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An Introduction to Animation with Vidaao

Jim Hohl and Justin Park are co-founders of Vidaao, a video production marketplace that connects marketing teams with creatives and provides them a collaborative project space. Justin ran a video production company and Jim a web design and development firm before joining forces. You can follow them on Twitter at @WeAreVidaao.

If you haven't given any thought to using animation for your business videos yet, you're missing out.

Live acting is definitely engaging, but animation is charming. It can tap audience sympathies in ways only the best acting can match. An animated marketing video also gets rid of travel expenses and can cut the costs of video production. With just one dedicated animator, you have unlimited actors and sets at your fingertips. Here's how it works.

Scriptwriting

Download a Sample Script (PDF)

The first step to making any video is always the same – the script. Don't skip this step. This is your play-by-play of the whole video. Decide who, what, where, when, and why. Since you won't have a real actor's facial expressions to connect with the audience, do your best to write in an engaging voice. Keep in mind that your script will need lots of action blocks (notations about what happens where) because you're not working with real actors who can improvise.

Tip: Even if you aren't an artist, try to storyboard as much of the video as you can using stick figures. This will save you and your animator tons of time during the illustration phase.

Voiceover

Next comes the voiceover. You can do it yourself, ask someone you know, or hire a third-party voiceover artist. 99% of the time, the third option is best. Voiceovers might seem easy – until you actually hear your playback. Professional voiceover artists have training as actors, and that training comes through in their subtle and nuanced performances. Not to mention that when you go third-party, you can choose exactly how you want your character to sound.

Play a Sample Voiceover

Be prepared to spend $100-$150 for a one-minute voiceover from sites like VoiceBunny. This is a fantastically cheap price when you consider how much you'd have to pay live actors for reshoots and travel-time.

Tip: Don't just pick the first good voice you find – shop! Most voiceovers will be completed mere hours after payment, so take the time to look around.

Illustration

Once the voiceover is complete, the next step is illustration. This is when animators start storyboarding and turning pencil sketches into a colorful cast of characters and sets. Storyboarding takes much less time than actual illustration, so if you aren't satisfied with the direction your animator has taken, ask them to start from scratch. Good animators can have new storyboards ready for you every day. Move on to the digital illustration phase only when you're comfortable with the direction of the video.

Tip: Pick out music by the end of the illustration step. Your animator will have to synch the animation to the music, so this is a real time-saver.

Animation

The final step is the actual animation. The animator will take all your characters and sets and plug them into a program that allows them to create movement. Depending on how much is happening in your video, this may take just as long, or even longer than, the illustration step. Be patient and ask for specific edits until you're satisfied.

Live Action + Animation

One final note: some companies decide to go all out and marry animated sequences with live video. Big-name companies, like Toyota and Geico, use them regularly for commercials. Since they're a combination of live action and animation, however, videos like these are more expensive than either separately. If you're a smaller company or trying to save on costs, it's better to stick with basic animation to start.

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