How do manage an animation project

Rand Strauss Problem Solver, Software Engineer, Visionary

July 27th, 2016

I wish I had asked this BEFORE...  This is how I'd run a next effort to produce an animation:

First, I'd make sure the message we want to communicate is clearly written
and we have a description of our target audience.
  1. 1. Identify 4-10 people who represent our target audience.
    Get their buy-in for critiquing our animation, at various stages.
    Make a list of each person, their contact info, and their characteristics that represent the audience.
  2. Outline a script, ask the animators to write the whole script.
    or, write the script, and get the animators feedback/changes.
    Give my comments plus feedback from each member of our target audience
  3. Ask for a sample of character options, giving any kind of guidance I can.  
    Pick the ones I like, and write comments about why.  
    Get feedback from each member of our target audience.
  4. Get a sketched storyboard of the animation, with a timed voiceover
    Give my comments plus feedback from each member of our target audience
    Feedback should be about the: music, the characters, the things in the scene (what's missing, what is inappropriate), and the colors
  5. Get a list of the transitions (unless they can be easily redone)
    Give my comments plus feedback from each member of our target audience
  6. Get a final, or fairly final, drawing of each scene, with voice over and music.
    Give my comments plus feedback from each member of our target audience
  7. Get the first final draft of the animation
    Give my comments plus feedback from each member of our target audience
  8. Get the final draft
In retrospect, this would have produced a better animation faster.

Is this complete? Is there something I missed?

Dominic Bilodeau Character TD at Dreamworks Animation

July 27th, 2016

Hey Rand, I've been in the feature animation business for a long long time. I think you might need some adjustment there. First you need a director, a writer and a production designer. 1. Get the story beat down and treatment. 2. Get story artist to board the whole thing. 3. get an editor to put the board a story reel with voices, music and sounds effects. 4. When this is working, have concept artist started on environment design and character design. (These guys should work with the prod designer and director to follow their vision). Also start working in the color keys or mood board. 5. Start the layout according to your storyboards, seperate by sequence and break down into scenes. 6. Animated all the scenes. 7. Compositing 8. Back in editing 9. Color correction final output. I'm skipping a lot of steps here. I don't know if you're looking at a 3D short, or 2D animation. There's a lot that goes into this. Just wanna make sure you have the right people for the right job. I have over 50 artists working for me. Trust me an animator won't be able to write or design character. They tend to be really good at one or two things. That's my two cents. Hope that helps a little. Dom

Nancy Fulton

July 31st, 2016

For what it is worth, Rand, I like your approach very much. I think it starts with the correct focus . . . message/market first . . . then build/test crew and content.


July 31st, 2016

The budget was $2k for a 2-minute video. I looked at real animation firms with lots of people, they charge much more... 

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

August 1st, 2016

I think you have all the steps correct for an explainer type of video, although you can probably skip your test audience. The use of the term "animation" is what Dominic reacted to, because you're not making an animation for $2K, you're probably making a motion graphic. All the different versions have different names and mean something specific.
2D Explainer, 3D Animation, Business Intro, Cartoon Animation, Corporate Video, Cut Out, Motion Graphics, Product Demo, Promo Video, Sales Video, Screencast, Typography, Whiteboard...

Using the steps you outlined, if you are prompt and engaged, your development will probably take you under 2 months at that price. And your budget is appropriate if you've done the scripting and storyboarding.