How Much Will an Explainer Video Cost? | Freelance Animation Rates

twine thumbnail freelance animation rates how much will an explainer video cost?

In order to bag yourself that perfect animated explainer video, you need to get yourself accustomed to freelance animation rates.

Explainer videos are a trend that’s continuously on the rise, with an animated explainer video being a product your business needs in order to stay above the competition. Quick and engaging, these short, animated marketing videos help promote your company, product or service in a visually entertaining way. In seconds, you can explain what it is your business does and instantly convert new customers.

Needless to say, they’re popular. So, if you’re looking to bag yourself a 30-second explainer video and aren’t sure where to start – you’ve come to the right place! We’re about to shed some light on just what goes into creating the animation, as well as what you can expect to pay.

Really – Just How Much Does an Explainer Video Cost?

man sat at desk animating an explainer video

One of the most common requests we hear from buyers is how much does an animated explainer video cost? I mean – how long does it take to animate 30 seconds?

Now, we wish there was a quick and easy answer to that question. All explainer videos are different, you’ll never get two the same – therefore they’re never the same price.

A common assumption is that because an explainer video is short (usually around 30-60 seconds) it should be quick, easy and cheap to create. However, like most design forms, this isn’t the case.

If we take an example of a 60-second animation explainer video, you can expect to pay anything from £500 – £5,000. Of course, the price depends on multiple factors: the experience of your animator, whether they’re an independent freelancer or a top-dollar agency, the detail of the video and many more.

If you’re in need of a little budgeting advice, our article on animation will tell you more about how to budget for animation projects.

To some, that price tag may seem quite hefty – until you realise the science behind freelance animation rates and what goes into creating an animated explainer video…

How Long Does it Take to Create an Explainer Video?

SourceUX storyboard by Ulkar Zeynalli.

Every animation will be different, but for a simple digital animated explainer video – you could be talking anywhere between 4 – 8 weeks. Maybe even longer, it really depends on what you’re asking of the animator!

Why does it take that long? Animating is a time-consuming, technical craft. It doesn’t happen overnight. Here’s a quick rundown of the process:

Week 1: Research and Scripting

The research lays the foundations for the best explainer videos. Scripting is not something you want to skimp on. Your digital motion video needs an engaging and cohesive story – it’s harder than you think to explain your product, clearly and in an engaging way, in 60 seconds or less…

Week 2: Style Development

This is where the style of your animation is fleshed out – and this isn’t like some live-action video – we’re talking hours upon hours of work. Characters will be developed, animations will be drawn, prototypes will be made. A lot of this work is done by hand. Then, if necessary, digital rendering is performed. During this phase, there’ll be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between all parties as the client signs off work.

Week 3: Storyboarding

Now we have a final script and a style in place, the animator can create a storyboard. Storyboards are a static, scene-by-scene breakdown of your video. They can be sketched out by hand or created digitally.

Week 4: Voiceover

If you need a voiceover, now’s the time to get it down. Usually, the voiceover artist will record multiple takes. This is so that the sound engineer has lots of material to work with to get that perfect edit.

Week 5-6: Animation

So, you can see that no actual animating starts until quite a few weeks into the project. This stage is by far the most time-intensive.

The animator will take all existing elements such as the voiceover and illustrations and import them into their animation software (usually something like Adobe After Effects). They’ll then spend hours painstakingly animating each element of your video until it’s perfect.

Week 7: Special Effects and Music

The last stage is to add the finishing touches. A sound engineer will need to mix all the audio elements (voiceover, music and sound effects) so that they sound slick and professional, and you have yourself an animated explainer video to be proud of!

So now you know what the basic process is, what about different types of animation – how does the style of animation you choose affect the cost of your explainer video?

Simple Digital:

Simple digital animations are probably the most popular form of explainer videos.

Most animated explainer videos that you’ll come across are animated digitally, and opting for a simple 2D style helps to keep costs down. A good way to lower the budget is to keep your animation style simple. A 2D, basic style will be quicker and more straightforward to produce than a detailed 3D animation.

Here you can watch one of the most famous animated explainer videos The Choice, using a simple digital style:

Digital Sketch:

A very popular style of animated explainer video is the sketch animation, where the animation looks as if it’s being drawn live on screen by a human. This can be on a notepad, whiteboard, blackboard or any other surface you like.

The digital sketch looks like a one-take video of a sketch being drawn out, but it is in fact, digitally animated.

This style of animation often involves live elements, such as hands or pens which need to move in time with the animation. These real objects need to be filmed or photographed separately, then edited into the video. Depending on what you want, this can add an extra layer of complexity which can add to your budget.

Here’s a great example of a whiteboard animation video:

and an example of a blackboard animation video:

For a simple black and white digital sketch animation, you should expect to pay around $100-300 per minute, whereas for something more complicated involving separately filmed elements, colour or moving parts you can expect to pay anywhere around $1000 per minute.

Stop motion:

Stop motion animation is a favourite of many. When done well it’s hard to beat. But, unfortunately it’s the most cost intensive and labour intensive style of any animation. If you want to plump for a stop motion animation, add at least 50% to your timeframe.

Stop motion includes everything from claymation, puppets, cut outs or collage, object animation to live model animation. To make a stop motion animation, an object, or model is placed in various positions and and photographed. The photos are then sequenced together, which gives the illusion of movement.

Here’s a promo video Nokia created using stop motion animation and filmed on a beach:

Here’s a music video made using claymation:

Communication is key for this style, as revisions are costly once the animation has been made.

The cost of a stop motion animation depends entirely on the medium you’re working in. Custom puppets will cost a lot more than a simple object animation. Each stop motion animation is an individual entity and therefore impossible to estimate a rough price for. Instead, be prepared to pay significantly more for this style of animation.

However, it’s good to know that a lot of stop-motion styles and effects can be achieved through digital animation, which will usually be cheaper.

Animated explainer video extras:

It’s very rarely the case that you’ll need animation alone. Most explainer videos need some kind of soundtrack, voiceovers or motion graphics/VFX – which will all add to the total cost of your explainer video. If you don’t provide this, your animator may need to hire in someone else to do these parts.

Want more information? Take a look at this article which shows you how to create the perfect project brief for an animation project. Once your project brief is up and running, we’ll also help you through the process of hiring an animator.

Ready to hire? Our marketplace of over 410,000 freelancers have the skills and expertise needed to skyrocket your business to the next level. From marketers to designers, copywriters to animators – browse the talented bunch here!


After studying English Literature at university, Vicky decided she didn’t want to be either a teacher or whoever it is that writes those interminable mash-up novels about Jane Austen and pirates, so sensibly moved into graphic design.

She worked freelance for some time on various projects before starting at Twine and giving the site its unique, colourful look.

Despite having studied in Manchester and spent some years in Cheshire, she’s originally from Cumbria and stubbornly refuses to pick up a Mancunian accent. A keen hiker, Vicky also shows her geographic preferences by preferring the Cumbrian landscape to anything more local.