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The Art of Animatics: An Introduction to Moving Storyboards

By May 3, 2024May 15th, 2024No Comments

The Art of Animatics: An Introduction

Every great film, advertisement, or digital campaign begins with a vision – a seed of an idea that blooms into a rich tapestry of visual storytelling when nurtured. Yet not every idea travels seamlessly from the drawing board to the screen. This is where the art of animatics, also known as moving storyboards, bridges the conceptual with the concrete. In this in-depth exploration, we’ll demystify the process of animatics—what it is, why it’s essential, and how to wield it effectively in your visual narratives.

Defining Animatics and Its Role in the Creative Process

What Are Animatics?

In its essence, an animatic is a visual representation of a story using a sequence of images, put into edit form and often involving motion. Functioning as a pre-production tool, animatics help outline the visual storytelling flow of a TV commercial, film, or video. Serving as a bridge between conceptualization and the intricate final production stage, animatics provide a blueprint for the creative vision.

Animated Storyboards Role In Animatics

Animated Storyboards come in when you are ready to bring your creative vision to life. Our specialization lies in crafting animatics primarily for testing purposes, or previsualization, aka previs. Our diverse repertoire encompasses over 40 distinct animatic styles, ranging from basic 2D sketches in edit (Boardomatics) to sophisticated AI-generated storyboards with dynamic 360º movement (AI Cinematics), catering to the unique requirements of each project.

The Foundation of Visual Storytelling

Animatics offers a way to see the story in motion before committing to further expensive or time-consuming production tasks. They allow directors, animators, and producers to make informed decisions around pacing, timing, and narrative structure early in the process, empowering them to tell richer, more engaging visual stories with a clear vision of the final product.

The Evolution of Storyboards in Filmmaking and Media


The Early Static Storyboards

Before the advent of animatics, static storyboards were the primary tool for visualizing narrative sequences. Movie directors could hire an illustrator to sketch out each scene by hand, allowing them to plan camera angles, blocking, and the visual progression of their film. However, these static storyboards do not properly represent the flow of animation or the timing of live-action sequences or camera movements.

The Emergence of Animatics

As Animation gained prominence and demanded more precise timing, the industry responded with the introduction of animatics. Initially, these took the form of basic boardomatics, which are hand-drawn illustrations or still photographs put into video form with zooms and pans incorporated to create the illusion of movement.

As technology progressed, animatics evolved into a more sophisticated form, featuring movement or animation within each frame. This development involved isolating individual layers of artwork and applying animation to those specific elements. Initially, animation was limited to flat 2D movement, with all artwork existing on the same visual plane. However, with the advent of 3D motion-capture technology, animations became increasingly life-life and natural, enriching the storytelling experience. This 3D animation also allowed for unique camera movements to be applied, thanks to the full 360º environment of 3D.

The Ubiquitous Role of Animatics in Visual Media


Advertising and Marketing

In the realm of Advertising and Marketing, animatics serve a crucial purpose: they allow us to gauge the effectiveness of commercial ideas before investing in a full-scale broadcast production. Often, agencies and brands come to Animated Storyboards with multiple campaign ideas, and ASB then brings them to life in animatic form. The final animatics ASB creates then undergo testing, where they are put in front of specific demographic audiences, with the help of companies like Ipsos and Kantar. These audiences then evaluate each concept on how well they convey the key messaging of the brands. The most successful concept, as determined by audience response, then progresses to full production.

Moreover, brand marketing executives and advertising agencies also leverage animatics to pitch ideas and refine branded narratives. Animatics are dynamic tools for aligning creative visions and securing funds to bring campaigns to life, all while efficiently communicating complex concepts to clients and teams.

Film and Television

In film and television, animatics play an equally pivotal role. They provide directors and producers with a clear view of how scenes will unfold. From big-budget blockbusters to intimate indie dramas, animatics have become indispensable tools for pre-visualization and gaining stakeholder approval.

The Benefits of Creating & Testing Animatics


Enhanced Communication

An animatic is worth a thousand storyboards. It conveys more than just visuals—it communicates a narrative’s pacing, mood, and flow better than a still set of panels. This aids collaboration within a creative team and when sharing ideas with stakeholders.

Time and Cost Savings

By fleshing out the story and identifying potential issues in advance, animatics help avoid costly reshoots and reworks. They iron out many problems that might not be apparent until a full-scale production is underway, effectively saving time and money.

Visualizing Technical Aspects

Animatics can help visualize technical aspects of a project, such as camera angles, shot composition, and visual effects. Creating animatics allows creators to experiment with different visual techniques and determine what works best for the project before committing to the final animation.

Timing and Pacing

Animatics help establish the timing and pacing of scenes, ensuring that the overall rhythm of the story flows smoothly. Testing animatics allows creators to fine-tune the timing of key moments, dialogue delivery, and scene transitions to maximize impact and engagement.

Alignment on Creative Vision

Testing animatics helps ensure that the final animation aligns with the creative vision of the project. By refining the animatics based on testing and feedback, creators can establish a clear direction for the project and ensure that all team members are working towards a shared goal.

Case Studies: The Successful Use of Animatics

Super Bowl Animatic Campaigns

Super Bowl commercials carry significant stakes due to the exorbitant costs of airtime and the unparalleled viewership of the event. For some brands, like Avocados from Mexico, this is the one time a year they invest in Broadcast commercial production, so they want to ensure that their campaign ideas resonate with the widest possible audience, maximizing their return on investment (ROI). Multiple agencies often request animatics for the same Brands, as Brands are willing to allocate additional resources to the animatic phase to ensure the success of their creative. Below, you can find examples of successful animatics that transitioned into memorable broadcast Super Bowl campaigns.

Avocados From Mexico “Adam & Eve” ANIMATIC vs BROADCAST examples

Flamin Hot “Push It” ANIMATIC vs BROADCAST examples

Special Camera Movements

Implementing complex camera movements during production can present significant challenges and often lead to timeline delays, especially when last-minute changes are needed resulting in additional costs.  This underscores the importance of testing camera movements during the animatic phase. Animatics offer a valuable opportunity to fine-tune timing and angles of movements, ultimately streamlining production and reducing expenses. Below are a couple of examples of successful animatics showcasing special camera movements, along with their broadcast versions.

Budweiser “Wind Never Felt Better” ANIMATIC vs BROADCAST examples

National Car Rental “Bringing Balance” ANIMATIC vs BROADCAST examples

Use of Celebrities

The animatic serves as an ideal platform to experiment with various celebrities. Before securing a celebrity’s commitment, we can gauge whether their image resonates with the intended audience. If the animatic’s testing results are poor or if the selected celebrity is unavailable or unwilling to participate, we can easily substitute them and conduct retesting. A prime example of leveraging multiple celebrities within a single campaign can be found in Pepsi’s “Paintabll” animatic, which showcases numerous soccer stars

Pepsi “Paintball” ANIMATIC vs BROADCAST examples

Tools and Techniques for Crafting Engaging Animatics

Sound Design

Great sound can elevate an animatic from a sequence of moving images to a compelling experience. Understanding sound design basics, such as layering and mixing, is essential for breathing life into your moving story.

Voiceover Records

While professional voiceover artists bring refinement to your animatic, even temporary voiceover reads (known as scratch VO) can effectively guide the pacing and convey the emotional range of your characters and narrative. Understanding the importance voiceover plays, ASB offers pro bono scratch VO on every project while we proceed to cast and record professional VO talent.

When the time comes to record our professional VO talent, be it Union or non-union talent, we actively encourage our clients to participate in the session so they can direct the talent. This ensures that the talent reads the lines the way they had envisioned, as there can be considerable variability in tone, inflection, and delivery. Having clients present via Zoom allows them to guide the talent directly toward the desired interpretation of the script.

Animated Storyboards have additional advantages when it comes to recording voiceovers. As a global company, we have audio facilities in all of our locations, enabling our clients to source local talent for language versioning of animatics. With a staff proficient in over 40 languages, we can also provide language supervisors when needed.

Collaboration Platforms

ASB uses collaboration tools and platforms to share and gather feedback on your animatics. From project management software to simple cloud services, a well-chosen platform can streamline the production process and make sure all revisions are addressed.

The Future of Animatics: Trends and Innovations in Moving Storyboards

AI-Driven Animatics

Artificial intelligence has already begun revolutionizing animation creation. It currently offers solutions that generate prompted images quickly, reducing the initial legwork required in traditional processes. However, the main issue with using that software alone is the accuracy and consistency of the AI-generated images.

Luckily ASB’s Research & Development team has been hard at work finding AI solutions. We have successfully bridged the gap between 3D and AI, allowing us to provide our clients with a controllable, realistic look and feel achieved through AI technology. This enhancement serves as an add-on to our 3D capabilities, delivering a premium, ultra-realistic aesthetic. What sets us apart is our proprietary AI tools, developed in-house and trained on years’ worth of our own 3D material. This approach ensures that all aspects of our work are rooted in our own content, eliminating any potential legal issues associated with utilizing external sources or open software platforms. Essentially, we leverage our client’s ideas, combine them with our expertise in animation, and execute the entire process offline and in-house, providing comprehensive support for full animation implementation.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

The visual storytelling landscape is expanding with the rise of VR and AR. Innovators are already exploring how animatics in a 3D space can provide an even more immersive and interactive way to pre-visualize narratives.

Conclusion: Animatics and the Shaping of Visual Narratives

The world of animatics is one of constant evolution and innovation. From its humble origins as a solution to the challenges of early production, it has grown to be a linchpin in the creative process across the visual media landscape. By leveraging animatics, creators, and stakeholders can join forces to refine and realize their visual storytelling with precision, eliminating guesswork and costly missteps in the production process.

The importance of animatics in the interconnected tapestry of storytelling is undeniable. Whether you’re an Agency or Brand professional looking to test your creative concept, a seasoned filmmaker, or an up-and-coming talent striving to make their mark, the understanding, and application of moving storyboards can be the difference between a project that merely exists and one that genuinely captivates its audience.

When we honor the art of animatics, we honor the stories we wish to tell and those waiting to be told. This process demands vision, creativity, and a willingness to harness the power of technology in service of narrative. In these moving storyboards, the most robust creative collaborations find their anchor, springboarding their collective dreams into motion.

Are you ready to bring your visual story to life with unprecedented clarity and creativity? Animated Storyboards is here to partner with you on this incredible creative journey. Our team of experts is equipped to elevate your narrative, transforming your vision into compelling, finely crafted animatics and storyboards. Whether you’re creating an immersive advertising campaign, envisioning the next blockbuster, or developing animated content that captivates, we’re here to make it happen.

Don’t wait to turn your storytelling dreams into reality. Contact us today at Animated Storyboards, where stories meet innovation.

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Diane Choi

Author Diane Choi

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