There is no such thing as a single universal process that applies to all projects. Every project is unique. You may have particular needs that require unconventional solutions. Here, I'll go over the process of a typical medium-sized project with a standard budget and timetable, assuming we don't have to cut corners, skip phases, or use third parties. What you see here is a normal animation project process, from discovery to delivery, in an ideal world.
(so your mileage may vary.)
First we should have one or more calls with you and your creative team to define the scope of the project, so we can produce a detailed debrief that includes all the details and objectives. We will also deliver an offer with planning and budget.
Script & Style
We develop a script based on your input that will serve as the project's backbone. Along with this, we'll explore the visual style and create a number of style frames. This is to give you a good idea of what you can expect.
Script & Style
Based on the script we design a visual storyboard. We include text/voiceover descriptions, and provide details on movement and audio.
This stage is to see if the story on paper fits the timing. We put all of the storyboard slides with temporary voice tracks on a timeline to see how long it takes, which parts need to be shortened, and which parts need more time. For 3D animation, we build some of the scenes with simple shapes, blocks, and spheres to determine whether there is enough space and time for our story. This is also a good moment to brief a music composer if needed, so he/she can start work on a mood track.
Now that the script and animatic have been frozen, it is time to record professional voices to replace the ugly temp voice tracks in the animatic.
Now we design and build all the elements (characters, environments, vehicles, props) required for our animation. To make animation easy and flexible, we need need to rig the assets. This means characters need bones so the limbs work naturally, and vehicles need mechanics so the wheels rotate like they should. Etc, etc.
Based on the animatic with final voice track, we now know exactly what shots we need to make and how long they should be. We animate each scene and create transitions between them. Finally we may add complementary movement and effects for added impact.
If we hired a music composer for this project, then now is the moment we will have a good piece of music, perfectly timed on the animation. We also have a working timeline with final recorded voices. A sounddesigner will select sound effects to support the animation. When the edit is approved and locked, the sound designer will make a final mix and master.
Eveything comes together on one timeline. Final animations, final audio. We internally review the final edit and nitpick over all the cosmetic details that we want to fix (time permitting). Then we have a final review with you and based on your feedback we fix more details like colors or text corrections. At this stage we also prepare the different delivery formats required by the different media platforms.
It's time to share the goods with you! Most or our animations will be made for Ultra-HD 4K (portrait, 25fps) But depending on your location (USA?) and target platforms (Instagram? Twitter?) these specs will be different. For social media platforms we always make adaptations for different aspect ratios. We send you a secure dropbox link to all the files. MP4 for easy preview and uploading, Prores 4444 for edit and archival.
We love to hear feedback on the project's reception and success! This information will guide our future collaborative efforts. And after we've had a chance to rest and recharge we should discuss promotion of the project, portfolio case studies, and last but not least: sending our baby in to awards festivals, because it's just that good! :)