Animation – how much?

Its a question we get asked quite a lot, especially as animation can often be perceived to be the most expensive part of the video production process – a room full of animators slaving away over lightboxes? That’s got to be expensive, right? But those days have gone, and in the new era animation can be produced very economically. Especially since the cost of hardware and software has dropped considerably over the years. There are also new animation production techniques that allow cross-software integration, additionally in the live action world, you can take a camera from a motion control shoot and import the exact match into Maya. Seamlessly combining live-action and effects. Often the only way to communicate complex ideas quickly and creatively, is through animation. The more challenging the subject, the more animation can play a key part in getting your message across. Much like other mediums, animation can be agile but can animation be a tool in terms of flexibility to respond to the moment? I think so, and we have put that into practice many times.

We laid down key foundations but we were able to move and change direction within any given week, we could roll with the moment. From our perspective this made the project even more enjoyable, it was challenging, innovative and got us recognised.

Project costs are scalable, a simple animation can be a storyboard with just aspects moving (otherwise known as an animatic), to a full-on animation one being scaled to a cast of thousands in 3D. Aspects to consider when scoping an animation are:

  • Is it 2D or 3D (CGI)?
  • If 2D, is it traditional hand-drawn or a Flash (cut-out style)
  • How many do you want to make? Sometimes this is important in helping decide whether 2D or 3D is an option along with a production pipeline that might need to be considered.
  • Is there script? If so, how long is it? Often animation costs are based on screen time.
  • Does it involve characters, do those characters need to talk?
  • If there are characters how many are there?
  • Do these animated characters live in a complex environment? If so how detailed does the background need to be?

Against video production, animation can be very quick to produce, as in a whole round of scheduling doesn’t need to be prepared, such as shoot days, location, actors. Furthermore there is control of the entire creative process from concept to the finished animation meaning clients have full cost, and creative management.

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