You've probably heard a lot about animated marketing videos. Maybe you've learned how to shop for a video production company. You might have a pretty good idea how much the video will cost you, and you know how to use good judgment in choosing the company you want making your video.
Let's say, hypothetically, that you've actually applied this knowledge. You've gotten in touch with a production company, hired them, and now they're ready to start making your video.
What happens next?
You know that in a month or two, you'll have a sleek, entertaining animated video that will grace the top of your website's landing page like a glorious crown, but how does it get there? Let's explore.
The Video Animation Production Process
You should expect the entire process, from hiring a production company to seeing the finished product, to last anywhere from 4-8 weeks. This is how long the producer needs to get through discovery, writing, design, and revisions efficiently. Rushing this timeframe is possible, but it will likely cost you extra, as the team will most likely have to work overtime to finish it, generally on weekends.
How can you make the most of this timeline? While you've hired a production company to take care of your story, many of these companies are legitimately interested in fostering a collaborative relationship with you. They want to make sure that they are staying faithful to your brand, your message, and your vision. The producer will likely give you opportunities to offer feedback and suggestions and different steps of the process.
What follows is an overview of the entire production process, with some tips on how you can effectively be involved in production every step of the way.
Research & Kickoff
The producer digs deep into your brand and your goals. With all this insight, you typically meet to agree on a direction for your video and discuss the process and plan for your production.
How you can help: Before meeting with the producer for kickoff, think about what you want emphasized in your video. What problems do people have understanding your business or your services? What misconceptions do they have? What information do you want to make sure people gain from this video? Answering these questions will help you confidently approach kickoff. You'll be able to provide your producer guidance as they decide how best to tell your story.
In order to really engage the viewer and accomplish the goals you've set for the video during kickoff, you need to have a killer script. Getting it just right usually requires revisions and some back and forth. This is, hands-down, the most critical component of your video. If your script doesn't work, you're dead in the water. Make sure the producer takes time to write an engaging, powerful script that works.
How you can help: On the one hand, if you're invited to offer revisions on the script, don't hesitate to change what you know doesn't work. If the script doesn't match the tone of your brand, doesn't cover crucial information, or even if it just isn't interesting, let the production company know. If they allow feedback, it's because they want to make sure you're satisfied.
On the other hand, you should also be aware of what can reasonably be covered in a short script. If you've agreed to a certain length of video, it's important to stick to the accepted word count (about 160 words for a 1-minute video, or 240 for a 90-second production). Make sure that only the most important information is being conveyed in the script. You don't want viewers to get bogged down in jargon and less important details!
Storyboards & Styleframes
With a final script set, the artist creates a storyboard. This is typically a sketched (pencil or digital) representation of every single frame of your video. It should give you an idea of how your story will flow visually.
Along with this, they'll present a couple of static renderings (or "style frames") of what your video should end up looking like. This gives you an idea of the colors and feel of your video. Make sure it's on brand!
How you can help: This is really the last point in the production process where you'll be able to make any broad revisions. Once your production moves into animation, it would seriously disrupt the project's timeline and cost a lot more money – animation isn't cheap! Be sure that you love everything so far. If you don't like the storyboards, or you feel like something is missing, now is the time to let the production company know!
Based on the script and branding information, the video producer will select a professional voice artist who will get into the studio and record a read-through of the script. Some companies have voiceover artists at the ready, and others might sift through hundreds of auditions to find the right one. Be careful, some studios are okay with using subpar, non-professional voice artists who may not represent your brand well. Remember: audio quality is hugely important.
How you can help: The production company might narrow it down to a small number (5-10) of the best voiceover actors and leave it to you to choose your favorite. As with the rest of the process, be sure to use your best judgment: Which voice do you want representing your brand?
Design & Animation
The artist will continue to design all the frames of the video for the animator. Once they're complete and the voiceover is recorded, the animator will break every layer (sometimes thousands!) apart and meticulously animate each piece to match the voice recording.
How you can help: From here, any changes to the script, storyboard, or style could throw a huge kink in the timeline and incur more costs. If the video production company does allow feedback, be sure to keep it minimal and reasonable! Changing an entire scene or series of scenes will set you back quite a few days and quite a few dollars.
What's a video without sound? Boring! If you used a reputable producer, sound design will likely be included. A professional sound designer will make sure the sound tells as much about you as the rest of the video. They'll layer in custom sound effects to represent the movements in the video and either produce a completely custom music track or choose and fit a great royalty-free one.
How you can help: Same as animation. You should be pretty satisfied with your video at this point, so sit back and wait for delivery of that magnificent finished product!
An editor will mix all the scenes with the final mixdown of audio from the sound designer, then render and deliver your video in the applicable formats.
After all those weeks of writing, collaboration, design, and animation, you are now the proud owner of a magnificently short, clear, and engaging online marketing tool: an animated video. Your video will increase your audience's understanding of your company, shortening the sales cycle. And these videos have been shown to boost conversion rates, help search engine rankings, and - best of all - increase sales. So skip the 30-minute pitch and team up with an animated video producer to tell your story.
Any questions? Leave them below!