Animatics: Blueprints for Broadcast Success

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. 

Why not just Pre-Vis?

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. Storyboards are a fantastic way to outline your rough idea, but without timing or motion, the final execution is unpredictable at best. 
  3. 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.  
  4. 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! 


Concept Testing

Boardomatics: 2 Successful Examples Dissected

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

1. Dreyers 2D Traditional Boardomatic

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.


2. Skittles 2D Traditional Boardomatic

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.

Concept Testing

Previs Vs. Animatic: What’s The Difference?

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.

Previs Vs. Animatic: What’s The Difference?

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.

Previs Vs. Animatic: What’s The Difference?

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!

Concept Testing

4 Of The Most Common Test Production Formats For Big Brands

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.

1. Animatics

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.

2. Boardomatics

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.

3. Storyboards

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.

To learn more about each of these test production formats, contact us today!