Animation 101: Where to start
So, you’ve decided you need an animation. Maybe you have a product to advertise, a process to explain or a story to tell. If you have no idea where to go from here, this article is for you – we’ll cover the next steps you need to take and what decisions you need to make before you get started.
The first thing you need to decide on is length. Are you looking for a thirty second ad that can be played on tv? Are you looking for a two minute explainer video that will clearly lay out a process? Or are you wanting to make a short film with a length of multiple minutes to tell an entire story?
If you aren’t quite sure, have a look around YouTube and Vimeo and check out similar videos — this will give you a good idea of where your animation should end up length-wise.
There is a variety of styles that your animation can be produced in — the two most common ones are 2D animation and 3D animation. Which of these is more suitable for your piece, will depend entirely on what your animation is about and what you’d like to show.
Two dimensional graphics and animation are very good to explain concepts and processes, whereas three dimensional is better suited for technical products that need to be shown in great detail. Your budget will also need to be taken into consideration — 3D animation is more expensive than 2D as it is more time consuming to produce.
You will need to know what format you’d like your video to be in and what resolution you require — this is usually determined by which platforms you are going to show it on. An animation produced for TV will be in a slightly different format than one produced for social media or your own website. A standard format as you often see on Vimeo or YouTube would be what is called “Full HD” — a 1920 x 1080px video at 25 or 30 frames per second. However, if you’d like to use your video on Instagram, a square video would be more suitable. If you are unsure about what type of output you require, we can help with determining the most suitable one.
Your animation will require a script — the blueprint of your entire story. Without a script, there can be no animation. You will need to decide if you want to write your script yourself, collaborate with us on it or work with a professional scriptwriter.
Narration and audio
There are two main options for narration; a voiceover track or displaying text on screen. A voiceover track narrating your script is the usual, more natural choice — it will draw your viewer in and connect them to what you are trying to communicate. But sometimes you cannot guarantee that your audience will be able to watch your animation with audio. For example, if you know that you will be using the video at a busy exhibition or in a situation where you won’t have loudspeakers, it is better for the story to be told by text displayed on screen so your viewers understand what is going on. In both cases, you will also need to decide if you’d like background music and/or sound effects.
Your budget will affect all of the decisions you need to make. If it is fairly small, you might be better off with a brief 2D animation, with text on screen instead of a voiceover. Whereas, if you have a larger budget, a detailed and realistic 3D animation with voiceover might be what you are looking for. There are a lot of options, different routes we can take to reduce costs and smart ways we can work to remain within your budget. We’re always happy to discuss and help you make the most out of your animation project, no matter the budget.
Next steps of the process
Once you have made decisions on all the points mentioned above and are happy with the estimate you have been given, you are ready to start working on your animation! Making an animation is a fairly involved process with many steps that all depend on each other. It is a bit like building a house — you need blueprints and a layout before laying the foundation, building the walls and eventually decorating the finished house.
We have broken the process into a few different stages to make things easier and more transparent. We’ll remain in close contact with you during this process with regular sign-off stages to ensure you’re happy throughout.
Stage 1: Kick-off
We confirm all required details needed and collect data and information from you, including branding guidelines, photographs, engineering models and previous promotional material you may have.
Stage 2: Script
We work with you on creating a compelling script that tells your story in a simple to understand and engaging way. We help you with script length and deciding between using a voiceover or text on screen.
Stage 3: Storyboard
We break down your finalised script into individual sentences and draw draft graphics for each of them in order of appearance.
Stage 4: Design/Styleframes
We create a style for your animation for a few selected frames that will inform the look of your entire project — colours, typography etc.
Stage 5: Animatic
We animate a draft version of your whole project to figure out timing, transitions and the look of the animation.
Stage 6: Animation production
We create all final visuals, detailed animation, add sound effects, voiceover and music.
Stage 7: Final delivery
We deliver your final animation in the desired formats and ask you for feedback for our internal review process.