some, it means a great deal. For others, it can mean low quality.
But if you know what you’re looking for and how to find it, you can get an inexpensive cost and high quality. In this article, we will help you find the best cheap animation studios that also get you the best result for your money.
Cheap Animation Studios – What Exactly Does That Mean?
Cheap can be bad, but it can also be good if you know what to look for
We can all agree that you get what you pay for. However, you can also save a lot of money when you’re armed with information. For example; you can save up to 50% from one company to another while keeping the same level of quality. So let’s first understand what’s cheap, what’s realistic, and what’s wasted time and money.
Understanding the process: Animation is not the video
This is a place where most entrepreneurs make a mistake. They think that an “animated video” is simply creating animation. This is a big misunderstanding and can lead to serious oversights. You should know that:
• The production process consists of 7-8 steps and animation is only one of them.
• It takes around 250-400 production hours to create a 1 minute custom animated or explainer video.
• There should be a full team involved; on every stage there’s a person with different skills.
Additionally, when thinking about the budget, you should also consider that studios need to pay taxes, invest in expensive hardware and software, office space, make a profit, etc. So next time you hear about super-cheap options (under $1000), remember to take all that into account. Corners are probably getting cut somewhere.
The Cheapest Animation Options
If it seems too good to be true… well, you know the rest
Even as you read this article, you probably have been hooked by ads about animated video production for very low prices. And of course, who wouldn’t be at least interested in checking that out? Even if it’s too good to be true, it’s always tempting to see what they’re offering. But what exactly makes those prices so low? Let’s take a look.
Cheap animation software
Online animation software or monthly subscriptions can work in certain casual cases, but we do not recommend using them for business purposes. That software does not actually create video, it just provides generic animations. More importantly, you’re just getting random animations that have no selling power on their own.
Think of any successful commercial you have ever seen. It may have amazing visuals and captivating audio, but those still play a supporting role to the marketing message. The keyword here is MARKETING. You need a professional staff that will craft your message for your sales or marketing funnel and create a customized video to deliver it.
With cheap animation software you will just have some templates and dummy characters that shake their hands and heads in generic situations.
Other Ways Corners are Cut
Not everyone has good intentions
Circling back to the question above – how on earth can studios suggest videos starting at 250$-$1000? First, most of them use that generic online software I just mentioned. They do not create videos; what they do is adopt your script to those templates and present it to you as custom made.
However, even as a video marketing professional, I’ve been surprised by some tactics. A (pretty famous) company was offering decent quality animated videos for $1950. I didn’t buy it, because that price barely covers our expenses. So I checked their portfolio and while the quality wasn’t impressive, it was pretty good for that price. I had to find out more. So I reached out to them as a client to understand their secret ingredient.
Here’s what happened. During our call, I brought up the quality of the videos and they presented me with a premade template. They had simply created 1 template with their own animations and applied that to every video with no customization.
So again, another cookie-cutter technique that is designed to be able to make them a profit without charging much. But that comes at a big cost to the customer, and that cost is you’re getting the same video everyone else is getting.
When I raised the issue that this wouldn’t be unique to my business at all, they sent me several other examples. One of them was actually one of our old videos! And then they raised the price which was expected. I was totally surprised and asked about that video, yet they continued to claim it as theirs. So then I said, “I believe I saw this video in another company’s portfolio” and the sales guy said “Yeah maybe, but we participated in the production process,” which was a total lie as we created that video in-house. That’s a true story – I even still have the official offer from them.
The bottom line is that you need to be very careful and discuss every aspect. Even better if you have someone on your staff who has experience with animation quality and knows a bit about the production process.
More sneaky tactics
Another mystery for me was to come across cheap prices from companies in the US or UK. Sure, the quality was poor, but even then the price was still very low ($3500-$5000) for a company that operates in the US, UK or Canada – very high-cost-of-living countries. So I started to investigate and found out they do not actually have any production staff in-house; they outsource to the same low quality studios you need to avoid! All the people in those US or UK offices do is find leads and win deals. Then they pass the actual work to those low-quality production houses overseas.
Explainer Video Cost – A Price Guide For Any Budget
So where can I find a cheap animation studio?
The tips you need to know
Here we come to the solution. Now, of course cheap in this context does not mean a brand new Mercedes for $7000. Cheap means a smart investment – getting good quality for a good price.
Find contributors in low labour cost countries
We all know that labor cost is cheaper in some countries. Many people know this, but don’t know what to look for in the production process so that they are getting good quality for a relatively low price.
For example, there are countries where the labor cost is low, yet the level of educational development is high, sometimes even better than in strong economic countries. Armenia is a good example.
In Armenia, children get world class education for free. They have access to free education for graphic design, robot development, software coding, etc. Here is one of many schools where children get world class education for free and host and learn from world famous influences like Kanye West, John Malkovich, and Atom Egoyan.
The government supports high tech companies such as animation studios, IT development companies, etc. and they do not pay any taxes. So from the first stage they can give you up to 20% lower prices for the same quality. Crazy, isn’t it?
East European countries
You also should consider eastern European countries like Poland, Czechia, Belarus, Ukraine, and others. Ukraine is especially worth looking into. Their economy suffered after the conflict with Russia on Crimea, and the current exchange rate favors outside business.
For more, here is a great article about the best explainer video agency in every country.
How much should I consider to spend?
Time for the real question!
If you are looking for full-service animation production with a strong marketing message, licensed music, and quality you’d be proud to present to your company, you should look at a budget starting at $2500 for a 60 second video.
This is a great price considering the fact that for the same quality in higher-expense regions, you would spend 8K-$15K.
What should I look for when making my decision?
More tips and tricks to get a great deal
When you’re looking for an inexpensive option, here’s a handy checklist to ensure a successful experience and final result:
- Check the portfolio. The quality should be the same across the board for the price advertised.
- Check if the animation studio has in-house staff.
- Find out where the company is located.
- See if it has reviews on independent online review websites like Clutch or the Manifest.
- Don’t bother with options lower than $2500 for full service production. Of course if you provide your own script, voiceover, or music they may have a discount.
- Style also matters. Don’t be shocked if the price goes up when you ask a video with a lot of characters or complex styles (like isometric).
- Check if the company has an in-house producer with a marketing background. You don’t want to work strictly with creatives. You’ll end up with a video that looks nice because they want to compete with other artists, but won’t focus on the marketing or sales message.
Follow all the steps above and you can save up to 50%, no joke!
That said, there are dozens of reasons why the price could change and nuances where you can save even more on your budget. Feel free to reach out to get more info or specific pricing. We’re always glad to hear from you and help you with free advice even if your project isn’t a fit for us.