What’s the Process of Making an Animation?

By Natalie Squance

Animation is the perfect way to creatively tell a story, and it takes a lot of magic to turn a brand, a product or a white paper into a piece of engaging content.

Although every project is totally different (one of the many reasons it’s a medium we love), generally the animation process is pretty much the same. If you’re thinking about commissioning an animated video, it’s helpful to understand our method…

Laying the Foundations

1. Discovery call

Over coffee (be it virtual or otherwise), we ask questions and we listen, to really understand the story you want to tell. Your vision, your objectives, your communications challenges: all of this information helps us to sculpt a solid brief and put together a project proposal. 

2. Proposal

We send over a project proposal document, including our response to the brief, style options, inspiration, pricing and a timeline of the project. When we get the thumbs-up from you, we sort out the admin and the deposit. Then we can get stuck in!

Screenshots of sample pages from an animation project proposal.
A couple of sample pages from one of our animation proposals

3. Strategy

We like to kick off all projects with a creative strategy session: this is where we take a step back from your brand or your project. With you and your team, we establish an aligned understanding of your product, service, project or campaign, your message, your audience, your purpose, your tone of voice – all the things you probably know on some level but perhaps haven’t given a lot of headspace before. Getting a picture of the wider story helps us lay the foundations for the narrative of the video.

Pre-Production

4. Research and exploration

Having a deep understanding of your brand, product or project is crucial to creating an effective and engaging video. We get our research hats on and gather as much information and inspiration as we can – from you, your stakeholders, your competitors and from the world around us.

5. Script*

Equipped with an understanding of the story, we go about writing the script. Whether you provide bullet points, a rough first draft or a blank canvas, we’ll produce an effective piece of writing: moving, thought-provoking, informative, funny, weird – whatever it needs to be.

6. Treatment*

The script is then translated into visual ideas. We produce a written blow-by-blow of the visuals to accompany each line / section of the script, helping us to map out the order of things.

Screenshot of animation treatment document
A snippet of a treatment from a white paper explainer animation

7. Visual style*

With a rough idea of the visuals that will be needed, we can develop the style of the animation. From initial moodboards to sketches and finally to concept style frames, the animation’s aesthetic starts to take shape.

A collection of colourful imagery and typography around covid testing in schools.
Style concepts for an animated explainer

8. Guide voiceover

We record a rough guide voiceover to give our creatives the timings and structure to work to.

9. Storyboard*

Using our treatment, and considering our visual style, we can create a storyboard: a pictorial step-by-step of the full video.

A screenshot of a sketched animation storyboard
An example of a storyboard

10. Animatic*

An animatic is essentially a slideshow of storyboard sketches / style frames, set to the timings of our guide voiceover. The first real taste of the running order of things.

Camera pans across various sketched illustrations
A snippet from an animatic

11. Style frames*

Next, we create style frames for key scenes from the storyboard. These still frames help give you a good idea of what the finished thing will look like. 

A selection of illustrations showing a scientific test kit - concept frames from an animation.
Style frames from an animated explainer

Production (and Post-Production)

12. Asset creation

At this stage we know, exhaustively, what will go where and how everything should look. So here we create and collate all of the assets: the illustrations, the graphics, all images and typography that will appear in the video.

13. Music

Music is an important feature for our animations: both Seed directors come from musical backgrounds and we’re all about bespoke, crafted arrangements that complement the visuals and the voiceover.

A male musician stands at his synthesiser as a studio technician sits at the mixing desk.
Recording keys at HQ Studios for an animation soundtrack

14. Animation*

The really fun bit! We piece everything together and breathe life into the assets. Real sorcery.

A short animated GIF of an illustrated farmer standing in a field with her dog.
A snippet from our RePhoKUs animation (watch the full video here).

15. Voiceover*

Our guide vocal has been handy for timings up until this point, but now we record the proper one. Whether we use an expert in your company / field, or hire a voice actor, we work closely with the voiceover artist to make sure we nail timings, pronunciation and intonation.

Female voiceover artist with headphones on, reading a script at a microphone in a music studio
Recording the voiceover for an animation

15. Foley

Sound effects are key to creating an immersive piece of content: footsteps tapping, water sloshing or papers rustling all add depth to the finished video.

(left) A man by the road capturing traffic sound effects, using a microphone and sound recorder. (right) The same man sits at his computer editing the sounds using audio software.
(Left) Capturing sound effects and (right) mixing them into the audio track

16. Polishing*

Now for the final touches: mixing and mastering the audio, colour correcting any video footage. Our expert eyes and ears will tweak and adjust until it’s perfect. We now have a finished animation!

Delivery

17. Distribution Strategy

Creating a masterpiece is no good if you let it gather dust in a dark room somewhere. You’ve got your content, now you need to go forth and show the world. We can work with you to create a marketing strategy to get your content in front of the right people at the right time.

18. Analysis

By monitoring and analysing reach, clicks, views and engagement, we can adapt the strategy accordingly. Get the most out of your animated video and get the results you need.

A screenshot of a line graph from Vimeo, showing video statistics.
An example of our video reporting

*These are the sign-off points. It’s crucial that you – and any other key decision makers – digest what we’ve done and sign it off (after we action any feedback you provide). Once we’re past these checkpoints, going back and making retrospective changes becomes tricky and can impact budgets / deadlines.

Got an idea for animated video?

If animated video is on your radar, get in touch to book a discovery call.

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