The seven step animation production process

Are you planning to create your first animated video?

Animation is a powerful way to tell your story. With so many businesses using animation to communicate with their audience, we thought we’d share our seven-step process to putting your ideas in motion.

How do we know this process works?

This is the workflow we’ve used to deliver hundreds of animation projects, and the results speak for themselves.

So, whether you’re looking to create your animated video in-house or bring in an animation production agency, this post will guide you through the essential steps you need to take.

Seven steps to a successful animation


Step 1: Creative research & briefing

The foundation of a great animated video is a solid understanding of your brand, what you’re saying and who to. Understanding these key factors will help us set tone, visual style and approach for your animated film.

We start with your brief. You might you have a full brief and requirements ready – perhaps even a script. Alternatively, you may be looking for direction on which way to go and what story to tell. In either case, we always begin by getting to know you and what you want to achieve first. To understand the ‘why’ behind your project.

It’s this stage where we start our creative research. We look at examples from both inside and outside your industry to inspire us and immerse our production team in your sector.


Step 2: Concepting & scripting

The concept and script are two of the most fundamental parts of your animated video.

First, we’ll use the briefing notes and creative research we’ve done to create a concept for your animation. This might be a concept, character-driven, conversational or more story driven – whatever suits you our your clients video project.

The concept gives us an idea of the creative direction we’ll take. It’s more of a framework than a full script.

Once we’re happy we have the right concept, our next step is to start working on the script.

We’ll typically break down scripts scene by scene. We show any voice-over or on screen text that will appear with visual notes alongside for each scene. The key here is to communicate your key messages as concisely, cleanly and simply as possible. A task not as easy as it might sound!

Animation: what’s the optimum word-count per minute?

Your video can be as long as you like – but we usually aim to say more with less. Whatever the length, a common challenge is fitting in all your key messages to your ideal runtime.

An ideal length for an animated video is around 60 to 90 seconds. This equates to around 150 to 225 words of script. That’s based on roughly three words per second.

Script types

There are two broad categories to which your script might belong:

  1. Problem / solution -driven: This is when you start the script by addressing well-known problems faced by your target audience. This is followed by your product as the solution, highlighting its features and benefits.
  2. Story-driven: This is used when launching an innovative product that is entirely new and unknown to people. You can directly start the video script with the product, followed by the features and benefits.

Step 3: Voice over

Now we have our script in place, what we need now is the right voice to deliver it.

It’s time to pick the perfect voiceover artist to bring our script to life.

Referring back to your brand, we’ll source a selection of artists to present to you – obtaining test-reads if needed. We’ll often use one of our team to record a guide track at the start so we can start animating earlier too.

To strike the right chord with the audience, the tone and pace of your animation voice-over should be just right. The artist needs to stress the right words, pitch correctly and pause at the right places so good direction is critical.

  • Pace: It’s important to give your viewers enough time to digest what you’re saying without taking too long!
  • Tone: Just as visual style reflects your brand – so does audio. Whether your brand is easy going and laid back or serious and authoritative, your voice-over artist needs to reflect that in how they deliver your script.

Step 4: Storyboarding

Storyboarding is where we start to add visuals to our notes and connect the narrative set out in our script scene-by-scene.

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a series of rough sketches that show, scene by scene, how your script will play out. A storyboard describes the visuals and actions and voice-over, all in one place.

A good storyboard will help you visualise exactly how the visual and audio will knit together to realise your film.

The storyboard provides direction for the designers and animators who will create your animated video – providing a guide to the scenes, transitions and progression of the animation.


Step 5: Design

At the design stage, we develop a visual style for your animation based on your brand guidelines. This might take the form of a more detailed storyboard or a series of illustrative elements for use in your film.

Those elements might include character designs, illustrations, stylised text, background colours, and icons. We may even create multiple options to pick from too.


Step 6: Animation

Now for the fun bit! This is where your animated video comes to life. Here, our animators take the storyboard and the designs and frame by frame – bring them to life.

We may share some short examples at this stage as we progress. The key at this stage though, is patience. Animation is often a painstaking process that takes many hours of concentration.


Step 7: Sound design

Now it’s time to create some atmosphere and add that final layer of polish by adding the perfect soundtrack and sound effects. The sound design stage has a huge impact on the overall feel of the video so it’s critical we get this right for you.

There are two main approaches for sourcing music and sound effects for your animation:

  • Orignal composition: If your budget is high enough, we can work with composers and foley artists to create something completely bespoke for you
  • Royalty free: The most common approach is to get access to our vast libraries of stock sound effects and music tracks to pick something unique for you

Summary

A typical 2D animations typically takes around 4-6 weeks from start to finish, but this might increase for more complex or longer animated films.

This process acts as a framework for us, that we’ve used todeliver hundreds of animated video prodcutions but with experience, we also understand that all clients and all projects are different so we always build in enough flex to ensure we can chnagethings around to suit an alternative way of working.

If you’re ready to start your animation project or want to know more about the process, feel free to get in touch!

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