What to Charge ( $$$$ ) for an animation?

How do I determine a fair market value for an animation that will be anywhere from 3-5 minutes in length and consist of the following items:

  1. Modeling of a Corporate Splash Screen ( Static – no additional effects )
  2. Modeling of a TCD ( Thermal Conductivity Detector ) used in analytical instrumentation.
  3. A Particle system depicting gas flowing through the detector
  4. A Fly Around the Detector while it is being “built”.
  5. Several Custom made texture maps.

Thanks for the help


whats your time worth to you is the real question?
are you worth $6.50 p/hr or which i think roughly entry level for animating is $33 per hour
you also have to consider resources used; power for computer for you to work on and render
then theres how many times are they going to show your work? whats it really worth to them?
Ive pondered this myself :stuck_out_tongue:

With your two posts there’s reason to suspect that you aren’t very experienced with Blender… so my answer would be not very much at all.

depends on HEAPS of factors.

your experience level is the biggest, if i were to charge for things i would charge about $15 an hour, because i know i could do it in a reasonable time.

the company you are doing it for. a huge company and you will charge more, smaller you migth charge less.

how much you can garentee it. the more you charge the better the results they expect, so you need to make it in line with expectations (remember other people get impressed a bit more easily i think LOL)

speed of computer (software you use also) say i used MAYA, since i pay for maya i can factor in a charge for it (not saying i use maya LOL) if you code for blender or have costs relating to blender, then you can factor them in and charge for it.

its is a very very individual thing, and at university when i asked the same question to my lecturers i got the same response LOL.


I have done a done few dozen 1-2 minutes internal animations for my current company, so shbaz assumption is incorrect…number of posts do not equal experience. That my friend is a break down in logic. I find my answers by experimenting and reading the boards…rarely do I post to any boards…most of the time there is no need…and by time I need to post I have forgotten my logon info…I’ve been using blender since 2000 and a founding member of the Blender Foundation, just for the record.

Since Shbaz missed the point the first time around…I will pose the question again “What would be the fair market value of a project with the specifications listed above?” Shbaz imagine that you are doing this time around…how much are your skills worth at Forum Monkey level? I believe the work is worth 10k-20k USD. That’s based on the cost analysis I have done with my internal projects…I am an engineer and that’s also part of our jobs. That’s not even factoring in the consulting and artistic aspect of the work.

Again I thank everybody for their time and interest…even Shbaz’s.


It’s not a break down in logic. I also looked at your join date… I didn’t remember you from the NaN forums if you were there either. 9/10 times posts like this would be a total newb, sorry for being wrong, but that’s usually the way it is. My post count definately doesn’t make me a better blender, but does show that I’ve been here a while.

$10k-20k would need to be a big company and a medium quality animation, IMO. I’m just going on a guess though. There are only a few pro animaters here that use Blender (I don’t see them post in News or Gen very often), if you check out CGTalk you may get more valid advice. If you want advice on making a Tesla Coil, you go where the Tesla Coil builders are, you know?

Why are you modelling this new, btw? If it’s already designed won’t the company already have CAD models you could use?

I do this almost every day commercially and I’ll try to give
you some helpful tips:

Only you know YOU…and how long you take on modelling
various things. Some people are good at organic things, other
people are good at static items or animation or both…

First of all - ask yourself IF you can do this job and if you
are capable of reaching the set deadline.

Second - calculate the amount of time you’d think such a
project would take, and give a price for the project.

Third - very important–> Make sure that your client
knows the price for changes. If the client decides to
change things underway…because of new design-concepts
and other things that have to be added, make sure you
charge extra for that time…and that the client is WELL AWARE

Don’t bother the client with what you have to do
such as “texturing, importing/exporting” and all
that jaz, specify it on an invoice later on if required
but stick to the easy numbers that you (of course) have
pre-calculated and presented to the client ahead of the

There are two ways of getting a project done:

  1. Starting your own company, only reccommendable
    if you have a lot of clients. Doing this will also require
    you to fill out a lot of tax-forms and deal with accounting
    and MUCH more that can take up 50% or more of your
    actual time!

  2. Get the client to HIRE you for a project, then you’ll
    be on a salary set by “YOU”. The client can either accept
    or decline this proposal - be strict and stick to your demands
    after all…you’re the one who’s going to DO this job.

Personally I prefer to get “hired” for each project, that
way I don’t have to do my own accounting, and most of
what I earn goes to me (and the country’s taxes).
I always suggest this to the client, and most accept.

As for the salary fee - this varies from country to country,
eg. in Denmark we don’t have the same salary as in
the states. Eg. In London…living is a lot cheaper than
in Denmark, therefor lower salaries apply.

Take care, and I hope you land the assignment.

The easiest and dirtiest way I have used to set a price is this…

How much money do you need to make a year to live on comfortably (the level of comfort depending on how much experience you have hehe).

Then simply consider how much of that money you would reasonably need to make on this project if you did this work full time… So how many projects would you reasonably expect to have in a year. Considering you may be sick for a week and go on holiday a week or two as well… that sort of thing.

The approach that I’ve used in other types of contracts should apply to this one.

(1) Work on a “task order/change order” system under the umbrella of a “general services agreement (GSA)” which you establish with the company. The GSA specifies the details of how you get paid and how the TO/CO system works.

(2) The first TO should be to develop the other ones. This is all of the detailed pre-production work and should have as its deliverables a detailed script and storyboard or shot outline; and the TO’s necessary to complete the work; and the projected costs thereof. Now you are getting paid to come up with the detailed estimate, which every project requires. (Otherwise you are shooting in the dark, working on ill-formed specs given by your client and too-heavily influenced by how much you think he’ll balk at.)

(If he questions the need for this, calmly use this analogy. “If you wanted a room built onto your house and the first thing a contractor did was to show up with a crew and building supplies and started hammering things together… you’d throw him out as an amateur, wouldn’t you? The first thing to do is to develop the plans. A project like this is as complicated as building an entire new wing onto a building, and the cost of mistakes made at this stage is ‘100% scrap.’ The Architect’s work comes first.” If he still refuses, walk.)

(3) Each task-order should be specific and detailed. They are a binding specification of the work to be performed and the price to be paid for it and the expected completion date. The total project may consist of a dozen of these.

(3a) Your GSA should explicitly cover copyright. The work is probably “a work made for hire” unless you specify otherwise. Be sure that your arrangement is really fair, not only for you but also for the client. Be sure that you secure the legal right to use some portion of your work a a demo.

(3b) You strive to make sure that “the worst won’t happen,” but be careful to stipulate in your GSA exactly what will happen if it does. Your arrangements, even if the work cannot be completed, must be businesslike and fair from both parties point-of-view. This will improve the chances that they’ll never be invoked. Budgets change, priorities change, people quit. Be sure the signatory to your GSA has the legal right to bind his corporation.

(4) For each and every change of specs or scope, go through the discipline of creating and executing a CO!

(5) Make sure that each deliverable is described in “the customer’s terms.” The customer doesn’t know what rendering is, and should not care. Each TO/CO should express the deliverable in customer-oriented terminology even though it may also include a more technical description of how the task will be accomplished.

(5a) Don’t price your TO/CO’s “by the hour.” Keep your internal pricing and estimating structure to yourself but put a firm (“with 10% contingency”) price on each one.

(5b) Keep a daily work-log and record. After the project is done, and during it, you can learn amazing facts about your own project that you didn’t notice at the time. But your goal is not only to do excellent work, but to do it profitably, and profits are “made by the dollar but lost by the dime.”

(6) Each TO should, to the extent reasonably possible, yield an intermediate work-product that is useful to the client in shaping the progress of the final work. For example, it may be a rough animatic-style render, enough to show the pace and progress of the project.

(7) Schedule weekly meetings with the client no matter how little or how much is accomplished by each one. Show something. Have someone take minutes of each meeting and circulate those back to the client in next Tuesday’s mail, like clockwork. Bring a pad of CO forms. For each CO that may be drafted in the meeting, go back to the office and immediately retype it and price it, then send the CO back for client approval.

(8) Solicit the involvement of the client at every opportunity. Keep him or her in the loop. “Grin and bear it.” You may know the business of animation, but he or she knows his or her business far better than you ever could. You must not only accomplish the work, but solicit and facilitate the type of open, communicative arrangement that makes both sides happy.

(9) If any circumstance arises which makes you unhappy, rest assured that by then the client is unhappy too or very soon will be. Head trouble off at the pass! If there is something you’d like to say but haven’t or are afraid to, rest assured the client feels the same too about something. The longer that either of you leave a stone unturned, the worse the wound will become.

(10) At times you may feel like a paperwork-hound, but stick to your process and stick to your guns. It’s not simply being defensive: the extra step of writing something down and circulating it back for written acceptance is yet another means of facilitating communication.

Herman Holz’s guides to consulting contracts, available at most bookstores, are a bible. (Yes, it’s “Holz” not “Holtz.”)

Seems like every time I mention going to another forum someone will come through with loads of good advice. :slight_smile:

Along with sundialsvc4 and JoOngle’s great “realworld” working tips here is a link to a good book that can be of great help to artist -

AIGA Professional Practices in Graphic Design -by Tad Crawford -you can get it at Amazon.com or maybe your local book store/library.

A true mark of professionalism is that a person’s word is trustworthy. And this fact demands that the person must always have reason for what she says; that she is not simply “telling you what you want to hear.”

A true, professional homebuilder or contractor would never dream of working without a full set of blueprints, and carefully developed estimates which were created using a systematic, thorough, defensible process. (Granted, such pros are few and far between… and very busy.)

That’s the main reason why “the first Task Order is devoted to developing the other ones.” Sometimes a client would ask if he could take that result and use it for RFQ’s (Requests For Qotations). We’d say, “Absolutely! We don’t consider this information proprietary; you paid for it. If you want to bid the job out then that’s fine; even wise. We may or may not choose to bid. We’ll all know soon enough.”

When your potential client gives you a vague description of what he wants, and asks “so how much will that cost me?” and looks at you expectantly … the correct answer is, “I don’t know yet, and you don’t know yet, and how could either of us possibly know yet? There are many alternatives out there; some we can predict now and some yet to be discovered. If I were to pluck a number out of the air to satisfy you, well, that’s all it would be, and how could such a number, thus derived, satisfy anyone? With a plan, and with facts, we can both make decisions.”

It works.

sundialsvc4 and JoOngle…great advice. Thank you very much.


It might be off topic, but this is not true. According to a recent survey London is the second most expensive city in the world behind Tokyo.