Where To Hire Animators in the US at Affordable Rates?

Animation is a growing field with many opportunities for both animators and those looking to hire them. However, finding affordable animators can be a challenge, especially for smaller businesses, startups, and independent creators working on budget constraints. With the key question “where to hire animators,” many are interested in learning the top options available to bring animated projects to life without breaking the bank. This blog will explore the most feasible places in the United States to find animators at reasonable rates.

Freelance Websites (Fiverr and Upwork)

The basic question is, where do you hire animators? Freelance websites like Fiverr and Upwork have become one of the most popular places for businesses to find affordable animation talent. Fiverr has over 10,000 active animation freelancers from around the world who are willing to take on projects starting at just $5. While quality can vary significantly, it’s a great low-cost option for simple animations, explainer videos, and motion graphics.

Upwork has a more curated selection of over 7,000 verified animators with portfolios and reviews. Rates on Upwork tend to be higher than Fiverr, averaging $25-50/hour, but the quality is often more consistent. Both platforms provide an easily accessible pool of talent for shorter animation projects and contract work.

According to statistics from Animators 360, over 40% of animation projects under $5,000 are outsourced through freelance websites each year, demonstrating their popularity for affordable options. However, communication can be tougher with international freelancers.

Colleges & Universities

Tapping into recent graduates from top animation programs is another cost-effective strategy that many startups utilize to help stretch their budgets. Many new animators who have just completed undergraduate or graduate degrees in fields like character animation, 3D modeling, or visual effects are eagerly looking to build up their portfolios by working on professional projects. Since they lack extensive industry experience, recent graduates tend to be willing to work at discounted entry-level hourly rates that usually range from $15 to $25 per hour.

According to data from Animation Career Review, the average starting salary that animation graduates with a Bachelor’s degree can expect from their first full-time job in the industry is around $45,000 per year. By hiring recent graduates on a project basis, startups are able to get work done at rates well below that salary baseline.

Additionally, working directly with animators who have just finished their studies ensures that their technical skills and proficiency with the latest animation software and techniques remain up-to-date.

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However, there are a few challenges to consider as well. The availability of recent graduates to take on contract work can fluctuate depending on the timing of their final school projects and graduation schedules. Major deadlines or thesis films may prevent some new graduates from being able to accept additional work for a period of time after finishing their degree programs. Additionally, the pool of motivated and qualified new animators tends to ebb and flow based on the graduation cycles of the top animation schools.

Some of the best places startup teams have found for occasionally posting short-term project opportunities include online job boards and alumni pages at prestigious animation programs. Schools like California Institute of the Arts, Ringling College of Art and Design, and Savannah College of Art and Design regularly have graduates actively looking to gain their initial professional experience and build case studies for their reels.

Checking in with the career centers at these top-ranked schools on a quarterly or semi-annual basis can help connect budget-conscious startups with a stream of entry-level talent.

Outsourcing to Foreign Animation Studios

Partnering with competent overseas animation studios based in places like the Philippines, India, and South Korea can multiply cost-savings even more due to lower regional salaries and overhead expenses. A large animation house in Manila advertises TV episode animation packages starting at $15,000, for example.

However, effective communication is paramount for remote workflows. Budgeting time and money for project management, frequent check-ins, and revisions is necessary when abroad. Cultural differences must also be considered. Still, outsourcing remains a popular choice when large volumes of animation are required and budgets are extremely tight, according to studios like Animation EVO.

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Building Connections in the Animation Community

Tapping emerging independent animators who are starting their own tiny studios is another grassroots strategy that low-budget creators can utilize. These passionate artists, who are just setting out on their own, may be very open to offering discounted introductory rates in order to attract their first clients and start building out their professional portfolios.

For them, getting involved in a small commercial project, independent short film, game prototype, or web series could be a win-win scenario. It provides affordable talent for startup creators operating on tight budgets while serving as a valuable reference or case study for the fledgling animation studios as they look to establish themselves.

Several online communities have sprouted up in recent years to help directly connect these independent creators and emerging animators. Sites like Animated.com, Made With Motion, and the forums on Animation Career Review allow small studios and solo artists to promote their services while also finding potential projects to get involved in.

While results may be somewhat hit-or-miss through these grassroots connections, there is often potential for the professional relationships that develop to evolve into long-term collaborations. As both the independent animators and small creators individually grow their experience and expand their networks over time, initial introductory partnerships may naturally deepen into ongoing working relationships.

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The Bottom Line

Prioritizing top freelance platforms, colleges, overseas studios, and local independent animators provides the most viable places in the US market, but knowing about where to hire animators and those seeking high-quality animation assistance at a reasonable cost, we are here to help. Of course, tradeoffs exist between cost, experience, and communication needs. With careful planning and management, bringing animated projects to life for reasonable rates is very achievable.

Companies like Cloud Animations also offer options beyond the ordinary, including resource augmentation and more. Cloud Animations allows clients to upload scripts and receive fully animated videos without having to hire an in-house team. With automatic features like lip-syncing, character movements, and expressions applied based on the script, Cloud Animations helps streamline the animation process.

For standard animated explainers, promotions, or motion graphics, their project-based pricing can be a very cost-effective solution. Startups and indie creators should consider Cloud Animations for simpler animation projects that fit within their automated capabilities.

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