According to industry reports, the average cost of a simple 60 – second 2D Animation is around $6,000. A whole episode will more or less cost between $100,000 to $300,000.
A 12 episode long Season can cost up to $3.6 million. Remember, this is only the production and does not factor in the marketing costs. While these production costs tend to seem pretty incredible, they don’t come anywhere near the cost of other animated shows. Take the Simpsons for instance.
A single episode of the Simpsons costs about $2 million USD (much of that going to the voice actors who’ve been keeping the show alive for nearly 30 years).
Other American shows have similar costs, with many coming in around $1 million per episode. According to experts, part of the difference in cost in the industry boils down to Japan’s reputation of paying animators very low wages compared to other countries.
Demand for anime has grown massively and production costs have risen, but studios haven’t increased salaries. Many studios have closed because they can’t find animators. Some envisage that animators could start leaving Japan for foreign animation studios.
Also, a report published by the Media Development Research Institute Inc in 2018 noted that a single My Hero Academia 30 minute anime episode costs 12,000,000 yen, which exchanged to $108,480.00. The report also broke down where all that money goes. Costs are set for current exchange rates:
- Original work – 50,000 yen ($467)
- Script – 200,000 yen ($1,870)
- Episode Direction – 500,000 yen ($4,675)
- Production – 2 million yen ($18,700)
- Key Animation Supervision – 250,000 yen ($2,337)
- Key Animation – 1.5 million yen ($14,025)
- In – betweening – 1.1 million yen ($10,285)
- Finishing – 1.2 million yen ($11,220)
- Art (backgrounds) – 1.2 million yen ($11,220)
- Photography – 700,000 yen ($6,545)
- Sound – 1.2 million yen ($11,220)
- Materials – 400,000 yen ($3,740)
- Editing – 200,000 yen ($1,870)
- Printing – 500,000 yen ($4,675)
Why Are Animations So Expensive to Make in the United States?
Making animations tend to be expensive especially since a lot of work go into creating it. Even if it is a very simple Animation it still needs a lot of work. Anime already is one of the cheaper variations of Animation, maybe because it is comparably simple in style.
According to reports, Anime was invented because of the high Animation costs and was specially developed to cost less. If you think anime can only be made in Japan then you will need to have a quick rethink. Animes are made in America too.
Below is a very rough and simplified look at how Animators work and how long it takes to only create 60 seconds of Animation.
The Concept Phase
This is always the first phase for the creation of animations. In this Phase, the Animators will draw concepts to the characters. They will also do a little test Animations and try to work out how the characters move. Then they will start to conceptualize the backgrounds, lighting, and style of Animation.
Also note that in this phase, they will also settle on an overall mood and colour to match the story. This phase is the most creative and also the one phase where most projects just straight out die.
The Story Board Phase
Once the Project passes through the first Phase, then the Animators will go to the second Phase. In this phase the action, the “Movie sets”, the cuts and the composition of the whole story will be drawn out as a reference for every Animation.
Also note that in this Phase, the backgrounds and “Sets” where the story takes place, will also be developed and drawn for later reference.
The Animation Phase
Note that this is the phase where the actual Animations will be created. First, the key frames will be created by the leading artists. These are drawings that show the action and movement with huge gaps in between them. Then the missing animation frames in between these key frames will then be drawn each individually by a lot of animators.
Have it in mind there are between 24 and 31 frames in one second of an Anime. And each and every one of these frames has to be drawn at least partially! This is where most of the work lies and this phase of the Animation Project are the most time consuming and most expensive part of creating an Animation.
This is the final phase of creating an Anime! At this point, all the animated scenes are being cut together, colour corrected and final details and effects, as well as the music and voice – overs, will be added. Also remember that Music and Dubbing the Animation is also a major cost point in creating an Anime.
Almost every Anime has original Music and every single Anime needs voices for their characters, obviously. In Japan and other countries as well, there are people who do voices for Animation as their career and these professionals are not cheap.
These are the works that go into creating every minute of Anime and depending on the studio, creating only 60 seconds of Animation can take anywhere between three weeks and up to two months. And even though Anime is not as expensive as other Animations like 3D rendered Animations or very detailed as other 2D Animations, it still is not cheap to make.