scrooge-mcduck-swimming-in-money

 

How Much Does Animation Cost Per Second?

When a client approaches me for animation work, the trickiest part is always negotiating the price. Most individuals interested in freelance animation don’t realize how much time, money, and effort goes into even the simplest of cartoons.

Below, I’ve listed famous examples of animation, along with how much each second cost to create (Budget Adjusted for Inflation / Running Time). Hopefully this can help other animators and potential clients judge pricing more clearly.

Keep in mind, though, that the employment laws and studio systems differ from country to country, and different animation styles require different amounts of time and resources. Studios usually hire entire teams of animators, celebrity voice actors, etc., so not every bit of the budget went toward animation, but animation is typically the most expensive part of any film. Plus, if you were hired to create something that looked like Toy Story 3, for example, someone would need to pay for the rigging, modeling, animation, and rendering, so most expenses are unavoidable.

For more tips on animation, storytelling, and film-making, check out my free eBook here

 

 Tangled

$49,059 per second

 


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Toy Story 3 (2010)

$36,639 per second

 

 Brave (2012)

$33,217 per second

 


 Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

$24,689 per second



Ratatouille (2007)

$25,759 per second

 


Finding Nemo (2003)

$21,027 per second

 


Hercules (1997)

$19,292 per second

 


Coraline (2009)

$11,690 per second

 


Toy Story (1995)

$9,990 per second

 


Beauty and the Beast (1991)

$6,906 per second

 


Snow White (1937)

$5,448 per second



Akira (1987)

$2,852 per second

 


The Simpsons (1990)

$1,030 per second

 

Steamboat Willie (1928)

$495 per second

 



Millennium Actress (2003)

$397 per second

 

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South Park (2006)

$223 per second


 

For more tips on animation, storytelling, and film-making, check out my free eBook here

Sources:

https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/most-expensive-animated-movies-of-all-time/

http://www.powerhouseanimation.com/wp-content/themes/maxima-v1-02/dist/index.php

http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/budgets/all

http://www.imdb.com/

https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

18 Responses to How Much Does Animation Cost Per Second? (Illustrated)

  1. Paccou says:

    Hello, thanks for this work, can you give the sources? where did you get the budgets from?

  2. Adrienne says:

    don’t forget inflation though. snow white was done in 1937 and with inflation its something like 90,000 dollars in today’s money.

    • admin says:

      Hey Adrienne, thanks for the feedback. I mentioned that in the first couple paragraphs. My math was “Budget Adjusted for Inflation / Running Time” (/Minutes/Seconds), and I linked to the inflation calculator under “Sources”

  3. Me says:

    It would be interesting if you removed some of the big ticket items such as the voice actors that you mentioned. I also find it interesting how many of the newer Pixar movies fall into a similar budgetary range.

    • admin says:

      I’d love to, but breakdowns like that are really difficult to find. Most movies don’t even list the total budget.

  4. Luis Correa says:

    The total budget pays form a lot more than just animation, you are not taking into account modelers, concept artists, riggers, engieneers for the pipeline and rendering techniques, voice actors, producers, writers, all the people on the credits that are not animators

    • Luis Correa says:

      You briefly mention that, but can’t ignore the cost involved in hiering high profile celebrity voice actors, producers and writers. Non the less a pretty interesting excersice on production costs

      • admin says:

        Hey, Luis. Thanks for the feedback. I’d love to include in-depth breakdowns of the costs, but breakdowns like that are really difficult to find. Most movies don’t even list the total budget.

        As time goes on, I want to include enough variety (movies without celebrity voice talent, movies from as many countries as I can, etc) to give a broader picture.

  5. Tom thewo says:

    What about selling to tv showsto networks.
    I read somewhere that a channel does not pay more than US 10000 per half hour for a 3D kids animated
    Show. Where as the cost itself (if outsourced to Asia) comes to about 90000 usd per half hour to make.
    How does one earn money?

  6. daniel says:

    Are the voice actors from SouthPark really that expensive?? or where does the money goes in that, I mean Millenium Actress is a little less than twice as expensive as South Park, yet the animation is on a on a whole different level

    • admin says:

      Hey Daniel, good question. My guess would be that the differences stem from:

      A) Employment laws in Japan vs the USA

      B) The fact that South Park is episodic, so the same assets get reused, where as Millennium Actress is a feature film, so most assets were only used once.

      C) South Park uses limited, digital animation with simple art, where as Millennium Actress is frame by frame with more detailed designs.

  7. […] How much does  animation cost per second? It can be a lot! Disney’s Frozen cost more than $49,000 per second, Wreck-It Ralph was a comparative bargain at about $25,000 per second, and the low-tech South Park comes in at $223 per second. (Please note that some of these films/shows are from different years, which will have some effect on prices.) […]

  8. JFH says:

    It’s not an apples to apples comparison, either. Most of the projects you list are from large studios, who have infrastructure, overhead, insurance, vacation days, etc etc – all figured into the final cost.

    But if I go to an independent animator and ask them to animates 90 seconds in their garage on the weekends it won’t be the same.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I’d love to include in-depth breakdowns of the costs, but breakdowns like that are really difficult to find. Most movies don’t even list the total budget.

      As time goes on, I want to include enough variety (movies without celebrity voice talent, movies from as many countries as I can, etc) to give a broader picture.

    • That’s why this article is interesting. If you want to pay some dude in his garage for a 90 second spot, you’ll pay less but you’ll generally get what you pay for. As an example, Bill Plympton, probably one of the most accomplished one man shows out there, would struggle greatly delivering a 90 second spot in the time that’s usually required. It’s the triangle situation, you have quality, speed and cost on each point of the triangle, you get two, and only two, always.

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Callison Slater (StringStudios)@CalSlaterString Studios ProductionsCalSlater

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