Thinking of using animation for your business? Maybe you’ve seen one or more of the countless animations on the web that explain some business or product. Or you think the idea of an animated TV commercial would be perfect for what you’re trying to sell.
But where does one start? What is the process? Everyone has seen cartoons, but how do we go from that to actually having an animated character talk about YOU?
The benefits of using animation are numerous and can be found in more detail in other articles. But – in a nutshell – animation appeals to the viewers’ hearts as well as their minds – much more effective than “talking heads” and video at getting your message across. Viewers have higher retention rates with animation. Animation can usually cost less than live action video. And on and on…
So you know why you want animation, but what is the process?
When you hire an animation studio the first thing that should happen is a consultation. This is usually free (up to a point). In our case, Pencilman Animations – we want to know what your main goals are. The gist of your business and message. Whether or not you need a main “logo character” or just general animated situations and people. You are the expert of your business, but a good animation studio will help you define your message and offer advice on a way to proceed.
A plan is laid out. Script and character ideas are discussed. This is the brainstorming stage and the most revelatory.
The “Character” of Your Business
A “logo character” is a character that represents your business or product. He can act as your spokesperson/narrator and someone who the viewing public will identify with your particular brand identity. Think the Geico Lizard, Snoopy for MetLife, even Tony the Tiger. Not all businesses or associations will need a logo character, but it’s worth considering and should be discussed in the consultation.
…animation appeals to the viewers’ hearts as well as their minds…
The Script and Character Sketches
Not all animation companies follow the same process, obviously – but again – in the case of Pencilman Animations, we will work on scripting ideas and character sketches at roughly the same time. Sometimes the full idea is only visible by seeing all its parts.
You, the client, will get to see and approve the direction as it is developed. Does the main character need more hair? Are the colors looking right? Maybe you think the “squirrel” character is not working but would like to see a English Bulldog!
Most web animations are between 60-90 seconds. The script is fairly short so needs to be scrutinized. It should informative, educational, feature a “call to action” and in most cases – be fairly humorous. Humor goes a long way on the web and gets viewers to watch and hopefully even share the video. Don’t be afraid of “funny” in your script as long as it still gets the message across. To that end, an animation studio with a good writer is essential.
After the script is approved (very important) and the characters are finalized, the animation begins.
The animation company will have to first record voiceovers for the spot – for the narration and/or character voices. The voices come first before the animator can match the character’s facial movements to the sound.
The animation process itself is very time-intensive and detailed. You should expect to see some roughs every once in awhile to make sure you are happy with the overall look, feel and direction.
The character is built in 3D – something that is a lot more akin to modeling with clay than drawing. And then the character is outfitted with something called a “rig” – which is basically the “skeleton” of the character. Movements are created with “keyframes”.. a little movement – a keyframe… a little more movement – another keyframe. Textures, lighting, camera placement… and a zillion details you probably don’t want to concern yourself with.
The Final Film
And then the day comes… you have your final film! It’s funny, it gets the point across, it’s educational… the works.
Oh sure, you may want a small change or two… but remember to try not to make changes to the actual script after the animation is completed. That will usually result in extra charges (and rightly so, as that part of the animation will have to be completely scrapped and re-animated).
But usually a client will be delighted at seeing his ideas and his business come to life. Talk to your animation company through the process. Make sure you’re getting what you envisioned and let the experts also guide you through what you might not have known was possible.
Put it on your website, put it on YouTube, put it on TV… and watch your business, product or educational program benefit from the wonderments of animation!
Sean Sanczel has been a professional animator for over 15 years. His company is called Pencilman Animations.
Visit www.sanczel.com to see his work.