Start Your Animation Studio In 6 Easy Steps!

The inclusion of this ad is explained at the end.

Yes! Start your very own animation studio is 6, yes, 6 easy peasy simple steps! Soon you’ll be on your way to Walt Disney-esque fame and fortune, or John Textor-like infamy and ridicule (if you prefer). Why have a boring office job, when you can be making cartoons! Funny, hilarious, maybe even serious ones! Your adoring public is awaiting! Don’t delay! Start today!

OK, enough of that nonsense and onto more serious things. Yup, animation is certainly booming. Everyone and their Mum seems to be getting into the business; either starting a studio or setting out their stall over on YouTube. So it should come as no surprise whatsoever to see that borderline spam site eHow (no, I won’t link, even Google will only help you begrudgingly) has a nice [snicker] guide to setting up your animation studio in 6 steps. Let’s deconstruct it.

Here’s the pitch:

Animation services are in high demand right now. Not only do film makers use animation services to create animated movies, but they also use them for special effects. Computer and video game manufacturers also utilize animation services to enhance their products.

Totally true, right? That’s why the industry as a whole has been expanding over the last 15 years. Then we get to the hook:

With such a high demand for animation this is an industry that is in desperate need of additional service providers, because of this you can turn your artistic abilities into a six or seven figure business.

That’s right, you too can build a $10 million business in one of the most competitive industries in the world.

From here, we go into the actual 6 steps. Step 1:

Find a niche for your animation business. You can focus on animation for commercials, animation for computer games, animation for video games, CGI animation for special effects or you can focus on producing animated shorts or features. The focus that you select will impact which supplies and equipment you use for your new animation business.

Hmmm, that’s a wee bit vague, but then again the industry is quite broad. Let’s see what step 2 says:

Buy equipment. You will need a quality computer system with extra hard drive space to store your animation, digital cameras, lighting equipment, animation paper, cellulose, paint, pencils, general art supplies, drafting tables, light tables, sound equipment and editing equipment. You will also need to buy enough licenses for your animation software to facilitate the size of your animation staff. Some animation software products that can be used include Toon Boom and Xara 3D.

A.K.A. Buy some stuff! Computers! Digital! 3-D!!!

Hire and train your staff. This is a step you can skip if you will be starting out as the only employee in your company. However, when you grow to hire a staff, you will need to make sure that each individual understands the code of ethics associated with your business. You will also need to make sure each is trained in the animation software the business uses. Fortunately, many animation software companies offer user training programs for employees to take advantage of.

Yeah, you probably should train yourself first, and you’ll probably want to hire trained staff so, y’know, they have a clue about what they’re doing. Then again, you could always hire interns

Develop a demo for attracting new clients. This demo needs to demonstrate your full range of animation services. Get the demo down to under three minutes long, while still keeping the images crisp, entertaining and cohesive.

Soooooo, spend money in the hope of acquiring business. Hmmm, surely you would start off small and build a reputation through hard work and excellent customer service and content, no? No? You’d rather blow all your seed capital on a demo that won’t earn you any experience points? Okie dokie then.

Acquire licensure and insurance. You will need professional liability insurance, commercial property insurance, a business license and a copyright for all intellectual property.

Very important these, especially the copyright, which you must acquire despite being granted it automatically. Also don’t forget to register and trademark the shit out of any names, logos, mascots, t-shirts and/or answering machine messages so you can sue the crap out of some poor sod and be rightfully compensated.

Launch your animation company by pitching your services to a target market. For example, set up a website to promote your services, purchase television and radio advertisements, or set up meetings with computer, video game and movie production studios to pitch your services. You may also benefit from hiring an agent to promote your services for a ten percent fee.

I love this last one. Basically it pulls the old “build it and they will come” schtick, which we all know works out well for anyone who’s tried it. Yup, nowhere does it talk about capital; where to get it, how to raise it and how to put it to work. In other words, the green stuff that enables you to do all the above.

The bottom line and reason for this post? The ad at the top gives a clue; people buy this kind of scammy advice! They buy it all the time! They see the dollar signs and the promise of a quick buck, and they get in there and have a good go at screwing up the industry for the rest of the folks busting their backs to make a living, or spend all their free time hustling to get new work.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the news reports of Pixar and Dreamworks’ mutli-million dollar grosses to convince greedy folks that yes, there is money in animation.

Who ultimately gets hurt (and yes, people do get hurt), it’s the actual animators and artists these clowns hire (or not) and either don’t pay them, or promise “exposure”. Let this be a warning: know thy enemy, he is the person who read those steps and attempts to hire you.

23 thoughts on “Start Your Animation Studio In 6 Easy Steps!”

  1. This was a very informative post. I am very interested in starting an animation studio. I’m looking into grants which a lot of different companies interestingly offer to emerging creative companies. What is nice about grants is that you don’t have to pay them back and the surplus of money flowing in makes sure that everyone gets paid.

    1. Very true, but just bear in mind that grants are not self-sustaining. Once you’ve exhausted one, it’s gone. That said grants can be very useful to get you up and running, just don’t use them as a crutch. The same goes for tax incentives 🙂

    2. really did you do it yet and what is your creative style dirty and disgusting, cute and cuddly or wacky and zany and if you did have your own animation studio what would you name it

  2. thanks..
    if you can explain more in getting or Buy equipment, cause i want to make it as an Animation school too..

  3. Cheers for the article… I enjoyed the subtle sarcam and bashing of the typical ‘how 2’ articles the internet is full of.

    I’m in the mid stage of setting up my own studio. I’ve worked as an animator/motion graphics artist/editor full time for over 10 years so I think the time is now right to jump in with both feet.

    At no point do the 6 steps mention having a solid business plan so you can actually work out monthly costs to run the company, what is needed to break even each month. The idea of paying for TV ads is insane… google ads maybe at a push but there’s so much competition it would be hard to sustain for expensive key words.

    I’ve now got a pretty sound business plan together, which has taken around 2 months to fine tune and get real world numbers (as best you can) rather than just guessing sales and cost figures.

    The article is right that there is growing demand for animation and where there’s demand there is supply…. So it seems obvious that lots of studios will pop up… you need a unique selling point to stand a chance though… I’m planning on aiming for highly polished work, rather than the cheaper mass produced motion graphics end… in reality I imagine we’ll end up taking any and every job we can. The plan is once we’re safe in the knowledge we’re breaking even each month we can start diversifying and produce creative work to attract bigger and better clients.

    1. Thank you for this article. It was very helpful.

      I’m thinking about starting a business making short and featured animation films. I was wondering how can I make money out that? It has been driving me crazy thinking about it.

    2. I have a great script and looking for a partner with good experience in animation. May I see your work etc ? Thanks.

    3. Hello, I would want to start one but am not a trained animator. Just a mind full of ideas. Where do I start?

  4. oops, i meant to leave the message here

    Thank you for this article. It was very helpful.

    I’m thinking about starting a business making short and featured animation films. I was wondering how can I make money out that? It has been driving me crazy thinking about it.

  5. Yeah right, start an animation studio, when all I have is 8 dollars in the bank and a ton of cartoon characters by my side. Come on, I want a better way to get my hands on funding, and doesn’t work for me. There has to be an easier way to get funding for one’s fanciful ideas.

  6. Excellent
    Article on how to start and run an animation studio. In India I personally see
    that many artist who know animation try to own their studio but they fail due
    to the fundamental knowledge of skills plus business. I think this article will
    be a great help for all of them. In our college many students
    are curious about this and now finally they have answers to their query.


  7. Thanks for this article, as simple as it seems, takes insight and passion to hit the road high. Nice one though, with that said, i think its time to put plan to action,by learning the curves to succeed in animation business.

  8. Hi thanks for writing this article it was very informative. How much money do you think it will take to pay each animator that works in your studio? and the cost for running an animation studio supplies and other costs monthly?

    1. That very much depends on where you are. Costs vary wildly depending on a lot of different factors so I cannot give you an actual answer. A good starting point may be to get in touch with some local graphic design studios and see what kind of expenses they have each month. As for animator’s pay, that depends on the market rate. If you know a few animators it would be worth asking them what they’re rates are. Hope that helps 🙂

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