How Long It Took To Animate A Movie By Myself

How long does it take to make an animated movie? Well, all movies and animators are different - but this is how long it took me.
how long does it take to make a animated movie

Everyone knows animation is a tedious and time consuming art. But I typically get questions from people about how long animating actually takes.

After making my own hour and a half movie and two episodes of a new series, I have a decent idea of the answer.

  • DISCLAIMER

    This is how long it takes ME to animate. Every animator is different, so take these times with a grain of salt.

Time Spent On A 2D Animated Movie

At 12 fps, animating on a learning curve (since I didn’t know how to draw or make things move), and juggling school alongside my project – animating my 2D movie took me roughly 1 year.

Granted, that year of animation was spread out over the course of 7 years. I wouldn’t work on the movie all the time, in fact, I took a lot of breaks in between scenes.

I also didn’t draw anything too complex, and tried to keep scenes simple since I was such a beginner. That said, this 1 year’s worth of work did not include writing the story, editing everything together, and all the marketing that took place around the movie.

That said, I want to dig deeper to more accurately answer this question: How Long Does It Take To Make A Animated Movie? Saying it took me 1 year is TOO VAUGE. That’s why I built an animation time calculator so I could figure out how long animating actually takes me.

My Animation Time Calculator & How It Works

how long does it take to make a animated movie

What even is this? This little spreadsheet is my Animation Time Calculator. It’s a homebrewed application that tells me how long I spend animating while I track how far I got during that time.

While using this calculator, I would time myself animating and every time I would reach 1 hour of work, I would record how far I got in the process. The calculator records progress for each stage of animation since storyboarding is so different than coloring.

how long does it take to make a animated movie

These are my findings:

How Long It Takes Me To Make A 1 Minute Animation

To produce 1 minute of animation, I would spend roughly:

  • 1.6 hours storyboarding the scene
  • 5 hours drawing all the line-art and in-between frames
  • 3.4 hours coloring in everything I drew
  • 1.6 hours drawing and coloring backgrounds

This came out to roughly 11.6 hours of work for a 1 minute animation.

  • DISCLAIMER

    This time does not include writing the script, planning the video, editing it together, or marketing it.

How Long It Takes Me To Make A 20 Minute Animation

This is where things get a little confusing. Given the complexity of animated projects, and how different certain scenes can be – the actual time it takes to animate something varies. For example, the time it takes me to animate 1 minute of two characters talking to each other looks very different than a 1-minute-long fight scene.

Talking Scene
Action Scene
Watch Full Episode

And since a 20 minute episode would include slow scenes as well as action scenes, my findings look like they don’t multiply correctly. And you would be correct in that deduction. So keep in mind I didn’t multiply the numbers in the previous section by 20 – the numbers below were recorded for the full 20 minute episode as I worked on it. Which gave me imperfect – but correct – numbers.

So how long would it take to make a 20 minute animated movie? I spent roughly:

  • 29 hours storyboarding the scenes
  • 81 hours drawing all the line-art and in-between frames
  • 50 hours coloring in everything I drew
  • 27 hours drawing and coloring backgrounds
how long does it take to make a animated movie
Calculator for the first 10 minutes.
how long does it take to make a animated movie
Calculator for the second 10 minutes.

As you can see, the time spent on an animation varies greatly depending on what is being animated, your current skill level, how fast you draw, and how long the animated movie will be.

But hopefully my little experiment helps shed some light on how truly time-consuming the artform really is.

Thanks for reading!

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