CGI-Animated Films:

Why are CGI-animated films so costly?

A regular CGI film a-la Pixar- costs an equivalent amount to a live action movie, hundreds of millions of dollars most likely. Budget on a live action shoot goes on physical areas, sets, props, explosions, stunts, etc. But with a CGI motion picture it’s a different story.

When a lot of individuals think of CGI (computer generated imagery), they conclude of a motion picture with unique effects or flying company logos. But CGI animation, in addition, can be applied to imagine complex concepts that would be complicated to explain in any other way.

CGI-animated filmsCGI is also a beneficial method to develop very excellent photo-realistic images. CGI bids do essentially with numbers, what a camera does with light. In making these multimedia atmospheres, we generate and place models, cameras and lights in a very similar way you would in a real studio. But we can do some extraordinary things that would be difficult in reality. Our world is interminable by gravity or other physical restrictions. With such flexible options, imagination and creativity become very essential.

The transformation of this field of graphic design didn’t occur over a very long period, but instead over a couple of decades. In fact, the fast progression of computer processing power is mainly what served as an agitator for the outbreak of CGI animation.

With the arrival and accessibility of new technology, often people erroneously believe that because they have the modern tools to do the job, they also have the proficiency to complete the demands of the project. These kinds of programs demand talent as well as technical know-how in order to create the desired effect. Computer animation is no different.

Any kind of graphics project is time-consuming and demands more abilities than people often comprehend.

Sample CGI Animation Video Clip.

So where does all the expense go?

Animation is much more time consuming than a live action shoot. Which is why it often tends to be saved for things that are difficult or very hard in real life (living toys, robots in space, blowing up really, really big things, etc.)

Talent is a BIG money sucker. Voice talents. Don’t undervalue an A-lister’s salary if you are planning to work with one. At any rate, the team for a CGI movie easily runs way over 200 people, that’s a $20M+ annual budget on mostly geeks pecking on keyboards. “Nerds” work way too hard, and in very long hours, doing difficult things that entails CS, color theory, lighting design, fluid and hair simulation, crowd simulations, 3D modeling, and other things you can imagine and mostly making it all look convincing to not only to its audience, but to their bosses. That kind of know-how doesn’t come inexpensive.

You’re paying for computation “rendering farm”, which means you’re either running a huge cluster of computers with all the connected capital and runtime expense (hardware, electricity, cooling, system administration) or you’re renting time on someone else’s cluster.

You’re also paying the equivalent of programmers to work on the exquisite qualities of 24 frames per second of a two-hour motion picture.

Unless your software is in-house, you’re paying licensing fees. Otherwise, you’re paying real programmers to write rendering software, as well as improve it with new features or bug remedies.

Then you have to update shot after shot until the director is happy with the end result.

Additionally, each movie gets made many times. A lot of systems get built for each film and there are a lot of scenes that are essentially hand-built.

CGI Animation production takes 3 times longer to film a feature animation than a live-action film. 3D backgrounds are an amazing time sink, too, more than you realize. To design 3D backgrounds would need thousands of man-hours to create and design all the models. Some of it can be generated algorithmically (e.g. the palm trees) and some of it is stock models (the horses) but the buildings and the castle, and all those people’s attire is usually created from scratch.

For a really good CGI production, model creation is one of the most significant expenses. 80-90 hour crunch weeks are not extraordinary in CGI modeling.

Story Board.
Production expenses are very costly for animation, the storyboard is very essential. This must serve as the blueprint for every aspect of the film.

When we think of CGI Animation, we think of geeks or nerds. We incorrectly presume about it. In reality, graphic artists and animators are classically-trained animators and artists. In CGI animation, there’s a ton of genuine, hand-drawn art being done for those productions. This includes character designs and studies which requires a lot of hand-drawn art up-front.

Once you get into the digital realm, it’s still a lot of hand-work. Sure, many things are computerized, but it’s the hands-on task by talented artists, writers, and experts that vault an a-la Pixar CGI Animation production above the rest. These artists and animators and experts all expect to be paid for their labor.

Check out the infographics below on Why are CGI-animated films so costly?