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Essential Animation Process Steps and Timeline

Apr, 21, 2022
Christina
Senior Account Executive

Introduction

Whenever you start working on a new project, it’s necessary to know how it will be carried out β€” all the steps, phases, and nuances. Even if you’re working with a company that does all the production work for you, it’s still vital to have a basic understanding of how the workflow is organized. This will allow you to minimize potential risks and ensure that the project implementation goes as planned.Β 

When it comes to the creation of animation videos, in particular, such knowledge will help you not only get a great-looking video but also make sure that the outcome of your cooperation with the production agency matches your vision and initial expectations.

In this blog post, we take a look at the main stages of the animation development process. We also show you some animation production insights that come straight from our own experience 😎

Summary:

  1. What is an Animation Process?
  2. Animation process timeline β€” Who takes part in the creation of the animated video?
  3. Timelines of the stages of the animation development process
  4. Consider Blue Carrot Your Trusted Partner
  5. Final Thoughts

 

What is an Animation Process?

The production of videos includes various animation steps that should be executed in a particular order. In practice, though, some processes may go in parallel, and some may be expanded or reduced β€” depending on the complexity and size of a project.

In general, however, the process of animation development starts with initial research. During this time, the production team carries out the briefing process β€” to better understand project goals and client expectations β€” and comes up with a concept that abstractly describes the final video.

Once that’s done, the team proceeds to create a moodboard (a selection of visual references that fit the style best that the team aims for) and produces a storyboard (a sketched-out sequence of shots that serves as a visual outline for future video). At this moment the team also starts shaping video characters, their roles, emotions, appearance, etc.Β 

After all the preparation work is done, illustrators and animation designers start to create all visual assets of the project β€” illustrations, animation sequences, voiceover, and soundtracks. Then the team renders the project and hands it to the client for the final review.

The development of animated video is performed in a particular order in which the results obtained during the previous phase serve as a base for the next one. This is why it’s better not to skip any production processes, even the smallest ones because otherwise, the final outcome may end up being incoherent and irrelevant to the original concept πŸ‘»

πŸ‘‰ Please note, that this is a brief summary of all the phases of the animation process, and if you want to get more information, check out another article where we go into greater detail regarding the steps of the animation process.

Animation video creation process β€” How we do it at Blue Carrot

Now, let’s move from theory to practice. In this section, we’ll show how the animation process phases are actually carried out by our team with regard to timelines.

πŸ“Œ Week 1. Strategy meeting & Scripting

 

The two main things we do during this period are strategy meetings, where we discuss the project outline β€” based on the beforehand prepared brief β€” and develop the script of the future video. At this stage, we offer clients two rounds of reviews.Β 

πŸ“Œ Week 2. Storyboarding & VO casting

During this step, we create a storyboard, which is then handed to the client so that they can assess the general look of the future video. We also cast and select a voice-over actor or actors and can now proceed directly to the production phase.

In case we’re working on a complex project that involves the production of intensive traditional animation sequences, we also create an animatic. Basically, it is an ‘animated’ storyboard with VO overlay, which may also come in a form of live footage accompanied by a voiceover.

Two rounds of edits are also offered at this stage πŸ‘ˆ

Animatic:

Final result:

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

πŸ“Œ Week 3 & 4. Style-frame and Illustration.Β 

Β 

This is where we start working on the visual design. Here we create a style frame β€” a sketch (or shot) that is taken from the storyboard and drawn in color and high quality. By doing so, we help the client get an understanding of what characters, objects, and backgrounds will look like in the final video. After that, we create illustrations or models/locations in the case of 3D projects.Β 

In the same way as before β€” two rounds of edits are offered at this stage as well πŸ‘ˆ

πŸ“Œ Weeks 5 & 6. Animation and Sound Production.

This is the final step in the animation process. We spend one to two weeks animating the illustrations (models/locations for 3D animation videos) and turning them into a video clip. We also produce the final version of the video soundtrack and ask for the client’s feedback during 1 or 2 rounds of edits.

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

Animation process timeline β€” Who takes part in the creation of the animated video?

Now let’s try to sort out who actually participates in the production of animation video:Β 

  • Client β€” at Blue Carrot we consider the client to also be part of our team since only through close cooperation with them can we create the animation video that perfectly hits the mood and expectations of the target audience, and helps to achieve marketing goals set.
  • Creative producer β€” a professional who is responsible for the final product. They cooperate with the client, assign tasks to other team members, plan the workflow and ensure that the production process stays aligned with the initially agreed project concept.Β 
  • Scriptwriters β€” writers who take the input from the producer and turn it into an engaging script scenario. One of the most important skills for a professional scriptwriter is the ability to quickly grasp difficult subjects and topics and produce a copy that explains complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand.Β 
  • Storyboard artist β€” this specialist creates a set of sketches that are used to outline the key on-screen content, and give other team members the idea of what will be going on in each particular shot.Β 
  • Illustrators β€” these artists create stunning illustrations, and design characters and other objects that will be used in the animation video.Β 
  • Animators β€” the wizards who turn still illustrations into moving narratives and dynamic stories.Β 
  • Voiceover artist β€” the specialist who narrates your written story. The choice of a particular VO artist depends on several factors such as language, tone of voice, accent, etc., and is quite an extensive topic itself. More about how to pick the right VO artist can be found in this article.
  • Sound designer β€” sound engineers mix together voiceover, music, and sound effects to produce an appealing soundtrack for the animated video.Β Β 

Timelines of the stages of the animation development process

In general, for typical projects (about 1-3 minutes of produced content) the animation process timeline will adhere to the 5-7 week frame. However, it’s necessary to understand that animation video production is a two way street, and here the timelines of animation phases strongly depend on how fast the client provides feedback.

The delivery timeline of animation video depends not only on the complexity of the project, but also the effectiveness of cooperation between client and production agency πŸ™Œ

As you have seen from the described above steps in animation production process, for each of five steps in animation creation we at Blue Carrot offer two revision rounds. In total, that’s ten revisions per project. Based on our experience, a single revision takes up to two days. However, if, for some reason, delays sneak into this process, then the timelines for the steps of the animation process can be stretched by days or even weeks.

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

Consider Blue Carrot Your Trusted Partner

At Blue Carrot we’ve established clear communication and cooperation policies. This allows us to keep clients aware of what’s going on at each stage. The continuous collection of feedback from the client also reduces the number of edits at the final stage.

Aside from that, all animation stages go sequentially, which means we don’t start working on the next stage before getting the client’s full approval regarding the current stage. This gives the clients additional means of project control. Meanwhile, for the team, it’s a way to eliminate any unnecessary moves back and forth and reduce budget expenses.Β 

πŸ‘‰ This means the result produced is always predictable and understandable for our clients. This can also be seen in the projects in our portfolio:

Punahou

An engaging animated 2D video produced in Hawaiian style by our team. The two minute or so video explains how to use a Global Aloha platform β€” a place for like-minded people to collaborate on common projects, communicate, and simply have fun.Β 

The goal of this project was to cover a few topics simultaneously, in just a single video. We had to present the platform to users, briefly explain Global Aloha’s possibilities, and show how to use the platform to make the most out of it. The client was super excited about the outcome and has left corresponding feedback.

πŸ‘‰ Discover full project here.

Toggle

In the 76-second long video, we present Toggle β€” a platform that allows for monitoring financial markets and helping users make informed decisions, using information and insights that an AI-based system provides. Toggle analyses market signals, key financial events, trends, and news, thus helping users target their investments more effectively.Β 

πŸ‘‰ Discover full project here.

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

Final Thoughts

The most important idea to keep in mind when preparing for your next project is that you should always stay aware of what comes next in the process of animation video production. We hope that this article has helped you with that.Β 

In order to make the process easier to understand, here’s a short checklist that summarizes all the ideas above, which you can also use as a ‘cheatsheet’. The animation process looks like this:Β 

  • Messages and the basic structure of the story β€” are developed during the concept stage and polished during script production.
  • The main visual themes (ideas) β€” are created during the concept stage.
  • Visual description and the exact wording of messages (voiceover text) β€” are developed and finalized at the script stage.
  • The framing and composition of shots β€” are developed, polished, and finalized at the storyboard stage.
  • The exact look of the video β€” is developed during the style-frame stage based on the provided references. After that, the storyboard gets converted into illustrations.Β Β 
  • All the movements and transitions between scenes (i.e. animation) β€” are developed during the motion-design stage.
  • Music and sound effects β€”Β are developed at the sound-design stage.

Having this outline of the step-by-step animation process at hand will allow you to avoid most common pitfalls and not waste time rethinking or changing ideas when you’re halfway through.

If you need any additional help, feel free to reach out to us. Our team has proven experience doing projects for various niches and markets and can help you produce a unique animated video ✌️

FAQ πŸ€”

How much does an animated video cost?

The animation video production costs normally depend on the type of a video, its technical complexity, and additional requirements that may be set for the project. Whiteboard animation is considered to be the most affordable type of animation, the price of which starts at $1,000 per minute of produced content.

3D animation is one of the most complicated types of animation production, the price of which starts at $4,000 per minute. For more information on animation production pricing, check this article.

What the client needs to provide to an animation studio?

Before starting to work on a project, we normally ask clients to fill out a short brief that will serve as a guiding document for our team and will help us better understand the actual goals and needs of the projects.

Aside from that, we also try to work with clients as much as possible during each production stage, showing them new ideas we’ve come up with and collecting feedback. More insights on the cooperation process can be found here.

ARE YOU CONSIDERING CREATING A VIDEO?

πŸ₯•Β Β Check outΒ what Blue Carrot has to offer.Β 

 

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