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Animated Explainer Video Production Process - A Start-to-Finish Guide (2023 update)

Animated explainer videos have been used in various digital marketing campaigns, according to a study, the speed a user processes animation videos is 60,000 times faster than plain text. Customers are 81% more likely to make a purchase after viewing an animated explainer video than plain text. Compared with the common text and graphic design media in marketing and advertising, animation has the advantages of high degree of freedom, personalization, and relatively affordable price, which has successfully made animation a new mainstream in markets around the world.


As animation gets more popular, many well-known brands have also participated in this trend, including Google, Apple, Toyota, American Express, Tripadvisor, etc. Although marketing animations are popular, can every animation really plant a special impression in the minds of the audience? What have the marketing animations that have successfully become a marketing booster and enhanced brand favorability achieved? Does the production of marketing animations require high costs and resources? Learn how to make marketing animations now! Let's start with the basic concepts of animation.


Step 1 - Preparation

What is an animated explainer video and why do we need it?


An animated explainer video is a short video created by graphics and figures that aims to explain how something works in a simple and engaging way. They are typically used as marketing tools to demonstrate the benefits of a company, product or service and to boost sales or engagements.


To prepare a marketing project, we could start with background information collection and determine the marketing direction. Your team will try to reach a consensus on the marketing goals such as sales volume, the audience of the event such as age group and gender, and time planning, so as to establish a basis for implementation in the next stage.


The preparation for marketing animation production is actually the same as general project planning; of course, marketing animation still involves discussions on design and aesthetic forms, such as using stories as structures or interview forms? Will this serve as annual branding material for the company, or will it serve a purpose such as launching a new promo code for the holidays?


The popularity of marketing animation is largely due to the advantage that it provides room for any creativity and imagination; you can realize any unconstrained story in animation without spending money to hire actors and video production teams. Many brands with a long history have successfully used the popular characteristics of animation to subvert the previous "old" and "outdated" perceptions, successfully passed the transition period of rejuvenation, and regained the love of the public. In terms of audience, their user behavior, usual platforms and devices, and even their habits of consuming online media will help you get more inspiration during the brainstorming process.


The answers to these questions will determine the animation budget, style, script direction, animation length, format constraints, production techniques, etc., thereby affecting the overall animation production process. At this stage, we welcome any ideas and opinions from customers, but before proceeding to the next step, the animation production company or the customer needs to sort out the results of the discussion.


Step 2 - Animation Script Writing


After the first step of preparation in advance, I believe that everyone has a preliminary consensus and understanding of the animation project and creative perspective. The animation script can be said to be the most important document in the animation production process, which provides the planned composition and blueprint for the subsequent production steps. The script is the fusion of all creative elements and thematic ideas. To give animation appeal, it needs the layout and originality of the script.


Informative animations mostly state the themes and auxiliary information that need to be expressed in a clear and direct way; storytelling animations often use narrative techniques such as problem vs. solution, core conflict, and character growth curve to bring out the core concept of the company . Generally speaking, an animation script will include a summary of the plot of each scene (mostly one or two sentences describing the scene), descriptions or hints about the scene (such as a living room with mountains in the distance at sunset), and actions for the characters. Description (such as the main character pacing back and forth in front of the door), the dialogue of the character and other elements.


There is no one-size-fits-all or guaranteed business narrative structure for animated scripts, especially in the fast-paced world of the internet. You may wish to keep an open mind on the form and angle of the script under the premise of meeting the production purpose, make more different attempts and observe the audience's reaction, so as to find a unique corporate style.


Step 3 - Pick an Animation Style


If you're new to marketing animation, you might not be familiar with the differences between marketing animation styles. Allua organizes the marketing animation styles that are common in the market, and you can choose a suitable style according to your marketing goals, brand positioning or preferences of target customers.


Hand Drawn Animation



Click here to view: https://vimeo.com/155791039


When it comes to the development of the animation industry, we have to mention the hand-drawn style. The prototype of the animation is drawn by pencil on paper, and all the design drawings are pieced together; except the pencil. Clay, sculpture, models, etc. can all be mediums of design. Most of today's hand-drawn animation styles can be completed using computer software. By imitating the texture and touch of the material, the uniqueness of hand-drawn animation and the emotion and temperature of the creator are reproduced. In recent years, hand-drawn animation has been favored by different companies in the commercial market, re-injecting a strong brand awareness into the brand.


Whiteboard Animation



Click here to view: https://vimeo.com/293295173


The whiteboard animation is based on a white background, supplemented by bright, vivid, crisp text and graphics to provide explanations for the topic. Whether it is recording the discussion process in a meeting or recording the to-do items in life, from important work points to daily trivialities, we are used to using whiteboards or white paper to record them and remind ourselves. The birth of whiteboard animation just satisfies those marketers who need to analyze product and business concepts in a clear, direct and concise way. It is especially effective for marketing projects that need to eliminate screen noise and strengthen audience memory.


Clipart Animation



Click here to view: https://vimeo.com/783220393


Clipart animation, like hand-drawn animation, plays an important role in the early stages of animation production. In the clipart animation, different materials are outlined separately into layers, and their dynamics and changes are presented at a lower frame rate. The chemistry with different visual elements can often give you surprises! Generally speaking, clip animation has higher production efficiency than hand-drawn animation - most clip animation does not require complicated transition processing, and the materials used for collage can be reused, so the production time can be greatly reduced.


Informative Animation



Click here to view: https://vimeo.com/179991024


As the name implies, the existence of informative animation is created based on the purpose of conveying information. Communicating product information to the audience, increasing purchase desire, and answering customer questions are all daily tasks that companies need to deal with. This is why informative marketing animations can be widely disseminated. Whether you are a newly established start-up company or a century-old brand, informative animation can meet different promotion needs. The length of informational animations is mostly controlled within three minutes, the main purpose is to guide and arouse the audience's interest in continuing to browse or learn about the brand; for this reason, a script with a precise structure and concise messages is essential for informational animations. If you want to learn more about screenwriting, you may read this article about script writing.


3D Animation



Click here to view: https://vimeo.com/360991228


The biggest difference between 3D animation and 2D animation is the conveyance of immersion and atmosphere. After all, 3D animation pays more attention to material composition, light and shadow contrast, and object dynamic processing. A labor-intensive production process. The framework of the 3D animation production process is similar to that of 2D animation, but in the storyboard stage (refer to the fourth step - storyboard production) will require additional model and scene modeling and shaping processes, and character design will require skeleton binding In the production process, additional materials and light and shadow processing are required. More correction levels are usually set up between stages to make the finished product more suitable for the picture effect described in the storyboard.


In terms of current technology, almost all 3D animations can be processed by computer software, but this requires a rich experience of designers and animators as well as an understanding of the physical and dynamic performance of each item. In addition to using 3D animation to tell the concept and story of the brand like Disney's products, it can also integrate 3D animation into customer education, such as decomposing the internal structure of the machine to let customers understand the operating principle; or complement the exercise teaching in physical therapy part, showing more detailed and accurate postures for patients to learn.


Step 4 - Animation Storyboard Creation


Whether it is a 10-second animation to be uploaded to social media, or a new product launch reported to the public at an annual event, the presentation of an animation requires careful preparation and planning. The word storyboard may be unfamiliar to those who have not been exposed to animation or film production. The script of an animation or film only uses words to describe the story and the scene; and the storyboard is to visualize the script.


It is precisely because animation is a visually-led communication format that the existence of storyboards is so important. An excellent storyboard needs to provide a detailed visual outline for the subsequent production process. The frames split according to the content of the script need to include scene composition information, camera positions, visual cues, transition effects and other details. Frames are mostly drawn with drawings, sketches or videos. The more detailed this information is, the more specific the planning for the animation production project will be. Detailed storyboards not only help keep the communication with clients transparent and direct, but if something is missed during the production process, you can easily find the problem and check it immediately, saving you money and energy for repeated revisions.


Sometimes in order to save the time and process of project design, designers or customers will choose to use the pictures, templates and designs purchased from the network material library and use them in the animation. Some websites do not require users to purchase additional copyright fees, including Pexels, Unsplash, Gratisography, etc. The quality of the materials may be uneven, but they can meet the needs of general commercial marketing animation production. Websites such as Shutterstock, iStock, depositphotos etc. price copyright based on factors such as the number of materials and the scope of use. We recommend that you learn about copyright regulations from the creator and the website before citing these materials, so as to avoid unintentional violations of laws and regulations.


Step 5 - Voice Over Recording


Sound is an important part of animation, even if your animation does not require dubbing or narration, sound effects and background music are still indispensable elements. The shaping and use of voice is naturally indispensable to successfully present the emotional effects depicted in the script. The existence of Voice Over is not only for telling the story clearly, but also requires the narration to improve or strengthen the atmosphere and artistic conception of the overall story, and increase the credibility and affinity of the animation. Narration and voice actors have different areas of expertise. When selecting personnel for your animation, you may wish to pay attention to the strength, pitch, and intensity of their voices. The fees for animation projects usually range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.


Step 6 - Animation Production


It's time to breathe life into scripts and storyboards! The work of 2D animation production usually deals with editing, color matching, narration, special effects and other fields. 3D animation production will involve additional processes such as model dynamic simulation, material coverage, skeleton binding, camera angle adjustment, and lighting processing.


Animation production technology and software have developed very maturely. 2D animation and 3D animation each have specialized animation software for processing. There are also different programs on the market to meet the needs of beginners and higher-level users/projects and even different operating systems.


Animation production software suitable for beginners includes Stop Motion Studio, Moho, etc.; for advanced users or animation production companies, Adobe Animate CC, Adobe After Effets, Adobe Character Animator, Toon Boom Harmony, Moho Pro, TVPaint, etc.; 3D animation production software includes Autodesk Maya, Blender, ZBrush, etc. The selection of animation software usually requires consideration of the following factors.


Types of animation: 2D animation and 3D animation belong to two different technical fields; the requirements for hand-drawn animation and informative animation are also obviously different, and users need to spend some time understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different production software.


User's knowledge/skill level: Some software is designed for beginners, while others are designed for professional animation design companies; the latter's functions and interface can cope with more detailed graphics, but the dazzling interface often makes new Users don't know what to do, which slows down the progress of the project.


Auxiliary tools and operating platforms: Computers, tablets, drawing tablets, etc. are some common digital design tools. Some software will achieve a better user experience with the cooperation of specific tools. Users can choose suitable software based on design habits .


Software charges: Some software offers subscription payment options on a monthly or annual basis; others offer outright buyout options. Huge design ecosystems such as Adobe Creative Cloud provide bundled fee packages for different design functions, and most fee-based software will also provide users with a trial period.


Step 7 - Sound Effects and Music Post Production


Titanic, Jurassic Park, Star Wars... Seeing the names of these movies, many people must think of their theme songs in their minds. Whether it is a Hollywood film production or a tens of seconds of film on social media, music is one of the important carriers other than visuals, enough to allow the audience to enter the world in the story and resonate with the characters in it.


If your budget is tight, or you don't have enough time to start the composition process from scratch, you can choose to purchase suitable soundtrack copyrights from various online material libraries. Websites such as shutterstock have abundant resources to meet the needs of different types of films for sound effects and soundtracks. The price of each audio track ranges from a few dollars to several thousand dollars. However, the price of the copyright of these audio files usually depends on factors such as the broadcasting region and the period of use. Please pay more attention to the copyright regulations listed on the website and the creator before purchasing.


If you want to create unique music for your animation, there are many computer software and mobile applications that can mix and process different forms of animation to varying degrees, such as GarageBand, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Audition, Logic Pro X, etc. Software is commonly used in mixing and music processing. However, both music composition and recording work require a basic understanding of music, equipment and related software, so most people will choose to seek the assistance of professional composers or sound effects engineers.


Summary


After completing the above seven steps, you will enter the modification stage. Customers can make suggestions for revisions to animation production companies based on the production materials such as scripts, storyboards, and recording files. Production of animation thumbnails, production of information cards and subtitles, unified animation output format, output of different versions (such as multi-language versions), file delivery or publishing to online platforms, etc. are usually completed in the modification stage.


The animation production process may seem complicated and time-consuming, but as long as the animation project and expectations are unified with all participants and departments at the beginning and completion of each step, the efficiency of collaboration can be effectively improved and the work of repeated tracing and revision can be reduced. Although the direction and goal of each animation project are different, and there will be some additions and subtractions in the above process framework, I believe this article can provide a real and feasible reference blueprint for marketers who are new to animation production. Make adequate preparations and planning before the project starts.


Allua provides animation production services in different animation styles, and provides a dedicated project manager to guide customers through all production steps. Click here to browse more Allua animation production services, or contact us for an animation production service quotation.

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