| ANIMATION SERVICE
Before we even start animating, we would need to conceptualize how the flow, art direction and style will be like. For that we have to be clear with what we want to achieve. We use mood boards to help with visualizing the ideas. Moodboards can either be literal and practical (i.e. featuring fonts, color schemes and images that you actually plan to use in a final piece of work) or they can be less literal and more about exploring tone and mood. You can tackle these two different types sequentially, or you can just do one or the other
Next it’s time to start searching online. There are lots of fantastic sites where you can find great visual inspiration for free, like Dribbble, Behance, Pinterest. The keyword you use to search can be literal words describing the theme of the moodboard (e.g. “phone”) metaphors (e.g. “light”) or descriptive (e.g. “Messy”).
After we are done with finding the right mood boards and concepts, we then have to make a storyboard. A storyboard helps us and our clients to visualise the movements, character styling and overall look & feel for the animation.
First we would have to create a template in order to start with the storyboard. Draw a series of rectangles on a piece of paper or on your drawing program e.g, photoshop, as if you were creating a comic strip. Make sure you leave enough space so that you can write down notes of the scenes. After that, we can add the script. Under each rectangle, write the line of script or dialogue that corresponds to that scene.
After we are done with creating the template and adding in the script, we are able to start on our sketches for our storyboard. Finally, add in any notes about each scene. This might include a description of what’s happening, camera angles or movement, and any special effects. Don’t forget about audio like music or sound effects.
Once we are done with storyboarding, it’s time to bring it to life. Create a new project file in photoshop or illustrator with images of your storyboard sketches. The storyboard will be used as a reference to design a coloured version of your scenes. Remember to create separate layers for all movable objects and characters. This will make animating in after Effects easier. Remember to name the layers their respective names as the layer names will be used when you import the assets and characters in an animation program.
Import the files into After Effects and align into the correct positions – you can import a template of your original file to help with this and layer your individual assets over the top. After importing you can start rigging the characters and animating the scene and objects.
Rigging is a process of getting your character ready for animation by connecting the body parts together. Think of it as giving the character bones, this process is common in both 2D and 3D animations, both of which uses their own unique methods of rigging. For example, by moving the foot, you would expect the shin and thigh to move as well.
There are many ways of rigging a character. Today, there are tons of programs out there to help you get started, one common plug-in used by animators in After Effects is called Duik. Duik is a free and open sourced program for animators to aid them with animating their characters.
Keyframes is a term used a lot by animators. A key frame or keyframe is a location on a timeline which marks the beginning or end of a transition. It holds information that defines where a transition should start or stop. This aids our animators to move things around the scene, from arm movements to even scene transitions.
Graphs are very commonly used by our animators to them to have full control on the animation styles. These could be used to animate things to come into the scene in a gradual or ‘fast-in’ and ‘slow-out’ manner. As the speed and pacing is determined by the graphs, animators have an eye to understand graphs and able to generate different ‘styles’ for their animation.
After completing the animation, Dialogue, music, and sound effects are added into the files. Depending on your project, you may need different variations with sound or without sound. Sometimes there may be a need for a sound engineer to help with the production of audio. At this point, it is important to check with the sound engineer or composer regarding licensing rights. As not all audio tracks, especially the ones found online are allowed for commercial use. Do remember to credit your composer if possible.
Rendering is the phase whereby the video is being processed for distribution. This is common for both 2D and 3D development before it is made into a video file. Rendering for 2D video is relatively faster than rendering a 3D footage. As lighting, depth and other 3d data is not present. The rendering process could take up to 30 minutes to 5 hours for a 2 minute video, it depends on the complexity of the file and optimization of the assets.