What to expect when you commission an animation: Script to Screen

So, you have chosen to produce animation, but do you know how the process works yet? It is important to understand how you get from a script to the screen to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. Both parties, agency, and client, need to be on the same page regarding what is going to happen when it is going to happen, and in what order, before anything happens at all.

It is a good idea to ensure you get your vision across right from the start, if there are examples of animations that you have seen and would like a similar style or technique to, mention this in your early conversations to ensure the end result meets your expectations. You can send across images, videos on YouTube, whatever you have access to that can help you explain what you would like to get out of the project. We need to know what you want and when they want it to decide on the most effective execution of the project within your pre-determined budget.

Producing an animation runs in a series of set linear steps which if followed in the correct order, allow enough leeway for review steps and client feedback along the way without compromising delivery timelines, and while steering clear of avoidable and costly complications that may involve repeating large sections of the animation more than once. Once a phase has been approved, it is very difficult to go back and change things once you have progressed, so it is very important for agencies to be aligned with clients and their expectations. At Get Animated all our animations are billed as fixed costs, with a set number of revisions, and if the process is followed in the order we outline at the beginning of the project, there is no need for additional costs.

So, what is this linear process you say? Well, each of the 7 steps is approved and signed off formally before moving on, to ensure you are in complete control of the animation at each phase. The first of which is understanding your requirements.

1. UNDERSTANDING – We start with an initial consultation preferably via phone, Skype or email to better understand your requirements. This is where we scope your expectations and give you the opportunity to send us any examples of elements you may have seen that you would like to replicate in your animation.

2. SCRIPT & STORYBOARD – Based on our initial consultation, our team will develop a script outlining the key points of the communications. In one column we describe what will be going on visually, and in the other we outline the associated voiceover (VO) that will be taking place at each frame. 75 words of VO in a script translates to approximately 30 seconds of animation. Upon your approval of the script, a detailed storyboard will then be developed.

The storyboard consists of outlining sketched panels or if you wish, developing a full colour storyboard. Frames are drawn up in boxes and underneath we provide a scene description and the associated VO for each scene. We send you the draft for feedback and specific comments and make revisions if necessary, to work towards finalizing the script/storyboard. The VO is recorded upon approval of the storyboard and goes onto set out the structure for the rest of the animation, so it is important the VO is completely finalised before moving on. We work with you to find a VO artist of any dialect and gender that you may wish and coordinate the recording of the script.

3. CONCEPT ART & MODELLING – Once the script and storyboard is finalised and the VO is recorded, we will begin to model and create high-resolution, still-frame renders of the main objects, environments, and characters to be showcased in your animation. This is an iterative process and while you will only see the final result at the end, you get a good idea of what your finished animation will look like at this stage.

Modelling is where we start producing rigid shapes, this could be characters, molecules or whatever else is going to be featured in the animation. The models are then rigged which involves giving the characters or instruments certain elements to facilitate moving mechanisms, like a skeletal structure to lay the foundation of how the object will be moved and animated.

4. ANIMATICS – After concept art approval, we will start animating each scene using the storyboards and script as guidelines to ensure the animation flows as previously outlined. An animatic animation will be created to ensure that timing & basic camera movements are correct. If a VO track is required, it will be added here.

5. PRODUCTION – Now that we have finalised all the animated elements in each scene, we will refine the textures, lighting, and any special effects to really bring your story to life.

6. RENDERING & POST-PRODUCTION- This is the phase of the project where we render each scene. Rendering can be a very long process; some animations can take several weeks to a couple of months to render. Once rendered, it will be given the final touches in post-production which includes sound design and FX, effects or layers, text and subtitles, colour correction, and motion graphics.

7. DELIVERY- Once you are happy with your animation, we will send you the final file, normally in .mov or .mp4 format.

So, there you have it, the tried and tested best recipe for how to effectively produce the most engaging animations within the outlined timelines and given budget.

Do you have a complex story you need to tell? Animation is an excellent method to ensure your story is told in an engaging and simplified manner that allows your audience to easily remember the key messages you want to get across. Animation is where art and science collide in the world of MedComms, so if you are ready to tell your story with Get Animated, please do not hesitate to get in touch at contactgam@getanimated.uk.com!

Mia Georgiou

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