There are dozens of contenders for the best animation companies, but you want the perfect partner to help you make your business video or animated commercial. You can find off-shore solutions for a couple of thousand dollars, and you can find high-end providers for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In between there are some great (and some merely good) options at varying price points. How do you decide which one to work with?
Budget is a good place to start. That’s why we’ve divided our recommendations by price categories below. Business models vary from category to category and we’ve described the nuances there as well, so you know what to expect from each animation company.
Why Do We Want to Help You Find the Best Animation Companies?
Before we dive into a value and portfolio comparison, we have to address the elephant in the room—isn’t it weird that we are giving shouts out to our competition?
Some people might think so. But we want you to be confident that you’re making the right decision when you choose IdeaRocket. Our goal is to create high quality animation that launches your message into orbit. We’re pretty good at it, if we do say so ourselves, but we’re not the right fit for every business. When that’s the case, we want you to find the best animation company for your budget and project. Why? Because we believe in the power of animation and we think there’s room at the table for everyone to succeed.
Even so, we haven’t pulled punches. This list includes only the worthiest companies in each price range and we’ve been honest about their strengths and weaknesses. Oh, and we’re leaving the entertainment companies off our list altogether. Obviously most businesses can’t afford to work with Pixar.
Elite Agency-Client Studios – $$$$
These companies typically get their work from advertising and marketing agencies. They don’t market themselves directly to businesses. Their fees usually range from the upper five figures to well into the six-figure range and the number of people on their production teams can be as high as twenty or more.
Buck Design: With offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Sydney, Buck Design has been an animation powerhouse for years. They don’t just do animation, either, but packaging, t-shirts, print, whatever. Here’s a peek at the series of short films they did for Mailchimp Presents
Psyop: Founded in New York City in 2000, Psyop now has offices in Los Angeles as well. Their specialty is high-end, incredibly detailed CGI work. They’re the studio behind Chick-Fil-A’s acclaimed Christmas commercial “The Spark” and Coca-Cola’s 2019 Super Bowl Commercial featured below. They’ve ventured onto content and gaming platforms too.
Scholar: Founded by Will Johnson and William Campbell, Scholar started in Los Angeles before expanding to New York. They work in a variety of techniques from live action to CGI to traditional animation. Many of those styles are on display in their ad for the 2020 Porsche 922.
These studios do state-of-the-art, gorgeous work that can sometimes go viral just on the strength of its awesomeness. However, they are out of budget for many brands. These elite studios most often work from concepts brought to them by agencies rather than working directly with businesses. Often, they will do spec work to win a big or prestigious project – and of course, the cost of their failed spec pitches is amortized into project costs.
Bottom-line: Elite studios charge an elite price and rarely work directly with brands.
Premium Direct-to-Business – $$$
This is our category. These companies like IdeaRocket might sometimes work with agencies – in our case, it’s about a quarter of our business – but more often work directly with businesses. That means we are concept-to-delivery houses, providing strategic advice and script writing as well as animation production.
The usual project fee for these companies is in the lower five figures. Typically, their production teams are small – usually two to six people.
IdeaRocket: That’s us! We are headquartered in NYC with a production facility in Buenos Aires. While many global companies are taking advantage of the incredible animation talent in Argentina by outsourcing, IdeaRocket is the only US-based animation studio with our own studio in Buenos Aires. Our leadership and our culture is both bilingual and multicultural, allowing for a unique global fluency and blending of talent from around the world. We’re also an employee-owned company, so you can rest assured that every member of our team has an interest in your success. We make videos in 2d animation, 3d animation, whiteboard and live action too.
Demo Duck: Demo Duck is a Chicago-based firm that often gets excellent results by outsourcing to elite artists around the world and offering good creative direction. Founded in 2011, they started off creating demo videos and screencasts. Today, they offer both animation and live action for a variety of industries.
Epipheo: Cincinnati-based Epipheo Studios was one of the first companies in the Explainer video market in 2009. They grew a client base thanks in part to a branded content program. Much of their style has been imitated to death by others but Epipheo has continued to renew itself and create compelling work.
The bottom line: Premium agencies support your video creation process from concept to delivery. We work directly with brands to offer premium video content.
Mid-Tier Direct-to-Business – $$
These companies often (though not always) work on tiered price structures: different price levels for different quality levels. If you can’t afford a premium quality product, these are the next best option.
Demoflick: Founded by Albert Berry in 2011, Boston-based Demoflick was one of the pioneers of the explainer video field. Their simplified animation style is the right choice for some brands and messages. They offer custom-designed animations as well as app/software demos, training, and corporate communication videos.
Whiteboard Animation: Specializing in whiteboard animation, Whiteboardanimation.com is based in Brooklyn, NY and Union City, NJ. They sometimes combine whiteboard with other techniques such as 3D, to create hybrid approaches. Pricing is based on the complexity of the video. You’ll pay a premium for color and seamless scene transitions. Their parent studio, ideaMACHINE offers other animation styles.
Yum Yum Animation: Buenos Aires has become a hotbed of animation, with many studios (including ours) tapping the incredible talent there. As far as I know, Yum Yum is the only Buenos Aires-based studio attempting to market itself directly to US companies, although they also do some white-labeling for other studios.
Economy Direct-to-Business – $
Companies in this tier compete largely on price. The cost here is three to four figures per minute. Although some of these providers pretend not to, most outsource their animation to India or Pakistan. The work you get at this price range is often generic, and the design tends to be much sparser than what comes out of the best animation companies.
Broadcast2World: Broadcast2World is based in India with a sales and marketing office in New Jersey. They offer infographic animation in addition to traditional 2D animation. You might see their product in mid-priced studio’s portfolios since they white-label a lot of their work. They offer good value, but you might want to take care of the writing yourself.
Freelancer Platforms – $?
Can you go cheaper yet? Sure, if you use a freelancer platform such as Upwork or Fiverr. Sometimes, companies will look for business on these sites, but more often it is solo practitioners. It’s really tough to find someone who combines the skills to write a script, design, and animate a video, so you might need to chip in some writing or cobble together a team yourself. But yes, it is possible to create a video this way that will cost hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.
Choose the Best Animation Companies for Your Budget
As you can see, choosing the best animation companies for your business depends largely on your budget. In my eBook, Succeeding With Animated Video, I write about how to set a budget for your animated video based on expected costs and projected returns. Join our newsletter to get your free copy!