ASB LA’s Justin Grizzoffi welcomes us to take a stroll through his dreams in his latest free-form creative animation. Justin wrote and directed this short ASB-inspired story that takes us through a fantastical world of animatic and illustrated possibilities as we go from one surreal situation to the next.
We truly value the creativity and experience of the talented directors at ASB and they are always happy to be a collaborator with our clients to explore new ideas and push the limits of creative expression. Enjoy this glimpse inside the mind of one of our most creative directors, and we look forward to making your dreams come to life one day soon!
You can see more work from Justin here: http://www.speedwagonmovie.com/
Shrinking budgets, faster timelines, and the need for cross-channel content is making the job of agency producers, creative directors, and brand managers more and more difficult. Which is why it’s even more important to get the most out of your advertising dollars. And like any major undertaking, having a planned blueprint for execution is crucial for the success of the finished product.
But an advertisement isn’t a house, or skyscraper, or rollercoaster – so what’s the best way to predict and plan for the outcome of a commercial before the budget is spent and the video recorded? Here are a few things to think about when putting together a “blueprint” for your commercial production.
Most commercials go through a pre-visualization (pre-vis) process to plan out the technical execution and rough look of the future finished spot. But there are a few important shortcomings with relying on this workflow alone:
- Pre-vis isn’t good to show to your clients, focus groups, or even your Aunt Martha. The average viewer may get distracted by the rough, unfinished quality of pre-vis, hurting the ability to communicate the emotion and intention of the concept.
- Storyboards are a fantastic way to outline your rough idea, but without timing or motion, the final execution is unpredictable at best.
- An animatic, on the other hand, incorporates all the benefits of pre-vis (real-life camera movement and lens selection, editing timing, and story flow), plus a chance to connect the viewer with relatable characters and decide whether natural performance will agree with your spot length, editorial, and storyline.
- Sending a more finished animatic for focus group testing gives you a more detailed plan for your final execution of the concept. But, it can also give you great insight into how the spot will be received by your target audience – not just the production and brand team.
Practice makes perfect
Some brands and agency folks discount the value of animatics in rehearsing a concept before production. Relying on a storyboard or script alone to perfect a concept is a big risk when everyone’s imagination is different. Seeing character emotion, camera placement and movement, and scene timing in advance is crucial to determining everything from number of sets and characters needed, to whether or not your concept will come through effectively in 15 or 30 seconds.
Knowing what works (or doesn’t)
It’s hard to tell what’s vital to a story line or not when you can’t see it play out in front of you. Sure, we’d all love to cram 60 seconds worth of content into a 30-second commercial, but your audience can only process so much. Seeing your storyline come to life in an animatic, or even a boardomatic, can be a huge game changer in simplifying your concept and will get you closer to communicating a clear message to your audience so they can connect more with the brand.
The next time you’re preparing your blueprint for commercial content – whether TV, online, OOH, or digital – consider all the benefits you could gain by starting with an animatic first. Can’t decide what animatic style would be right for your concept? We can help. Give us a call today!
A successful boardomatic (or animatic, for that matter) is one the agency creatives feel properly conveys their idea. With that in mind, the most successful examples of boardomatics in testing are typically ones with simpler camera movements or concepts. Here are two examples of boardomatics and an explanation of what made each successful. Additionally, our roster of storyboard artists at ASB Art can give you a sense of different illustration styles to select from.
What makes a boardomatic “successful”?
Let’s first define a successful boardomatic. Our definition has two parts:
- The viewer is able to understand the concept.
- The concept stays with the viewer after they see the commercial and is something they are impacted by.
In general, if a boardomatic has these two characteristics, it will perform well in testing, which categorizes it as a success. Successful boardomatics generally have these characteristics:
- They have fewer angles and less camera movement.
- They are simple to execute.
- There’s no “big” action, like big crowds, explosions, or extensive motion.
- They have a minimal number of characters.
Examples Of Successful Boardomatics
This spot worked well because it’s a slow reveal—it has a limited number of angles and camera movement, and when the camera does move, it’s steady. The creative is also understated; it’s funny, but the execution is on the simpler side.
As with the Dreyers spot, this boardomatic has no “big” action. There are just a couple of characters, there are no quick cuts, and the spot has steady movement. The creative is also simple in this spot, too.
Both of these spots perform so well as boardomatics in testing because if they were made into fullup commercials, the production execution would be somewhat similar to what we see in the boardomatic. There aren’t any complex camera movements or actions that we’re missing by only viewing a still. In both, the humor is derived from the creative, not the actions.
A better alternative?
While boardomatics can successfully convey some ideas, for many concept ideas, they just don’t offer enough detail and movement to show what the full-up will look like. The more advanced a commercial spot is, whether it is with multiple characters or complex movements, the less likely the concept can be easily interpreted by the viewer using only still frames.
If your idea has more than a few steady movements and one or two characters, then you may want to consider some other options—animatic production types like 3D cinematics, illustrated cinematics, hybrid cinematics, and HD live may offer you the features you need to prove your concept type and easily take that concept into pre-production. (You can learn more about some other options here.)
And, if you have any questions about whether or not a boardomatic is right for your idea, we’re happy to help you find the answer.
Comparing an animatic to a previsualization, also called a “previs” or “previz,” is a lot like comparing apples to oranges. While they belong to the same general family, they are very different—and each has its own uses and benefits.
Sometimes, we hear people use the terms interchangeably: We may have a client call and say they want previs, but what they really want is an animatic. So, what’s the difference between previs and an animatic, and why does it matter?
Previs is a technical service typically done in 3D that allows a production team (including the producer and director of a film, commercial, or TV show) to realistically lay out or visualize the scenes in a way that technically makes sense. For example, a production team can use a 3D previs to map out a complex camera move so they can see how they can make the shot happen before they have to do it on camera.
In the realm of pre-production (often called “pre-pro”), a previsualization is used pre- pre-pro—that is, before production even begins. During this stage, previs is used to figure out and test a project’s idea, including a concept, an unfinished script, information about where and how a camera moves in space, how a shot is best laid out, and how it can be executed in real life.
Here are some key features of a previs:
- Previs is more focused on the technical aspects of a shot and less focused on aesthetic details and narrative flow.
- Previs can be more simplified and stripped down to focus mainly on how things are moving and the composition of shots.
- Previs is something a director of a live-action commercial or movie would ask for.
- Previs is a more detailed plan (think blueprint) for a director and producer to take and use on set. Previsualizations are incredibly valuable because they help make sure the producer and director are working as efficiently as possible on the shoot. They can check the full-up shot-by-shot against previsualization to make sure every frame looks like it should.
- Here’s an example of a previs for Jever.
An animatic is a way to layout the narrative or creative concept that will be used to measure the effectiveness of the story itself. An animatic is traditionally used to test commercial ideas in focus groups before the idea is fully produced, but can also be used for film and television.
Here are some key features of an animatic:
- In animatics for commercials, their is greater concern for aesthetics, such as the environment, wardrobe, and “look and feel” of a visual story.
- Commercial animatics are created for ad agencies and brands—they may be requested by the brand (the client) in order to prove the success of a concept.
- Animatics can also be used in film and TV to visualize an idea in a simplified form. Traditionally, animatics for film and TV have little to no animation, and use simple editorial and sound design to visualize the full construction of the show or film.
- Here’s an example of an animatic for Pepsi.
Previs vs. animatic: What are you looking to achieve?
While both previs and animatics act as a sketch board tool for teams to figure out how to lay out ideas in a movie format, they are suited to different industries and have different strengths. Animatics are more about the narrative and the success of a creative idea; previsualizations are more about the technical details of how a shot can be done in live action or VFX.
Bottom line, if you’re looking to bring a creative idea to life to show a client or focus group, that’s an animatic. If you want to create a spot that will be a technically accurate exploration of a production, that’s previs. We can help you decide which is best for you. Give us a call today!
Have you ever built or remodeled a home? Whether you planned for a small renovation or a complete rebuild, the process you followed in creating a timeline and following blueprints likely helped you avoid setbacks that cost you time and money.
The same is true when creating a 3D cinematic. In order to create a 3D cinematic efficiently and on budget, you need a blueprint. In this article, we’ll introduce several things you need to know in order to plan—and execute—an ideal 3D cinematic production schedule.
First, a note about cinematic production timelines:
This “ideal” schedule assumes a comfortable working time frame of 10-15 working days. In order to accommodate rush schedules, the animatic company may eliminate or combine certain rounds.
The biggest determining factor for your timeline? How quickly your agency can turn around its feedback. In our experience, the biggest delay in cinematic production schedules is the time it takes to get consolidated feedback from the agency, client, and whoever else needs to give their say.
When your agency is planning out your calendar, make sure that you’re allowing enough turnaround time for every important person to provide feedback—this will keep your timeline realistic.
Agency & Animatic Company Brief
The purpose of this meeting is to ensure the animatic team is clear in understanding the creative direction and narrative script. The briefing can be compared to meeting your contractor and their team. The animatic company’s producer, director, and designer are present on the call. You will provide the script, rough storyboards (if possible), references for backgrounds, and casting; the concept, characters, wardrobe, backgrounds, product, demos, celebrities, etc. are discussed.
- Provide as much detail as possible during the brief so there is little guessing needed in the following steps. Furthermore, any briefing materials shared in advance of the call will help the animatic company familiarize and better understand the creative at the time of the initial briefing.
From this step forward, each “round” in an ideal 3D cinematic production schedule is called a posting. (“Posting” is just another way to say “stage” or “phase,” but we use the term “posting” because the animatic company is literally posting information and artwork to an administrative website for clients to review.)
Posting 1: Sketch Boards
Sketch boards are a metaphorical blueprint of the entire cinematic production. They exist so the agency can approve basic camera angle, frame composition, and story flow of the spot. They’re vital to the entire animatic and production process—working without them is like building a house without any plans: They will inform your final product and guarantee that your story works and is structurally sound before you invest real time and money.
They also provide excellent ROI: While a proper sketch board takes approximately 1-3 hours depending on the speed of the artists and length, skipping this step and going straight into 3D can easily waste 2-3 days—if not more—should there be an error or mistake that has to be redone. And more time wasted means more money spent.
- Provide sketch boards to ensure a more streamlined process. When agencies don’t provide sketch boards, there is significantly more back-and-forth communication, which can cost precious time. When agencies provide sketch boards, the animatic company knows an idea is already approved and doesn’t have to take any time away from the production schedule. However, if this is not feasible, the animatic company can create rough sketches to visualize the overall framing and story flow—just keep in mind that this may impact the final timeline and cost of the production.
- In this stage, finish and aesthetics don’t matter—so don’t waste time critiquing them. Especially with 3D cinematics, clients may want to revise in the sketch board stage several times. Don’t do this. What matters here is simply that the angle and composition are correct, not the aesthetics. Even stick figures are OK to use in sketch boards.
- If it’s an issue outside of angle and composition, wait until you’re in the proper medium to comment on it. Why? Time spent tweaking aesthetic issues and revising art instead of moving on to the next frames is wasted effort and wasted time. You have 10-12 days—don’t spend the bulk of your time on something that won’t ultimately benefit your production.
Posting 2: 3D Characters & Backgrounds
In this posting, you’ll see the 3D characters and 3D backgrounds. They are shown as separate elements so you can review the look and feel of the character and background elements in a neutral background. In our remodel analogy, the second posting can be compared to picking out the fixtures—things like choosing tiles, door knobs, and paint colors. The point during this step is to identify the correct assets of the aesthetics individually—that you like the tiles or fixtures you’ve chosen—not to make sure they are installed in the right spot just yet.
- Pay attention to art in this step, and speak up if there are things you don’t like. Things like hair style, color, wardrobe, and setting are all important. One caveat: do not pay attention to expression in this posting. Compositional elements (like expressions) come in at a later posting.
- The content of your script will determine whether or not 3D characters and backgrounds will be in your cinematic. It’s important to consider the end result you want to achieve with your product—just as you wouldn’t buy a sink if you’re remodeling a closet, you wouldn’t want to use part of your budget on 3D characters for a storyline that doesn’t require them.
Posting 3: Making Revisions To 3D Characters & Backgrounds
In this posting, feedback from posting two is addressed. In our renovation metaphor, imagine you’re working with a designer who has provided
swatches and samples. You’ve given the designer your feedback on their choices, and now it’s their turn to give you their revised product. (For those going the DIY route, imagine you bought a paint sample, decided it wasn’t the right color, and went back to the store to get a different color.) This is what happens during Posting 3.
Composed Board Stage
Sometimes instead of Posting 3 or in between Posting 3 and Posting 4, there may be a composed board stage. This is a colored 3D board—frames look like a PDF storyboard of the animation stage. Composed boards are beneficial for clients who need to be able to visualize the project in its entirety before moving into animation.
- Composed boards take a little more time because they are a stop in the process—not a byproduct of what you’re already doing. While this step absolutely aids the process, it needs its own time.
- Even when bigger changes are required in the composed board stage, the changes are less involved and time-consuming than when you’re already in animation.
- At Animated Storyboards, the composed board stage is not necessarily a part of our standard schedule, but we recommend this stage when a production schedule has enough flexibility and time.
Posting 4: First Round Of Animation
The first round of animation is your chance to see the project in its entirety—review the composition, animation of the characters, camera movies, and overall story flow. This is a first look at all of the 3D elements combined and is incorporated with your comments from the sketch board and prior reviews.
- Provide consolidated and detailed feedback from your agency on how the characters are animated, how the camera moves around, any changes you’d like made to the scene, the removal or addition of props, etc. We suggest providing as much detail in your feedback as possible. Any dramatic changes to characters or backgrounds may delay the next posting or may need to be caveated if not completed for the next posting.
- Don’t share the first round of animation with your clients yet. Use Posting 4 as internal review only—wait until the subsequent rounds to get other approval you need (from the client, for example), so the final posting can actually be the final posting.
Posting 5: Second Round Of Animation
The second round of animation is a revised look at all of the 3D elements combined, incorporating your comments from the first round of animation. Your agency, along with your client, will again review the revised composition, animation of the characters, camera moves, and overall story flow.
- Provide consolidated and detailed feedback from your client in this step. Changes to how the characters are animated, how the camera moves around, as well as any changes you’d like made to the scene or the removal or addition of props, etc. should be addressed in detail and by the suggested feedback time.
- Make sure all of the right people (both the agency’s and the client’s representatives) are giving input in this stage. Don’t wait until the next posting to share the animation with someone internally or on the client side who’s important and may decide they don’t like it. Any dramatic changes to characters or backgrounds may delay the next posting or may need to be caveated if not completed for the next posting.
Posting 6: Third Round Of Animation
The third round of animation is a revised look at the entire spot to ensure the agency and clients are satisfied with the changes made based on comments from previous rounds. This is the final round before shipment, and any major animation changes or changes to artwork may delay the final posting.
- Animation changes should be minimal at this stage, such as tweaks to facial expression, editorial revisions, and audio revisions.
- Clients should review and give final input.
Final Posting For Shipment
The final posting ensures the client and agency approve the final spot. Animation should be final.
- Make sure you and the client review and give final approval. If minor edit or audio tweaks are needed, they can be made same-day. Any animation or artwork changes needed may cause delays in shipment.
In order to make sure your cinematic production schedule stays on track, the best thing you can do is to “measure twice and cut once”—or in the case of cinematics, plan twice and execute once. Take the time to make sure you’re getting approval, thinking through timelines, and setting realistic due dates for all of the key players (on both the client and the agency side). This will help you stay on deadline and ensure you get the best final product.
“What type of animation is best for our project?”
This is one of the most common questions we hear from our clients at the beginning of their animatic projects—they’re debating 2D animation vs. 3D animation and want to know what we recommend. Here are our thoughts for agencies debating 2D vs. 3D animation.
2D Vs. 3D Animation: Basic Information
2D animation refers to anything that exists in a two-dimensional plane. 2D is what you might think of when you think of “old-fashioned” Disney animation (or cartoon animation in general). It is typically animated in Flash using hand-drawn elements.
3D animation refers to elements that exist in a three-dimensional environment. 3D animation involves computer graphics and is rendered by computer, which results in elements with a higher resolution of detail and texture—3D is excellent for simulating textures and scenarios like water, cloth, and hair.
2 Questions To Ask First
1. What’s going to be on the screen?
The type of action in your commercial is your biggest consideration in 3D vs. 2D animation. If your story involves big movements or action—like cars, explosions, or large camera movements with crowds—the answer is typically to work in 3D. 3D animation is a more accurate way to get these effects, and the results are usually more pleasing to the eye than hand-drawn animation.
However, if you’re working with a character-focused spot—a commercial with people or close-ups or that’s emotionally driven—2D animation may be able to drive the concept better.
2. How detailed does your product need to be in the spot?
If staying fully realistic and true to your product artwork is important, you need to make sure the animatic company you’re partnering with knows this in advance. That way, they can make sure the product art elements don’t get an illustrated finish.
2D Animation Benefits & Considerations
- 2D animation leaves a majority of the storyline and action up to the viewer.
- It’s not an accurate predictor of the finished product, because the animation is created by hand and is only a representation of real-life movement. The intention is to give an overall sense of the impact of the story to the viewer.
- Multiple spots done on a tightened timeline may require multiple artists, which can result in the artwork not looking perfectly consistent. If consistency is important to your spot, you can have single artist do everything, but it will extend the timeline. (3D illustrated animation is a better option for jobs that need to be done quickly but need the benefits of typical 2D animation.)
3D Animation Benefits & Considerations
Generally, 3D animation is an excellent predictor of the spot’s narrative and a great option when you need faster turnaround times. We’ve broken down three major types of 3D animation—3D illustrated, hybrid, and fully realistic—so you can see which type may work best in your project and situation.
- 3D illustrated animation works for any concept and offers flexible, customizable, fluid motion.
- This style is a great option if you are working with characters and want the benefits of 2D animation (like the hand-drawn quality) but need flexibility in your schedule.
- This style allows you to customize various art styles from different artists to create illustrated looks in 3D. This makes it the preferred style for characters and emotional concepts.
- Hybrid animation involves illustrated characters on realistic environments.
- This style is a great option if you have a client who does not want fully realistic characters but wants to keep realistic-looking elements within the spot—for example, things like food, location, environment, storefronts, etc.
- However, if your client is expecting a fully illustrated look, then the detail of the environments in this style may offer too much realism.
- Fully realistic animation has a very high level of detail and realism while still being a flexible, animated product.
- This style is recommended anywhere there is going to be complex movement or choreography (either with or without a camera). It essentially exists in a true-to-nature realm, and it’s a great tool for agencies because it allows them to plan exactly how they should shoot a spot in live action.
- This style is an excellent choice for products like liquids, food, cars, technology, product demos, healthcare simulations, scenery, and landscapes.
- While the realism of this style is good for commercials featuring celebrities, it is not necessarily recommended for non-celebrity characters—characters can seem so “real” that they are too real—which may confuse or even create discomfort for the audience, otherwise called the “uncanny valley” effect.
The Bottom Line
In the past, clients and agencies were convinced that 2D animation was cheaper, faster, and easier than 3D animation. While this may have been the case years ago, it just isn’t true anymore.
In fact, different types of 3D animation offer benefits people think they’re getting with 2D—inexpensive, flexible, fast animation—plus all of the benefits of 3D. 3D animation offers processes that are less expensive due to motion capture technology as well as the overall flexibility of not having to redraw every single thing when a change needs to be made to camera angles, characters, movement, scenery, etc.
That’s why we think it’s so important that agencies consider all their options (including 3D options) before choosing 2D animation based on misconceptions. Of course, in situations where 2D is the best option, it should definitely be used.
If you’re not sure which type is right for you, we can help you choose a style that communicates your story the best. Our creative directors can help guide you based on your needs, your product, and your deadlines. In order to speed up the process, here’s what we recommend you bring:
- Come with an idea of what is necessary for your product in any style. Bring references for characters (age, ethnicity, gender, wardrobe) as well as references for environments.
- Bring rough pencil sketches. The process is quicker and smoother if you can provide sketches at the initial briefing.
No matter what style you think you want, make sure you’re asking the right questions up front to determine what style your project actually needs. By taking the time to really consider the benefits and considerations of 2D vs. 3D animation, you can make sure you’re choosing the most efficient, most cost-effective animation style for your spot.
Whether you’re a seasoned agency producer with hundreds (or thousands) of shoots to your name or you’re a rookie looking to to improve your craft and searching for tips and tricks, sound advice is invaluable.
We reached out to experienced commercial producers from across the country to get their number one tip for success, and we ended up with several great responses about everything from planning, to execution, to leadership, to the paramount importance of creative. Here’s what they had to say (listed in alphabetical order by last name).
#1: “Always be prepared with a backup plan and a backup to the backup—because rarely does a production go as planned and without a hitch.”
Autumn Childress, Senior Producer
#2: “Maintain an open mind. Don’t do things just because that’s the way you always do them, or because it’s the process. Always ask yourself if there’s a better way. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially from those who have more experience. I’ve always been able to find a solution—even when it looked grim on first glance. Listen to all opinions, and then of course, form your own. Inspiration will often come when you least expect it.”
#3: “Always be a step (or two) ahead. Being able to see not only what’s in front of you, but to be able to anticipate what’s coming and be prepared for it, is essential.”
#4: “Building & maintaining actual relationships (vs. only reaching out when one needs something), and being there for the other is the key to success for me. As a producer, I am quite dependent—I don’t edit, I don’t shoot, I don’t direct, I don’t score, I don’t cast—so I am, in some ways, only as good as the people I surround myself with.”
Dennis Di Salvo, Senior Producer
#5: “A piece of advice that stuck with me is ‘the most valuable partnerships are those based in favors.’ To be a successful producer, one of your strongest assets is your ability to create and manage lasting, responsible, and mutually beneficial partnerships. If you create a foundation of honesty and trust, then your partners know you will go above and beyond for them and vice versa. Create an opportunity for partners to genuinely care about the outcome as much as you do, and your venture will be successful.”
#6: “Have a strong point of view, and be prepared to back it with facts or opinions. Be an unapologetic leader within your niche, and be able to articulate your specialty with clarity. Work toward your future—do not work towards your pay rate. Don’t try to be David and take on Goliath; instead, build a team with whom you can share and experience your success with.”
#7: “Keeping a large team of diverse characters who are creatives, account management, project management, director/production crew, business affairs, and clients ‘in the loop’ and up to speed on all aspects of a commercial production is no easy task, but absolutely key to making all the moving parts work in concert.”
Kathy Kraft, Production Business Affairs Manager
#8: “The #1 rule for me in working on a commercial is that it is always about the work first. All other aspects evolve around that. I strive to take what is on paper (the script) and make it better. This is reflected in the budgeting as well; working to make the money reflected in what is seen on the screen. Go about this with passion and heart, inspire others and success will follow. And have fun!”
Harvey Lewis, Director/Supervising Producer
#9: “The #1 thing every broadcast producer should be good at is communication. Being able to assess the wants of the client, the creative team, and the production vendor and getting everyone on the same page is imperative. This doesn’t just mean getting the right people in the same room talking to each other. It also means listening and understanding the implications of that communication. If you can take what is given to you now and turn it into an actionable future, then you will be successful.”
#10: “Don’t get bogged down with process. The traditional agency/client model is dwindling as more partnerships are redefining structural roles and workflow. I often see producers struggling to deviate from their regimen, especially with more dynamic clients. My advice: Embrace change. Be dynamic and have an open mind. Use your past experience as a guide, but be prepared to learn.”
#11: “Here it is under 100 characters: Never compromise creative.”
Allen Perez, VP Creative Director of Production
#12: “Be able to articulate the creative vision. When faced with constraints, don’t de-scope; instead, re-scope and redefine the idea to maintain its strength. Do great work with great people and for great people. Care about the details.”
Matthew Polluck, Founder
The ability to think ahead
To be considerate and thoughtful
To be knowledgeable about the pool of vendor talent and maintain contacts
To be able to communicate
To be able to balance the job of producer while maintaining the creative integrity of the project
To get along with others
To be strong without being arrogant
My old boss used to hate me and love me for being able to see the full picture so clearly, so quickly. Every action has a reaction. This is true in physics, and it’s true in production.”
#14: “You can’t be afraid to give instructions and direct your cast and crew around. You need to be not just willing, but completely unafraid of being loud and in charge. There are hundreds of moving parts, and potentially dozens of people. There’s a lot that can go wrong, and if you’re not taking charge, the vision that so many people are working towards could be lost. Be fearless.”
#15: “My #1 tip is simple. NO WAITING. This rings so true. Every day. Every day. No waiting. Plan, react, plan, react, process, change, revise, mock-up, move, drive, walk, run, remove, talk, whisper, yell (sometimes), IM, email, ring, phone, do, move, go. Waiting isn’t natural. There is no real room for it. We don’t have time to wait and producers are not waiters. A former mentor of mine stressed immensely that if a situation is coming forth that smells of waiting, then counter it by planning. Take control. Take time that could be passive and set a course. You will be great because of your reaction and planning skills, not because a project went perfectly or formulaically. Others indeed dictate what happens, but you control the elements. Always. Oh, and please cultivate every relationship and opportunity out there, genuinely.”PITCH
Sloan Schroader, VP/Associate Director of Content Production
Crispin Porter + Bogusky
#16: “I would say the #1 tip for succeeding at my job would be to always be honest. It helps things move much smoother when you are honest to people. A no-bullshit policy should always be in effect. Unfortunately in our business it isn’t always the case. Other then that, just plan for the worst with a production, and it can only get better!”
Damon Vinyard, Integrated Producer
#17: “I like to share a quote from Henry Ford with my young producers: ‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.’ In production, we are always going to have obstacles in our way. They pop up more than pimples on a teenager. Keep your eye on the prize, and do whatever it takes to make great work.”
Tony Wallace, VP/Executive Producer
Each of these experts offer advice and experience that any producer can benefit from. Be sure to follow them on Twitter or bookmark their websites for excellent advice when creating commercial productions.
Now it’s your turn—do you have any advice you’d like to share? Tweet at us and let us know. Your advice may appear in a future article.
If you’re considering using an animatic to test your commercial ideas, you may be wondering what exactly you need to know about the process before you jump in and get started. If you’re already thinking about this, you’re on the right track. With cinematics and boardomatics, you’ll be able to rehearse concepts, see how creative ideas play out in real time, and gauge responses from other viewers via focus groups. In this article, we’ll give you a basic overview of four key test production formats you should get acquainted with: animatics, boardomatics, storyboards, and HD live tests.
Animatics are a more finished format of testing—they are a fully realized, fully animated blueprint of what your commercial will look like. These animation styles can include 2D animatics, 3D cinematics, and 3D illustrated cinematics.
- Animatics are one of the most popular formats for testing commercial ideas.
- They are the most flexible set of tools for rehearsing a creative concept.
- A 3D cinematic is true to realistic proportions and camera placement, whereas a 2D animatic can have a looser finish, which leaves more room for interpretation.
Boardomatics are created using 2D or 3D artwork and dissolves and cuts instead of animation to show movement. A boardomatic is created by taking illustrated artwork, stock or custom photos, or 3D artwork and composing it into a storyline edit to tell a simplified message or story.
- Boardomatics are the most cost-effective video-based test production format.
- They offer the quickest turnaround time for any video-based test production format.
Storyboards are still frames of artwork that demonstrate an idea. They are the most basic format for testing a visual idea.
- In focus groups, they may be accompanied by a group leader talking through the idea to aid in the group’s understanding of the idea.
- They are the most cost-effective still image-based test production format.
- They offer the quickest turnaround time for any still image-based test production format.
4. HD Live
HD live is a premium form of testing in which live actors are cast and shot on green screen. With HD live, custom backgrounds are created by computer graphics (CG). It is the most finished format of testing.
- In HD live tests, footage of live actors is composited into CG environments.
- The final product of this format is comparable to a true broadcast commercial—HD live is as close to the real production as you can get.
Each of these test production formats has its own set of advantages, considerations, best practices, and use cases—before you choose any specific format, you need to make sure it’s best suited for the idea you have and the results you want.
You’ve got a great concept for a commercial—or so you think. But before you shell out thousands—or even millions—of dollars on your full-up production, you need to guarantee your idea is going to resonate with the people who matter most: your audience.
That’s where animatics come in.
Animatics allow agencies and brands to test their ideas with focus groups before putting them into production. With testing, you’ll learn whether or not you should proceed with the idea, and you can also test and implement changes that make the message more effective. Here’s what you need to know about how to make an animatic.
Step 1: Animatic Brief
The first step in creating an animatic is the creative brief call with the animatics company. Generally, a producer, director, designer, and illustrators from the company will be on this call—these people will supervise the process. You’ll discuss the concept, characters, wardrobe, backgrounds, product, demo sequences, and more.
After the brief, the animatics company will share a director’s board. (At Animated Storyboards, this happens same-day or the morning following a call). Director’s boards are typically rough black-and-white frames presented in a storyboard format to help the animatics company align on story flow and angles.
Step 2: Art
The second stage of producing an animatic focuses on the look of the artwork itself (instead of the movement of the story or characters). The artwork will affect the storyline as well as the viewer’s understanding of the message. At this stage, depending on the style of art chosen, the animatics company may present various deliverables:
- 2D illustrated storyboards.
- 3D characters and backgrounds.
- Composited 3D storyboards.
Artwork is usually presented twice before moving into animation so brands and agencies working on their behalf can review and the animatics company can revise the art as necessary. One advantage of working in 3D is that artwork is never locked, and it can continue to be revised throughout the process
At Animated Storyboards, we send you a link to an online, interactive comment page you can share among your team members. Our system allows you to enter your comments next to each frame and attach any related references so you can consolidate your feedback and make sure every important comment is included. Feedback from the agency and brand is encouraged throughout the process, and revisions are built in to the process timeline in order to accommodate any changes or revisions you may request.
Step 3: Animation
In the animation stage, the animatic company brings the artwork to life in fully realized animation, with full audio and editorial treatment. The company continues showing full edits and addressing agency and brand comments on audio, animation, and editorial at every stage until the final ship date. If you’re working with a 3D animatic, camera movement, angles, characters, and environments can all be adjusted easily, as all elements live in 3D.
The animated artwork can be done in a variety of ways:
- In After Effects.
- With Flash animation.
- Using 3D animation.
- With other proprietary animation tools.
3D animation can leverage motion capture (mo-cap) technology for extremely fluid and realistic character movement. This is standard practice for us at Animated Storyboards: In order to fully maximize the fluidity of the animation, we utilize a state-of-the-art mo-cap system, in which we capture facial expressions and body movements and later translate them onto our 3D character model from any angle.
At Animated Storyboards, we invite our clients to join us for an in-house edit at our facility at any point in the process. We work together and in person to make revisions on-site so we can ensure you are getting exactly what you want at every step.
Step 4: Finalize Animatic
Once approved by both the agency and client, the animatics ship to a testing facility where the concepts will be tested with focus groups. At this point, the communication between the animatics company and the broadcast producer ends (until it’s time to test the next concept, of course).
What You Need To Bring To The Table Before The Project Begins
In order to make the production process as efficient and seamless as possible, the agency’s (or the brand’s) creative team can provide the following:
- References including character references, environmental references, backgrounds, mood, lighting, logos, and any other product artwork that needs to be included in the project.
- Audio concerns including voiceover specs, sound effects direction, and music direction.
Animatic Production Timeline
How long will it take to produce your animatic? The standard 3D and 2D animatic production timeline is 10-12 business days. However, if you have a project that needs to be completed in a tighter time frame, rush schedules can be accommodated. Let us know if you have a rush project that needs to be finished ASAP!
International animatics shop Animated Storyboards unearths the inspiration behind the objects at the core of everyday living in the new :60 “Cineminuto” for Camimex out of Y&R Mexico. The spot aims to educate Mexican citizens on the wide community impact of the mining industry, taking a full circle viewpoint of how minerals being mined underground are the true foundation of nearly everything we interact with on a daily basis. “Cineminuto” follows the genesis of the mining process, from initial curation, all the way through consumer use. Animated Storyboards created the initial animatic for the PSA and, following a successful previs version, was then tapped to leverage their robust in-house pipeline to craft the full cinema version.