Pricing of 3D visualization
To sum it all up in one sentence for those who have no idea and don’t want to read the entire text below:
Generally you can count on a four digit number (USD/EUR).
3D visualization of any kind is very complex, time consuming, custom-designed and therefore exclusive and quite pricey. We are not talking about standard Photoshop work that can be done within a few hours. The workload is very high and requires a lot of know-how and experience. Especially, when talking about 3D visualization in medicine, a high expertise in this field is required. It is a big advantage if the designer has a founded medical knowledge in order not to waste time unnecessarily explaining the goal and the details of your project…
As you can see on the chart above, the workload for still images does not defer much from the animation workload. This should not surprise you, since the time a 3D artist has to spend on modeling/sculpting anatomy and instruments, preparing the scene setup (including lighting-, environment- and camera-setups), composition of materials etc. stays 100% the same. Rendering of still images can take hours as well, since these images are often meant to be used in print-media and therefore require a much higher resolution. So YES: even though it may sound strange, a couple of JPEGs can also cost far more than a few hundred USD/EUR.
Moreover, one should never underestimate the time a 3D artist has to spend on client requested corrections. Based on my personal experience clients tend to demand corrections due to lack of initial planning or due to changing expectations along the work in process. The required changes sometimes force the designer to start again from scratch, or in other cases, it is necessary to setup and render the entire project again.
Regarding rendering, you should note that there is a significant difference between preparing and rendering surgical procedures on soft tissue compared to those on rigid anatomy. Organs are soft, have a wet look (lots of reflections), scatter light and cast soft shadows. The presentation of such organs requires the usage of so called subsurface-scattering materials, which have special characteristics comparable to those of wax or milk. The impact and scatter of millions of virtual photons inside the different layers of the organ surface have to be calculated. This means an immense increase in render time, especially when the organ surface has been sculpted very detailed by hand. Also the animation setup itself is much more complex when visualizing surgical procedures on soft tissue. Whenever one interacts with soft surfaces using surgical instruments, the relevant compression of the tissue, following the tip of the instrument while being dragged or pushed etc. have to be animated. E.g. during an animation of a surgical technique on the foot you will see rigid bones, screws and plates whereas during the visualization of a surgical procedure on the thyroid gland (e.g. ABBA procedure) you will see a lot of interaction of soft tissue with surgical instruments.
To ensure you receive the best quality currently available, constant investments in hardware, software, training and development have to be made, which also has to be reflected in the prices demanded.
3D visualization is NOT CHEAP. It’s not only the workload in hours that counts. 3D visualization is very exclusive, very effective, it raises the image of your product and your company, it is a powerful marketing tool, it tells a story, and it supports education, training and patient information and therefore saves time! 3D visualization has an impact; it does not just sit there and look nice. No matter what you need, still images or animations – a professional 3D visualization cannot be done for a few hundred USD/EUR. When planning, be realistic, consider four digit numbers invest in the magic of 3D visualization and leave your competitors behind. Should you wish to obtain all rights (with e.g. plans to re-sell the animation) – count on a price 3 times higher than the entire project would have cost you. These are not fictive numbers. This is the market value, the amount paid by individuals, small and large companies for their projects.
Examine the chart above. If you’re lucky, keokimed has the 3D models for your 3D project already prepared and you can forget about the thick top red part of the chart. Make a detailed, step-by-step plan of what you need, make your goals as clear as possible from the beginning – this will lower the amount of work needed for corrections and modifications later on, which makes the 3D designer happy. It will decrease the timespan of the project and therefore make everything cheaper, which will then make you happy!
The final products are high-resolution stills or animations or both. For stills, standard resolutions are approx. 3000px (maximum extend) depending on the complexity of the scene, and for animations, 720i (1280x720px). Special wishes (e.g. 1080i animations) have to be discussed on a case by case basis.
Hopefully the above description gives you an overview of what you can expect in terms of quality and pricing.
Dr. Georg Slavka