3d Rendering Costs – Negotiating A Virtual Minefield

Sourced from Cleanpix Graphics

[insert 003_image02.jpg]

Many clients who approach us at Cleanpix Graphics with initial 3d rendering project enquiries are often puzzled by the massive variation in the fees charged by different visualisation studios. For those in particular who are looking to commission artist’s impression images for the first time and are not familiar with the processes involved, the cost structures can be especially bewildering.

It is certainly true that there is a substantial disparity in the fees charged among numerous creative studios specialising in 3d visualisation and animation. In Australia prices can range from AU$300-400 per image to as much as AU$6000-7000 or even higher. To add to the confusion, some artists or studios are willing to offer set price lists while others will assess every quote request individually.

In many ways commissioning 3d renders is a bit like buying a brand new car. An affordable compact model may cost $20K while a luxury sedan or sports car may set you back in excess of $100K.
Both will do the basic job of getting you from point A to point B but the standard of refinement, build quality and performance will be vastly different. The projected level of prestige, sophistication and lifestyle that such vehicles may communicate will also vary considerably.
The same can be said of the differences often found in architectural 3d renders.

In order to have a better understanding of the factors that are responsible for the fluctuations in the cost of 3d rendered artwork, it is important to break down the business models and origins of the numerous studios who offer such services.
In Australia these companies can currently be classified under 1 of 3 main categories:

  1. Studio is located offshore, artwork is created outside Australia.
  2. Studio is located in Australia, artwork is outsourced to offshore artists/studios.
  3. Studio is located in Australia, artwork is created locally in-house.

The artwork created by studios that are based outside Australia, in countries throughout Asia and Eastern Europe, is the most likely to be placed at the lower end of the price range.
While the prices may be attractive, the drawback is often a lower quality in regard to the photorealism of the image and/or the composition and level of detail.
Communication with the studio can also be tricky due to language barriers or even the differences in terminology or design trends in other parts of the world.

In recent years there has been an increase in the appearance of Australian based studios who outsource the 3d rendering work offshore. These are essentially ‘middle men’ companies who are able to provide some local art direction and improved client communication but ultimately have limited control of the artwork creation process.
Typically these types of studios may charge A$800-$1500 per image, depending on the scope of works.

The best and most consistent quality of work tends to come from studios and artists who are based in Australia and produce all the 3d rendered artwork, start to finish, in-house. This artwork tends to be more in line with local styling and design trends and there is often more attention to detail paid to small features such as showing typical Australian fixtures and fittings, local material finishes and native plantings throughout the landscapes. 

[insert 003_image02.jpg]

Locally produced artwork also tends to offer a far higher level of customer service experience. Clients and their design consultants can often collaborate directly with the 3d artists creating the visualisations, resulting in a far more refined product tailored to the client’s needs.
Consequently due to higher labour and overhead costs in Australia as well as the close client collaboration, locally produced 3d artwork tends to be more expensive, typically priced in the middle to higher end of the cost range.

There are other factors that can result in fairly profound fluctuations of 3d renders costs, even within the separate categories described above. The size and reputation of a 3d visualisation studio can play a part in setting the price. Just like the earlier analogy of purchasing a car, brand name does make a difference.