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Six steps to creating the perfect animation

Published May 23, 2018 – By Wardour


Animations come in all shapes and sizes, from the simple stop-motion flick book in a pad of paper to something on the scale of the hit movie Monsters Inc, in which 5.4 million hairs in the characters’ fur were animated to match their every movement.

In our experience – and we have produced a lot – animations are excellent at making dry or complex subjects interesting and easy to understand. They are also totally engaging, tapping into our childhood fascination with cartoons. We automatically want to watch them, and its been proven that audience recall is much higher when using animation or video than the written word.

To help, here are the steps we take with our clients to create our award-winning animations.

Step 1: Build your brief

Putting the time in to lay the foundations of the project is essential. You will need to answer some key questions before you can brief our team.

Step 2: Write a script

  • What is its purpose? You should be clear about whether your animation is going to be purely informative, or sell a product or service. What should the key messages be, and what do you want your audience to feel and do after watching it?
  • Who is your audience? Do you really understand their demographic and their existing knowledge? If it’s going to feature on a public website the audience is likely to be pretty broad and it will have to be easily understood by everyone.
  • How will it be viewed? You need to decide if it’s going to be on your website, in your social feeds, on a screen at an event or shown during a conference or presentation. An animation on social media, for example, shouldn’t really be more than a minute long.
  • What about the style and tone? What is the appropriate tone for your brand and what kind of imagery do you want to see? Will it be 3D, computer generated or hand-drawn? Do you want to use photography, text only or animation overlaying video?

Once you’ve completed the brief you can either write the script yourself or ask us to do it. Make sure the language is right for your audience and don’t make it too long – 45% of viewers will stop watching after one minute and 60% after two. To avoid unnecessary delays make sure you know who has to approve the script.

Step 3: Create a storyboard

Once the script is approved we can break it down into bite-sized chunks and produce pencil sketches to show how each part of the animation will look. They are placed within a visual storyboard that shows how the imagery and the script will work together and how the transitions will be made from one idea to the next.

Step 4: Build a visual asset library

Once the storyboard has been agreed we create illustrated assets based on each pencil sketch. These assets could be graphics, photography, videos or even a font. Using them we create a still version of the animation to make sure you are happy with the colours and to get brand approval. Some assets are more complex than others and may require each part to be created as a separate layer so that they can move independently when they are animated. It should also be noted that it is essential to get each of these first four stages right before moving onto the actual animating stage. Unlike with written copy, where most of the input from clients comes towards the end of the process, it's essential to have the approach and execution approved before animating. Unexpected changes take the project back to square one so it’s worth taking the time at the start to ensure all stakeholders are happy.

Step 5: Create your animation

Finally we bring everything together – the concepts, the script, the transitions and the assets. They are imported into special software which is used to tell each layer of a graphic what to do – move position, scale, rotate, trigger and effect and countless other options to create your animation.

Step 6: Measure the results

It’s important to measure the performance of your animation against the original brief to see what you can learn for your next project. It can help you to decide, for example, whether you should change the tone of voice or make it shorter or longer. And remember, it’s not just about the number of views you get but whether you have met the objectives you set out right at the start.

If you’d like to speak further about using animations in your marketing you can contact us at hello@wardour.co.uk

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