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How Fast Should You Animate?

Recently I’ve seen a lot of discussion between animators regarding how fast you should be animating. How many seconds per day need to be complete? What’s “normal” in the industry? Are you going too slow? Let’s step back and take a look to see if we can set the record straight.

First it’s important to understand that “animation” is a very broad term. If you’re attempting to do very limited Flash animation, you’re probably going to seem to produce work at cheetah-speeds compared to a frame by frame animator drawing by hand. Likewise some animators simply animate faster than others. That doesn’t make them better or worse, it is just how they work. And finally the actual SHOT you are animating is going to determine a lot as well. Is it simple, without much movement? Is the character performing an intense action with a huge amount of objects involved? On top of all that, there’s framerate to consider!

As long as we go into the discussion understanding that there are so many variables it’s nearly impossible to truly have a “normal speed,” we can start to compare the apples and oranges that are “how much animation in a particular amount of time.”

Ye Olden Days

Taking a look into the past, animation was once measured in feet. That’s because everything was done on actual film (no digital) and so instead of referring to individual frames regarding productivity, people just said “I managed 2 Feet of work this week.”

Feet of Film in Animation
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A foot of film is equal to 16 frames. Since most animation for film runs at 24 frames per second, a foot of animation is over one second if on 2s, and under a second if done on 1s.

Editor’s Note: As Geoff points out in the comments, it is 16 frames regardless of if it’s on ones or twos. It would just be only 8 drawings if on 2s, vs. the full 16 drawings on ones. Thanks for the heads up, Geoff! Sorry I missed that.

In the earlier days of Disney Feature Animation, it was not uncommon for the animators to produce 3.75 feet of animation per day. That comes out to about 14 seconds of animation a week.

And that’s nothing compared to Disney’s FASTEST animators, who could blaze trails at 23-24 seconds of feature quality animation per week.

How does that compare to the current day and age, though? Surely with the technology we have now we go faster, right?

Animation Today

Truth be told, 14 seconds per week of film-quality animation is unheard of today. If asked to attempt that, most animators in the industry would laugh (or cry) and say it couldn’t be done. Today it’s not uncommon for feature animation (in 3D) to go at the pace of about 3-4 seconds of animation per week. A far cry from the 14 seconds that the Nine Old Men would churn out.

Meanwhile if you’re looking at direct-to-video film, it’s often in the 12-18 seconds per week range. Closer to the olden days of 14 second, but with a huge drop in quality by comparison. If you’ve ever seen a film produced direct to video, it can’t compare to the stuff that hits the big screen.

Emperor's New Groove vs. Kronk's New Groove
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Side note: If you ever want something terrific to study, check out The Emperor’s New Groove directly compared to Kronk’s New Groove. The difference is staggering.

Television Animation varies a great deal, and also depends on where it’s being produced. In the US, some studios request their animators maintain around 25-30 seconds of animation a week, especially if it is limited style. That’s not particularly troublesome to do since limited animation has a large number of holds and focuses heavily on dialogue.

Game animation also varies a great deal, but speaking with a few folks at various studios it seems like “normal” ranges between 5-10 seconds per day, or 25-50 seconds a week. Something more important drops it down to 2-4 seconds a day, and during crunch time it can increase to 10-20.

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Variables Variables Everywhere

Again, everything above is based on such a variety of situations that it would be foolish to say there was a hard and fast rule about speed in which to animate. The biggest variable is going to always be quality. Quality will dictate your speed. Ferdinand and I once did a 48 hour animation competition together, and by the end we were producing 10 seconds of animation an hour! However the quality was rather terrible at that point. Such is a deadline of two days.

On the flip side, the Disney animators of days gone by could, and often did, sit for hours or even days at their desk contemplating a SINGLE FRAME. Keyframes are so important, as story-telling drawings, that no amount of time was set to make sure they were spot on. The poses of such frames required near-perfection, so rushing was not an option.

Time is ticking!
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The final word is that speed really only matters “whence a deadline fast approacheth.” If you are working at a large studio that needs things done ASAP, you may have to work at a much higher rate (and lower quality) than if it’s a personal shot or short in front of you. And when it’s a personal short, don’t WORRY about speed. Focus instead on doing the absolute best animation you can. Because at the end of the day, it’s very similar to a quote by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto:

“A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.”

Delay if you must, but don’t sacrifice forever just to go fast.

So how slowly or quickly do YOU animate? Leave a comment below and share your stories of studio work, personal work, or any crazy deadlines that caused your normal speed to shoot through the roof!

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I’d add that those footage figures for famous classic-era animators were for guys who had assistants, maybe a team, helping them get it done with inbetweens and clean-up. Sometimes a lot of help because the animator only gave them minimal indications to show what was going on.

Someone said Grim Natwick just about animated in stick figures but if they teamed him up with good assistants lots of work got done.


do you mean in the old days, a single animator did 14 seconds of animation a week!!


basically yes.
but keep in mind that the animators only defined key poses and breakdowns and did not produce the cleaned up pictures you see on screen.
they had clean-up artists and inbetweeners that filled out the blanks.

we have the computer to do that for us though 😉


Of course ; the animation was largely based on one’s skill of drawing and indeed every one in the studio was an artist ; unlike software operators of today


It varies by show but a lot of us “software operators” will draw our own key poses, definitely not a patch on the nine old men but they were producing a few drawings a day which assistants inbetweened and in a lot of cases cleaned up and a whole other department inked and painted.
They were also working for enough of a wage to afford their own home. As a by working in the industry 3 years I’ve had quotas if 36 seconds a week on drawing heavy shows. Yeah quality suffers but it’s a job and if I don’t get stuff done I won’t get to keep it.

Olubunmi john

Im a begginner…and have learnt great lot from this post..from the little i have animated(puppet style)…i use to complete 4seconds with 5 hours of labour…im just currently working on my short(puppet style too) which im taking time on…after this short,im heading to the classical animation method with toon boom!..

Hey John! I suggest you Adobe Animate CC tools, here more powerful tools for creating Animation easily.


its wonderful but largely vector based.But you can generate complicated animation with a bulky mess of layers and motion & shape tweens (You won’t have much support for that on youtube).
But frame by frame animation is great with a stylus.

a guy who forgot his name

Ha! Adobe Animate? I’m using Flash CS6!


Now I feel slow lol


Actually a foot of animation is 16 frames regardless of whether its shot on one’s or two’s. There’s just only 8 actual drawings if shot on two’s.


I have worked in TV animation, in Toonboom’s Harmony for 5 years and seen quoatas from 20 seconds a week (juniors- intermediates were 30+) to 50 seconds a week.


Someone should write an equation that relates speed to QUALITY. Like you said the old guys at Disney did a lot more, but their quality was also way higher than anything done today. So it seems like if people are trying to do a minute per week (insane and stupid!) then the quality is probably piss.


Drawing speed * [Drawing quality] = Animation quality


I never keep track of how many seconds or frames I do in a week. Is that normal? I figure you just get it done as fast as you can and then put it up on newgrounds.


The thing about speed is that you can never tell if you are going any faster or not because you are always improving.

Josh K

I figure speed is one thing 2D animation software can still improve upon. I’m still waiting for an intelligent inbetween assistant. That is, something that will guide your pen strokes to make perfect inbetweens of the next and last drawing. Independent animators don’t have the luxury of having an assistant.


Josh, I believe that what you’re looking for would produce very dull, mundane quality. Richard Williams discusses this in his book and his videos. Take a look at his book to see how to avoid producing the dull and commonplace.

P. Stunner

I never timed myself, but since I try to make a lot of content for the web I just go as fast as humanly possible. So probably at the high end of seconds per week.


Answer: Animate as fast as your studio makes you so you can keep your job or they will find someone else.


The great thing about animation is how it’s a slow and steady process!

Ginger BM

Animate animate animate, as fast as you can, you’ll never catch me I’m the Gingerbread man! 😛


Honestly, I enjoyed reading this article. I’ll be completing my 2months as a pre-production artist next month. The first month has been very hectic! As a beginner, my pace was horribly slow and it made me very embarrassed among my other colleagues. Upon discussing it with my Senior, he himself said that I needed to work faster even if the output is not so good. Yes, when I am taking my own time, the final product comes out to been very gorgeous. But the sadness is that I am just hurrying into submitting my works on time.

ivan handle

Fast as you can if you want a job these days.


I’m a beginner of 2d traditional animator. This post is really helpful for me. One of my producer asked me to submit 15 minutes animation project in one month. Which was impossible for me. I questioned myself “Am I really slow in work?” I get the answer of my question from this article. Thanks … for the article.

M. Torollo

Animate en el menor tiempo posible, porque aquí si no entonces usted es despedido muy rápidamente!


Really Good Article thanks


well then im a fast animator for a teen then i do very moverable animations and i can do 1 min in a week but then again i work the whole day


As a young web-animator, I try and get out one shot per evening. (1-4 seconds usually, mostly dialogue) I try my best to keep consistent quality, and my animation has really improved!


If I work hard, I can get two seconds done in four hours. I’m a very novice animator, though.


It’s getting really hard animating in the studio im at. Just started my 3rd week it took me around 2 weeks to get used to the program they animate with. was animating around 3 secounds a day in my first week now just about animting 8 secounds a day and my boss wants me to animate 10 secounds a day…. Sometimes i’m feeling inadequate. I’m always the first person to come into work (1hour early) just to catch up… It’s like i’m not meant to animate…. I was meant to learn how to rig… But i got a headache. Also i think after this project is done i’ll be kicked out… I’m their newst memeber of the team haven’t got a new contact for a project that’s meant to last a year.


Sorry that you were stressed out. How’s everything going now?


well I lasted, I left after working there for almost a year, I joined another studio, characters are a lot more complicated but fun. I’m finally happy and ever day feels like i’m playing a game even when i’m under pressure I just feel so excited, the rush is amazing! it’s always very interesting to talk to people with different types of experiences. working in 3D even if a studio says your quot is 5 seconds a day your actually close to doing 8 seconds a day because you’ll always get someone sick or on holiday every week. one thing I’ve got to say is leaning in a online school to working in a studio is nothing. a studio helps you with feature film quality with a slow pace but not that a fast pace.


hi i am from India i recently join one studio in India in that studio they are forcing to do 12 second per day. that was so freaking bad experience for me.


I do about 3-4 secs a day depending on what it is.



I would like to know where did you got the information for how long TV series takes to animate. I’m doing my animation for graduation and involves tracking my time and comparison to others, so the more information I get on that the better.


Ricky Bru

About 6 years ago , I worked in a 3D animation studio, here in Colombia (yes, the land of the best coffee, cocaine and most beautiful women in the world! :D) and when crunch times were the only way, we used to animate like 10-12 seconds full animation a day per character, high quality at that time… it is indeed very stressful, but I kept that habit. now as a freelancer sometimes I hit 6 / 8 seconds that involves normal acting, or sometimes action… and now that I read this, I think I haven´t developed this skill to my full potential… here in Colombia no one produces featured film movies, maybe some minor boring crap… but right now just work in fancy and boring stuff that put bread on my table, but from time to time, I work on some personal stuff for the sake of passion. this article really gave me some thoughts about animating harder and faster. THANKS INTERNET PEOPLE!!!


Does fast animation really matter? i think one should focus on quality and improvement of their skills and should not compete with anyone to create animations faster. there are many styles of animations i.e 2D & 3D animation, and all takes time according to their requirements.

Robert James



So how long would it take to animate 8 seconds, let’s say a dance, including blocking in Maya and you have the reference.


I think the New Groove is an acceptable sequel. Much better example would be the Atlantis 1-2 comparison. (Possibly The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1-2…)

So it depends on the kind of animation you’re doing. If it’s character animation in 2D with storyboarding for social media, then a week is good enough for a decent 1/1.5 minutes worth of video animation.

Although, if you change the variables, let’s say you want animation for a feature film, then let’s not kid ourselves, 4 seconds of feature quality animation per day is the best you can get, and i’m still stretching the numbers here a bit.

It depends on the kind of requirements, the frequency of visual change that the animation has to adjust to, so on and so forth. It also depends on animator to animator. I don’t think there’s a standard answer here, some animators work better in crunch while others require more time for the kind of quality only they can deliver.

I hope that answers your question.


I’m a student of btech but intrested in animation don’t where to start.


but if you not fast worker you will not get a job( And how clean animation must be. And how mutch seconds per week for all : from animation to final linework with color (without fx and background) ?


I have a copy of a Walt Disney Productions inter-office memo during production on The Jungle Book showing the average footage per week for each of the animators on that film:

Ollie Johnston – 15-04
Hal King – 10-03
Frank Thomas – 9-02
Milt Kahl – 8-14
John Lounsbery – 7-08
Eric Larson – 7-08
Eric Cleworth – 6-01
Fred Hellmich – 4-13
John Ewing – 4-12
Walt Stanchfield – 3-15

Overall average footage per week for the entire dept. = 7-10

(Again, keep in mind that “footage” refers to a foot of 35mm film , which is 16 frames. If the animation is ON 2’s that means 8 drawings per foot. If the animation is ON 1’s they had to do 16 drawings per foot. Depending on the complexity of the action , the animators might have to do every drawing in the scene , but often they could leave inbetween drawings to be done by assistant animators.)

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave

Attached is the footage report I referred to in the post above. It shows Ollie Johnston averaging 15 ft. a week. (that’s 10 seconds a week). Hal King has the second highest average footage at 10 ft. a week. (close to 7 seconds a week) Others like Milt Kahl and Frank Thomas are averaging 9 ft. a week (Kahl just two frames less than 9-00 ft. with 8-14; Thomas two frames more than 9-00 with 9-02) 9 ft. a week = 6 seconds a week). The rest of the animators on The Jungle Book were averaging between 4 ft. – 7.5 ft. a week (2.6 – 5 secs.)

This Jungle Book footage report is a snapshot in time… at any other time each of these animators may have been averaging more footage or less footage each week, depending on the complexity of the scenes they were issued. Scenes with multiple characters take longer to animate than single-character scenes, so if an animator was issued a lot of scenes with multiple characters and complex action ON 1’s then they were going to be stuck at the bottom of the footage report. However, I’ve seen footage reports that distinguish between an animator’s “Scene Footage” vs. “Character Footage”. For example, say an animator is working on a scene with a running time of 4-00 ft. BUT it has 5 characters in the scene …that makes it worth 20-00 ft. of Character Footage even if the length of the scene is only 4-00 ft.

Jungle_Book_Weekly_Animation_Footage copy.png