The Best Animation Companies For Your BusinessWilliam Gadea 07.25.2017
What are the best animation companies for your business needs? Well, it really depends on what category you are looking in – the animation-for-business field is highly fragmented. You can find off-shore solutions for a couple of thousand dollars, and you can find high-end providers for a couple of hundreds of thousands dollars. That’s why we’ve described the price categories below, their business models, and what you can expect from each.
Is it weird that we are giving shouts out to our competition? Maybe, but here’s how we see it. First, we think we can hold our own in a side-by-side portfolio/value comparison with these companies. But also, it’s just a fact: we are not the right solution for everyone. If we can help you find your best-fit provider, we’re pretty sure that along the way we will find enough customers for whom we are the best-fit provider.
A couple of notes: first, we have not pulled punches. In our competitor research, these are the worthiest companies we have seen in their price ranges. (There might be other hidden gems that eclipse these, but as of this writing, we are not aware of them.) We are leaving the entertainment companies off our list all together. (Obviously, nobody survives comparison with Pixar.)
Elite Agency-Client Studios
These companies typically get their work from advertising and marketing agencies. Although they might occasionally work directly with a company, typically they don’t market themselves directly to businesses.
These studios can sometimes do writing and seed creative, but they are more used to working from concepts brought to them by the agencies. Often, they will do spec work to win a big or prestigious project – and of course, the cost of their failed spec pitches is necessarily amortized into project costs. Their fees usually range from the upper five figures to well into the six-figure range; the number of people on their production teams can be as high as ten, twenty or more.
Bottom-line though: these studios do state-of-the-art, gorgeous work that can sometimes viralize just on the strength of its awesomeness.
Buck Design: With offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Sydney, Buck Design has been an animation powerhouse for years. They don’t just do animation, either, but packaging, t-shirts, print, whatever. Here is an eye-opening teaser they created for David Blaine’s TV special:
Psy-Op: Founded in New York City in 2000, Psy-Op now has offices in Los Angeles as well. Their specialty is high-end, incredibly detailed CGI work. Lately they have been venturing into VR, AR, and entertainment programming too.
Gentleman Scholar: Founded by Will Johnson and William Campbell, Gentleman Scholar started in Los Angeles before expanding to New York. They work in a variety of techniques from live action to CGI to traditional animation.
This is the category we find ourselves in. These companies might sometimes work with agencies – in our case, it’s about a quarter of our business – but they are more used to working directly with businesses. This means that they have to be concept-to-delivery houses, providing strategic advice and copywriting as well as animation production.
The usual project fee for these companies is in the lower five figures. Typically, their production teams are small – usually two to six people.
IdeaRocket: That’s us! We are NYC-based, and enjoy having NYC-sized barrel of talent to work with, although we will sometimes also work with national and international artists remotely. What we really excel at is taking complicated messages and using story, image, and metaphor to make them easy to digest and understand. You can check out our work here.
Demo Duck: Demo Duck is a Chicago-based firm that usually outsources to other countries, but they get excellent results because they hire elite artists and offer good creative direction. They also own Video Brewery, a lower-cost production platform matching up production teams with customers. (This is smart, because it lets them amortize their marketing expenses in a bigger share of the market.)
Epipheo: Their name is the portmanteau of epiphany and video. Cincinnati-based Epipheo Studios pretty much launched the Explainer video market in 2009, and grew a client base thanks in part to a branded content program you can see on YouTube. Much of their style has been imitated to death by others (think of those folksy VOs that start “Meet Mike!” or “So!”) but Epipheo continues to renew itself and create compelling work largely with an in-house staff.
These companies often (though not always) work on tiered price structures: different price levels for different quality levels. There is something of a come-down in terms quality and flexibility of revisions from the premium tier, but for many situations these companies can be the best option.
Demoflick: Founded by Albert Berry in 2011, Boston-based Demoflick was one of the pioneers of the explainer video field. They offer custom-designed animations as well as app/software demos, training, and corporate communication videos.
Whiteboard Animation: Specializing in whiteboard animation, Whiteboardanimation.com is based in Brooklyn, New York. They sometimes combine whiteboard with other techniques such as 3d, to create hybrid approaches.
Yum Yum Animation: Buenos Aires has become a hotbed of animation, with many studios (including ourselves) tapping the incredible talent there. As far as I know, Yum Yum is the only Buenos Aires-based studio attempting to market itself directly to US companies, although they also do some white-labeling for other studios.
Switch Video: Founded by Andrew Angus and sold by him in 2015, Switch Video offers 2d, whiteboard, and motion graphics services. They are based in Collingwood, Ontario.
Companies in this tier compete largely on price. The cost here is in the lower- to mid-four-figures per minute. Although some of these providers pretend not to, to make ends meet at this price they will usually hire a writer locally but outsource the animation to India or Pakistan. The work you get at this price range is generic, and the design is sparse.
Broadcast2World: Broadcast2World is based in India. They white-label a lot of their work, so you might see their product in mid-priced studio’s portfolios. They offer good value, but you might want to take care of the writing yourself.
Can you go cheaper yet? Sure, if you use a freelancer platform such as Upwork. Sometimes, companies will look for business on these sites, but more often it is solo practitioners. It is really tough to find someone who combines the skills to write a script, design, and animate a video, so you might need to chip in some writing or alternately, cobble together a team yourself. But yes, it is possible to create a video this way that will cost hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.
As you can see, what the best animation companies are is going to depend on how much is in your budget. In my eBook, Succeeding With Animated Video, I write about how to decide how much to spend on your animated video based on expected costs and projected returns. Get your free copy below!