Throughout my 14 years in the design industry, I’ve used countless tools to work on my design projects. One of the first tools I used was the venerable design workhorse Adobe Photoshop, and it became my favorite tool for web and print design back in 2004. In the early days of my career, I considered Photoshop to be the most complete tool in terms of web design and mobile application design. Challenging Adobe’s dominance, Sketch arrived in 2010 and in my opinion revolutionized the UI/UX design process for Mac users. I loved Sketch and used it whenever I could for my web projects, but its lack of compatibility with PCs proved to be an inconvenient limitation in mixed-platform environments.
Animated video can be your most powerful engagement tool for gaining customers – if done correctly. Mess it up and you could lose business left and right. That’s why it’s essential to establish and follow a well thought out process, something we’ve spent years refining here at Liquid.
Here are the 9 steps that we follow consistently to create successful video animations.
1. Discovery/Creative Brief
The first and arguably most important step in our entire process is the discovery session. The conversation we have at this stage is the backbone of our success. We take this opportunity to introduce you to our team, get to know your brand, and ask and answer any questions relevant to the project.
After this meeting, we can then develop a creative brief that outlines everything we need to ensure success including your message, challenges, objectives, and expectations. We want to make sure you know what to expect as we move forward, and that we fully understand your goals for the animation.
2. Concept Creation
The foundation of any successful animation is a solid concept. Without a coherent, creative, and engaging story, the visuals are irrelevant. At this point, our creative team will take the information we gathered from the creative brief and brainstorm multiple ideas for the framework of the animation.
Once we have a few concrete concepts hashed out, we’ll gather some high-level examples to help you visualize the general aesthetic to go along with each story. We’ll package these up into a presentation and then you can choose your favorite concept to move forward with.
Once we have an approved concept, it’s time to begin the scriptwriting process. The script is essentially the blueprint that will guide the entire animation. Utilizing the creative brief, one of our talented writers will sculpt an effective and engaging message which will serve as the narration for the animation.
We recommend allowing our talented team to work their magic but if you prefer to write the script yourself, we’ll still be there to ensure the correct tone is achieved. It’s crucial for you to take a step back and view your brand from an outsider’s perspective to help craft a simple and effective message that can resonate with your audience.
Now that we have a solid concept and a well-crafted script we can move on to storyboarding. During this phase, we’ll provide a rough, sketched storyboard detailing the visuals for the animation scene-by-scene.
In order to keep the storyboarding process as fluid and flexible as possible, we don’t want to focus on the final aesthetic at this stage. Instead, you’ll see a high-level perspective of the art direction, how each scene is composed, and the general progression of the story.
5. Style Frames
A style frame is simply a full-color render of a key scene that accurately reflects the final aesthetic of the animation. Using your brand guidelines, approved script and storyboard, we’ll select a certain number of these key scenes to provide you. You’ll be able to see exactly how the final animation will look, provide feedback, and ultimately sign off on the approved aesthetic.
6. Voice Over
Now that we have all the core components of the animation established we can focus on finding the perfect voice-over. It’s extremely important that we strike the right tone when using voice over talent. Using the approved script and taking the art style into account, we’ll recommend a few voice-over artists who we believe will compliment, elevate, and appropriately reflect your brand message.
With the concept, script, storyboard, style frames, and voice over all signed off and approved we’re ready to begin animating. During this stage, we’ll utilize the principles of animation in combination with the voiceover and final design assets to bring your story to life.
Keeping the timeline in mind, this process could take several weeks depending on the length of the script. We’ll keep you updated throughout the animation phase and provide samples of key scenes to ensure we are on the right track.
8. Sound Design
Sound design is often overlooked but it plays an incredibly powerful part in the success of animation as a whole. Animation works so well with audiences because it engages multiple senses as once, so it’s important not to neglect this critical step. We’ll select multiple music options for you to choose from, and then layer in custom sound effects to elevate the animation to a new level.
9. Delivery, Hosting and Analysis
Once the video is complete, we’ll deliver it to you as an HD movie file ready for use on any platform you desire. If you need help figuring out how to host it, where to place it, or how to market it, we can provide further services. You will gain access to valuable data, analytics, and insights into how your video is performing across various platforms.
As you can see, each stage of the process serves as the foundation for the next. Our carefully constructed process has your brand’s goals and objectives in mind from the beginning. Shortcutting or bypassing this process could be a costly mistake.
Let us help you produce animated content that is successful, engaging, and memorable. Get in touch.
Our expertise is only as good as our ability to share it with you. Here are the latest thoughts and ideas from our team.
When I tell people that I’m a user experience (UX) designer, most people nod politely as their eyes glaze over for a second, and they try to move the conversation along. Early in my career I thought they were completely uninterested, but over time, I came to realize that many people simply don’t know what UX is and might feel awkward about asking. On behalf of misunderstood UX designers everywhere, please allow me to introduce you to the wonders of quality UX and why you should care about it.
What is a visual brand identity, you ask? It’s only one of the most important things about your business. Branding is far more in depth than aesthetics. It delves into the core of why you exist as a business. It requires hours of research and analysis to ultimately cultivate something visually appealing that communicates your message: your visual identity. A visual identity is comprised of a system of external expressions such as a logo, color palette and texture, typography, iconography, illustration, photography, motion principles, and composition.
I went fishing the other day and all I caught was a good UX lesson for you. Here’s the deal: my daughter entered the neighborhood annual fishing derby. For a decent UX guy, I’m a terrible fisherman. But I do know how to bait a squirming worm and unhook the slimiest of fish.