How to Hire an Awesome Freelance Animator

Now that you have a great demo video script ready you have 3 options to bring it to live.
From cheapest and most difficult to most expensive and more convenient your options are:
1 – >Learn to animate it yourself
2 – Hire a freelance animator.
3 – Hire an animation studio.

Assuming you have a bit of budget ($1000-$2000) but not enough to enlist the services of a professional studio ($5K-$10K) your best option is 2 – Hire a freelance animator.
But how do you find an awesome animator?

1. Post an Ad

The more places you post your ad the more responses you will get.
Here are some free options: Craigslist, eLance, oDesk, Guru

You can get great curated options at platforms like:
Wooshii, Video Brewery, Motionographer, Tongal, PopTent or TurnHere
(Note: some of these charge as small posting fee)

On your ad briefly explain what your product/service is, timeline, budget, and style of animation.
Most animated demo videos are produced using either After Effects or Flash so make sure you mention that the animator must be experienced with either software.
Very important: always request they send you a link to their portfolio reel as you’ll need that for the next step.
(At Grumo we are biased towards After Effects animators as it is a more powerful animation tool but an awesome animator will be able to produce great work regardless of the tool).

2. Review and rate reels

Within a few days you should get dozens of responses from animators eager to take your money and bring your script to life.
The process of filtering and rating responses can be a bit overwhelming so it is important to be organized to save time and choose the right candidate.

A great approach is to create a spread sheet (Google Docs is free and can be accessed from anywhere) and enter each response details on a new row.
The most important data to enter on each column is: name, email, link to reel, rating, and notes
Once you’ve entered all the candidates it is time to start rating them by watching their reels one by one.
The main factors to look for are: technical proficiency, relevant experience, and passion.
When you are starting it won’t be easy to rate reels the same way is not easy to rate wines if you don’t have experience as a wine taster.

Let me elaborate a bit on each criteria so you can too start developing a good selection sense.

Technical Proficiency: look for complex scenes, cool and clever transitions between shots. Good color selection and scene composition.
Check your gut and ask yourself, is what I see wowing me? if the answer is yes that is a good sign.
If the answer is meeh then keep looking.
Many animators work for bigger studios and may include studio work on their reels so it is important to find out what was their role on those projects.
Some animators will explain their involvement for each scene in the reel. It is not a good sign if it is not clear what they did or didn’t do.
The ideal animator reel will contain mostly shots from work they produced entirely by themselves.

Relevant Experience: look for animators which previous experience and style matches the style of demo video your are envisioning.
Ideally look for animators with previous experience producing 2D explainer videos.
Some animators may have outstanding skills and credentials but they won’t be suitable to take on the job if those skills aren’t a proper match.
For instance, if you come across a lot of film or TV credits that include intensive 3D animation or high end visual effects you may be looking at a very talented motion designer but not a good fit for a simple fun 2D animated demo video.
The ideal animator for demo videos is someone proficient with character 2D animation with good illustration skills and previous experience producing demo videos.

Passion: Ideally you want to hire an animator that not only loves his/her craft but that also believes on your project. Not matter how good an animator is if he or she is demotivated and only taking a job to make a quick buck. Make sure the animator you hire loves what they do and is looking forward to animate your script.
When looking at their reels you can also pay attention to how much passion their work exudes.
Your gut feeling plays an important role here. At Grumo we call that “luv”. Do you feel the luv on this animator’s work? the answer has to be yes.

3. Negotiate price:

Be prepared to pay up to $3000 for the best animators for demo videos up to 90 seconds. On the average a good animator will charge $2000 to $2500 for a standard 2D animated demo video.
Stay away from paying by the hour as you may run into unexpected revisions and rack a huge bill until you get a fine product.
The lump sum you agree to should include at least one round of revisions for every stage.
If you are providing a finished script the stages will be; Storyboarding, Illustrations, and Animation.
(Learn all the demo video production stages HERE)

4. Manage Project:

Expect for the whole process to take 3 to 5 weeks depending on how complex and long the animation is.
At every stage you will have feedback so it is very important to know how to give feedback in the most efficient and professional manner. (Learn how to give feedback HERE).
Managing a project can get very frustrating very quickly specially if you are unable to give clear direction and provide feedback efficiently.
Also if you chose an inexperienced animator to save money you may pay in sweat equity down the line as you struggle to communicate with your animator and meet your deadline.

An awesome freelance animator will be fast, professional, and require minimal supervision.
We hope with the help of this article you will be able to find the ideal candidate for your demo video and if you feel the whole process is too much work.. well Grumo Media will always be there for you! 🙂

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6 thoughts on “How to Hire an Awesome Freelance Animator

  1. Pedram Daraeizadeh Reply

    Some very useful information Miguel. One other way to find out if they are professional is to look at their public LinkedIn profile to find out where have the worked before? how many professional contacts they have? how many and what kind of recommendations they have? Social media makes researching easy.

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