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How Much Do Explainer Videos Cost? - Blue Carrot

How Much Do Explainer Videos Cost?

Dec, 28, 2017

Everyone knows that animated videos are used to explain various businesses, services, or products.

It’s easy to underestimate the effort necessary to create a custom animated video.

A lot of people are surprised when they first hear how much a custom explainer video can cost.

Without understanding the amount of time and effort that go into producing one, it’s hard to understand what are you actually paying for.

In the previous blog post, we explained that purchasing an explainer, you’re not just buying a video, you’re paying for the process which turns into an effective marketing tool for your business. This process usually consists of:

Concept Creation

Script Writing


Style Frame / Character Concepts / Illustrations Creation

Voice-over Recording

Motion Design / Animation

Sound Design

In this blog post, we explain briefly what happens at each stage. And, this time, we’ve decided to tell the story by numbers.  We will answer the question how many artist-hours are needed to complete a video.

Let’s compare three different animation styles and artist-hours needed to produce a 60-90 second video.

Let’s start with Whiteboard Animation.

Whiteboard animation is comparatively simple and less demanding in terms of effort and, in turn, money.

The stage of business analysis and concept creation can take between 5 – 20 hours. Concept is key to writing an effective script. A lot depends on the specificity of the area. If, for example, the creative team has previous experience in the field or if it’s simple to understand, then an idea takes less time in development.

Sometimes extra time is necessary to learn about a market or to interview a client or target audience.

When it comes to sound design we spend 8-20 hours.

Reading the script three times and recording the final version requires around an hour, or more if there are suggestions from the client.

Also, take into account the time spent by the Project Manager and Art Director to coordinate the process. That around 5-10 hours for each.

This all adds up to:

Flat style

Working with flat style animation we will probably spend more time on the scriptwriting (20 – 32 hours) and storyboarding (8-15 hours).

More complicated visual assets and bigger freedom with motion design also increase the number of man hours at these stages. Take a look:

Traditional Animation

The final and most time-consuming style. Though lengthy, it’s without question very beautiful.

Here, artists-hours increase at every stage. When creating a concept your imagination is not limited with motion design (in comparison with whiteboard animation) and any crazy-cool idea could become reality with this type of video.

Because of this we spend more time in scriptwriting and storyboarding.

And, this is important, after the storyboard is created, we do the first test version of the video. This is made only in the traditional animation style and gives a rough draft of the final product. This mini-step is called “Animatic”. It is a very important part of the process. Animatic helps avoid future defects which can then cost significant time for correction. Generally, it takes around 24 – 40 hours.

Creating the illustrations is also way more complicated and includes both character and background concept creation. It looks look like this and takes around 50 – 70 artist – hours.

Then it’s time to polish the backgrounds, that can take 35-70 artist hours.

Talking about traditional animation we should remember it is frame by frame. So every move, motion,  or blink is drawn by the animator. For example, a character blinking takes about 5 individual drawings. Can you imagine how many drawings we need to complete all the video? Measuring by man hours it will take around 70-140 hours. And, at the same time, the animators will need to color the drawings.

30 – 50 hours, is what it takes to compose all the sequences of the animated characters, who finally meet each other.

Talking about sound design, you may be wondering why it takes a minimum of 20 hours while it takes a maximum of 20 for other styles. The reason is that frame by frame animation is full of motion and emotions that need to be highlighted by music. More complicated animation requires a thorough approach to the music creation.

Finally, we come up with these estimates:

Seems like a lot of work, huh?

The purpose of this post was to help you to better understand what to expect and I hope it clears up confusion on budgets and time expectations.

If you still have some questions you are welcome to get in touch anytime!

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