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Tips For Writing an Animation Brief: Examples & Templates

Jun, 13, 2021
Tim Aleksandronets
CEO at Blue Carrot

Introduction

We recently received a project inquiry from a new client — let’s call him Bob. Bob runs an automotive startup in one of the Eastern European markets, and he asked us if we could create an explainer video for a service that he was about to launch.  

With full enthusiasm, we jumped right in to get more details on this new project. After a short introductory zoom call, we sent Bob a brief document. This document contains 20+ questions that we normally ask our clients to answer in order to get more information about the product or service to be presented in the animation video.

In a few days, we got the document back, and all we saw was “We develop a GPS tracking system. Our target audience is car drivers, car dealers and leasing companies.” and a few more lines of text. We’ve reached out to Bob, once again, and requested more information to build on the little he gave us.

The reply was: “Do as you see fit. It’s all ok.” After a few more failed attempts to get Bob involved in the production process, we returned him his deposit and parted ways.

So, why couldn’t we create an animation video? Didn’t we have enough expertise to do so? 

We did have all the tools, assets, and relevant knowledge to complete this task… but:

Without proper client input, it is impossible to create a quality animation film 📺

And since we value our work as much as our reputation, a mediocre result is never an option for us. 

Bob’s case isn’t a new one and, at times, we bump into similar situations in our work. 

A lack of understanding around the importance of the briefing process actually prompted us to write this piece. We want to explain all the reasons why you should not skip this step and how the quality of the brief write-up affects the entire animation production process.

Summary:

  1. What is an Animation Brief?
  2. Animation Project Brief: How to Ruin Your Video Even Before Production
  3. Effective Animation Brief: Answering the Eternal Question ‘WHY?’
  4. The 5 ‘Must-Haves’ for Writing a Production Brief for Animation
  5. Our Experience
  6. Final Thoughts

 

What is an Animation Brief?

To better understand the effect of the briefing process, let’s figure out what a brief actually is.

A brief, briefing note or briefing paper is a document that contains an extensive list of questions and answers which should guide project development (in this case, animation production).

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The main goal of the brief is to present questions to the client in order for them to examine their business goals from different perspectives. This is also the reason why, in well-written briefs, questions often overlap and highlight the same problem from different angles — to help clients to better shape their ideas.

The briefing process is all about adding missing pieces to a puzzle 🧩

The impact of a briefing process can be summarized in the following four points:

  • It is the most fundamental step in the animation production process — Briefing is the first and most important step that can determine whether a video will become a success or failure even before it gets to users’ screens.  
  • Defines what will and what will not be present in the final video — Everything that will be outlined and everything that will be overlooked during this stage will have an irredeemable impact on all the subsequent stages of video production. A quality animation project brief will set the direction for animation development and help a team to create scripts, narrative text, choose a style and type of animation video, etc.
  • Helps clients get a deeper understanding of their marketing strategy — Thanks to a brief write-up, clients will be able to precisely outline the goals they want a campaign to achieve and receive new insights on their target audience. 

The briefing process is your ‘Sorting Hat’ that determines how good (or how bad) a video will perform before it’s actually finished and presented to the audience 🎩

We think that it is also important to point out the differences between the two documents — Animation Brief and Technical Task for video production — since these two are often referred to under one term: ‘Brief,’ which may cause confusion.

  • An Animation Brief is a questionnaire that the client is asked to fill in. This list of questions is prepared by an agency and sent to a client.
  • A Technical Task (TT) is a document that contains all the needed information for video production — messages, goals, etc. It is prepared by an agency based on the information received from a client during the briefing process. TT can also be assembled by a client directly, and sent to the production agency right away.

Aside from core messages, TT also contains the description of the technical requirements for:

  • Video duration;
  • Video format and resolution;
  • Desired animation type and character style;
  • Mood and tone preferences;
  • Information regarding whether a video will be a part of a marketing campaign* or will be distributed as a separate marketing asset itself;
  • Additional requirements regarding sound, output files, deadlines, etc.

* — This information is important if the client wants an animation video to fall in line with an existing marketing strategy, including its stylistic features, and brand color palette.

 

Animation Project Brief: How to Ruin Your Video Even Before Production

In this article we wanted to go in a bit of a different direction: instead of giving you generic tips on ‘How to Write a Creative Brief For an Animated Video to Boost Conversions,’ let us show you how to write a brief to effectively kill the ROI of the animation video. At the end of the day, gaining knowledge from a negative experience is a beneficial experience in itself.

1️⃣ Not providing enough information

This is a very typical situation on the market and similar to the encounter that we had with Bob. Without the proper amount of information, a production agency won’t be able to deliver a video that precisely targets your audience, their problems, needs, etc.

This usually happens because a client hasn’t fully outlined their marketing tactics and strategy yet. They may not have come up with an ideal client profile or their campaign messages are vague and don’t resonate with the target audience

Keep in mind, a readiness to work with incomplete project briefs or desire to completely skip the briefing process, overall, is a dead giveaway that you are dealing with unprofessionals 👽

2️⃣ Providing too much information

On the other side of the coin, let’s take a look at situations when business owners go ‘above and beyond’ with the information they provide to an agency.

Here’s an example.

When writing a production brief for animation, the client starts to describe every aspect of their business in greater detail: how many people they have on their team, where their office is located, and why they have chosen the blue paint over green for their office walls, what they think about their competition, and so on.

Add in a few presentations they did for their investors and brochures from previous campaigns, and we will end up with a 150-sheet paper that the production agency is asked to fit into 1 minute of film.

The reality is: 99% of this information will never be used 💨

With an average speaking rate of 150 words per minute, text copy can fit in no more than 130-140 words for a 1-minute animation video. That’s why we always recommend clients focus not on the amount of information but on the messages delivered to consumers

3️⃣ Hoping that the video agency will do its due diligence

At Bluecarrot.io, we always strive to be transparent and honest in our communications, and this is one of those situations. Despite its experience in marketing, a video agency (any video agency) is not supposed to provide marketing services or develop marketing strategies. All the information regarding target audience, market state, challenges, etc. should come from a client — or their marketing department — first.

The agency simply won’t be able to deliver excellent work if they don’t have all the information about the product. If a client provides some specific information about the target audience, there’s no way the production team can check whether the statement is factual.

A lack of understanding of how video agencies work (and what services they actually provide), make prospective clients think that — together with video production — they will get a full spectrum of marketing services. 

Yes, a professional production team will do everything possible to walk clients through this process by asking leading questions and providing relevant recommendations. Keep in mind, however, that a production team will never be able to replace a professional marketing department whose job is to develop ideal customer profiles, core messages and marketing campaigns.

Production teams trust the information a client sends them, and do not double-check how well a client has outlined the core messages or the target audience of a product 💫

Quality input data from the client’s marketing team is guaranteed to pave the way for a lucrative campaign. The business video we did for Scratchpay proves exactly that.

Scratchpay’s marketing department conducted quality research and provided us with the relevant information regarding product audience and their needs, personalities, characteristics, and what appeals to them. The concept for the video was then carefully shaped around all these findings which, in turn, helped to deliver outstanding results and a user engagement rate of 86.2% for the explainer video. 

 

Effective Animation Brief: Answering the Eternal Question ‘WHY?’

To effectively fill a brief or write a TT paper, you need to first ask yourself a few questions, the most important one of which is — “Why?” 

  • Why do we need a video?
  • What goals do we want to achieve?
  • Who is our audience?
  • What are the key messages we want to transmit? 
  • Where?

The deeper you dig the better. A simple goal like “we will post it on YouTube and will be showing every person passing by” won’t work here. For example, a business video for a welding company and a business video for a hosting provider both meet this goal perfectly, but are they really that similar? Not quite.

All content in the animation video is used for a Specific and Concrete reason. 

Let’s develop a bit on this by going through a bad animation production brief example and a better version of the same animation brief example. Take a look:

“We want to do a 60-second explainer video for architects, who have come across A, B, C problems; new construction developers who have D, E, G problems; and real estate investors who are experiencing G, H, I problems.” 

As you might have already guessed, there’s no viable way to combine all three different groups of people in one 60 second video (unless the messages you want to communicate are somewhat similar and can be gently combined in one narrative text).

What should the goal-setting process look like, in this case?

First and foremost, let’s solve the ‘audience’ problem — are we going to create a single video (which would probably be a mess), or break it into three videos?

We’d suggest going with the second option, as investors will be more likely interested in ‘cash-on-cash’ returns, annual cash flow, interest fees, etc., and animation videos have to explain to them how a service/product is intended to help them manage all this information.

Architects, on the contrary, would be more worried about floor plan designs, building planning, and would be looking for the answers (in a video) in that regard.

As for construction developers, they would be more interested in estate development plans, licenses, and regulatory requirements. So, the product that is able to decrease the amount of legwork and speed up the development process is most likely to trigger their interest. 

These three different target audiences have their own ‘pain points’ which need to be outlined and addressed separately. 

Visuals in the animation video adhere to specific goals and guidelines outlined in the video concept, and the narrower requirements there are — the better 👌

The 5 ‘Must-Haves’ for Writing a Production Brief for Animation

In general, it doesn’t actually matter what the animation brief document looks like, as long as it helps to cover all the important aspects of the video. We always recommend focusing on these five areas:

  • Problem — The main reason to create a business video. A problem your company wants to solve or a problem that the target audience is currently facing.
  • Audience — It’s important to have your Ideal Client profile mapped out. This is how you can understand what they already know about the product, and what other information they need to understand.
  • Outcome — What you actually want the video to achieve. What you want your viewers to understand, feel, picture, etc.
  • Messages — This is basically the main info that will be conveyed through a video story to prospective customers.
  • Brand preferences — All the technical information and personal suggestions regarding animation style, type, color palette, etc.

👉 Pro tip: Work with something that you already have. If you have a client who has already bought your product/service, set up a storyline based on their experience and problems. This is way more effective than trying to cover the average problems of your non-personalized, non-unique, generally described audience in a single video.

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Our Experience

Based on our experience, five or six messages and a bit of context for each one of them may be enough to create an animation video concept; however, at times, clients struggle to come up with the messages they want the video to deliver. Our task is to help them do just that. 

For this very purpose, we put together an extensive brief template for animated video to ease clients into the brainstorming process and let them provide us with relevant information.

Once an animation brief template is completed, we will set up a call with the client to go through the main points of the brief, and outline the main accents and animation video messages. The next step is the development of the video script.

Important to note is that the quality of messages outlined during the briefing process is directly proportional to the number of edits that need to be introduced in the script development stage. 

This is a standard overview of the process.

More information about scriptwriting can be found here

Final Thoughts

Sure, a few things can go in the wrong direction during animation video production; however, with a sufficient level of expertise, major and potential drawbacks can be avoided by professional video producers. But not everything depends on a team entirely.

Input data is what defines the direction that video production will take, so it’s important for clients to be involved in the development process, especially during the initial stages where all the messages and goals for the business video are normally defined.

We hope you have found this blog post useful. Don’t forget to check our portfolio where we regularly post awesome samples of the work we do for our clients!

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If you need more information on how to write a brief for an animation video or need to create a business video, feel free to reach out to us via the contact form below 👇

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