How Much Does an Explainer Video Cost?

April 16, 2019 xplayer

Video content is a trend at a new peak right now. Statistically, 92% of mobile video viewers will share videos they enjoy online via social media. Seeing such a spike in viewership and virality, businesses have started investing in brand-oriented explainer videos. However, one of the popular objections companies face is that creating explainers is costly.

While for established companies a cost of an explainer video equals that of a week of advertising spending, for startups it might be too big of an investment. If you’re looking for clarity regarding video making costs, this post will provide you with useful data and clear things up.

What determines the cost of an explainer video?

In order to break down the costs of video production, it’s important to understand what influences production studios when they estimate videos. There are a lot of factors that can increase the production cost, including the location of the agency. Here are the main variables that come into play:

  • The length of the video. Every additional second of video requires more work when it comes to editing, scripting, filming, or animation. The typical length of the video is 60 seconds. However, if your main goal is to test the format, consider going with a 30-second spot – it’ll be considerably cheaper.
  • Style. The style of the video influences its cost as well. Creating a 2D video will be way cheaper than designing it in 3D, and other special effects will take time and particular expertise.
  • Creative talent. The cost of an explainer video will, above everything else, be determined by how much creative talent you need for production. Scripting, narrating, animating, acting, and editing – all of this requires hiring and paying workers. So, if you can do as much work as possible yourself, the video will end up relatively cheap.
  • The level of detail. This means mainly the difficulty of animation in a video. Drawing primitive figures is one thing – creating detailed characters is a whole other matter. Limiting the level of detail to simple vector silhouettes is the best way to cut explainer video production cost.

These are the main production factors that come into play while estimating the cost of an explainer video regardless of the location of the production agency. There are others to take into account as well – such as taxes, rent for a shooting location, electricity, software, etc.

How much time does it take to create an explainer video?

Videos of different styles, lengths, and quality all require different turnaround times. We’ll detail the time estimates in the table below, assuming you’re dealing with every step yourself.

Stage 30-second spot 60-second spot
Scripting 5 hours 8 hours
Storyboarding 56 hours 110 hours
Designing characters 50 hours 70 hours
Animation 80 hours 100 hours
Editing and sound mixing 50 hours 70 hours
Total 241 hours 358 hours

Stage-by-stage cost analysis in explainer video production

In order to get a better understanding as to how much an explainer video might cost, let’s break the entire production process down into stages. We’ll go over the detailed description of every step in explainer video making with a description and a cost of an explainer video estimate.

1. Scripting

Writing a script for an explainer video won’t require much manpower. In fact, a business owner can even do it on their own. However, if you’re looking forward to hiring a writer, one person will be enough for the job.

In order to do research and write the text, a writer might put in 5-8 hours. According to Payscale, you can hire a junior script writer with a rate of $9.29 per hour. The middle-level professional is usually paid $20.00 per hour. Getting a senior professional will cost $40.63 per hour.

2. Illustration

This stage consists of storyboarding the script and designing characters. As a result, illustration is relatively complex – one designer might not be enough to handle it. For a quicker turnaround and a higher quality of video, consider contacting at least two designers – an illustrator for storyboarding and an animator for character development.

According to PayScale, an hourly rate of a junior illustrator is $10.09 per hour. The work of a junior will be rated at $19.60 per hour, while that of a senior – $48.61 per hour.

3. Voiceover

Having a professional narrator is important to make sure a video is successful. While hiring a professional to create a voiceover, make sure his voice is appealing to the audience. You can either settle with a cartoon-like type of narration or choose a business-oriented approach.

The hourly rate of hiring a junior voiceover talent for an explainer video is $13.53 per hour. A middle-level professional would charge $39.87 per hour, a senior has a rate up to $204.26 per hour. If it seems too much of a bargain to make, there are alternate means to consider such as AI voiceovers.

Some of the voices are free to use, others might require a small fee. The downside of using technology for narration is that your audio will hardly evoke strong emotions but it’s an option worth considering.

4. Animation

While making an explainer video, the animation is the most time-consuming part of the process. At this point, the animator needs to collect all the assets (designed characters, locations, etc). All of these files are imported to After Effects and edited there.

The animation explainer video cost is determined based on the detail of animation (limited or wide range of movements) as well as the overall length of the video.

An hourly rate of a junior  animator is $13.53 per hour, an average rate in the industry is $24.54 per hour, that of a senior professional is $50.00 per hour.

5. Editing

Finally, the animated sequence needs to be edited and connected to the editing. Sound mixing is another challenging part when it comes to video making. Normally, there are three different audio layers – a voiceover, background, and sound effects to emphasize the main points of the video. All of the above requires an experienced editor. According to Payscale, the hourly rate of a junior editing professional is $11.79 per hour, a middle-level editor would charge $19.49 in average per hour, while a top professional has a rate of $43.08 per hour.

The cost of top explainer videos breakdown

In the industry of explainer videos, there are certain expectations and standards. Being exposed to explainers from top companies, your potential clients will easily detect a not-so-quality product.

If you’re wondering how much it costs to create a top explainer video like that of successful corporations, look no further. We’ve collected the best explainer videos and broke their costs down. This data is mainly an estimate our team made based on our own experience. Still, it can prove useful to you while calculating the cost of your future explainer.

Note! As all the videos were made by the agencies, the rates of senior professionals were listed in the tables.

1. Slack Explainer Video

The Slack explainer video is one of the best examples of good products in the genre. In order to produce a colorful detailed animation with layered audio and smooth transitions, Slack contacted Giant Ant – a Vancouver-based video production company.

The agency is quite famous for top-notch clients, such as Google and MailChimp. It can be estimated that the hourly rates of its professionals are relatively high. Let’s take a look at how many people it took to create Slack’s explainer and calculate their wages.

Role Hourly rate Number of hours Total (rounded)
1 manager $37.64 16 $602
1 producer $43.11 8 $345
1 creative director $97.44 16 $1,559
1 art. director $82.12 20 $1,642
8 illustrators $48.61 40 $15,555
9 animators $50.23 40 $18,083
1 music and SFX specialist $69.04 20 $1,381
Total 160 $39,167

Altogether, the video production must’ve involved around 22 people. The total budget estimate would be $39,167.

2. Nest explainer video

Nest’s explainer video is an exceptionally creative animation. It makes use of geometrical figures and vector graphics to convey powerful messages in shorter time frames. Such a well made video couldn’t have been cheap to produce. Let’s take a look at the explainer video cost breakdown for Nest. The agency in charge of development is Oddfellows – a studio with offices in Portland and San Francisco. Oddfellows have produced videos for Nike, Twitter, Google, and many more clients – it’s safe to assume the cost of an animated video done by the agency is considerable.

Let’s take a look at how many people it took to produce Nest’s explainers as well as their respective hourly rates.

Role Hourly rate Number of hours Total (rounded)
1 manager $37.64 16 $602
1 producer $43.11 8 $345
1 creative director $97.44 16 $1,559
1 art. director $82.12 20 $1,642
4 illustrators $48.61 40 $7,778
6 animators $50.23 40 $12,055
2 music and SFX specialists $69.04 20 $2,762
Total 160 $26,743

According to open data the video was created by 16 professionals, with the total estimated production cost of $26,743.

3. PrescribeWellness Explainer Video

This high quality video, which explains to customers which PrescribeWellness services are available at local pharmacies, was produced by Furrow.tv – a video production agency famous thanks to collaborations with Facebook and Microsoft.

Here’s the estimate of the cost of the video based on the number of professionals involved and their hourly rates.

Role Hourly rate Number of hours Total (rounded)
1 manager $37.64 16 $602
1 producer $43.11 8 $345
1 creative director $97.44 16 $1,559
1 art. director $82.12 20 $1,642
2 illustrators $48.61 40 $3,889
2 animators $50.23 40 $4,018
1 music and SFX specialist $69.04 20 $1,381
Total 160 $13,436

The entire production process involves 9 professional. The video’s estimated cost is $13,436

4. CrazyEgg Explainer Video

This video for CrazyEgg is a solid explainer for how to create a conversion booster without having to spend too much on production. We’ve calculated the explainer video cost, assuming the number of professionals involved and their respective hourly rates.

Role Hourly rate Number of hours Total (rounded)
1 manager $37.64 16 $602
1 creative and art director $97.44 32 $3,118
1 illustrators $48.61 40 $1,944
1 animators $50.23 56 $2,813
2 music and SFX specialist $69.04 16 $2,209
Total 160 $10,686

The total cost of the video is approximately – $10,686. According to open data, it took six professionals to complete the production.

Conclusion

Explainer videos are known to be conversion boosters for brands – moreover, they provide users with a ton of educational value as well. However, calculating explainer video pricing isn’t always easy. There’s a fair amount of factors that can contribute to the cost estimation – mainly, the length of the video, the type (animation or live action), the style (2D or 3D), the amount of creative talent involved, and more. One can try to create an explainer on their own – however, that would increase the turnaround time tremendously. Contacting an agency is not too expensive if you don’t go to top-notch producers. At Xplai, we have an experienced team of writers and producers ready to have your back and help you with every stage of production. 

Take a look at our work to ensure that Xplai is a fit agency for you and contact us today.