WHAT DO CUSTOM ANIMATION STUDIOS DO FOR YOU
Departments & Deliverables
September 2021, Mar Exposito
Say you need a video for your new musical single, advertisement, or short film idea,... and you want it animated!
Then it will help you should check the major sections of a full studio to know what to look for.
***This article is specific for 2D productions: hand-drawn animation done traditionally with pen and paper, or digital through different software.
The crucial step before even starting:
Make sure clear expectations are set for all sides, in writing. Some things to discuss before starting are who is responsible for what part of the project, delivery deadlines, who has the right to use what and where (copyrights), how/when will communication happen, and how/when will payments are to be made.
In most cases, you will have just a vague idea or "mood" for what you want. In others you will know what you want to see in the video from second zero until the end. The studio should help you improve and adapt such ideas into a doable video. It is also common to let the studio unleash their creativity completely after, for example, listening to the main soundtrack you provide.
In any case, the producer (you) will need to approve it before the next step!
The first drafts and illustrations come in here.
This will be used for character design, logos, background moods, and setting the style. It all gets more detailed as the next part is done.
This is the script but sequentially drawn cut by cut. It has notes for each cut so you see the point of view, who is visible, who talks, who does what, etc.
Some studios like ours will present the storyboard already in a video format (animatic) so you can sense the timing of each scene and see how everything flows through the video.
Directing and recruiting
As detailed later, some studios or professionals will delegate some tasks to other specialized artists. That way they make sure the right team is gathered for your story.
And in any team project, direction work is necessary to make sure all pieces will match together.
In this case, the animation element itself can get quite complex but the same thing keeps repeating again and again.
The animators will draw the moving characters from sketches to the point they are moved and are fully inked and painted.
This refers to the (mostly) static art around animated elements. For example a cloudy sky behind your animated flying dragon.
These backgrounds can be prepared to give an illusion of movement through sliding through the screen or incorporating more complex CGI effects. For example, making the clouds move to a side above and behind the dragon layer.
Here is the section to create character dialogue, soundtrack music to just set the right mood or fully lead the story, and, finally, needed effect sounds such as flapping wings.
People are actively jumping, breathing, and smiling as in an animated movie. This is the most complex level where you really feel your characters come alive, even if there aren't new 24 drawings for every second.
However, that doesn't mean a fully animated video won't use some loop or static shot. As we mentioned, they have some good points. For example, because the animation is genuinely repeated, or because we need a static shot to emphasize an expression.
Compositing and editing
Finally, this team will put together the character drawings, background art, and all sounds into a video with actual movement and rhythm.
Some studios may give you packages for promotional material. This could be anything from a set of high-quality screenshots, a unique video thumbnail art, posters, logos with transparent background, character design sheets, or shorter gifs and clips intended for social media. This should be discussed before pre-production.
Bonus things a studio may deliver
Subtitles and language support: When dealing with international studios, they may be able to help you strategize, provide video subtitles and other necessary texts. In our case, we can help you in English, Spanish, and, to some degree, Japanese.
Revisions: Depending on availability, or the drafted contract, some studios can update your video or turn a project into a recurring series.
All studios are made differently, whatever their size
It is not strictly true that the bigger the studio, the more skills, and therefore the more they can offer you.
Some studios are specialized in only one or a few parts of animated video creations. There are big studios that only specialized in backgrounds, or editing, or animation itself. As well as there are solo artists who do all the things at once.
Naturally, you also have available the more detailed version, which is hiring each person doing their niche skill. In that case, you will need to recruit and put together by yourself all the elements your project needs through available freelancers.
What matters the most when selecting a studio or individual artist is whether you think their style suits your project, if they can do what you need, and how reliable they seem.
As of late 2021, at Maru Exposito Animation & Comic Studio we offer everything noted in this article except for sound. So if you or someone else will provide the audio, and you like how we work, you'd better contact us soon!