View Full Version : How much to charge animation?

04-20-2005, 12:58 PM
I made my first animation. Usualy I make only 3d pictures of houses or the interiores.
It is an appartment flythrough, 2 minutes long. Shows the whole interior of the house.
I realy dont now how much to charge it. I was thinking maybe 200$. :confused: :D
Any advice is more then welcome!

04-20-2005, 01:38 PM
Hello Rainman.... Actually this is depends from the quality and detalisation of appartments. BASICALLY one second of such the animation costs from 15 to 50 USD. Are you using Mental Ray, Vray, Brazil or RenderMan for computing? If you are using scanline renderer - 200 is Ok :). Next time you better attach one screenshot and then ask the question - could be more easy to make a price and understand the quality of job done.

P.S. Sorry for my English.

Good luck

04-20-2005, 04:27 PM
Is that an Ls animation maybe ;)
Well thrust me if I would charge like ReAnimator says eg. 15 dolars per second thats 15$x120sec= 1800 $ :) I would like that :) :) :) , but thrust me I wouldnt hear any knocking on my door, probably I would end up def ;)
No respect at all!

04-20-2005, 11:34 PM
you mean 200.... just for rendering...? or for the entire job...?

There is people over the net now that do Archviz for 50$...

the more we go, the more Archviz market is getting very low... ($)... :D

I predict in 2 or 3 years from now on, architects will just it do themselves with a few clicks...

04-21-2005, 12:29 AM
You guys are selling yourselves cheap, really cheap! :eek:

Then ofcourse, one has to know his/her abilities and limitations and adjust the price accordingly.

But then again, $200 is LOW! Have some self-respect, think about the expenses... hardware and software aren't inexpensive, knowledge even less so... :(

04-21-2005, 12:45 AM
Hello Doimus, let's face it...this is unfortunatly where we're going... ! + Not all the people are in the same situation... there are today some young wolves that are supported by their parents, so every penny they'll make is pocket money... lucky for them.. and most of time the gran'ma offered the PC for Xmas... so this is rude reality... some people even work for free just to keep learning or getting trained...

Today, everybody does 3D, even the maid of my mom... so I would not be susprised if prices drop even lower...

+ hardware is cheaper and cheaper...+ 3D softwares all drop their prices.. and on topof it, people from poor countries will accept even 20$ to do it... even in US, 200$ seams to be a fair price these days for any archviz... look around the web... do a search with google, and you'll be very susrprised... he he :D :eek:

04-21-2005, 12:46 AM
Please, please, don't come near my town with those prices. Multiply that figure by 10 and maybe I'll let you get near my state. Anything less than 1K USD a minute isn't worth the time and effort you go into to make it look good. And if it's really high end (HD - ray-traced, etc.) it goes up a LOT! The cost of the hardware (both to purchase and its use), time to learn the program (and the cost of the software) and the time you spend working on a project has to be factored in.


04-21-2005, 01:04 AM
well don't want to disapoint you, but I think we better used to it... espacially in Texas... (just kiding) :D

04-21-2005, 01:27 AM
Hervé, not disappointed in the least. But here in Texas (the Digital Media Capitol - as well as the Music Capitol of the UNIVERSE) that's my going rate. And I seem to be getting it (maybe you CAN fool all the people ALL the time). I figure, if it drops to $100 a minute, then I will just go and do my own stuff and live in a tent (which would be a lot more fun).

When someone works cheap, it makes it harder for those of us who don't to charge a decent rate. I built a 90 second animation for a client which consisted of 186 objects in full motion with a fly-through (in HD with a lot of volumetric lighting) for a convention and they were thrilled with it(they liked it so much that they are using one of the objects as their logo). They had tried it on the cheap (someone did their first try for $700) and they hated it, so they came to me and were glad to pay 2K for what I gave them.

Here's a little hint: I noticed that as I raised my prices, more work came in the door, and more clients came back for more. Remeber, you pay for what you get (and conversely - you get what you pay for).


04-21-2005, 06:38 AM
Don't panic guys, I thought the future of arch vis looked bad also. But really last year that survey on cg architect proved me wrong. If anything it will be stronger. Even if you live with your parents eventually you have to grow up and move out and you can not live on $200 so they will be forced to find another job. Plus clients that pay low fees once will always want that low fee for future jobs. So really you have to ask yourself and figure what you would need to make a living on and if you can not charge that amount sooner or later you will have to get out of this buisness, it will be just a matter of time.

04-21-2005, 06:52 AM
Here's a little hint: I noticed that as I raised my prices, more work came in the door, and more clients came back for more. Remeber, you pay for what you get (and conversely - you get what you pay for).
Thats wierd, but its a Truth!I also noticed that!
Its like people are looking at as like some products, and think "well the higher the price is, the higher the quality will be". Thats definatly the good side!
But the real side is, often pople even dont know what an Flythrough is. I find my self explaining them what is abouth, and all i get is that look in their eyes :confused: . "How is that posible"...what they dont know, they fear it!
So it comes down to a big advertisment project and pushing our self in front of the crowd...
...aslo if you take eg. avarage incoming of a one person in your country ( 700 - 800 $ here),will he pay that kind of money for just one FLY

04-21-2005, 06:52 AM
well, it really depend on where you are located...

Here, it is very rare when they do a previz, because there is a big house crisis.. (read not enough houses), so every property sells in one day...

exemple, they started next street to do a building's fondations... all appt. were sold within a week... can you believe it...? so people are saying why should we make an archviz for... that is the case when construction makes too good...

... and if construction does not go too good, then there's no money...

... you have to play in between....

I am finding resorts, vacation hotels, golf courses, marina's ....are the ones that need the most previz stuff... :D

04-21-2005, 07:19 AM
Don't sell yourself too cheaply!! Once you do, it's hard to ask for higher pay rates. People should expect to pay for your experience and schooling. Low rates do hurt everyone in the field!

Doctor's don't give away thier services away for free or for very little pay, you shouldn't either. In fact, doctor's fees keep going up. They have lots of years of training and you eventually will too. You're in a profession - not a sales person or cashier at the local Wal-mart or other store. You are not flipping burgers at Mick D's

I know that the market is really competitive right now and it's an employers market too, so we can't make it as easily as we did when 3D was in its infancy. Hell, I used to be able to charge $150 - $250 per running second. Now I'm lucky to get a third or quarter of that. Of course, things take less time now than they did then, and you spend less time at a project. But the one thing about this business is - you are not always busy - so you have to account for slow times too.

Prices for almost everything are going up [yeah I know computers and consumer video products are actually going lower]. Food, gasoline, electric, and heating fuel costs are continuing to rise, so making money at what you do should take all of this into consideration.

I know thereis no real easy answer to what you can [or should] charge, but it is generally what the market in your particular area can bear. See what others in your area are charging. Call a few places like as if you were a prospective client, and see if you can find out the ballpark rates for thler services.

04-21-2005, 08:16 AM
I made my first animation. Usualy I make only 3d pictures of houses or the interiores.
It is an appartment flythrough, 2 minutes long. Shows the whole interior of the house.
I realy dont now how much to charge it. I was thinking maybe 200$. :confused: :D
Any advice is more then welcome!

rainman, the price you are going to ask to your client depends on many factors. i will try to sketch some points here.

first there's the quality that you offer to your client. of course you can't charge that much for a simple web-sized flythrough animation as you would do for a NTSC or HD one. do you have fotoreal quality with area lights and occlusion maps or it's more a simple scanline style animation? do you have animated people in the animation? ...and so on.

second point, what's the time frame you have to finish the job? if your timeframe is very small you may have to consider to have to pay for a render farm service such as respower. btw., it's safe to assume that you will need at least 50% more time of what you think it will need... there are always some unexpected things happening, and matching deadlines is the most important thing to keep your clients happy.

third, what about the client? if you want to do more jobs with them, consider that raising the price level after the first job for them is very difficult. and in my experience, low rated 'trial offers' simply don't work with clients that are only looking for the cheapest price. they will use your low rate and jump to the next 'newcomer' with such offerings. in my opinion it's better to ask for a regular price and then maybe announce some kind of discount for future jobs already included in your calculation, that keeps a new client happy and maybe yours, too.

lastly, make a small calculation for yourself. what are your monthly expenses? do you think you can do your living with the rates you are asking? think about your hardware equipment, software updates, communication expenses, office equipment and so on.

hope this helps! .-)


04-22-2005, 01:51 PM
man, i work in an agency, and sometimes i hate that corporate kind of environment, but there are some things that are definite benefits! such as... we charge around 1k for a single product rendering!! buahahaha. of course, a global-scale agency has much more overhead costs than a freelancer, but my point is... obviously there are clients out there willing to pay up! so... like others have said... don't sell yourself short. figure out how much you NEED and charge it... there are people willing to pay it in the right markets!! :cool:

04-22-2005, 02:10 PM
Thanx you people for interesting points!
Well I charged them 400$:-)
They had no complaints, in fact they seemed very satisfied.The word never seen before was nice to hear ;)
About the quality of animation. I realy didnt put any people in animations,nothing fance. Its a house, flooring tiles, windows, doors, openings, didnt put any tables or chairs. Processed radiosity and rayTracing.
Weel for this kind of job 400$ is I think :rolleyes: O.k. For I higher price, in future , I think maybe putting sofas, tables...

04-24-2005, 05:43 PM
$400 still seems mighty cheap. I nearly choked when i saw the 200 you originally intended. It makes my prices seem like Harrods (very expensive shop in london).

I did a 2 minute animation for rolls royce and charged them £1500, and wish i'd charged more really, they loved it and kept it on loop for 6 days rather than just the 1 day they planned. This was done by me as a freelance artist for a company so the company added their pricing on top of that too, probably a good 120% more aswell. I reckon a 1k for a minute of animation is spot on and is what i tend to quote at the mo, if they want photoreal stuff then the price will have to go up.

Out of interest, does anyone charge per hour for rendering? I've been wondering if it's a good idea or not? My last project had my PC out solid for 3 days rendering and i couldn't get on with my other jobs. Which ultimately means loss of revenue. Look forward to hearing other peoples views.

04-24-2005, 06:28 PM
I charge by the hour for everything I do (3D, flash, compositing etc) - mostly between $35-100 USD. I work with the client to determine the the best approach to their project and then do an hourly breakdown based on that discussion. Flat fee is out of the question - unless you like getting screwed ;)

Arch Viz work is always on the low end - cheapest and most difficult clients - therefore I tend to stay away from it.

04-24-2005, 11:23 PM
Arch-viz sucks more & more these days... and cheaper & cheaper...

Talk about your render times, or radiosity to some entrepreneurs, they really dont care... one of them does not even see a difference between a radiosity render & a non radiosity render... those people are so OUT, it's almost scary to let them build your house for.... real !

Last... but not least... a lot of them are totally satisfied with the basic archicad wireframe... as a matter of fact, sometimes they like it better than a nice photoreal render... (one told me it looks more technical, and he felt good about it...)

we should strart a thread with only stories about weirdo clients.... so funny sometimes... :D

BTW 1500£ for Rolls Royce is peanuts... the price of the ashtray in their cars... ;)

04-25-2005, 12:09 AM
Hervé, I think you look for job at the wrong places... I'm a student of architecture myself and I can assure you that architects are the last people you should approach for architectural visualizations.
Yes, I know it sounds silly but I think it's true... :rolleyes:

Why? You said it yourself. Most of the architects seem spaced out, and don't really care about the quality of their renderings for two reasons:

1) They understand and percieve space much better than average customer, so they don't really need fancy stuff just to see something they already can see, and

2) By the time they need 3d representation of they work, most of them already got that job, so it's totally unnecessary to spent extra money for something they don't really need.

When looking for job, seek the managers, bosses, PR, all that people who don't have a real job, but who do have lots of money on their hands and need to spend it fast just to justify their position at the "food chain" in the company. ;)
So, don't approach the architect... aproach his employer!

04-25-2005, 12:42 AM
oh you're right Doimus ! very right ! also fact is most architects want to do previz in house for NDA reasons.... (in the case of competition)

I am mostly doing internet 3d graphics & design these days...

also some architects are just doing previz these days.... see cgarchitect.com for an interview of Olivier Campagne...

hervé ;)

04-25-2005, 03:47 AM
BTW 1500£ for Rolls Royce is peanuts... the price of the ashtray in their cars... ;)

Haha, i know it is, and i feel stupid now. Although, it was my first job so i just didn't know where to price it.

I have now realised how much of a pain clients can be and that changing things a week and one day before the deadline and then saying "we want it a week earlier now aswell" happens, and happened to me on the rolls royce thing. I thought... "great, so they want me to change it and get it to them in one day?" and yes they did. :D

04-25-2005, 01:58 PM
Most people think of PITA as a bread. It is, but it is also an acronym for Pain In The A**. When I have a PITA Client, the price goes up (somewhere between 15 and 25%). I actually list it on the invoice (PITA Fee-------$125.00). If the client doesn't like it, then he better seek a new animator/editor/producer. One of the good thinkgs about working for oneself is that you don't have to put up with an irritating boss. But better yet, you don't have to put up with an irritating client.

I charge one of two ways, by the job, or by time. $85 per hour for production - $35 per hour for rendering (or $500 per day or $2,000 per week or $7,500 per month). This is for modeling-animation, video editing or web work. I make sure the client understands the costs going into the project and that changes will be an additional cost (a change order). I have lost clients because I don't "do deals" (gee, can't you do this for half the price, the kid at college said he would?), but I am an artist. I learned from a really great artist that if you start out low, you will stay low. Never never, never (and I mean NEVER) drop your prices to compete. Part of what you are being paid for is the cost of overhead, time, equipment, training and software. But the main part of your income is from your ART. The better your ART the higher the price. How much does a canvas and some oil paint cost. How much would you pay for a Peter Max painting?

Just some observations.


04-25-2005, 03:03 PM
Hahaha, i know you didn't intend it to be such a funny post but that is just plain great!!!! Hope you don't mind if i steal the idea of PITA fees? Bet it's funny if the client thinks it's some sort of technical term :D Interesting to hear you charge for rendering too, i've been seriously considering this, and will start on my next job. Thanks for the info... bloody interesting!

04-25-2005, 07:19 PM
When I started doing it I thought it was funny. Most clients (those that deserved the PITA Fee) didn't even ask what it was. Finally one PITA asked and I told him. He huffed and puffed, but paid the fee. After that he became quite easy to work with - would talk out the whole project in advance and I had to drop his PITA classification. I have lost a few clients over this fee, but I am glad they went. Live is too short and Lightwave is too much fun to have someone drag you into the dirt.

Please, make all the use of it that you want.


04-25-2005, 07:35 PM
What I have found is clients are like wild dogs about to bite. The more fear you put out the more they will attack. Meaning they can sense when you want the project very bad. The more you don't care or inflate the price the more they want to pay. If you try to hard or give in price the more they will take advantage of you.
(Friggen animals).

04-25-2005, 07:49 PM
If they see an advantage, you can be sure they will take it (it's called business, or here in Texas - bid'ness). It's all in the art of negotiation. You have something they want. If you give it up too cheaply, they will never let you recover. It is better to lose the low paying jobs because you won't lower your price, than to give in to the jackals. I always keep in mind that they are paying for my creativity as well as my labor, plus they are taking me away from things I really like to work on. For all of that, it ain't cheap, bud - it's just doin' bid'ness.


04-25-2005, 09:37 PM
I say;
UNDERCUT EVERYONE around there, get thier buisness, get them out of buisness,
then slowly raise prices till you see someone else jumping in or one of the other buisnesses opening back up, then undercut them again.

It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm the only one left in the area.HEHEHE
Well cept for the camera shop that only does stills.

04-25-2005, 09:46 PM
Here's a novel approach, although I would not recommend this billing procedure for every client. I just finished a job where the client needed renderings of a new product rollout. They had committed to a national introduction to their reps and a national ad campaign, but the product had not been through it's first manufacturing run yet so therefore they had no samples for photography. They approached me with their CAD drawings and wanted me to render the product shots for their ad and website. To make a long story short, I saved their butts and they knew it! So I ask you, how much was that worth? Well here is where the novel approach comes in, I simply asked them to pay me what it was worth. Now I must add that I had done previous work for this client and that we have a very good working relationship, but I knew I was taking a big gamble none the less. On the other hand with the client being a repeat customer and good for business the last couple of years, I was confident that I would have the opportunity to make-up any short comings in the future. Well as you can probably guess by the tone of this post my gamble paid off. I received more than double my normal rate! Most clients will pay for it, so don't be ashamed to ask for it, if they don't want to pay for it, don't do it.


04-26-2005, 07:36 AM
A sometimes-somwhat-shady character that was in sales where I worked (and 3D/graphics is a hobby, so "where I worked" was a custom software development shop -- I'm a developer) said this:

"He who needs the relationship the least, controls it."

I don't know if he made this up or read it somewhere, but it really does hold true!

04-27-2005, 12:15 PM
What AA option do you use when making animations in LW.
Enchanced Low? or higher. I started messing but has some flickering with enchancedLow :mad:

04-27-2005, 01:07 PM
I think this is the wrong forum for this question (we were talking about how much loot we can make), but to answer your question, I NEVER use any of the classic rendering levels, when the PLD X Pass is much better and faster. For low AA, I use the 1 or 2 pass, for medium, I use the 3 to 5 Pass and for high AA, I use the 6+ Pass. Of course, this is dependent upon what version of LW you are using. This is available in 8.2 or later.


05-09-2005, 07:25 AM
A little late to this one, but thought I would chime in anyway. Without seeing the animation its hard to know what you should have charged. But if you used any radiosity and you charged $400, I would be curious to see what kind of computer setup you have. Dont take that the wrong way. I generally price a job based on the complexity of the scene elements and the animation. Three seconds of photorealistic animation is far different from a 3 second flying logo. After you have been at it for a while you will begin to be able to look at a job and see right away where trouble might arise and judge the difficulty of the job and price the job accordingly.

Here is something to think about. If you are using just a single computer, rendering one job cuts into your next one. I often finish the setup and get approval from the client and a new job comes in, same client or new doesnt matter. I have to get started in a reasonable amount of time, dont want to lose the new job because I cant get to it.

With only one computer you cant realistically start setting up a new job, because you are still rendering the previous one. Once you start to get more work you will run into this problem. Not a bad problem to have, but something to think about.

Now, if you only charge $400 for an animation that takes a day or two to render, you might lose money on a new job because you couldnt get to it. So its good to keep that in mind when pricing jobs, especially if you only have one computer.

I work freelance and this problem came up all the time. When working freelance there are times when you get no new jobs for several days or even a week or two. Depends on the market where you live. But when it rains it pours in my experience. Next thing you know you have 2 or 3 clients all with potential jobs. But working with only one computer it becomes hard to juggle the jobs.

In the end, if you think the price you asked is fine, then that is all that matters. But I would be willing to bet that after you do this for a while, you are going to run into clients that are hard to work with or ask the impossible. When that time comes, hopefully you will have determined what pricing structure works for you and what you are willing to accept. I have worked on flying logo animations that required more work than some photoreal work. Not because it was overly complex, but because the client kept making changes.

Once a concept is approved I always render several frames for them to look at. Usually the start, middle and ending shots. Or if something special is to hapen in the animation I will do some shots based around that part. Based on these I ask for their input on what needs to be changed, dont worry, they will request changes. Your tastes are completely different from theirs, mine, etc. I then make these changes and rerender those stills. I also do a rough motion test at this point. That way they can check the motion. There again, there will usually be some changes. Finally once they commit to it, I will do a final render. That is where having more than one computer helps. If you have rendering to do and another job comes in, it is hard to stop and setup the new job and make changes. I know I already mentioned it several times, but if you only have one computer, do yourself a favor and take the money from your next two jobs and buy another computer. That way you always have one to render with and one to do setup.

Buying the second computer was the best thing I ever did. It has improved everything, not just the jobs that I can take on, but the quality of my work. Because I no longer have to rush to get a job setup and work with the client.

BTW, congratulations on your first job. I hope it leads to many more for you. If you intend to work freelance, keep in mind that depending on your market, it can be very tough. You really have to work hard at it to keep a steady supply of work. It gets easier after a while. Networking is the key. Get to know as many people in you area as you can. Call any local production studios. Ask if they do 3D work. If they say yes, then drop a reel off. If they say no, drop a reel off anyway. They may decide they want to incorparate it into their work. Once you have several jobs under your belt, it is far easier to get more work. Your reel will have a lot more work--real work that potential clients may recognise. The first year or two for me was really rough. I thought about giving up. Thankfully I still have a full time job. But over the past 7 years my freelance work has increased to the point that if I really went after it I could do it for a living. I often have to turn away work when things get real busy. The main reason I have kept my "real" job is for the insurance--recurring theme for everyone it seems.

Again congratulations, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing that someone appreciates your work. Getting paid helps too, but it still is nice to know that someone is impressed by your work, makes it all worth while.

05-09-2005, 07:40 AM
One other thing. As far as changes. If a client has a story board that is all the better. The changes I referred to above were for things like color, scene element placement, etc. If drastic changes are made, then the price definitely goes up. It all depends on the client. Sometimes they will have specific needs as far as color, scale especially if it is a LOGO animation. It makes is easier for me and the client if I provide those stills early on that show what the scene will look like at various times. How the colors work together, etc.

Keep in mind that every client is different. As someone else pointed out there is the PITA factor. Nice acronym and very fitting. Because you will run into these people. You either learn to deal with them or just look elsewhere. You can be extremely successfull without rearranging your schedule and work habits to accomodate them every time. My experience with PITA clients is usually 2 jobs. I may put up with them the first time around. But the next job I have insight as to how they work. I price accordingly. They will accept the price, or I will look elsewhere. It can be hard to turn down work when you first start, or offer yourself at too low a price. Do yourself a favor and always worry about yourself first. As I said you can be very successfull this way and keep your sanity.

05-10-2005, 01:16 AM
What AA option do you use when making animations in LW.

Just hit the max that your time left lets you.

ps : why don't you show us your animation there ?
Discussing price of a work we don't know does'nt make sense.
I like others here guess 400 dollars seems very cheap for a 2 minutes
animation but it depends on the containing.
The 2 things you should take in count are :
- price of a day or work
- price of a day of computing