Low Animation Budget: How to Cut Animation Making Cost for a Tight Budget

Educational animated videos are not cheap to make obviously. However, with a proper guide, you can still get a high-quality product with a low animation budget. Spend a few minutes with us, we will help you find a suitable and affordable animation for your tight budget.

Affordable animation: What should you truly look for?

When some people google ‘low animation budget’, they mainly mean to find a low budget solution, which they can spend less or none. As a result, the video they get might be of low quality. It can harm your course more than good and make a negative experience for your students. Therefore, the main thing you should focus on is quality, the best quality with minimum cost. In this case, we mean finding a great deal, affordable animation product, with great quality.

But you only have a tight budget, what can you do? You get what you pay for! We all agree with that. Most people think that animations, especially tailor-made ones, are costly. However, when I say: you can save up to 50% your animation budget by choosing one studio to another while keeping the same quality, can you believe that?

Cutting cost for unnecessary in the animation making process, choosing the right option, you can save a lot of money.

Now, let’s arm yourself with tips and information.

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Identify the purpose of your animations

I think the best way to save your budget is to learn how to use your money effectively. You could produce a beautiful series of animated educational videos. However, if the series is nothing but a fun distraction in your course, it is a waste of money. Then before we jump in the low-cost animation process, you would better identify if the animations serve anything in the learning objectives. Would they engage learners, increase their learning outcomes, or are they just nice decoration?

Before jumping in the low-cost animation process, identify the animation’s purpose in your course is a must. Would they engage learners, increase learning outcomes, or are they just nice decoration?

Decide the learning content to produce animations

A whole animation-based course would be expensive. One minute of animated videos cost at least $3000 if you work with a professional studio in the US, UK, or AU. Therefore, instead of animate everything, it’s better to choose some important part of your learning content to animate. Also, you should combine different types of learning materials with educational animations.

The choosen learning content for animation should be important, hard to explain in other learning methods and easy to animate!

For example, if you are recording talking head videos, an animation will make a beautiful visual explanation as an alternative to figures, charts, or graphs. Then when you teach some complicated concepts, instead of showing the illustrations or drawing the images on board, you could show students an animated video.

This video example is part of a biology course by CrashCourse. The producers have done such an excellent job in combining live-action and animation in the same footage. There is still the presence of a funky teacher. However, whenever there is a difficult concept, he resorted to animation for education.

The same idea could be applied to courses with presentation slides. You could take it lightly as the animated explanation in slide-based classes.

Keep the video short

It sounds simple: save money by producing less of animation. However, other than the economical benefits, keeping the video short brings great values to your eLearning program. The concept of short animation is to skip unnecessary information and get straight to the point. The straightforward content makes the learning process faster and helps students retain key ideas better. And short videos keep the audiences engaged. The longer a video is, the less likely learners would watch it until the end.

Tip: keep each clip short (2-3 minutes), otherwise they may become distracting! 

Want to keep animations from disrupting learning? Give this a read:
> How NOT to make educational animation a distraction in eLearning

One’s concentration stays best within 2 minutes. That is why most explainer videos for commercial purposes you see on the Internet are shorter than 90 seconds. Personally, I enjoy learning with videos shorter than 5 minutes. If your video covers lots of ideas, then you could divide it into smaller chunks. Each chunk should portray only one concept.

Choose affordable animation style

3D animation should only be used to explain concepts that need high precision like medical training for surgeons. 3D gives learners more realistic experiences and allows them to observe the objects and processes in different angles. The only drawback of 3D is the cost. High quality comes with a price. Lower-quality substitution may not be the wisest decision since graphic design is an essential element in the learner experience.

2D is a more affordable animation option comparing to 3D videos, especially the above 2 types:

  • Motion graphics: They are generated from vector-based illustration. The vector allows the animators the create movements without the need to draw every frame.
  • Whiteboard animations: Nice and simple. They present a hand drawing images on a whiteboard.

Some say 2D is expensive, but it is the case of hand-drawn animation. Hand-drawn is the traditional type of animation you see on Cartoon Network. They require the artists to draw every frame, which means 15-24 frames per one screen second. Although technology has reduced the workload of the animators, hand-drawn animation is still costly. Nevertheless,

Motion graphic and whiteboard animation have a strong power of storytelling as hand-drawn animation. Both are more limited in movements than hand-drawn animated videos, but they are still entertaining and educational. Trading cheaper moves for the same quality of information delivery is reasonable then. 

Still not sure which is the best option for your current budget? 

Find a suitable animation partner and tool

The tips above are mostly about cutting the minor cost in the process. This step will save you tons of money just by choosing the right option. When it comes to animation making, you will have 2 options: make it your own or hire someone makes it for you. Let’s dig in and find the right option for you, shall we?

Do it yourself with animation software – the cheapest animation option

Good news for teachers or eLearning instructors who want to give students new experiences without spending too much: you can do it yourself. Cloud-based animation tools like GoAnimate, PowToon or VideoScribe could help you create beautiful animated educational videos without mastering any skills in designing or animating. They provide a huge library of ready-made characters, objects, backgrounds, and even music as well as special effects! You can drag-and-drop to customize your own stories. And these tools are cheap, starting from $30 a month subscription.

However, it comes with some disadvantages. First, it’s lack of versatility and diversity. Despite many, the number of pre-designed templates is limited. Moreover, when you have a complicated concept, you might not describe it properly. Second, if you tent to build a brand, using a commercial template can damage your brand identity. The reason is every other business can use the same elements you used. And lastly, the final product quality depends on your sense a lot, it can be good or bad, there is no guaranteed

To sum up, this is your cheapest animation option. You can use it when you:

  • Need a better demonstration, not a complete animation-based course;
  • Don’t tent to build your brand;
  • Have many hours to spend rather than money
  • Ok with average animation quality.

Find someone makes it for you – might find the best affordable animation option

You can work with an animation studio to create tailor-made animations. They would give you authentic animation materials that fit your audience, subject area and branding perfectly. However, such custom-made videos from a professional studio in the US or UK are hardly ever lower than $1000 a minute. Such price is overwhelming if you intend to create a whole series. Now what?

Where can you find a cheap animation studio?

The answer is the studios from developing countries with lower labor costs. This is the best option when you find cheap animation but google might not show you. That’s why I confidently said from the beginning that you can save up to 50% of your animation budget just by choosing an animation studio from another.

It sounds too good to be true, but it’s true! Why? Because the living cost in developing countries is lower. For example, the annual average income of people living in the US is $31,099 which is about 18 times higher than that of Vietnam. Therefore, studios in developing countries like Vietnam could offer animations with the same quality but at a much more affordable price. In fact, most large animation studios also outsource animations to reduce operation costs.

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Involve more in the production process

Let’s say you choose to work with an animation studio. Then you can negotiate the price a little bit by joining in the production process. You could help them with the script, the storyboard, and if possible, the design also.

Unless you intend to do something like Ted-ed videos, you should write the script on your own. Ted-ed provides general knowledge via storytelling with various characters. To make an engaging story, you may need a scriptwriter. However, when animations play mostly as the visual explanation in addition to your teaching material, the videos focus more on the information visualization than story progression. It means you do not need to stress out on scriptwriting but pay more attention to how to deliver the information correctly.

The same goes for storyboard and design. However, these two steps require a decent set of illustrating skills. If you are not confident in drawing, then you could write down suggestions to the storyboard. It would at least save you some time, and time is money.

Record the eLearning voice-over on your own

A voice talent could give you a fantastic voice-over quality. However, students would have better learning experiences from the animated educational videos with their lecturer’s voice overs. In fact, hearing the instructor’s voices may enhance the connection between learner and lecturer. And you do not need to stress out about the VO. I think animation audio needs to focus more on being natural, conversational, and clear. You can save some money by recording the VO yourself, other than hiring a voice artist.

In conclusion

When you armed with knowledge and information, you can find affordable animation studios that can bring you the quality that you want. In the end, you want to make your course more fun and digestible for students. So take your time and choose the suitable option for your course. Remember, choose the greatest deal, not the lowest price.

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