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An Overview of The Animated/Motion Graphics Video Project Process

an overview of the animation video process

The type of project we’re covering comes by many names: Animated, motion graphics, cartoons, video graphics, video infographics or whatever your team decides to call it. What we are ultimately referring to is just that the video consists of graphics, not footage shot with a camera.

Animation videos are very popular these days, especially with tech companies, startups, marketers …and anyone who doesn’t want to be on camera Check out some of these amazing examples.

Before we get into the motion graphics project process, here’s a few considerations on if this type of video is a good fit for your project:

Pros of this type of video:

  • Can help brands seem cool/slick
  • Can be very engaging/entertaining to watch/share
  • Can help explain complex issues/products
  • Don’t require anyone/anything to be on camera

Cons of this type of video:

  • Can take significant time/budget to develop at high quality
  • Can work against you if authenticity is key. Sometimes showing with a camera makes it real, believable.
  • Hard to know exactly how it will evolve.
  • Hard to find talented/capable/available/affordable resources

Once you establish that an animated motion graphics project is right for you, you’ll need to make sure you have the following available:

  • Message clarity: If your brand is still developing it’s look, tagline, etc, you might want to wait.
  • Time: We typically need 3-8 weeks for these types of projects
  • Budget: Depending on scope, expect $10k-$30K on average
  • Production capability: You’ll likely need a team with project management, scripting, design, animation and editorial skill set. This is a specialized production technique and you surely will want a talented illustrator who does VIDEO design and a talented animator.
  • Deciders: Design by committee always dilutes the end result. Establish minimal ‘command structure’ that is authorized to make decisions…or at least be prepared for quality, budget and time to be at risk.

Project: Greenlight?

Once you decide to get started, here’s the rough steps you’re likely going to need to undertake:

Phase 1: Pre-production (planning)

This is by far the most important phase.  Decisions made here affect everything else. The more time you have, the better chance you have to develop good ideas, prepare and ultimately set your team up for success. Here’s the key steps:

Talk: a ‘kickoff meeting’ is a great way to start. Set aside a couple hours to talk through all key concerns, main objectives, issues, etc.

Messaging: Once you get all your ideas out there, time to boil down your messaging objectives to what’s really important. The shorter the better.  Keep in mind who your audience is and what you want them to do after they see the video.

Scripting: Once you know what points you need to cover, you’ll likely need a couple rounds of script-writing.  Keep your script very tight. Don;t forget the graphics can also explain things visually so you don’t need to say everything.  Don’t be boring, they’ll just click away!

Phase 2: Production

*Style Development: *This is where things really get exciting.  Ideally, you’ll have time and budget to experiment a bit in style-design to find the right look that communicates in the right way to the right people. This is a great time to make your mark and stand out in a crowded online marketplace.

*Visual Design: *Once you have a style in mind, you can then determine how to best illustrate the messaging in the script in a visual way. In other words, this is the metaphors you decide to use.  All I ask is that if you are a ‘cloud-based’ service that you don’t show a cloud icon…please.

* Voice-over: *This is a good time to have your script recorded. You’ll probably want to use a professional voice artist who can make your script sound engaging and professional.

*Music:  *By using premium music you can help affect the engagement level of your video. Nothing ruins a video faster than bad music! Finding good music is an art in itself so get the right team on your side!

*Phase 3: Post-Production *

Animation:  Once you have all the above ingredients, it’s time to put it all together.  At the animation phase you’ll be seeing your project really ‘come to life’ for the first time so be prepared for some surprises. It’s not uncommon to notice that there are changes with script, design, etc that need to happen.  If changes to design or script need to happen, they can really impact the timeline and budget so it’s key to get sign off at each of the previous steps.

*Sound Design: *It’s surprising how easy it is to take sound effects for granted. Without them, animated videos would surely fall flat and just not ‘pop’ the way they can when sound effects are added to accompany all the things moving around on screen.

*Sound Mix: *The sound mix really is the last thing that should happen. After all the animations and sound effects are placed where they need to be, the sound levels, EQ, etc. can all be tweaked so that the final is a polished and cohesive piece in both sound and vision.

That’s it, congrats on your new animated video!

These are just guidelines. Every project is different and these may not all apply or there could be additional considerations.  Good luck!

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