Even if you’ve put together a marketing video for your product or service, you may not have ventured into the realm of animation quite yet. Yet, this medium is a highly useful tool for communicating in the most succinct way possible, even for complex or abstract topics which might be difficult to produce content for in real life.
You may be asking yourself why you would pursue an animation project. Well, before you start, you need to find a company with a good animator – such as Omaha Video Solutions. If there is not one in your area, you can always find someone online. Since animation is completely digital, you’re not limited to one geographic location – it’s just as easy to work with talent remotely.
With the right creative team, you can communicate just about any message through animation. When the Refugee Empowerment Center approached us, they were looking to reach a wide audience with knowledge of their community bike shop and community gardening programs. These programs make refugee’s lives more productive and happy.
As with anything, animation is a step-by-step process. Depending on the project and the team, your process may combine steps, or have many more than this. Pixar’s process is going to be quite a bit longer than ours, but here is a basic guide for what to look for:
Before you can design or animate a story, you’ve got to know what the story is. That’s why you always start with content. What is the concept? What do you want to say? We tend to collaborate with our clients on content. This helps keep costs down and enables us to get to know their needs and objectives with exceptional accuracy. Remember, shorter is usually better for scripting; the more concise the message, the more likely it is to be watched and received well. Once the script gets locked, we move to the storyboarding phase.
This is where you start drawing out your ideas. Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time communicating as a client or creative team describing what you’re looking for, but the visual ideas add another layer. This is where you can take a hard look at what’s in someone’s head and discuss what’s working and what isn’t. The storyboarding phase is important to get locked in before you begin design, because otherwise you’ll end up redesigning things and potentially wasting a lot of creative time.
Scripting and storyboarding are both parts of pre-production. There are other elements to pre-production, such as soundtrack selection and voiceover casting, which you should also discuss as a creative team and proof with your client.
This is where we start creating the actual animation elements. If your animator also does design, you can work through only one person from design to motion. Most projects, however, are collaborative, and involve a designer creating assets and an animator adding motion after the design elements are in place. Having two phases is important here, because if you’ve already added motion, but you decide you want to go back and change the design, then you will have to redo the motion for the entire piece, adding lost time and extra expense to your project.
Note: Not every designer is capable of designing for motion, so be wary. You want a designer who specializes in digital and knows how to prepare assets for animation so it is easy to work with on the motion side. Also, make sure you like the designer’s “look” who you’ll be working with. If you don’t like the other work they’ve done, chances are you won’t be impressed by the design they create for you.
Once the design is set, you can move on to animation. Everything else has to be set at this point.. content, story, design direction, and the assets for animation. If you’re under a tremendous time crunch, you could proof one page of storyboards at a time and begin animating each page as you go, however this is not ideal.
Frequently, animators add motion in After Effects, but there are other programs. For instance, the TV show Archer is animated in Flash (not recommended for web work). There are also ways of animating in Photoshop to give your work a unique look, which we did for this project.
Sound Design & Finishing Phase
Sound design is a very important form of polishing which gives your animation life and breath. Motion projects without sound elements involved can feel stale or robotic, but much like in a movie where you hear a “thump” when a sword hits a breastplate, animation, too, comes to life when you hear footsteps, glasses, breeze, or whatever is happening in the environment. You can hear how the sound effects aid the Refugee Empowerment Center videos by immersing you in the environment instead of leaving you watching just a musical cartoon. This, ultimately, helps the viewer buy in to the ideas you’re sharing.
And you’re done!
See? Not so hard! As always, you live or die by communication. Even a simple process can get bogged down if a client doesn’t respond to emails promptly, or if a draft is unclear and the presented work is half-finished.
But wait, there’s more!?
There are a lot of reasons to choose to do an animation over a live-action project, and one of the biggest is cost. A good animator is just less expensive than a full-scale production team. If you have a $50,000 budget for production, you might only spend a third of that on a good animation. Of course, everyone has different rates, and most animators operate on a per-finished minute basis.. so that’s another great way to save money!
So whether you’re in corporate communications, a tech startup, or a nonprofit, or another marketing role, consider an animation project to accomplish your goals! If you’re considering doing an animation for your business or non-profit, don’t hesitate to contact us to see if we’re the right fit for your project. We’d love to hear from you! Happy marketing!