If you’re thinking about making an explainer video you’re probably wondering what your budget should be. How much does an explainer video cost? Good question. Here’s the short answer.
An explainer video can cost between $4,000 and $25,000. And sometimes, much more than that.
Of course, that’s a wide range. Where you fall within it depends on several factors, including the length of your video, the live action or animation style, and which studio you choose to work with. Those same factors can also boost that number into the stratosphere.
But cost really isn’t the issue. What you should be most concerned about is value. If you pay a bargain basement price, you might not get the results you’re looking for. A higher-dollar video made by a professional studio will probably cost more up front. But it’s more likely to pay for itself in the long run.
The True Cost of Budget Production
As with many things in life, when it comes to making explainer videos, you get what you pay for. Budget studios, inexperienced freelancers, and even DIY software might reduce your bill, but is it worth it?
Think about it this way. Would you rather watch a fully produced 4K documentary that captures the sweeping vistas of Grand Canyon National Park, or your uncle’s grainy cell phone footage of that time he went hiking there?
Yeah, us too.
Customers love video, but only if it’s good video. Don’t lie to yourself. Potential customers really can spot the difference. The only thing worse than not having a video, is having a bad one.
So the true cost of budget explainer video production is the quoted price, plus all of the business you’ll miss by representing yourself in a less than professional way.
Figure out your ROI
To see the difference a high quality explainer video can make, you can run the numbers. We use this calculator to help our potential customers calculate ROI on their videos. Go ahead and try it out.
Great explainer videos convert viewers into customers. That’s the whole point. The best explainer videos keep converting for years. A high quality video isn’t something you make, post, and forget about. It’s an investment in your company and your future success.
Explainer Video Production Costs
Hopefully you’re convinced that it’s worth paying professional-level prices to get a professional product. But you might still be wondering what you’re actually getting for that investment. Why does it cost thousands of dollars to make a quality explainer video?
The six phases of explainer video development:
1. Research – We get to know you and your customers so we understand what differentiates your product or service, what messages you’re trying to send, and what words and images are likely to appeal to your customers.
2. Scripting – We work together to help you hone your message and identify your target and goals. The script may go through several revisions to get it just right.
3. Storyboard/Animatic – Based on the script, we’ll create still images including scene and character designs. This is when your video starts to come to life, with feedback from you of course.
4. Voiceover or narration – Working with a carefully selected voice artist (or several), we’ll record the spoken parts of the script.
5. Animation – Experienced animators put the storyboard and character designs in motion. Even with help from computers, this step is time consuming and requires skill to get it just right.
6. Sound Design – The often overlooked final step where we add and balance sound effects and music to polish off your video.
This summary makes it sound straightforward, but each step includes a number of tasks that work toward a quality video. Casting voice actors, licensing music, and working in your feedback are all in there somewhere. Even boutique studios (like us!) need a lot of people at each stage of the production.
Of course, longer videos can multiply these costs.
Time Really is Money
Most explainer videos are animated and you pay for animation by the finished second. That’s why most animated video studios start the pricing conversation by talking about length.
Knowing this number up front helps the studio budget its time and resources. They can get an idea of how many people they need and how long it might take to complete your project.
Often, the first 60 seconds are the most expensive. After that, many production costs scale so the studio will give you a break on the per-second price.
Keeping your video as short as possible isn’t just good for your budget. The latest video length research indicates that shorter videos tend to perform better on most platforms.
Style Affects Cost for Explainer Videos
Style is the other major factor that can influence explainer video cost. Different styles of video are more or less labor intensive, which feeds into the cost-per-second calculation. While you should choose your style based on how it fits with your marketing goals and brand, knowing the relative costs of different video styles can help you figure out your budget.
Here we’ve ranked video styles by relative cost from least to most expensive. There’s considerable overlap here (it’s possible to create a whiteboard animation that costs the same as 3D) but this should give you a sense of the entry points for each style.
This is the least expensive explainer video option, but it can pack a big punch. The clear, simple style fits most budgets. But buyer beware, tons of low-quality studios produce cookie-cutter whiteboard animation videos that garner lukewarm results. Look for a studio with a portfolio of quality videos.
Motion graphics are computer animations of shapes, and sometimes words, rather than characters. These may be 2D or 3D and are perfect for brands that want to avoid character-led messaging.
2D animation can give your explainer video a classic look. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity–2D videos only work because of hours of iteration and character design. Yet many video companies try to skimp by simply sliding, rotating, and replacing elements on the screen. This technique lacks what makes animation so powerful, movement. Look for a studio that understands frame by-frame-character animation.
Rich, dimensional imagery is the hallmark of 3D animation. From engaging characters to realistic product showcases, there’s almost nothing 3D animation can’t do. The cost depends on the complexity of the animation. Really 2D and 3D can cost about the same. The choice between the two is more a question of style than price.
Costs for live action video can add up quickly. Well-known actors, multiple recording locations, and post-production all add up. In this example, we’ve even added some animation into the mix.
But what about…
You’ll notice we didn’t mention stop-motion in this list. That’s because it’s so labor intensive that it tends to be prohibitively expensive for many brands. Even a 30-second spot can take weeks to complete so allow for at least 50% more time for stop-motion explainer videos. Also, be mindful that revisions are extremely costly once production begins.
Then there’s motion capture. This hyper-realistic animation style really is it’s own beast. If you’re considering mocap, look for a studio that specializes in that technology and be prepared to pay for their expertise.
Explainer Video Price: Worth Every Penny
Quality explainer videos are an investment that grows your business. When you consider the cost, make sure you consider both the out-of-pocket expense and the business you might miss by skimping on quality. In the end, an explainer video really should pay for itself.
We’ve given you some general guidelines for how to think about and calculate explainer video cost. If you’re ready to get specific, contact an IdeaRocket video expert today. We create videos for tech companies, HR departments, health care companies, and much more.