3D Rendering Pricing
The Cost of Architectural Rendering
We wrote about the “Real Cost of Architectural Rendering” on LinkedIn back in April of 2014 and it got quite a bit of attention. The article goes over the intangible items that affect the cost of a rendering, or in other words, the unseen cost. You can read it here:
There are too many variables to make an accurate price list that would apply to every project. Each project is different and has its own challenges. Each project has its own level of complexity and scope, each project has its own list of deliverables, all of which affect the cost of the services. For example, the Point of View (POV) of an exterior rendering typically affects the cost, an eye-level rendering is less expensive than a raised elevation, and an aerial view cost even more. The reason for this is the amount of context that has to be shown in the rendering. At eye level, you typically see the building, parking lot, entourage, and some trees and landscaping on each side of the building that can typically be faked. Once you are up in the air you have to show the context of the project which takes more time. A break-down of this could be something like the following:
Eye level view of a commercial project = $1,500.00
Elevated perspective of same project = $1,800.00
Aerial vies/birds’ eye of same project = $2,000.00
These prices aren’t set in stone, they are an example of how the POV may affect the cost of a rendering. You also get a reduced cost of additional images if they are from angles shown in other renderings because the scene is not having to be re-done, re-use of work already done. The same would be true of a material study where we are just changing materials and colors to the same model and re-rendering, the cost of additional images is a very small fraction of the original image price. It just isn’t cut and dry, every project needs to be priced based on the specifics of that job.
How to Choose the Right Artist or Studio
Making your selection on who to hire based on a price list or cost thrown out without reviewing the project scope and deliverables just isn’t the smart way to Choose. So how do you choose a rendering service as far as the quality of the work and pricing are concerned? Well, in all honesty, there’s no straightforward answer to this question as there are a lot of things to consider. You have to know the size of the project, the architectural specification of the interior and exterior design among other things, the time required for the final product to be delivered, etc. before you can get an accurate price. The quality of work is apparent upon review of their portfolio and if it represents what the actual deliverables are it should weigh strongly on your decision. So, at this point, the quality of work and your gut feeling are all you have to go on.
Pricing is a highly guarded secret in this industry and those who are successful and the professional organizations that represent the profession aren’t typically going to publish pricing. However, an online portal and industry leader CGArchitect does surveys and publishes the results from time to time. To give you an idea in 2009, the average price charged for a high-quality 3D architectural still image is between $1000.00 USD and $2000.00 USD. This is an average price you could expect that paying in this range as being fair for small to medium projects, large projects range from $3,000.00 USD onward depending on the project. While standard 3D animation costs anywhere between US$5000.00 USD and $10000.00 USD , you could expect to pay a fair bit more depending on the duration and complexity of the video. Obviously, every studio is different and prices vary, but usually, the studios that are producing higher quality work, are charging more.
Is Cost Everything?
Most studios don’t provide their pricing upfront, most of the time, you will need to request a free quote first before you’ll have an idea of how much your rendering project would cost you. This is reasonable as each project’s rendering needs vary and the only way to know for sure what type of pricing package fits your needs is to talk more about it with the perspective studio.
The world is flat once more, the Internet has changed and interconnected it, outsourcing of projects can be done and made possible with really great results. You can outsource to different countries and get imagery at a lower cost than locally. It’s a gamble though as selecting a firm/studio based on an online portfolio alone can be tricky. Some steal others’ works and make them look like they were their own just to boost their portfolio. There are commercially sold scenes that you just need to hit ‘Render’ and a beautiful image is produced, that isn’t stealing, but it does not represent the artist/studio's work.
What it comes down to is finding the artist/studio that is knowledgeable in your industry sector and who has a body of work that you respect and a point of contact that you feel comfortable with at a price point that is in your realistic budget. No simple answers just some things to think about, we have found that there are some fantastic artist/studios in China, Serbia, or Ukraine, so it doesn't mean you can't go outside the country to find great reliable talent, just do a bit of homework and make sure you aren't going to do a lot of hand-holding for a final product that isn't acceptable.
In conclusion, the real cost of architectural renderings may not be the bottom dollar but the result and your "hassle-free" time. And after all, on a multi-million dollar project, is a few thousand dollars too high of a price to pay to represent you and your project?