Two main components affect the price of a 3D animation.
The creation of the 3D sets (known as scenes) as well as the moving 3D models is a time-consuming process. Generally, the difference between creating an elaborate set and creating a basic set will incur moderate price increases. Contrarily, creating a detailed, realistic human animation will be far more costly than the animation of something much more straightforward, for example, an automobile. At the time of this article, Lumion has become increasingly more popular. Lumion offers animators more of a game engine-like environment to add preset moving parts. This works to save artists time, which should translate to cost savings.
Animations are generally made up of a moving 3D camera, moving people, moving vehicles with a stationary set. The more complex the moving parts become, the more you can expect to pay for a render.
The duration of an animation is a significant factor in the price. As animation length increases, the price will increase. As a general rule, longer animations are needed to show more elements and generally require more labor and render time.
Most animations have a frame rate of around thirty frames per second. If each frame requires ten minutes to render, adding just one second of animation can require an additional five hours of rendering. Adding one minute of animation could add twelve and a half days of rendering time on one computer. The same extrapolation can be done when factoring rendering resolution as well. Animations are rendered on clusters of computers to address long computing times, but the purchase or rental of these computers adds expense.
Architectural rendering has become a global industry, there are freelancers and small firms popping up all the time all over the world. With that, there is a race to the bottom with regards to animation pricing as inexperienced artists look to get a piece of the pie.
Unlike still images though, an inexperienced 3D artist can get in way over their head when it comes to architectural animations.
As render times quickly become a huge factor as animation times increase and small mistakes can no longer be photoshopped away, these projects can go from a promised 2-3 week timeline to a 2-3 months rather quickly. These firms often don't have the man-power, computing power or know-how when it comes to putting together a high-quality architectural animation and they should be handled with care.
What to look out for in cheap animations:
Times when the cheapest option may be best for you:
As previously mentioned, architectural animation is not a simple project for a rendering firm to undertake (despite recent advancements in technology). Because of that, we feel that the mid-range pricing level is where you begin to see more legitimate companies popping up. (bear in mind, a higher price does not necessarily indicate improved quality or credibility)
$100-$300 per second is a very large range, especially if you're getting around one minute of animation (which is typically what we suggest). Your goal should be to find the company who offers the best value (quality of animation vs price per second) while keeping your own maximum budget in mind.
Ask prospective companies for several animation examples if their website only shows one or two. By doing this, you are forcing the company to either admit they are inexperienced in this specific field or you are going to make them to show animations which they didn't deem good enough for their website. Assume that the quality of their worst animation is more in line with the quality you can expect to get.
Projects at this price point should have an air of professionalism to them. Rendering quality should be high, camera movements should be smooth, and the overall style should be aligned with your tastes.
Our architectural animation services are within this price range. Feel free to contact us for an exact quote.
What to look out for in Mid-Level Priced animations:
Times when Mid-Level pricing is right for you:
Typically this price range is reserved for only the top 0.1% of 3D Animation companies.
To put this pricing quality level into perspective, we consider RealSpace3D to offer very high end animation services; however, we still do not feel we can justify this level of pricing (we fall in the mid level pricing category).
We have noticed in our industry is that pricing can be very predatory, some 3D studios take advantage of the fact that a lot of what we do is unknown to clients. As such, there can be wild swings in rendering pricing without justification. The best way to fix this issue, we believe, is educating our clients so they can make informed decisions.
This is not to say that there aren't top companies out there deserving of this high price, top experts in the 3D rendering field can create some amazing pieces of art and they have earned the right to charge what companies are willing to pay them.
As previously mentioned, a higher price doesn't always mean higher quality, but it is unlikely a top company would be charging less than what they're worth.
With this higher price point, the expectations should be significantly higher as well. In-person meetings, design consults, flawless execution and value-added services should present themselves more regularly at the upper end of the pricing. When comparing a company's examples to the mid-range pricing options, there needs to be a distinct difference to warrant the extra cost.
What to look out for in High-end priced animations:
Times when High-end pricing is right for you:
At RealSpace, we focus on just a few main types of animation, they are:
When picking a 3D animation company, make sure you do your research. It is important to find a company with a good track record and lots of examples to show. One of the complaints we have heard over and over is that it ended up costing more trying to go the cheap route. Outsourcing overseas can be a great way to save money. However, in the long run, you often face communication challenges and an overall lesser product as a result.