Hiring an Animation Company

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?

Animation StudioThe 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?

The Consultation

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

Animation Logo CharactersA “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

Script and Character SketchesNot 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.

The Animation

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 ProcessThe 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. 

The Wacky, Wacky World of a Freelance Animator

So. The animation business. Full of ups and downs and a lot of colorful little characters. (Even the ones that are actually real people.)

A lot of people seem to want to know how animation is created. Well, this is my first blog post, so I thought I’d dive into that a little bit.

What is Animation?
There are various types of animation: 3D (think Pixar), 2D (think Bugs Bunny of old), Whiteboard Videos (those videos where you see a hand drawing out the pictures on a white background – usually explaining a business or concept), and more. But today we’ll focus on 3D animation in my business.

3D Animation
A lot of businesses today will have a logo character. This could be anything from the Geico lizard to my own little Pencilman character. If a certain business wanted to create a TV commercial – it makes sense for their logo character to do the talking – since its already associated with the company. So it needs a voice, physical movement characteristics.. and to be animated!

What’s the Process?
The first thing to be done is get as many still images of the logo character as possible. When you create the character in 3D its very much like “sculpting” it out of clay. So you want to get the look right before you begin this arduous process.

Character Created for InternetPest
A character I created for InternetPest.






When the character looks exactly right, its now time to add a “bone structure” – also called a “rig” to the character’s mesh so it can be moved and animated.

Character Bone Structure
Bone Structurehandbones

The “rig” actually looks and acts very much like a skeleton. Bones are added one at a time and then controls so the bones can be moved in the correct positions. Sound like a lot of work? It can be.

But in the end the bones are “binded” to the character’s mesh and you can now animate that character in to any position that rig allows. The animation itself is a series of “keyframes” in which you create a recording point for every segment of motion. I’ll cover this more in future posts. Stay tuned!

So that’s a quick, simplified primer on how 3D animation is created. Leave any comments or questions below and check back for more!

Visit www.sanczel.com to see lots of samples of my work.