Understanding the animation process

How do we bring your animations to life?

We’re often asked about the process of creating an animation and how long it takes.

Of course, every project is unique, and times can differ. In this article, we’ll help you understand the animation process once the idea and basic content outline have been agreed upon.


Script

Whatever your message, to convey it correctly, it’s essential to get the script right. If you’re unsure where to begin, we can work with you or write the script for you. We’re experienced in tackling all kinds of stories, even the most complex and sensitive subjects.

If you’re unsure how long a draft script will take to voice, some helpful tools can guide you – Words to time and Speech in minutes. Scripts always take longer to voice than you anticipate, so it’s good to do a quick test.


Illustration styling

Once the script is approved, we’ll create illustrations of the key characters and one of the scenes in the agreed style (chosen from our portfolio), which we’ll share for feedback.


Storyboard

When the script and the illustration style have been signed off, we’ll create a static storyboard. This is a step-by-step overview of your story in pictures. Lines from the script will be added to the illustrations so it’s clear which image goes with which text to tell your story.


Title screen and credits

It’s really useful to think about which logos will need to be featured and who needs to be credited on the film early in the development process. This often takes a while to be agreed upon, so thinking about it as early as possible prevents unnecessary delays at the end of production.


Draft or final voice recording

Creating a tone that complements the script is an important feature that will influence the overall effect of the animation, so we work with several voiceover artists and sound studios to ensure we find the right fit. The final voiceover can’t be recorded until the script is agreed upon, so we often record a draft version to use in the animatic.

The timing of the animation is determined by the pace of the voiceover. Two voiceover artists can record the same script in very different ways, and the length of the final animation can change by up to 30 seconds for what is intended to be a four-minute animation.

TIP: It’s worth noting that if a draft voiceover is used at this stage, it may take longer to produce the animation. Also, the animator may need to add pauses to the voiceover to allow the viewer to take in the on-screen animation. This means the length of the voiceover file may not be the length of the final animation itself.


Animatic

With the storyboard signed off, we then move onto the animatic stage. This is where the images from the storyboard are combined with a draft (or final) voiceover to set the pace and sequence of the film. This is the first opportunity to see the animation as a rudimentary film. Here, you’ll be able to give feedback to the animator on any changes required in the script or the images. Films are shared via Vimeo Review so all stakeholders can add their feedback along the animation timeline in one place.

Vimeo Review

TIP: Once the animatic has been agreed, the final voiceover will be recorded, and the animation will begin, so be aware that any changes after this stage could incur delays and additional costs.

Animatic example


Production

Once the animatic has been agreed upon, the production process can begin. This involves getting the characters moving, adding pans, zooms, and scene transitions, as well as adding music and sound effects. The animation is usually created using a mixture of Adobe Animate and Adobe After Effects.

Exploring the tools we use to create animation


Film drafts

When we’re close to having the film’s final version, we will share it with you via Vimeo Review for last comments and minor tweaks. Any more significant updates, such as changes to the previously agreed action, could delay the schedule and possibly extra costs.


Final film

When all the stakeholders are happy with the film and the brief has been fully met, the animation will be shared via WeTransfer or Vimeo so you can download the MP4 file. We can also deliver animation clips in different aspect ratios for use on social media platforms.


Generally speaking, creating a 3-4 minute animation will take around 6 weeks to 2 months from initial concept discussions to final delivery. But this is just a guide.

So that’s the animation process explained in simple terms. If you’re thinking of creating an animation to explain, entertain, or educate your audience, we’d love to hear from you.