Animation production process

Learn the process of animation production to create a successful video

Animation, with its ability to breathe life into static images and take audiences to fantastical worlds, is a captivating thing that thrills and inspires. Every mesmerizing video is the result of a carefully detailed production process, blending creativity, technology, and teamwork. This process is essential for creating remarkable visual stories.

Today we’d like to dive into the main phases of the animation production process.
If you have never dealt with it, it may be quite shadowy to you. Understanding these steps will bring you closer to the creative sphere of animation. That’s why we decided to dig deeper and explain to you how it all works.

As you know, each project is unique but usually, the animation steps are pretty the same.
So, our working model is pretty straightforward and basically is the same as most design studios have. Let’s look closer at each of them.

Step 1: Brainstorming

The timing and duration of the project are defined, so now we can proceed with the brainstorming. Brainstorming sessions are crucible, this is the space where ideas are born, nurtured, and refined. The team gathers and engages in a dynamic exchange of ideas, exploring various concepts, themes, and visual approaches. Everyone expresses any ideas, even the craziest ones, although some of them could be on the wrong track. It doesn’t matter at all. The essence lies in fostering collaboration between the team members. Besides, it’s fun and cool! The main thing here is that everyone is involved and this brings the whole team together in the creation of something truly exciting. Through open dialogue and constructive feedback, the team works together to identify the most effective concepts for the project. Once the initial ideas have been generated, the team begins to narrow down the options, considering factors such as relevance to the project goals, and potential audience appeal. This iterative process involves refining the concepts until a clear direction is visible.

So the next step lies in script development, where the narrative takes shape through words and dialogue. The script itself serves as the map for the animation, outlining characters, plot points, and thematic elements. Collaborative efforts between copywriters, art directors, and clients ensure that the scenario captures the essence of the story.

We could start working on a project once we receive the final script. If the client already has a finished script and VO, we should have it at this stage.

Usually, we ask our clients to create a script by themselves as they know their services/ products better than anyone. But if they aren’t able to do it, we help them with the scriptwriting. To make it all possible, we just need a concept,
any information on the topic from the client or the agency we are working with. So, either the client wants us to make some changes, or we have to make the script, we get down to work. We can edit the already obtained information, put everything together, or create a script based on the information we receive from our client.

That’s why we send a detailed brief for them to fill in as they know everything about their product. This is a client questionnaire which contains a lot of details like the purpose of the video, the target audience, the key product/service features that need to be highlighted in the video, the type of the video, an ideal length, specific ideas, preferable VO, some style references, etc.

How to create a pdf script template for the explainer video?

You could check our explainer video script template pdf.

So feel free to use it as a sample.

We recommend you to use Google Docs when writing the script. It offers you seamless collaboration between your clients and teammates, as well as feedback integration, ensuring alignment with client expectations.

When you create an explainer video script  there is one important thing you should keep in mind:

Length of the video script:

Different sources could provide you with various info about the standard video length. However, too many factors could influence it, such as the length of the script or the narrator’s pace. It could vary between 40 sec and up to 2 min. But we recommend the explainer video to be 60 – 90 sec. 60 sec is the most common length for explainer videos and could be considered the “ideal” one.
If you want to get more precise info, please consider the fact that 150-170 words equals one minute video. This allows for concise but comprehensive explanations of products, services, or concepts without overwhelming the viewer with too much information.
Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance between providing enough information to convey the message effectively and keeping the audience engaged throughout the video.

Animation production process Toyota

Step 2: Storyboard

Storyboarding becomes a crucial phase in the animation production process, transforming the script into a visual narrative. The storyboard is used to explain the story. It shows the main elements of the animation and gives an idea of ​​how the voiceover will match the visual part. So, to put it simply, the storyboard is black-and-white sketches (just imagine a schematic pencil drawing) with the VO and description for each scene. These sketches serve as a visual draft for the animation, helping to plan out camera angles, character movements, and transitions between scenes. Creating animation takes some time, that’s why the storyboard helps your clients to follow the process and understand if we are moving in the right direction, thus avoiding delays in the future. For storyboarding we use a very cool platform. It’s called Boords, the online storyboard creator. Platforms like Boords, streamline this process, allowing for interactive feedback and iterative improvement.
You could leave your comments directly in it, it makes the process easier. Just let us know that you’ve left the notes and we’ll start editing. During the storyboarding phase, the team may also begin to explore different style options for the animation. This could involve creating mood boards, or style frames to establish the look and feel of the animation.
And here is an example of the storyboard for our client

Animation process Toyota

Step 3: Design

The goal of the design phase is to establish a consistent visual style that corresponds to the overall storytelling experience. With the storyboard as a guide, our geniuses, illustrators, start working. They search and explore diverse styles to find the one that emphasizes the individuality and uniqueness of a particular project. Designers may work by using different tools, including traditional hand-drawing techniques, digital illustration software, and 3D modelling programs. They collaborate closely with other members of the production team, such as animators, art directors, and sound designers, to ensure that the visual elements of the animation align with the overall creative vision for the project.
Our designers prepare a few style samples to choose from. We pay special attention while designing the main characters. From sketches to concept art, characters are the heart and soul of any animation, they fill the story with personality, emotion, and depth to resonate with audiences. So, we provide our clients with 2-3 style examples that suit your video the best. As the chosen design direction becomes clearer, it sets the stage for developing the illustrations.

There is no limit to imagination! Inspire and work!

  • It is very useful to get the style examples you like so that the designer can focus on them. This will definitely be helpful.
  • At this stage, the designers also cooperate with the motion designers. There is a mutual exchange of ideas, on how to better animate this or that detail, a scene, or to make a cool transition, etc.
  • After that, we send for review several examples of illustrations in different styles.
  • The client chooses what he likes best and goes to the next animation production step.
  • But of course, the number of edits depends on the schedule and budget of the project. As a rule, 2-3 rounds of feedback are possible.
  • We can use the prepared illustrations provided by the client, too.
Animation process for Toyota

Step 4: Аnimatic

We are almost there! The transition from static illustrations to dynamic animation begins with the development of an animatic. Animatic is a great way to get everything we have and create a draft video, a kind of simple animation. Its goal is to show the time and the pace with key movements and transitions. At this stage, we start thinking about how to animate this or that scene.
Animatic is a sequence of shots, or sketches (in our case, illustrations) synchronized with the music and voiceover, usually arranged with a soundtrack to accelerate the harmony between audio and visual elements. Serving as a basic animation draft, the animatic offers a glimpse into the video’s pacing and visual flow. We create it to determine if we have some boring parts in the video, some that need to be polished, or some work to do before being finalised.

The animation as it is should be still far away.
For instance, you will not see how the character freely walks in the park.
In animatic, it will have a more static picture or a slight slip along the background image. Client input at this stage informs refinements, ensuring alignment with their vision before proceeding further.
At this step in animation production, the voiceover is an integral part for the motion designer to continue the animation. It’s impossible to move forward without it. Depending on your preferences and the target audience, you could choose a professional speaker from many platforms, like Voices, and Voicebunny, for instance. These professional speakers are trained to deliver the results you expect to achieve or even go beyond your expectations. The right chosen voice will help you to deliver the message of your brand/product/service. It’s truly amazing how the narration could change the animation and open its full potential.

Step 5: Animation production process

We devote a lot of time and attention to the previous animation production steps to make sure everything is ready. All the above steps must be agreed upon before we start working since it’s hard to change something after that. Of course, we could do it when needed but this affects the timing and the budget of the client. So we are trying to avoid it as much as possible.
Then we will be able to go to the animation itself.

And here it is! The essential stage – the animation! At this stage, we are doing what we know best: we embody a unique story that has to become something truly fascinating and charming. But what is it? Animation definition could be of various forms. One of them says that it’s the process of turning two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) images into moving ones. Animation is used to bring characters in a story to life, but it can be also used to make any still image appear moving.

Attention to detail is foremost, as each element contributes to the overall visual aesthetic and narrative consistency. To make an animation, we put together all the ingredients into the animation bowl and the journey begins. We prepare all illustrations for animation, add music soundtrack and motion, and of course, synchronize everything with the voiceover. Using a combination of traditional hand-drawn techniques and cutting-edge digital tools, animators breathe life into the static imagery, characters and environments, charging them with movement, expression, and personality. The first animation version could be still a little bit raw but we polish the transitions, and the scenes, as well as animate the characters in the next versions so the result could amaze you. Frame by frame, scene by scene, the animation takes shape, fueled by the passion and dedication of the creative team. During the animation production phase, the team holds frequent reviews and feedback sessions to ensure the animation aligns with the client’s expectations, project timeline, and budget. This iterative approach allows for necessary adjustments, resulting in a polished and professional final product.

Step 6: Feedback and approval

When the animation is complete, the team presents it to the client for feedback and approval.
This may involve sharing work-in-progress versions of the animation and obtaining feedback from key stakeholders to identify any areas for improvement. The team then incorporates this feedback into the final animation, making any necessary adjustments to ensure that it meets the client’s expectations and aligns with the project’s goals. This step in the production is applied throughout the process of working on the project and ends up with the arrangement when we finish the video.
Timely feedback is principal, expediting the production timeline and minimizing bottlenecks.
At the agreed time, the client has the opportunity to review and send the feedback. The number of reviews we can implement at each stage depends on the schedule and budget mentioned at the beginning of the project. Usually, it’s 2-3 rounds of revisions at each stage.
Quick feedback is important to ensure that the workflow is effective. Ideally, when we receive the feedback within 1-2 days. That is why it is perfect when the client indicates the priority of changes that should be done immediately. And after that – the other ones, which can wait for a little. This way of working together helps us keep improving, making sure everyone’s ideas are heard, and everyone is happy with the outcome.

Step 7: Render and final delivery

The finish is almost here! Creation and final delivery!

Once the animation has been approved, the last step is to render the animation into its final format and deliver it to the client. The team works to make sure that the final animation is delivered on time and in the appropriate format, taking into account any specific requirements or preferences outlined by the client. This may include providing multiple versions of the animation for different platforms or devices, such as web, mobile, or broadcast, or in different languages.
Throughout the render and delivery process, the team maintains open communication with the client to keep them informed of progress and address any last-minute changes or requests.
By delivering the animation on time and to the client’s satisfaction, the team helps to ensure a successful outcome for the project and lays the foundation for future collaborations.

  1. Choosing the right sounds and music is vital in making the animation more engaging. Once we’ve made all the necessary adjustments, we send out the mp4 file for the sound design. Our sound designer adds his cherry on the cake, sound effects, which complete and highlight your piece of art.
  2. After the sound design, we share with you the full version of the video in Full HD, as well as other formats on request from the client.
  3. Any changes that the client wants to make at this stage are quite possible but will incur additional costs and delay the entire project.
  4. The rendering process and sign-off to the client may take some time. It depends on the size and nature of the files, so we always inform our customers about it.
  5. Well, finally, the project is over and we are good to go. You are watching your video which is worthy of all your efforts and hard work. 
  6. Its successful release captures the attention and admiration of people. And now it’s ready to conquer the world!

To sum it up

Above we presented what our standard process of animation production looks like. This is the ideal variant, of course, since the animation production process is a complex and multi-faceted journey that requires creativity, collaboration, and attention to detail. Through structured workflows and the integration of diverse talents and skills of the team, animators can bring their creative vision to life and create compelling and engaging animations that captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression. From brainstorming and script development to design, animation production, and final delivery, each phase is marked by implementing the improvements and client feedback, guaranteeing that the final product meets requirements and achieves its intended impact.

As a rule, it takes a lot of time and effort to complete the project, especially if there are too many rounds of feedback and they seem to be a neverending story. So, our typical turnaround time for a 60-second video is 3-4 weeks with additional time allocated for implementing your revisions/iterations.
We hope that this guide to the animation production process was helpful and can assist you in your work as well.
If you want to create an animated video about your product/services, or you have some additional questions, don’t hesitate and drop us a line (https://xplai.com/contact/)
Together, let us bring your vision to life and create animation.

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