There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in the animation video production process. The final video that viewers see is just the tip of the iceberg that is a result of a series of steps taken by a production team — briefing, script writing, storyboarding, animation, voiceover recording, etc.
In order not to drop a single detail off sight during the production process, video agencies normally come up with a 2d and 3d animation pipeline that helps them build a production schedule and deliver videos faster. So, let’s show you what the production pipeline in animation is, how to create an animation production pipeline, and which steps are included in 2D and 3D animation production workflow.
So, let’s show you what this is all about, how to create an animation production pipeline, and which steps are included 😉
- What Is the Production Pipeline in Animation and Why Is It Important?
- How to Create an Animation Pre Production Pipeline, Production Pipeline, and Post Production Pipeline
- Animation pre production pipeline
– Initial research and concept creation
– Mood board development
– Scenario production
– Character development
- Animation production pipeline
– Voiceover casting and recording
- Animation post production pipeline
– Creating and adding sound tracks and sound effects
– Rendering & wrap up
- Animation pre production pipeline
- How to Optimize 2D Animation Pipeline Process
- What Makes the 3D Animation Production Pipeline Different From the 2D Pipeline?
- Final Thoughts
- Consider Blue Carrot As Your Trusted Partner
Generally speaking, an animation pipeline is a detailed plan that describes the path of the video production process. It clarifies how the animation workflow will be executed — from concept creation to the delivery of a final film.
The video development process includes multiple steps that have to be carried out by the production team in a particular sequence in order to ensure that:
- The process itself is carried out as effectively as possible.
- It leads to the initially set objectives.
- Each party involved in the process knows what to do and when to do it, and what not to do (which is just as important).
👉 This is where the need to create an animation pipeline actually stems from:
GOALS OF ANIMATION PRODUCTION PIPELINE:
✔️ GET ON THE SAME PAGE WITH CLIENT
✔️ DELIVER TO CLIENT EXPECTATIONS
✔️ AVOID WASTING BUDGET ON UNNECESSARY TASKS AND REVISIONS
✔️ IMPROVE TEAM PERFORMANCE
To summarize all the advantages, we put together a list of practical benefits that teams and clients get with the creation and use of the animation production pipeline:
- Helps to keep the project aligned with the initial goals set — thanks to a well-developed pipeline at every stage of video production, all parties involved get a clear understanding of what work needs to be completed, what goals need to be achieved, and what areas need to be agreed to.
- Allows for effective allocation of resources — animation pipeline defines how many specialists should be assigned to each stage, and how the workload should be distributed. This also prevents production teams from tossing tasks between different departments in the middle of the process if it turns out that there are not enough resources to finish a project.
- For risk assessment — the pipeline can help determine what issues may arise at each particular production stage, and eliminate them in advance.
- Makes communication more clear — animation production pipeline helps to ensure that a client gets a clear work timetable, that they know what to expect in each particular moment of the production process, and that they understand how communication will be structured.
👉 If you are interested in diving deeper into the specifics of animation video production, make sure to check out our guide:
How to Create an Animation Pre Production Pipeline, Production Pipeline, and Post Production Pipeline
Animation pipeline normally gets split into three parts, each of which is related to the corresponding stage in the video production process. These are: pre-production, production, and post-production pipelines.
The 3D or 2D animation pre production process is a fundamental part of the whole project. At this stage, the client’s involvement should be at its highest.
The concept for a future video is created in this stage. It follows 1) the briefing stage that is carried out by a production team in cooperation with a client, and 2) the research that is conducted by a team after the brief fill-up. A concept defines what goals a video has to achieve and describes ‘in abstracto’ the final product (video) and its main storyline.
ONLY IN CLOSE COOPERATION WITH THE CLIENT CAN A PRODUCTION TEAM CREATE A HIGH-QUALITY CONCEPT FOR A BUSINESS VIDEO 📺
Mood boards include a selection of references, visuals, illustrations, fonts, etc. that are designed to provide a client with a visual understanding of the style and ‘mood’ of the video to-be-developed. A mood board is normally included as part of the concept.
A scenario is one of the most important elements in the animation production process. It consists of a script, the description of a business video, and a voiceover. The script is developed either by a studio or a client, or both. The visual description normally comes with examples and specific references — to make it easier for the client to visualise what they are presented with. You can read more about the script-writing process in our article here.
THE SCRIPT LAYS A FOUNDATION FOR ALL THE FUTURE VIDEO WORK IN THE VIDEO PRODUCTION PROCESS 📑
On this stage, all actions and in-video events are being visualized in the form of sequential illustration sketches. Multiple versions of the storyboard may be created with the first one being drawn out quickly but also clearly — so that the client can easily examine it and give recommendations or edits, if any are required.
The last (final) version of the storyboard is normally done with all the small details and client suggestions being taken into account. Every storyboard frame comes with the visual description and corresponding voiceover text.
STORYBOARDING IS THE FINAL STAGE IN WHICH ADJUSTING VISUALS OR CORRECTING A STORYLINE WON’T HURT THE PRODUCTION BUDGET TOO MUCH 💸
👉 Storyboarding itself is quite a tricky process, but don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. In one of our recent articles, we explained in detail how to create a storyboard and why it’s better not to overlook this process.
Animatic comes in the form of ‘animated’ sketch sequences with a voiceover overlay, or as a hybrid sequence (live-footage plus sketches and voiceover). Animatic helps production teams to figure out whether there’s enough time allocated for each particular scene, the story is dynamic enough, and the camera angles are good — before the production process starts.
Sometimes, the characters in Animatic get roughly animated as well. Thanks to it, clients can better assess the ‘mood’ and ‘atmosphere’ of the future business video.
Animatic is mainly created for complex projects that come with intense actions and detailed animation, and, thus, require lots of details to be outlined during pre-production.
In this stage, the production team starts to create business video characters: shape their ‘character’, emotions, appearance, define how they will interact in the environment they’re placed in, and identify their actual role in a video. As a rule of thumb, the more important a character is, the more attention is paid to its detalization.
The character development process can also go in parallel with the style-framing stage (the next stage in the list), which means characters can be set in color right away.
👉 Speaking of character creation, this subject is too big to fit in a few simple lines, so that’s why we dedicated an entire article to describe it.
A process during which one shot from a storyboard gets drawn in full quality and color — including all objects and background that will then be added to a final shot in the video. In order to achieve the best result, it’s recommended to create several versions of a style-frame — designed by several artists according to a single technical assignment.
When working with video agencies, it’s general practice to prepare two style-frames — one that 100% corresponds to the requirements set by the client, while another showcases the agency’s vision regarding this project.
Once the pre-production stage is over, the team’s artists proceed to illustrate all the characters, objects, and backgrounds — according to the storyboard and style-frame previously agreed on. Here, they also prepare illustrations for further animation.
Sometimes, depending on the type of animation technique used, the process of illustration creation may also vary and go like this:
Traditional animation — 1) layout and key poses: contour illustrations (drafts) get arranged in scenes, 2) in-betweening: intermediate frames get drawn and placed in-between the drafts, 3) cleaning: contour illustrations get finished, 4) coloring, 5) shadowing.
Cutout — first, an artist draws characters, colors them, and then proceeds to rigging. It is a process of adding a skeletal rig to a static character making it possible to move its body parts in a desired way.
Whiteboard — during the 2D animation production process, a designer turns to a technology that ‘simulates’ the drawing hand movement on a whiteboard.
If you want to get more ideas on how to boost your 2D animation production pipeline, read What You Need to Get a Whiteboard Video Done in One Week on our blog
As the name implies, in this stage the video agency casts an actor with the most relevant and clear voice for this project. This voice will accompany the viewer throughout the video.
Animating characters, objects, and adding shot transitions is the most complicated and time-consuming part of the video production process. Here, the designers have to ensure that the dynamics with which objects move on-screen perfectly conveys the story and desired mood.
This is the final step in the video animation process, during which sound designers create and record music — or, if needed, source stock tracks — generate mixes, combine music with voiceover and overlay sound effects (steps, rustles, etc). In other words — do everything to vocalize the silent animation sequence, and make it convey a powerful emotion.
👉 Take a look at this video where we showcase the making of a custom design for the MSTW video:
The production team renders (saves) the final video in the requested format, ensures no bugs have slipped into the clip, and prepares source files for possible subsequent use as sometimes clients want to buy the illustrations — or other visuals that were produced — to use on social media, websites, etc.
👉 To get to know how much a video production can take, check out our explainer video cost calculator.
These are basically all the stages that get included into the animation production pipeline. The order remains pretty much the same, as well, except in cases where the project budget or time frames influence the process. Obviously, with tight budgeting, the video agency will have to adjust accordingly.
But how can you make sure to get the best results even with a small budget?
Here are several recommendations from our production team:
- Don’t skip the briefing stage and make sure you provide all the information a video agency might need.
- It’s better to work with a budget you can afford, so giving complex 3d or 2d animation video references to a production team won’t make much sense if your budget is limited. Be open-minded and heed the team’s advice when it comes to choice of style and format of a future video.
- If it’s agreed on, it’s agreed on — avoid editing something that you have previously agreed on with a production team, as it will stretch the delivery timeline and budget.
👉 By following these simple rules, you’ll be able to create a project that meets your expectations. For more tips and information regarding animation video production, be sure to download our guide:
Now that we’ve examined the workflow of 2D animation pipeline production, let’s look at some extra peculiarities and ways to optimize the 2D animation pipeline to keep it within the projected timeframes and budgets.
To speed up the production pipeline for 2D animation, you can:
- Create illustrations and animation in parallel. You don’t wait until after all the illustrations get created to animate them. Instead, as soon as you get the first ones, you hand them over to the motion designer, thus carrying out both animation and illustration stages in parallel.
- Use rough V/O. If you haven’t yet found an actor to record a V/O, go with a rough V/O recorded by someone on your team and start animating illustrations following this rough V/O. By the time you bring the V/O actor in, you’ll already have the animation video completed. The only thing that would be left is to replace the rough voiceover with a professional one.
- Limit the feedback. In case you’re working with a 2D animation production studio, control the amount of feedback — remain focused on the core ideas and don’t go deep into micromanagement to an extreme degree.
- Create a content library. Having a library of ready-made illustrations and content assets that you can reuse in your video will significantly reduce the costs and the length of the production stage. This would be extremely useful for large projects that involve the creation of hours-long animated videos.
The main difference lies in the way the animation process steps get carried out. The production pipeline for 3D animation goes like this: first, you create a model — a 3D without-texture sculpture, then comes the texturing itself, coloring, rigging (for objects that should be animated), adding visual effects, and lighting.
In the 3D animation pipeline, the rendering process is resource-demanding. Here, a 3D animation production company normally opts for more powerful and advanced hardware, or rents a render farm — to make sure it doesn’t take a century and a half to process all the motion graphics.
In general, though, the 3D animation production pipeline consumes more of your project resources by default, compared to the 2D pipeline. The only exception might be for those cases where you have a number of the same designed objects that repeat over and over again throughout a video.
It’s impossible to set up an efficient animation production process without a well-detailed and thought out 2D or 3D workflow pipeline. No matter whether you’re working on a 20-second ad or creating an hour-long educational video — all stages of a project always need to be carried out following the specific order and logic.
Make sure that before work starts, the video agency you are working with provides you with a step-by-step detalization to their animation production pipeline — to ensure it doesn’t miss any important 2D or 3D animation process steps or ‘control’ points that may influence the project budget.
👉 Don’t hesitate to contact us at Blue Carrot if you have any questions regarding animation pipeline development or check all our explainer video animation services.
A 110-second long commercial ad done by Blue Carrot for Blamtastic. With this project, our goal was to showcase the client’s product — Booty Spray — and make viewers understand what makes it different from other offerings on the market. We also had to ensure that the product was being presented in a very native and organic way to the target audience.
An explainer video that we produced for MyScrapNook — an online platform for creating custom birthday/graduation/wedding scrapbooks, personal cards, etc. This is a good example of a video that combines traditional 2d animation and a screencast with the demonstration of the product’s features.
A simple yet catchy explainer video that our team created for Kalgera — a fintech platform that helps elderly people (through their nominated trustees) get a better grasp on financial spending. For this project, we decided to go with minimalistic yet bright visuals, which would have a good contrast on a white background.
As you have seen by now, pipelining animation is a complex process which consists of multiple steps. It’s pretty easy to get lost there, especially if you don’t have prior experience or a reliable production partner to back your project up.
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