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How Animation is Priced

I wanted to chat a little bit about how we price our projects to help people understand what information to supply animation companies with when requesting a quote. 

You’d be amazed at some of the requests we’ve had. People have come to us saying they don’t know what they want yet, but would like a rough quote anyway. People have asked for an animation akin to Avatar for the price of a pair of Shoes! People have called us on a Wednesday and asked if they can have a 5 minute animation done by the end of the week.

There are two main things to know. First, buying animation is like buying a car. You can look around the showroom to decide what you want, but really you should have a budget in mind and you should expect a Rolls to cost more than a Corsa. But you don't need an MOT or insurance to buy an animation,  and all our animations are brand new, there are no second-hand animations for sale here!

Secondly, there are three standard questions which will always need answering before we can give you an accurate quote. They are 'what is the duration? The style? And the schedule? I’ll go into more detail on each below.

The Duration. Catching a taxi to the local supermarket should cost you less than catching one from London to Manchester (I know someone that's done that before!) Animation is exactly the same. Two minutes of animation will cost less than 10 minutes and knowing how long your animation will be is a key piece of information when requesting a quote.

When deciding the duration consider the audience (and their attention span), consider the platform (youtube, facebook, live presentation), and consider your budget too!


The Style. Claymation, computer animation, infographics are all examples of animation Styles. Bugs bunny is 2D animation. Shrek is computer animation. Wallace and Gromit are primarily claymation. They are priced differently because they each require different skill-sets and some take longer to make than others.

We’re used to people calling us and saying they would like a cartoon, or 'something like morph'. That’s enough for us to understand, a lot of people send us youtube links to animation they like as well, which is also very helpful.

They all have their individual advantages in the market, it just depends on your cause. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there is a lot of substance to be had in a smart style choice.

(Image: Bugs Bunny - Warner Brothers)

(Image: Bugs Bunny - Warner Brothers)

(Image: Shrek - Dreamworks)

(Image: Shrek - Dreamworks)

(Image: Gromit - Aardman Animations)

(Image: Gromit - Aardman Animations)

The Schedule. The amount of working days this will take our studio to complete, AKA the project deadline. We have a wonderful production manager (who literally herds cats for a living) and she will work out who is needed on the project, for how long and what that’ll cost.

Ultimately, your best bet for a high quality, enjoyable and satisfying project is to allow enough time for things to be completed at a normal pace. We will give you an estimated schedule along with your quote.

That’s it! Come to any animation studio with that information to hand and 9 times out of 10 you will get a quote that very same day.


Good luck with your projects and for more information on this topic or other animation related topics, email us and ask for a copy of our animation myth buster guide.


Thoughts by



Monsters Inc is 15

Today Monster’s Inc is 15 years old. I celebrated the anniversary by watching both films recently (Inc and University) to see how animation has changed in the past 15 years.

The technology has of course improved. Pixar are using vastly more advanced computers and software now, their render farm will have no doubt quadrupled in size and their overall experience and knowledge will have developed a great deal as their staff stay hungry and keep learning.

The ‘graphics’, as most people would say, have improved. Most notably the fur generation is way more advanced today. From having around 1 million strands of hair in 2001, in Monster's University Sully had up to 5.5 million strands of hair.

The rigs were clearly a limitation back in 2001. If you look carefully (and I do!) you can see that Pixar’s skin weighting was limited by the poly-count their computers could handle. It also wouldn't surprise me if they hadn't quite perfected the ideal model topology for a clean, flexible mesh that deforms beautifully when bound to a rig. Put that together with the fact that interactive paint weighting, dual quaternion weights and heat map binding weren't around and you start to appreciate how well they did with the 'state of the art' technology they had in the day. Mr Waternoose stood out in particularly, because he had such a jowly face that really would have benefitted from today's rigging advancements.

Even the animation performance has improved. Back then, Toy Story was only 6 years old and computer animation was still considered ‘clunky’ in comparison to traditional animation. It certainly wasn’t an art form like stop motion can be. But the guys at pixar we’re seriously improving their performance skills shot by shot. They knew the essence of a great film was story and emotion and they did everything they could to make their characters stand up as actors. The likes of Doug Sweetland, Glenn McQueen, Scott Clark were pushing the boundaries of their CGI medium, looking at the principles left by Disney’s Nine old men in traditional animation and battled with the rigs to make them work. You can see they used a layered approach on a lot of their shots, the stark character poses of the ‘Pose-to-Pose’ work flow method are not always there. They probably weren't using video reference material very much either (like they did on Finding Nemo), so the essence of acting wasn’t as potent in every shot as it would have been today. I’m not saying it wasn’t good animation, though -it was! The scene near the end where Boo is terrified by Sully's scare demonstration, almost makes me cry every time.


Something I find interesting is the fact that Mike and Sully are the iconic characters of the film and are the first thing you think of when somebody say’s ‘Monsters Inc’. Why isn’t Boo the first thing you think of? Normally baby characters are hugely popular in animation, they often outshine the adults, even if they arent lead characters - but not in this case. Is it because boo is only ‘human’ and we prefer/ expect exciting characters in animation? That's another blog topic. 

Anyway, despite officially being an older film now, Monsters Inc is still one of my Pixar favourites. Peter Doctor made sure the most important ingredients, the story and the characters, were the best that they could be. Stories and emotions are timeless, technology doesn’t play a part in those areas.

Twenty years from now people may look back at Monsters University and realise how dated the render and animation looks, but I bet they enjoy Mike, Sully and the story just as much then as I did last night.

Thoughts by

Gary Carse