Setting a budget for eLearning video

We live in a world where video content makes up 80% of all internet traffic

Clearly, people want to consume information in video format, which is why it’s so important for learning professionals to embrace video for eLearning. 

eLearning video and animation are the future. They combine the best of video with an educational component to maximize learner motivation and attention. 

But this style of learning is new to many learning directors. How can you get the most results for your learners while preserving your resources?

People often ask us how they should budget for their eLearning video project. As much as we would love to give you a flat, black and white pricing structure, the reality is that these projects are complex. 

How to set a budget

There are so many variables involved that it can be tough knowing how to budget for your unique project. 

Use this guide to determine an accurate budget for your next eLearning video project.

1. Determine the general scope for the project

You always want to start with your general scope. Understanding the scope of your project will help you prioritize learner needs to build a course that’s both effective and budget-friendly. 

Use these five questions to determine your project scope before you do anything else. 

What are your eLearning objectives?

Before you do anything, you need to define what you want learners to get out of your course. This is done with a learning objective, or your goal for the eLearning course. 

A learning objective isn’t something simple like “learners will learn about podiatry.” You know learners will have achieved a learning objective because of a specific, measurable change in their behavior. 

For example, you’ll know that your medical course was successful because learners who pass will be able to perform a certain test or procedure on their patients. 

Aside from affecting learner performance, your eLearning objective will affect your budget. If you have a very simple learning objective, like teaching learners how to write a press release, you wouldn’t need hundreds of hours of video. 

But if your learning objectives are about complex, multifaceted topics like medicine or engineering, expect to roll out 200-hour+ courses. 

Start with your learning objective to estimate how long and complex the course needs to be. The complexity will affect the length, which in turn affects the price and turnaround time.

How long do you want each video?

Average eLearning videos tend to be in the 2-5 minute range. This is because learner attention spans significantly decrease after that time. 

If you want to make the most of your learners’ retention, keep your videos short. 

Planning your videos this way gives learners’ brains a chance to breathe and synthesize information before moving on to the next section. 

How many videos do you need?

The number of videos will also affect your final price. 

How many videos will you need to fulfill your eLearning objective? This is based on the complexity of the learning objective and also the fact that average videos are 2-5 minutes long. 

If you think the course will take 1 hour, you would need 12 five-minute videos. You’ll want to scale up depending on the complexity of your course.

How quickly do you need your videos?

When do you need to launch this course? If you’re working on a time crunch, you can generally expect to pay more in rush fees. 

A reasonable timeline would be at least six months out from your course launch date (but this will depend on your video volume, of course). Six months should give you plenty of time to design, prototype, and launch your eLearning course.

What style would resonate with your learners?

eLearning animation is like ice cream: it comes in many different flavors. It’s important for learning directors to choose an eLearning animation “flavor” or style that best suits your learners. 

There are plenty of different animation styles, but here are a few popular options:

  • Whiteboard: Whiteboard animations display your content as if a person is writing on a whiteboard. It’s an affordable option that’s good for short, quick courses. 
  • 2D animation: 2D animation is our most popular option. It mimics the look and feel of a cartoon and it’s great for storytelling. 
  • 3D animation: 3D animation is perfect for realism, making it the animation of choice for complex, technical topics.

The complexity of your animation will affect your budget. For example, whiteboard-style animations tend to be more affordable, but they might not always be the most engaging option for a 60-hour course.

2. Choose your level of animation carefully

Video is the cherry on top of your eLearning sundae. It entices and interests learners in the course material, transforming a mediocre training program to a useful, relevant experience that changes behavior. 

But you need to back eLearning video with instructional goals and an understanding of your learners’ needs. 

That means you have to find the right balance of video and animation for your eLearning course. 

On one hand, you don’t want to throw a wall of text at your learners. On the other hand, you don’t want your entire course to be dramatic or overly-animated. Either approach will hurt the learner experience. 

That’s why effective eLearning videos strike a balance. You have to understand the level of complexity needed to get your point across without overwhelming users—or your budget. 

Your cost per minute will also depend on the amount of animation used in your eLearning video. 

For example, Ninja Tropic pricing starts at $300 for 20 minutes but scales upwards to $4,000 for 2 minutes of video. There’s such a huge range because different levels of video and animation have different costs. 

Whether simple or advanced, you’ll get better results as long as your animation is tied to learner needs. Choose one of these four levels of animation to help learners retain more information without going over your budget.

1. Text and icons

The first level of animation is very simple, using text and icons to communicate your point. There’s very little animation for the characters themselves. You might fade in or pop in certain elements to make the video more dynamic, but it’s very static. 

Text and icons are budget-friendly because they don’t require complex movements or motion. This method is ideal for showing quick, simple processes like solving math problems or going through a short checklist.

2. Facial expressions and movements

The second level of animation breathes life into your characters. 

With this level, characters can make different facial expressions. They blink and do simple motions, like waving their hands. You can also animate aspects of your background with this option. 

This level of animation is more dynamic and gets more learner attention. It’s also a budget-friendly way to get more engagement out of your 2D characters. This option would be good, for example, for a course on management where you use case studies.

3. Dynamic, cartoon-like animation

The third level of animation creates 2D animation that’s vivid and cartoon-like. This option is smoother and more refined, which makes it perfect for high-quality storytelling.

4. High-level texture

The final level of animation adds texture and smooth movements to your characters. This is the most realistic, organic option and it looks like animations you’d find on TV. This level of animation is perfect if you want to mimic real-world situations and boost your course value. 

Each level of animation will affect your budget in different ways. You can generally expect to pay more as your animation gets more complex and high-quality. 

However, the higher the quality of your animation, the better your chances of learner engagement and getting real results from the course. 

Choose the level of animation that serves your learners. Remember, that’s your endgame with this course: to change people’s behavior with knowledge. Look at your goals, learner preferences, and budget to use the right level of animation for your eLearning video. 

3. Build a prototype

After you understand your general scope and decide on the level of animation for your project, it’s time to build a prototype. 

It’s tempting to jump right into making all of your videos at once, but prototypes are an essential step in the process if you want to watch your budget. Prototyping will help you know what it takes to get a video out in terms of skills, processes, and budget. 

Prototypes are great because they cut out the ambiguities. You figure out your entire process beforehand and know exactly how much it will cost you. This keeps you from going over budget on your project. 

Prototyping also helps you get a better work product in less time. You practice your process ahead of time, which means you can get work done more smoothly on a tight timeline if need be. 

When you know the cost and timeline for one video, you can scale up those figures to estimate time and cost for the entire series of eLearning videos. 

Preserve your resources by doing a practice run first. That will help you set an overall budget. 

4. Define a fixed rate and timeline

Now that you’ve done a trial run with your prototype, it’s time to set your project budget. You know your processes and have a good idea of the cost to build one video, so now it’s time to estimate your budget for the entire project. 

The final step in budgeting is using the cost structure from your prototype. This helps you set a fixed rate for the rest of your videos, as well as a timeline.

The bottom line

eLearning video budgeting isn’t easy. There are so many factors to consider to know what the project will ultimately cost you. Get the most results possible out of your training without draining your organization’s resources. Follow this four-step process to get a better estimate of your eLearning video budget. 

Need a little help? That’s okay! Ninja Tropic specializes in helping learning directors set the right budget and timeline for their eLearning project. Schedule your free brainstorming session now.

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