Eight tips for a great animation

by Mark Power – Jun 10, 2021

Keep it short 

Remember it’s not a feature film, you don’t need to tell the viewer every single detail. It’s much better to have one point and make it well, rather than say a thousand things that no one will remember. People don’t want to watch a three-hour-long animation so keep it short. The ideal length is under two minutes and just one, if its main use, is for social media.

 

Keep it simple

The worst thing you can do is make an animation no one understands. So, use everyday language where possible even if it’s about a really technical subject.

 

 

Pick the right track

You wouldn’t play the funeral march at a wedding as it would kill the mood (pardon the pun). It’s the same with animation as the track can change the whole feeling of it. If it’s a fast-paced visual extravaganza you don’t want a downbeat slow track. And if it’s a really serious/emotional piece, you don’t want silly sound effects or a heavy metal track. The track and visuals need to work well together.

Storyboard well

Animation isn’t a series of still images – well, technically it is – but they need to flow from one to another and not be disjointed. So cut the script up into bitesize sentences and think of a visual for each. This will make sure there’s enough going on to keep the viewer engaged. You should also consider how one frame will transition to the next to keep the flow smooth.

Consider the p….acing

Will it be text on the screen or a voiceover? If it’s on-screen text, you need to allow the viewer a longer time to read it as well as watch any animation that’s going on. When it’s a voiceover you have much more freedom to go quicker or have more elements animating.

Follow the process.

This is arguably the most important one.

1. Write the Script

2. Sketch a storyboard

3. Create the graphics/video/photo

4. Animate it all

If this order is changed it can impact the flow, delivery times and budget. It’s much easier to make amends when in the script and storyboard stages compared to once we’ve moved into animation. Animation isn’t the same as a magazine where you can move pages forwards or backwards and just change the page number. If you move part of an animation to a different point you also need to rethink the transitions, morphs and sometimes the visuals as one visual may have been chosen to appear in two consecutive scenes. If you move one of these scenes, you need to remove the visual and then reintroduce it at the other point where it may no longer work.

Add some feeling and connect with the audience

The best animations will connect with the viewer. Do this by having fun (if the subject allows) and sprinkle in some humour. Or if it’s a particularly sensitive subject, try to pull at the heartstrings a bit

Choose the right visuals

The graphics can make a big difference to the tone and look of the animation so decide if you want it to look hand-drawn, use full block vectors or something else completely. And remember, animations don’t have to just be drawings, you can add in photography, video or kinetic type too.

 

Published Jun 10, 2021

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