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The Story of animation explains the process of making an animation short film and benefits which lie within using this media. This is why we have chosen to create a production blog running alongside the production, to describe in further details what is really happening in the different phases of a film production.
We hope that this will be of use to people with a need for more knowledge and insight in the world of animation.
We just finished two weeks of concept art on “The Story of Animation” (working title). But what does this mean?
In the beginning of every film production, regardless of whether it is a commercial or an informative film, there is an idea or a vision of what the film should tell the viewers. This idea or vision can be more or less defined and can vary from five written lines, to a series of pictures or a manuscript. In regard to The Story of Animation our director David Tart has written a manuscript, character and scene descriptions that we as an animation company can use and turn in to visual material. As a company you use these elements to get closer to how the characters, the background, the colors and props should look in coherence with the story, the message or universe that you wish to create. Apart from the written material that the director has provided, a lot of time goes in to research on different visual styles. On “The Story of Animation” the director has chosen to use UPA – United Productions of America – as a style reference. UPA was an American animation studio established in the 1940’s and was known for their very flat and stylized way of animating. This was a big contrast to the style of Disney where you have a more fully animated, dimensional and detailed style.
Disney vs. UPA
So, the concept phase is the time in the process where opportunities is tried out and a lot of quick sketching and drawing is done. From these sketches and drawings the best ones are chosen and used as reference to get near the final look. The same thing goes for the backgrounds. Like the characters they are often raw sketches which are merged together with different styles and other background drawings.

Different character designs from the first two weeks
of 'The Story of Animation'

The concept phase is not about creating detailed or finished drawings but about drawing a lot of different ideas – ideas which in the next phase become a finalized character or background.
Just as with the concept development of the characters and the backgrounds, the storyboard is one of the first things to start working on, in order to visualize the idea of the director. The storyboard focuses on acting,story and cinematography to create coherency between the written and the visual aspect of the film and can be compared to a comic without the speech bubbles.

In the beginning, a storyboard may consist of post-it notes placed in the right order – this is the rough beginning. Eventually when the storyboard is drawn digitally on the computer it begins to be clearer and you get a greater feel of the context of the story and the frames that may be missing. During this phase design and colours are not important. The goal is to test a lot of ideas and takes on the same theme or scene until you achieve a result that is working. This is necessary to test whether the ideas and the manuscript are working and if the written material is solid.
As a natural part of the process the storyboard often changes as director, client and animation studio work towards a finished product together. Passes - the critique and corrections of the director or the client - are put in no matter if you are making a film or a commercial. This way it is ensured that the story makes sense to the viewer.


Whenthe director or the client has approved the storyboard the production takes another step and the creation of an animatic has begun.
The animatic is a way of closing in on the final result. However, the animatic is still relatively rough in its look but with more details than the storyboard and it is set up as a small film where the many drawings are shown with a few seconds interval so you get a better understanding of whether the story is working or not.

Temporay Soundtrack

When the animatic is created you begin to think about the sound production. At this point the decision has been made whether there should be a speaker, music, sound effects etc. If that is the case it is a good idea to start thinking about how the timing between sound and image should be, and this is where a temp. soundtrack can be helpful. Music and sound effects contribute tremendously to the mood changes that occur during the film. The extra dimension that the sound track adds to the animatic thus gives even more hints on whether the transitions between the scenes need more work.

The animatic is designed to get an overview of what has already been created, and to make sure that everything is working together as a whole. Therefore there is a great deal of project planning during an animation production. This is due to the fact that it is more costly to make mistakes in an animation production than in a live action production. During a live action production there are a lot of retakes of scenes where as in the animation production the storyboard, animatic and the many different phases secure a high quality end result.

3d Animation Production Pipeline

A pipeline-test is made to get an idea of the final result of the film. To do a pipeline-test a scene from the film is chosen and sent through all phases of the production. This means that all elements are put together to give the director and the animators an idea of how the final film will look like.
Making a pipeline-test also marks the transition from pre-production to production and can indicate if phases in the production schedule or other elements are missing. Thereby securing that time and money are used in the most efficient way while still exploring the media and visual possibilities for the film. Depending on the job that the animation studio has taken on, the pipeline differs from project to project and can for example also include sound production.
In relation to the Story of Animation a scene was chosen where the main character You sits in his office. This scene gives a good indication of how the main character will look like when animated on to the background with the right UPA style.
The scene came out nicely and The Story of Animation has now entered the production phase.

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