From concept to screen, getting the best results.
by Adrian King (Animation/visual–fx producer, designer & artist)
I presented this material at a workshop at the ASC Conference 2014 in Brisbane. Some positive feedback has prompted me to write a condensed summary for ASC members who couldn’t attend. I hope you find it useful.
Creative processes can be described as the series of decisions required to turn something imagined into something tangible. This might sound like magic, and to some it is, but how do we learn to get the best results from the process? Every decision starts with a question, so the best way to get the best results from any process is to have a firm grasp of the language of the process. Fortunately we can break the process down into a bite size chunks that de-mystify or decode it. This is what we need, and exactly what I‘ll be doing with this series of articles on Navigating the Animation Process.
I like to break down the entire process into 5 stages, each of which has a number of key processes and assets. In this first article we’ll take a quick overview and then look closely at stage 1. Stay tuned for stages 2–5 in subsequent articles.
- Initial Briefing
- Concept & Script Development
Stages 1–3 are your planning stages. Stage 4 is where most of the costs are incurred. It’s essential to get stages 1–3 right in order to avoid hidden costs or wasted time and energy down the track. Just like building a house.
KEY TAKE HOME POINTS
- Make the primary goal of the first 3 stages to ensure that only minor creative decisions remain to be made during stage 4.
- The more major creative decisions remain once you enter stage 4, the higher the risk of disappointment!
Let’s have a deeper look at each of the 5 stages…
1. Initial Briefing
It all starts with an idea, a little spark of imagination, some neural activity forging new pathways in the brain. But how do we get this out of our heads and onto the screen? First step – put it on paper. You need to go on a quest! Ask yourself questions (the challenges) and speak, write, draw, or act out the answers. Go on – have fun with it!
The first thing I ask when someone enquires about producing some animation is how well defined is the brief? Most producers, including myself, will spend some time facilitating an enquiry process with a client to define these (free of charge) until we get to a point where we can provide an estimation or quotation of costs of the next three stages. We need the brief to be well defined in order to provide accurate costs. We love clients who come armed with well defined briefs!
The goal of this phase is to turn those sparks of imagination into a well-defined written brief consisting of as much of the following essential and preferred information as possible. A good animation producer will be able to help you achieve this if you don’t have it already.
- Title (or working title)
- 1 sentence description
- 1 paragraph summary
- 1 page synopsis
- Date required by
- Media platform(s) where it will be shown
Preferred (and sometimes essential)
- List of core messages
- A list of all stakeholders/agencies involved, and their interest in the outcome
- Sequence/timing requirements (if available)
- List of characters (if required)
- Voice over and dialogue requirements (if required)
- Related or associated campaigns
- Any creative material (sketches, designs or writing) already developed for work (if available)
In most cases, armed with a well-defined written brief, we can then provide an accurate cost for the entire project (Stages 2, 3 & 4). However sometimes we need to complete stages 2 or 3 in order to provide an accurate quote for the stage 4 (Production). In that case we would provide an accurate quotation for stages 2 & 3 (Concept/script development & Design) and a close estimation for stage 4. After stage 2–3 that estimation can then be firmed up to provide an accurate quotation.
If the client provides a budget constraint, the results of stages 2 & 3 can be tailored to ensure the production costs match the budget, which can help speed up the process.
KEY TAKE HOME POINTS
- Write down all the essential information for the initial brief.
- Include as much as possible of the preferred information.
- Expect a good animation producer to help you during this stage by asking questions that will help you define the brief.
KEY ASSETS OF STAGE 1
The written brief (aka the scope of work)
Next month we’ll continue the journey with stage 2 (Concept/Script Development).
Adrian King (Animation/visual–fx producer, designer & artist)
(PS: You can send any questions you’d like answered about the animation process by logging in and leaving a comment below, or contact me directly at www.redboat.com.au)