BEHIND THE SCENES OF ANIMATIONS
The Saturday morning classics. Those feature-length Pixar flicks. Everybody loves a good animation. They’re entertaining, colorful, and eye-catching. But have you ever wondered how they’re made?
While the animations our team creates are a bit different, the process is pretty much the same. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain…
FIRST THINGS FIRST
We kick off our animation process with Discovery. When a client requests an animation, we’ll schedule a meeting to discuss the core concepts regarding the project. We’ll ask questions like…
- What is the goal of the animation? Is it to entertain or educate?
- Who is the target audience?
- What message needs to be conveyed to that audience?
- What tone should that message carry? Is it a serious subject, or should the tone be light and cheerful, or even comical?
- Will it be a televised commercial or used strictly online?
The answers to these questions will help us dictate technical requirements, such as aspect ratio, FPS (frames per second), and resolution. They will also heavily influence the style, run time, and production process.
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
Once we have received these details from the client, our internal team, consisting of the Project Manager, Producer, Illustrators, Animators, and Copywriters will meet to review the information and begin brainstorming; this is the start of the Pre-Production stage.
Based on the target audience and core message, we consider the optimal way to tell the client’s story. We shoot ideas off each other. We jot down plot points. We doodle. Nothing is off the table, nothing is too out of the box. Finally, we whittle away at all the thoughts and ideas until a narrative begins to emerge. That’s when we’ll craft an outline that represents overall content coverage and flow.
Our Copywriters then shape and carve the narrative into the first version of the script. The script includes the voiceover (AKA the words being spoken throughout the animation). We will then share the script with the client, listen to feedback, and make changes until it has been polished and finalized.
MOOD BOARD & STYLE FRAMES
With the script complete, the next phase of the Pre-Production process is creating Mood Boards/Style Frames. This means our artists will begin crafting the look and feel of the animation. They consider many different artistic styles based on the tone and message of the story.
For example, if the story is to be fun and whimsical, our artists will consider bright colors, quirky characters, and imaginative environments. Or if the story is straight-forward and instructional in nature, they’ll consider a more realistic style.
The artists will then pull the most vital scene(s) from the script and develop single-frame images based on the decided-upon style. This is what we call Style Frames. These are sent to the client so they can confirm the style we chose is right for their story. If it is, we’ll move to the Storyboard stage. If not, back to the drawing board!
The Storyboard stage marries the script with illustrations, on-screen titles, and action notes (what is being shown on the screen and how). The final result showcases the story and breaks it down scene by scene and shot by shot. The Storyboard gives the client a sequential guide on how their story will be told. In other words, it is a static version of the animation.
While the Storyboard is being developed, the Producer will begin considering voiceover and music options. Should the narrator be male or female? Should the voice be cheerful, laidback, or authoritative? Should the music be soothing, gleeful, or dramatic? Should there be music at all? The Producer will audition voiceover talent and vet music tracks to find that perfect fit.
PRODUCTION & POST-PRODUCTION
Once we’re on the same page with the client on the Storyboard, voiceover, and music, the Pre-Production stage of the project is considered complete. The next phase is Production. Here is where our Animators step in. They take the storyboard and, guided by the pace of the recorded voiceover, they bring the story to life.
When the Production phase is complete, the animation is rendered through a series of high-powered computers to provide that polished, final look. We then move to the last stage of the project: Post-Production. This is where we put the proverbial bow on the animation. The music track is dropped in. Sound effects are added. Any tweaks to pacing, movement, or lighting are made. The finished animation is then delivered to the client, ready for its grand debut.
…And that’s our story on the animation process. Roll credits! If you’re interested in getting started with animations or learning more, let us know.