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How much per minute for animated feature film?

I stumbled upon a discussion on cgsociety about the costs of animated films per minute... So it got me thinking about mine cause I always like laughing to myself about how cheap I do shit and the world will see with HSM and my future production that my quality is rising FAST MAYNE!!!

We are the Strange 2007 $20,000 budget
94 minutes- Cost per minute $212.00

Heart String Marionette 2010 $15,000 budget
120 minutes- Cost per minute $125.00

So I'm actually doing HSM for a lot less than WATS and you'll have to take my word for it that the quality will be 10 times that of WATS... Its cheaper because the technology used to make 3d films is getting cheaper and more powerful... Just for fun lets run the same rough calculation on some mainstream animated features...

Ratatouille 2007 $150 million budget
111 minutes - Cost per minute $1.3 million

UP 2009 $175 million budget
96 minutes - Cost per minute $1.82 million

I find it odd that Pixar and most all of the studios I looked at for 3d feature budgets from 2007 - 2009/10 went up?! Why would they budgets be getting higher when the hardware needed to create 3d features is always getting cheaper/faster? Shouldnt they budgets be going down? Should they become more streamlined and efficient with experience?

Its just a guess but I'm thinking because of increased competition in the media for viewers attention they need to spend more and more on P & A to stay relevant and to keep recouping they crazy costs... AND I've heard that the P&A budgets are not included in the production budgets....

So your probably laughing to yourself saying "he can't compare his films to Pixar hahahahaha" I'm just looking at them as "3d animated feature films" and nothing more as heavy handed advertising marketing techniques lose steam over time... Viewers of the future wont really care who made something they will just know whether they like it or not so I think its in a filmmakers best interest to get cheaper/faster with every step....

I'm not sure if I can do it.... BUT... I'm going to do my best to..... Produce HSM... do 120 minutes of full 3d animation in 12 months... So yeh thats what I'm shooting for... with my cheapo 125 dollar a minute self ^ ^


  1. You can't compare the price of Ratatouille to UP without taking into the account that there was twice as much rendering to do considering they had to render it out in Stereoscopic 3D. So every frame has to be rendered twice, once for the left eye and once for the right eye.

  2. Great Topic. We've been discussing something similar over in my blog about machinima based (real time animation) films vs standard 3D (rendered) animated films. We came to the same conclusion - it doesn't matter WHAT tool you use to create it - if it's a good story that entertains - THAT is what people will want.

  3. Fascinating post, M. Couldn't agree with you more about how much p&d (plus marketing) is going in to these films. Should be the opposite, but somehow money gets equated with quality and your up the river.

    I believe you that the quality will be much better and the whole thing will be cheaper, too. $125 a minute sounds good to me. When I buy the DVD I'll be paying you for about 10 seconds of the film (if you figure the dvd will be about $20).

  4. It's an interesting discussion, but it can be answered but looking at how long the credits are on the films you mentioned.

    Hundreds of people work on these films and not just artists but it, accountants, catering and not forgetting the artists.

    Paying those people on a day to day basis (like a job) means that they need the huge budgets just to keep those people going.

    You put all those jobs into one. If you can do thirty seconds a day of animation, then it should all work out okay.

  5. M, how do you fund your films? For that matter, how do you get by and keep paying the bills?

    Would you mind giving us a break down? I think will inspire many of us that follow your stuff.

  6. I don't think I spent any money on Archon Defender. At least, I wasn't counting the money. Or the time. I'd rather be making my film than wasting time watching TV or other equally useless tasks... Money doesn't enter into the equation when you are doing something for the enjoyment of it.

  7. I think there´s also a lot of restrictions like number of characters, backgrounds, lipsync least that´s what I have listen on a workshop, like it was said before, give us tips master M. I have a dumb question, did you render WAS in GlobalI? A.Oclusion?

  8. well its a little different when you compare an independent production like WATS or HSM to a studio production like Rata and UP. Both those movies have more fluid and exact movement, both in facial features and body. Your films tend more to basic videogame like movements, up, down, left right sort of deal. Neither Pixar nor your methods of animation guarantee quality, but Pixars definitely requires more work and attention. I'm not even sure why you'd compare your work and theirs beside the fact that they're animated?

    UP probably cost more because of the 3D aspect, (Stereoscopic, not the medium). It probably wasn't ALL that, but I'm sure a large chunk was.

    Perphaps MDOT will make HSM in 33333333333333333333DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD??!

  9. Matt- I think the 3d in UP was pretty useless. It was too subtle that it made no real differance in the movie. Waste of money if you ask me.

    Peter- Yeah there are definately tons of people working on a film. Many of which are pointless, fluff positions that add nothing to the film. Big Idea Productions has a great interview with the creator about how his company went south because he hired "Hollywood" folks to manage his business. They ran up his costs, hired people who had nothing to do with animation and were even producing less animation than when he worked cheaply

    I never understood why Pixar movies are cossting more and more to make. I'm glad LUCAS actually is pushing for cheaper movies and saying that is the future. 8 million to bring Star Wars Animated to the screen.

    Funny you mention the discussion on CGtalk. Usually I'm the dude that starts those "cost" discussions. LOL! I go by Flog till I got banned for punking Leah. I guess she punked me better with a ban. LOL
    I have a differant name now.

    Hey MDot, I have a question, how many DVDs have you sold and has it been a descent living? At least 40K per year?

  10. The marketing and ad spend is NOT a part of the production budget. It's over and above that amount.

    In the case of Pixar and other similar types, the cost has nothing to do with the tech, but the talent.
    Have you sat through the credits of any recent animated feature? It's insane. You can't tell me they couldn't have made that film with less than 500 people. The reason they cost so much is the insane number of people they hire to work on it. It's truly out of control.

    I can clearly see the difference between, say, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Toy Story 3, but again, it doesn't justify going from an animation team of 7 to over 500. That's where all of the costs come from.


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