For starters, if you want to make an animation video because you think it’s cheaper – think again.  It costs the same, if not more than a high quality video production. Cheap stuff. Cheap results.

We created a complex 3D animated video project. The task was to make 20 educational videos, with a budget of $15,000 per video. We decided each video would be 1 minute long (to use on Instagram) and to drive traffic using a hyperlink, so we could measure our success. Here’s how we did it.

Inspiration. Our genius art director, Grant, compiled a mood board of 50+ images and organized them using Lightroom.  Lightroom has a rating system to narrow down singular ideas, depending on which design meeting we’re going into. Character design, gestures, “gag” ideas (or actions), and environments.  We included absolutely anything that inspired us.  Our mood boards give us a work related excuse to hit Art Basel every year.

Animated videos.  2D or 3D?  2D is surprisingly more expensive and there are more 3D animators available in the marketplace.

Character Design.  How many characters will we need?  With our $15,000 production budget in mind, our character design needed to be simple.  If we kept “it” simple, we could get away with one gender neutral subject to depict different personas, and ages.  Next, the details.  Does “it” have fingers, eyes, or feet?  Decisions were made with a mindful balance between the cost to animate that feature vs. the added value each detail would ultimately convey on screen.  

Set Design.  Create the environment that your subject is going to live in.  Set the stage, props, and incorporate your color palette. Start thinking about how your titles will appear and your transitions between scenes.

Script.  Write one.  Add a voice over.  Choose this carefully and allow for extra time.  Getting audio correct is more difficult than it seems. Create auditions and present your musical choices with a preview version.  Voice over decisions and background music are repeatedly the achilles heal of all projects.

How will your character walk, dance or inflect facial features?  It is helpful if you create a short script that includes a “gag” whilst you develop your concept.  It is nice to show your client how things will work with an applicable action that you can use later on.

Storyboards.  Animation storyboards differ from corporate or commercial video production boards.  You need to depict movement here.  Each frame needs to show where each action starts and stops. Take your script, character and environment design, create your gags, and get busy.  You’re ready to present your ideas to the client and get one step closer to creating your animated video.