2. Explainer Video Styles
2.1 Character Animation
2.3 Voice & Sound
2.5 What This Means For Cost
2.6 When Using Characters A Good Choice
3. Motion Graphics Animation Or Animated Objects
3.1 When Using Characters A Good Choice
4. Screen Capture
4.1 When Using Characters A Good Choice
5. 2D With 2D Elements
5.1 When is 3D A Good Choice
6. Explainer Video Length
6.1 Production Process
7. Additional Costs
8. Final Words
If you’ve ever wondered why an explainer video costs what it does, this is the post for you. A lot goes into the process, from the moment you first talk with an explainer production company to when the final video hits your inbox. Much of the cost has to do with explainer video styles, but there are many other elements that contribute as well.
There are many stages of production such as brand research, scriptwriting, voiceover recording, etc. We’ll talk about those in detail further down.
All of these things have varying prices, but to keep everything simple, it’s easiest for a studio to charge a flat rate. Of course, sometimes there’s room for a small discount, especially for regular clients or multi-video projects, but the studio must make a profit too!
Let’s start with a breakdown of style factors.
Everything you need to know about explainer videos to create successful marketing content.
Explainer Video Styles
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, 2D motion graphics are usually the best choice for corporate videos. That said, there are three valid options that can be worth considering.
Characters can be a great tool for marketing your product. The pricing for this style can vary greatly depending on how complicated the animations are.
It’s cheaper to have a character who barely moves, with maybe just an arm-waving hello.
I’m sure you’ve seen modern animated movies from Pixar or Disney that look stunning. Those fully animated, almost life-like characters take a massive amount of animation work including hundreds of animators and powerful computers.
Obviously, there is a wide range to work from between a stick figure waving hello and Woody from Toy Story.
Emotions are also much harder and more complex to create. It isn’t difficult to animate a character and make it walk. Making it look convincingly sad, however, is much harder to pull off.
Just think of how many times a real person has faked an emotion, and you could immediately tell they were lying.
Our brains are very good at picking up insincere emotions, and it’s no different with animated characters.
Here are some things that need to be taken into account when designing animated characters:
The character must be original. If it looks like an already existing design (like the Simpsons or Family Guy, for example), it won’t work.
Even within the video, each character must have its own unique traits. Every character must look different from the others, while still the same style.
It must have different movements, different facial expressions, a different walk, etc.
Voice and Sound
This is one of the details that work most to establish trust. The characters must have a convincing voice.
More goes into this than you may think!
You need to know your target audience; their language, accent, speech patterns, etc. Or the kinds of speech that will work for them.
If your character is a doctor, she will need a proper speech for that. If your character is a salesman, he’ll have a different way of speaking.
This also comes into play. Some characters work well with exaggerated features to be funny. Others should be realistic.
Just like an author creates a memorable character with words, artists and designers must create a memorable character with their illustrations.
What This Means for Your Explainer Video Cost
All this work is for just one character. Imagine if there are 2, 3, or more (and there usually are).
Each character requires work to make it unique. If you’ve ever seen an animated video where it was obvious the production studio simply copy and pasted the same character multiple times, you probably remember how cheap it looked.
There’s no easy, fast way to make a good animated video with characters. They all must be given attention!
When is Using Characters a Good Choice?
Using characters is a good idea for your explainer video when you are telling a brand story that involves people. Videos focusing on customers or a service-based product are great possibilities for character explainer videos.
Character Explainer Video Cost
Depending on the number of characters, the price you should expect to pay for a 1 minute explainer video should be about $3000 – $4000.
What About Objects Instead of Characters?
Animating objects (in 2D, not 3D) in classic motion graphics style is easier than doing characters, and does cost a bit less as far as the actual time investment is concerned.
However, the bulk of the pricing goes toward the full production process, so keep that in mind. Also, telling a story with objects can sometimes be more difficult and require more planning.
The reason for this is there needs to be more work put into the narrative to ensure that the story is clear, which is much more important when there are no characters involved.
I’m sure you’ve seen a “high-concept” ad with a bunch of abstract stuff happening. Then the logo pops up at the end and you’re scratching your head, thinking “What did I just watch and what did it have to do with the product?”
We need to be careful that doesn’t happen anytime we make an explainer video without characters.
When is Using Objects a Good Choice?
This tends to be a good option for product launches, event announcements, real estate, and pitch videos.
Screen capture can be an easier explainer video to create, especially if the client provides the full design files.
However, the design files are often created for website use and don’t work with video animation software, which means we have to recreate them. Still, screen capture is a good option for the right cases to create an animated explainer video that costs a little bit less than one with motion graphics or characters. Hybrid videos that combine styles are also possible.
When Is Using Screen Capture a Good Choice?
Screen capture is a good option for educational videos, tutorials, websites, and startup videos for software products or services. They can be used for mobile apps as well.
For the most part, a full screen capture video will generally be about 15 – 20% cheaper than a fully animated explainer video.
2D with 3D Elements
When we talk about 3D, we don’t mean you need to wear special glasses and the characters jump off the screen at you.
3D in this context means characters or objects designed and rendered in 3D. Think of CGI, or modern animated movies where the characters have depth and weight instead of being flat.
3D always costs more, basically because there’s an entire extra dimension that has to be designed and rendered.
Every part of the process takes more time and requires more work.
A 2D animated explainer video takes a few minutes to mix all the elements and render into one viewable movie file.
A 3D video the same length can takes hours. It’s a lot of content that needs to be mixed and output!
So not only are you paying for the extra work involved, but the extra time to create, mix, and output the work too.
When is 3D a Good Choice?
Even with the added cost, there are times when adding 3D elements is a strong choice.
If you have a product that you really need people to get a feel for, showing it off in 3D in your corporate video or startup video is a great way to do that.
As far as telling a story about your brand, however, using 2D and/or motion graphics is more than enough. Please read more about this in our post here.
2D, Screen Capture, and 2D with 3D elements. Those are your 3 options for determining the cost for your animated explainer video.
Next, we’re going to talk about duration.
A practical guide for any company planning to create a 3D explainer video.
Explainer Video Length
The first thing you should know is that no matter how long your explainer video is, there is an amount of work that goes into the video that will be the same, no matter what.
So, while a 1 minute video may cost $3000, and a 2 minute video may cost $5000, the process involved remains the same.
The Production Process
Here is what goes into each and every explainer video, whether it’s 30 seconds or three minutes.
Whether the explainer video is short or long, the same amount of research about your company must be done.
We need to learn about you, your product, your target audience, your competitors, and much more. We do this with independent research, with interviews, and with an extensive questionnaire.
Concept, Brief, and Script.
We take all the research we do and create a concept; a story to tell your brand message with. From the concept we write a script.
Believe it or not, short scripts are more difficult. It’s a lot trickier to tell a brand story in 30 seconds than it is in 60 or 90. It becomes quite important to figure out what the main details are and which take priority to convey.
Sketch, Mood Board, and Storyboard.
Once the script is finished, we get to work on basic visual ideas. This helps create a narrative as well as a blueprint toward how the final visuals will look.
Creating the Style.
Once the style is created, you can make as long of a video as you like. But the process to create the initial style is where much of the time and work is spent. The design and art must be original and match the tone and spirit of the brand.
Every production studio, even the largest in the world, outsource their voice work.
Just like film actors, the entire voice industry are independent contractors. Studios have their favorites they work with, but sometimes auditions are held too.
VO artists have their own flat rates they charge, and that price is paid by us as a part of our production process.
So keep in mind that even if the VO copy is 10 seconds, the fee we pay the VO artist is likely going to be the same or only slightly cheaper than if it was for 60 seconds. It’s not worth it for the VO artist to charge less to get into the studio and do work on their end, so that cost is passed along to us.
We purchase all our music and licenses to use them from high-quality music production services. It’s generally a flat-rate, and there are 2 different licenses that we must pay for to use tracks royalty-free. This is also a cost that we absorb into our production budget.
As you can see, a lot goes into the making of animated explainer videos when it comes to style and process. The final thing I want to mention is the team and equipment. With every explainer video we do, there is a team that includes:
- Script Writer
- Creative Director
- 2 Illustrators
- 1-2 Animators
- VO Artist
- Sound Engineer (to mix VO and music)
- And a Project Manager to organize everything and work with the client.
All of these people work together over the course of about 6 weeks, getting paid by the studio for their work. Additionally, the studio must buy, maintain, and constantly upgrade computers and software, as well as pay rent, taxes, and much more. Just like any other business, a lot of money goes into keeping the machine going!
As you can see, a lot goes into what sets the pricing for an animated explainer video.
From research to explainer video styles to overhead expenses, much must be taken into account when the fee is set. We know that price is a big concern when deciding who to work with.
That’s why we always work hard to keep our own costs down and find ways to stay competitive with our pricing. If you have any other questions, we’d love to talk. You can contact us any time!
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