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How to figure out your animated safety video costs

The benefits of animated safety video

Animation motivates workforces to work more safely because it commands their attention.

It's invariably more interesting than watching a standard video filming workforce operatives & locations.

Animations are also simpler and clearer to understand, which makes them more memorable.

And animation is usually much less of a production burden than complex filming onsite.

Nonetheless, there are pitfalls, especially for the safety advisor who’s new to animation.

Since pitfalls usually result in higher than expected costs, it’s worth looking more closely at how to figure out animated safety video costs

- so you can see in advance what you might need to spend to achieve your safety goals

- and hopefully get the best deal for your requirements.

The benefits of animated safety video

Animated safety video cost ranges

Costs can range from

- a $50 subscription for an inhouse produced DIY animation package

- to a few hundred pounds for a laptop freelancer working from a bedroom rather than a studio

- right up to £1,000-£2,000+ per minute for a dedicated animation studio.

These are broad animation industry figures, but they’ll give you a good starting point for estimating costs.

To figure out safety animation costs more accurately, the health & safety manager needs to know three things:

1: The style of your video, as different animation styles have different costs.

2: The runtime of your video, as the longer it is, the more it’ll cost.

3: The supplier costs, as initially indicated above.

Animated safety video cost ranges

What’s your video trying to achieve

Start with your goals as you would any project, video or otherwise.

Your goals will include at least some or all of:

- Reducing incidents in the workplace

- Ensuring compliance and achieving minimum standards in all aspects of safety

- Explaining key risks & hazards, and how to mitigate them

- Developing a motivated workforce that understands how to be safe

- Promoting safe behaviours as second nature

- Stopping catastrophic incidents, accidents and fatalities.

Most of these goals can be covered in a longer animated induction video, but they can also be dealt with as separate modules.

Your goals may apply to your whole workforce, both inhouse and outsourced

- or to a target audience, eg, drivers, or certain types of contractor, or even site visitors.

It can be standalone, or part of an elearning programme, and also delivered in many foreign languages.

Knowing your goals let’s you figure out animated safety video costs more realistically as there’s obviously a big difference between

- a concise animated safety tip video

- and a full-blown behavioural safety programme or induction.

It's all about how effective you need your video to be.

Whatever course you choose, it'll probably take you a lot less time, and be a lot less work, than even a short film production with all its complications of organising people & places, and filming it all in a useful way.

Animated safety video
Play Video

One of a series of animated stick figure safety induction videos explaining Colas' 13 life-saving behaviours. This one covers Confined Spaces. Produced in English and Canadian French.

1: Style: How animation style affects cost

You need to make a choice of animation video style.

Here are the main styles:

Low cost animation

Whiteboard - from basic quick faux hand drawing to sophisticated visual build-ups.

Virtual Presenter - from a simple 2D presenter to a realistic 3D presenter

Motion graphics, text & photographs, and perhaps animated gif icons, or a simple avatar.

2d cartoon animation - less detailed, eg, simple cartoons or stick figures, with some visual effects (like an incident sim), set against bland generic backgrounds.

Site induction animated video
Play Video

Site induction video produced in a low cost 3D animated virtual presenter style, aimed at rapidly inducting visitors to McGrath Group's advanced recycling facility.

High cost animation

2d animation - more detailed, eg, more sophisticated character animation and accurate detailed scenes, and everything customised exactly to how you want.

3d animation - usually custom work at the high end of the market requiring specialist animation software. You can even go as far as producing a virtual reality suite, complete with global social media, youtube and facebook trailer distribution if you're looking to make a big social impact.

You need to figure out which style is the most effective for your workforce

- so they remember & apply the rules & procedures you teach them

- while keeping within your budget.

Like everything else in health & safety, you typically have to cut your cloth according to your needs, without compromising your message.

ie, will a basic legal compliance message do?

Or do you need to powerfully motivate your audience to change their behaviour & attitudes?

This is something you’ll have to decide before embarking on your animated film.

You could also take a look at the free HSE videos. You never know!

Animated safety induction video
Play Video

Sophisticated character animation and custom scenes developed for an infrastructure constructor, promoting their safety culture across the North American continent.

2: Runtime: Accurately knowing your animation runtime

Guessing video runtime is the surest way to later cost overruns.

Saying “I only need 2 to 3 minutes” is guessing.

The professional way to calculate any safety video production runtime accurately is to:

- Do a word count of your current manual presentation, typically a powerpoint, doc or similar

- This word count will give you the barest minimum of words your voiceover will need to speak.

- Add 50% to your word count, so a 300 word ppt becomes 450 words of natural sounding voiceover.

- Now divide your word count by 115, which is the words per minute a voiceover speaks. They can speak faster but this gives your audience little time to absorb the learning points.

In our 450 word example above, the runtime will be around 4 minutes (450 / 115)

Knowing the word count you can specify the runtime of your animation much more accurately

- and get a much more accurate quote.

3: Suppliers: Comparing different supplier costs

Inhouse production - $50

There are lots of animated video self-drive packages available at low cost, from whiteboard animation to cartoon characters. There's an app for most things if you're prepared to look around.

These DIY packages are fairly generic. They’ll need adapting to safety, so you’ll need to consider how to source images for specific safety equipment like PPE, or specialist vehicles and similar.

Expect to do everything yourself, and commit time, lots of it.

You’ll need to consider if the time and effort is worth it?

Nonetheless the result will be the lowest cost possible.

If you have an inhouse design, film or animation studio, which many larger companies have, this is often a better route

- but expect to join the queue of managers also wanting their services.

If your safety video project isn’t urgent, some form of in-house studio might be your best low cost option.

Freelancer - £300 upwards

£300 is probably the cheapest basic animation available on the market. A low cost animator will likely have a preferred cartoon character set to choose from.

Top freelancers with a top studio might charge ten times more than this, with all shades possible in between.

Consider you’ll need to write the script.

You’ll also need to ensure the designs in your animated video are 100% correct.

This means paying attention to specific yet essential details, such as PPE, types of moving load, or perhaps excavation, working at height, or other essential details of your chosen topic.

Expect to provide your freelancer with a lot of guidance, unless they have good H&S experience.

Ensure your video quotation specifies a sufficient number of amends & corrections, as you’ll likely make a number of revisions as you go.

This applies double if your supplier has little safety experience, and works mostly on animated explainer video.

Be sure to listen in advance to samples of the voiceovers offered. Cheap work often cuts corners with mediocre voiceover, but not always.

Animated safety video costs

Outsourced video production services £1,000 - £2,000+ per minute

An animation studio will expect you to write the script, and they’ll take care of everything else.

On the other hand, a specialist safety animation company will write your script, collaborating closely with you. This is often how the most effective results are delivered.

Expect to provide guidance, so if your animation studio aren’t safety specialists you’ll need someone quick on the uptake, who’s in-sync with your safety goals
- which will be different to the animated explainer video or training videos they usually work on.

The difference in cost range of £1,000 to £2,000+ per minute will usually depend on

- the style of animated video you require

- and the amount of detail you expect to see in your video.

Detailed characters, detailed actions, detailed scenes all require a skilled storyboard artist, and take more design and animation time

- which puts the cost up accordingly.

3D is usually the highest cost safety animation as 3D animation software is expensive, requires dedicated skills, and takes longer to produce even the simplest 3d model. But it can look real, like a feature film.

Contractor induction animated video
Play Video

One of a series of animated safety induction videos, this one with voiceover, for the TEP Hazard School, part of BP in Indonesia.

What else do you need

We’ve already seen how to make an accurate estimate of your animation runtime.

- and that you’ll need to supply a script that covers your safety content.

Whatever your production company choice, whether an in-house or outsourced studio, you’ll also need:

An illustrated storyboard showing the pictures next to the words.

This is how you check

- the artwork looks accurate prior to animation

- long sentence scenes aren’t overstretched with little movement or visual change, which will bore your audience

- there’s nothing missing.

Like any explainer video, points you'll also need to specify before you buy include:

A voiceover in the gender and style you think will be most effective.

Animation of your storyboard

- and probably some music and sound effects too.

There are no short cuts around these steps as they’re fundamental to video production, whatever your budget.

Amends are normal at every stage of production.

For example, experience shows that scripts go through at least 3 drafts before they’re 100% final.

Ensure the number of amends you’re allowed is clearly specified at the outset, or you might later get an unexpected bill.

Animation of your safety video storyboard


Figuring out your costs depends on

- the style of animation

- the length or runtime

- the type of supplier you choose.

Understanding these differences, and how each might achieve your safety goals, will help you budget more accurately now you know how to figure out your animated safety video cost.

Achieve safety targets through effective animated video that people remember & apply everyday


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