How Much Does an Explainer Video Cost?

If you’re not familiar with explainer videos, they’re short, engaging, online videos that explain and promote a company, product, or service (you can find plenty of examples on our sample page, or head over to StartupVideos for more). So why invest in an explainer video you ask? There are oodles of statistics that show the positive effect video can have on conversion rates, sales, and information retention, but the bottom line is this - if you could learn about something by watching a quick, entertaining video, or read a page of text, which would you choose?

How much does an explainer video cost?

The number one question we hear from people is “how much does an explainer video cost?” For our purposes here, we’re talking about a 60-second animated explainer video, which is typically the most popular offering. As you’d probably expect, you can find a wide range of prices out there, anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000. However, if you’re working with a reputable producer, expect to spend between $5,000 and $10,000. The amount charged depends on a wide variety of factors, including quality of work, customization and detail, experience level, and how busy or “in demand” the producer is.

A lot of people are surprised, even shocked, when they first hear how much an explainer video can cost. But if you don't understand the amount of time and effort that go in to producing one, it's hard to wrap your head around just what your money is buying. So here's a quick run-down (including samples) of the explainer video production process and what happens at each stage.

What is the process for creating an explainer video?

The typical project takes 4-8 weeks to complete and involves 6 stages. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Stage 1: Research and scripting (week 1)

A well written script is the foundation of a great video. But it takes time for writers to fully understand your company, product, or service and synthesize it into 150 words. And don’t forget that each video requires a creative direction and storyline, something that can take time for all parties to agree upon.

Stage 2: Style and illustration (week 1)

In most cases, all of the characters and assets in a video are illustrated by hand, scanned into a computer, digitized, colored and so forth. Some illustrators like to do everything digitally with a tablet. During the style stage, the illustrator will create a few variations of characters and assets to show the client.

RIVS Styleframe

Stage 3: Storyboarding (week 2)

With a final script and style in place, the illustrator assembles a storyboard. The storyboard is a static scene-by-scene representation of the video in its final, animated form.

RIVS Storyboard

Stage 4: Voiceover (week 3)

Based on the script and storyboard, a professional voice artist will record an audio version of the script. Typically artists provide multiple takes so the sound engineer has options to work with.



Stage 5: Animation (weeks 4-5)

The most time consuming and work-intensive part of the process is the animation. At this point, an animator is taking all of the finished assets, like the illustrations and voiceover, and importing them into a piece of software like Adobe After Effects (AE). Once in AE, the animator spends hours assembling the assets and making each movement just right. There’s no “Auto-Animate” button...yet.



Stage 6: Music and Sound Effects (week 6)

Last but not least, a sound engineer mixes the sound together, including the music, voiceover, and sound effects. Nothing ruins a video like poor sound quality, so never underestimate the importance of a professionally mixed voiceover, music track, and sound effects.

Conclusion

So there you have it. If it seems like a lot of work, it is. And that doesn’t even include the many hours of meetings, calls, emails, revisions, renderings, uploads, and more.

For some other perspectives on explainer video pricing, make sure to check out the blog post from Miguel over at Grumo (includes an average hourly breakdown), along with these answers on Quora.

We want to hear what you think! Does the pricing and timeline surprise you? Have you had a different experience somewhere else? Let us know in the comment section.

Andrew Follett is the Founder and CEO at Video Brewery. He lives in Chicago with his wife Hannah and enjoys travel, hockey, sailing, and maintaining his 300 acre ant farm (okay, not really). You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.