Freelance rates for 3D animation?


Overhead meaning operating costs. Like office space rent (you can write of a room in your house), electricity, phone, etc. Also, paper and office supplies. You try to build this cost in your profit margin so you don’t lose money. If you do lose money, at least you will know why.

We pay freelance animators $40-$65 depending on experience and proficiency. However, we do expect certain assignments to be completed for a negotiated amount. If the consultant takes too long or has problems due to his/her own limitations, they have to eat the cost/time. Basically when this happens, just look at as your hourly rate went down a few dollars.

Don’t forget to write off your mileage. Write off EVERYTHING! Check with your accountant, if you don’t have an accountant, just talk to someone at H&R Block or similar service. Like I said earlier, I do not get much freelance, but I still deduct everything. My computer, software, cable modem, books. Just about anything I can get away with claiming. When I go on vacation, I make sure to set up an appointment with some local company to discuss graphics. This way I can write off a portion of the trip! You don’t have to get work from them or sell them, you just have to do something to make a legit write off.


XLNT 3d, I got it. I am getting the hang of it. THANK YOU! :slight_smile:


If you are going to donate work for a non-profit agency or a church and try to deduct the work from your taxes here is what you need to do:

  1. Do the work and have the organization pay you for the work.

  2. Turn around and write the organization a donation check for the amount that they paid you. (keep a copy of the check for your records and get a receipt for your transaction)

I believe you still have to claim the income on you taxes and it may be worthwhile to figure out what the difference is between your tax rate and how much compensation you will receive on your taxes for the donation and adjust the “dpnation” accordingly.

Quite assbackwards but AFAIK that is the proper way to do it.


Try this link:

It is a formula for figuring an hourly rate, from there you can determine a flat rate for producing an animation. You add up all your expenses for a year, (that’s the hard part) then you divide by the number of hours per year you want to work (say 45 hrs for 48 weeks per year) then add 20% for profit and it comes out between $45 and $145 per hour (for me) not all that helpful, but if you make quotes down around the low end you can find work.

Also try these: (more freelance rate info)
udemo.htm (gives approximate modeiling and animation production times)

good luck!


You guys have been VERY helpful! Here are some websites that I found recently and would like to share in return… :beer:

#16 offers some valuable info on salaries and stuff! just thought i throw this in! :slight_smile:

and not to forget IGDA’s yearly salary survey @
you’ll have to register, but it’s free.


Great discussion! I’d love to hear what more people charge for a rate.

Freelancing, I have been charging $60 per hour, which is more than reasonalbe given the costs, but I am in a small economy, and most producers here actually find that high (but I’d rather turn away work that pays too little, than get bogged down in nasty messes for no money). I also charge an administrative fee for each project, which is usually $60 per week or more (some clients take a lot of adminstrating). It is important too to bill for machine time – rendering costs money too – even if it is only $10 or somehting per hour.


How do you charge for rendering time? If I was your client I would argue this charge. It should be part of your service. Do you network render? How fast are your render servers? How would I know if you made an effecient scene that could be rendered in a good time? Are your textures too high in resolution? How much detail is in the model?

Most clients may not know to ask these questions, but the computer time could still be an issue. You know, how many are you using and what is their processing power?:shrug:

You want to make money, but you should also be careful about nickel and diming a client. They will shop around and many, in my experience, get pissed about nickel and diming. Especially if they bring you steady work and refer your service to others.


Well, that’s a good way of looking at it for sure; you need to provide dollar value for your clients, and some will get concerned about those questions. I have not found that to be a problem; of course I do tend to downplay the number of rendereing hours, charging as little as possible. the fact is, though, that you need to pay for your render boxes (or if you use your workstation, for it) and the software that runs on them, in some cases. As well, someone has to monitor the rendering process, unless you like to play roulette with deadlines, and tat takes hours too – so if you prefer not to charge for rendering hours, you can just bill an hour of your time for every X number of hours you spend rendering, since you will be spending that time checking the system, no? In any case, a reasonable fee for rendering seem not to be a problem for clients I have dealt with, but maybe they are exceptions.


Er, and yes, it could be “part of my service”, but that would imply a higher rate per hour, no?


It could imply that. I try to avoid labeling what I bill or charge to names less objectable. You can charge for it, but it may be bad to tell a client “I am billing you the use of my computers and software”. That would be like a house builder telling you I have to charge you to use my hammer. The buyer assumes you have overhead. Unless they ask for a breakdown, I don’t tell them. If they want a breakdown, I try to name stuff they can not object. Some clients want as much as they can for their money. Many are negotiators, so I try to limit what they can negotiate financially not in my favor.

It’s considered overhead. The more expensive your setup, the higher your hourly rate. If your rate exceeds market value, then you have to figure out how to account for this. Faster computers-workflow is faster, but overhead rises. You can charge what a project is worth. The faster you complete the work, the more money you make p/hr.


Good reasoning, yes. On the other hand, if someone wants to negotiate, giving up the render time is an easy tactic to live with. But, no matter where you trim the fat, spenind less on a project means getting less; as long as clients undetand that’you’re in!

I guess it all comes down to what you are comfortable telling a client; we’re both charging for the same thing, just accounting for it differently.


And… many years ago when I first was getting into 3D, a friend in the video end of the business shared a little rule with me:

You can do it good, fast, and cheap. Pick two.


Yep, the most important equation in the 3d industry.

  • allseeingi


You can do it good, fast, and cheap. Pick two. [/B][/QUOTE]

Ain’t it though? Though it is hard to get this across to clients without saying it so bluntly, which I rarely feel like I can…


Originally posted by tonyg
You can do it good, fast, and cheap. Pick two.

Almost good formula.
But, how do you make it Good and Cheap?

If you make something good, it’s going to take some time and it will cost.


that’s what i also wondered about. besides that it’s too true! :beer:


Rendering time is a legitimate charge. Your computers are tied up rendering, therefore can’t be used for anything else, therefore they are billable. $10 is fair, especially if you are using a network rendering solution. It’s also a way for clients to avoid frivilous rendering changes, and understand how much certain types of effects will cost them/me time wise.

$60-100 per hour depending on the work and/or client
1/2 that rate for admin work
$10 an hour for unattended rendering

If it’s a flat rate situation then you figure out how long the project will take, breaking it down into pieces to get a better idea. It’s important to be realistic in this stage to come up with that initial number, because you can be damn sure you can’t go back and say “I will need X amount of money because my bid was too low”. I’d pad an extra 20% in there too, if you think the bid can handle it. Don’t sell yourself short unless it is mandatory. It’s easier to drop your rate than to make it higher.


You can do it good, fast, and cheap. Pick two. [/B][/QUOTE]

All industries have this formula. It’s usually referred to as a “The Triangle” Each point has a term; Quality, Time, Money. It is true you can only pick two. Visualizing the triangle analogy sometimes explains the problem to people. You get the edge on your competition if you can excell at the time and quality.

The company I work for is usually the most expensive in my industry, but we have the best quality (visual and accuracy). In our field that is the main factor. Time is second. The serious clients that have high stakes invested in their projects will pay the money for those qualities. As they say “you get what you pay for”.

If price is the main focus, it relieves the stress of quality. I would never want to trade time for quality. I want to get cheap projects done as quick as possible.


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