Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Animation 101 - How to Produce a Winning Animation

What makes life on earth so very interesting is that there are so, so many things we must get done even though we lack the experience, expertise, or technical knowledge to pull it off easily. My family had an uncle Sam, and when I was 18 years old and wanted to buy a run down music store in New York City, Uncle Sam burst my bubble by first telling me that I lacked the experience I needed to successfully run a business and then he then jabbed another pin into my bubble by introducing me to what I now understand to an indispensable partner in any endeavor: A bottom-line-driven plan. Uncle Sam was an accountant and his decision making was done by looking at the bottom line and working up from there. He penciled out a few numbers and I can still remember how quickly he showed me a clear picture of why it's good I never invested my time in that particular music store.

With animation, planning ahead is so very important because so many people hours and often a lot of hard-earned money, go into producing each second of finished animation. Moving forward without a plan can be extremely costly, and the worst part is, the end product won't be a success. Thank you, Uncle Sam!

When clients contact me to create an animation, what I find is that they often need to hit the rewind button and review their plan for the following:

1. What is the bottom line? What is the goal of each section of the animation? What is the goal of the overall animation?

2. What type of animation? Is your project calling out for a 2D or 3D approach? Both are good choices, but usually the type of project, final venue and audience profile will mandate either 2D or 3D. Simple 2D character animation or 3D animation?

3. Is it character animation? People, animals, walking, jumping, talking, running? (A much more technically challenging style of animation) Or just a matter of moving objects onto and off the screen in various directions and transitions. (Much simpler.)

4. Are you ready to start? What is already done what remains to be done? There are so many steps involved with animation: The idea. The wish list for the project goals. The character development. The scene development. Understanding the steps and building blocks, gives you a better picture of how much time will be involved and whose time it will be, yours or the animation studio's.

5. Is there a story? Without some a strong story, the ultimate goal of the animation may never be reached. Your goals should be understood and kept in mind with every second of planning and production, and a good story is what keeps people from walking away from your animation before it's over. The story is the vehicle and the choice of roads is derived from a map of goals such as these: Pique audience interest; "hook" the audience; make them laugh, cry, sit on the edge of their seat, or run out and buy whatever you are selling. Shakespeare knew this long ago. We can't all be Shakespeare, but we still shake up viewer emotions.

Planning ahead is the key to a winning animation! This is the first of a series of articles that will turn you into a good executive producer, or just a smart shopper you knows how to turn their goals into a compelling, Uncle Sam approved, bottom line successful animation project. I look forward to taking you through all the steps.

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