Here is an outline of how we bring a project from inception to delivery.
1. Concept development
This first step is crucial for a successful product. Here the foundation of the presentation is laid down. All aspects such as visual language, look and feel, pace, audio, target audience etc. are agreed upon in close consultation/brainstorming with the client. This step may include creating concept art.
A hand-drawn storyboard is created, based on the outlines established during concept development. This is an efficient way to quickly bring the concept into focus and ensure we have fully understood the client’s idea. The storyboard may trigger new ideas, further improving the animation concept.
Once the storyboard is approved, an animatic is created. In its most basic form it is simply a video clip where the storyboard drawings are shown in a sequence. This provides a first glimpse at the timing- how the animation will flow. If the presentation will include narration, it is extremely helpful if a voice-over script is provided by the client at this stage. A “dummy voiceover” can be recorded, making it very easy to map out the timing.
The animatic can be brought to any level of sophistication, including animating parts of the drawings if this is deemed useful in making the flow more obvious. The animatic step allows for great flexibility in fine-tuning the presentation.
4. Modelling, scene setup, finished art
Not until the animatic is approved will the creation of finished graphics commence. This typically includes creating 3D models, 2D graphics, photography, painted textures, and any other graphic components that will be used in the final animation. 3D scenes, including rigging of characters, animated movements, cameras and lighting are set up. We are basically building virtual sets. For 2D animation the digital equivalent of traditional “cels” are created.
Small-scale test renders of animated sequences are produced for the review process. Occasionally it may be deemed necessary to produce larger scale renders to ensure fine details are free from errors.
The compositing often goes hand-in-hand with the scene setup. This is where it all comes together, Closely following the timing of the animatic, video, photography, rendered image sequences, audio, text and special effects are combined. Smaller scale renders are used as place holders. The timing/flow is further refined in the compositing stage. Other adjustments such as colour correction are also carried out.
The final high resolution renders of 3D scenes are produced. As this can be very time-consuming, it is of great importance that a smaller scale version of the animation has been thoroughly reviewed and approved in the previous stage. As they are completed, the high resolution renders replace the previous small scale image sequences in the composite. When this is done, a full resolution version is created and delivered to the client.
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