An animated explainer video will cost from $2,500 to $30,000 out there in the market. That’s a wide range, so let’s narrow it down a bit and give an actual answer. Marketers who are aiming to make a decent video without a big budget at their disposal are choosing to spend $3,000 to $5,000. Those looking to make higher-end brand pieces are shopping in the $5,000-$20,000 range. That’s what we’re seeing in the market.
Now mind you…
We’re not making a value judgment on those numbers or proposing a specific budget… Those are just the figures we observe.
So what are the factors influencing explainer video cost? In reality, it mostly comes down to human time. A typical 60-sec video of good quality takes 150-200 hours of work to make. If that sounds like a lot, then you’re right, it is! Below is a typical breakdown. You can also see this article which gives a similar run-down.
Explainer Video Cost Breakdown:
Here is a breakdown of the time going into making an explainer video:
Animation & Design: 95 hours (63%)
Production: 36 hours (24%)
Scripting: 10 hrs (7%)
Voiceover: 4 hrs (3%)
Sound: 5 hrs (3%)
Total: 150 hrs (100%)
As you can see, animation is particularly time-consuming. An animator can only make about 2 full videos in a month. If it’s a high-end video, it will only be 1 or even less. That means your video needs to pay a big chunk or all of this person’s monthly salary over the period. That’s just animation, never mind the rest.
What would you pay for the time of some talented individuals? Pick a number. Say $20/hr as a totally random guess. That means your video would cost $20 x 150 hours = $3,000 without the studio yet earning a cent to cover overheads or for profit. This is the #1 reason you need to be careful when haggling too hard on price!
The Impact of Video Length
This is an important factor impacting explainer video cost. A longer video takes more time (and hence money) to create. For example, it takes about a day of an animator’s time to animate only 10 seconds. Given that short, snappy videos tend to work better anyway, you should think carefully about whether you really want a longer video. There are also extra costs for voiceover recording and sound design. As a rough rule of thumb, you can estimate that every extra sixty seconds costs 50% of the cost of the first minute. Again this can vary: for a high-end video, the extra time may cost the same, whereas for a screencast tutorial it’s likely to be less.
Good Design has a Cost
Great design takes talent, experience and time. And that equals money. A good video will be tailor-made to your brand and created from scratch, not made from a template. Therefore, the level of design needed will impact the cost of your video.
Does Explainer Video Style impact Cost?
Yes to some extent. Here is a rough ordering of video styles from cheapest to most expensive. This is just an approximate guide, it may differ a bit between agencies.
- Whiteboard Animation (because it’s a bit less time-consuming to produce)
- 2d Animation
- Live Action (stock video)
- 3d Animation
- Live Action (filmed).
Can I save money by not using a Voiceover?
We get asked this sometimes. The answer is… Nah, not really. This is more of a creative decision anyway and shouldn’t be a cost decision. We like some video styles without voiceover but the best of these rely on some neat animation, music, and editing. In other words, things that cost more money anyway.
Can I save money if I write my own script?
You can sometimes, with freelance animators. But, in our view, it’s a bit of an alert if your creator asks you this. A reputable house will always want a hand in scriptwriting. That’s because client-written scripts sometimes cause some problems in animation. It’s not that clients are bad writers – they may be great! It’s just that experience with video is important – this way the video animates better. And with live-action a writer with video experience is a must.
Other Cost Factors
Filming or stock footage will add cost. With filming, the more actors and scenes in the video the greater the video cost. Have a read through our article about making live action on a budget. If you’re combining animation and stock footage then the stock video adds a cost of typically $1,000 per 60 sec depending on how much is used.
How to Reduce the Cost of Your Explainer Video
Here is a summary of tricks to reduce your explainer video cost.
- Make it shorter, e.g. 60 sec instead of 120 sec
- Ask for an amazing script, but simple graphics.
- Use an animated style, or incorporate simple photography.
- If you’re filming, minimize actors and scenes.
The Final Word
An explainer video is a labor of love and an investment into your brand. It can bring handsome rewards and we think it’s worth doing properly.