Skip to content

Lifecycle of an Animation Project

Connecting all phases of an animation project.

Step 1. Discovery/Clerical

Important note: This phase happens before creatives get involved.

Timeline: One-two weeks, depending on the client.

What This Phase Includes:

  • You'll have an initial discovery meeting with a potential client to figure out what type of creative work they're looking for, the number and length of the animation(s), any pain points they're looking to minimize, and what budget you have to work with.

  • If the animation work aligns with our values and the budget is within reason, you will write out an estimate and have leadership discuss and review before sending it out to client. Taking good meeting notes during the discovery meeting is important, as little details can greatly impact a budget.

  • Collect any documents relating to the project from the client or through research.

  • Gather any assets you may need for the project, such as vector logos, branding elements, etc. from the client.

  • The associate creative director (ACD) will write a creative brief during this phase. You will add your Monday timeline to the bottom of the brief.

  • Create a project timeline in Monday.com with milestones for when you'll check in with the client: for any necessary storyboarding, script, client revisions, etc.

  • Schedule an official kickoff meeting with the client to go over info in the creative brief, to cover the timeline you're looking at for each phase of the project, to let them know when you'll need their input, and to make sure everything's squared away to move into pre-production. Have an agenda ready for this meeting and be ready to lead it.

Step 2. Pre-Production

Important note: This is where the creatives step in with direction from you + the ACD.

Timeline: Varies, but generally 1-2 weeks with 1-2 revision periods.

What This Phase Includes:

  • You and the ACD will kick off the project internally, covering the finalized creative brief, sharing any research or assets you gathered in the discovery phase, going over the project timeline, and answering any questions from the team.

  • Scripting or music direction will also happen during this phase, depending on the project scope.

    1. If a script is included in the scope, collect an outline of necessary points to touch on from the client. There might be information on their website as well. The ACD will draft out a script and work with the client to solidify it. Since scripts are the backbone of a project, make sure to allot enough time to perfect this.

    2. For music selection, the ACD and creatives will work together to find music options that represent the animation best. You will be in charge of sending this over to get approval from the client. Any music purchases are separate from the project scope and will be billed to the client separately.

  • Research ideation including: how best to show a concept, visual research, messaging research, translating the client's message into the final product, internal meetings about how to talk about these messages.

  • Storyboarding and style framing will be included in this phase. Storyboarding includes both rough storyboards and clean storyboards. Depending on a variety of factors such as video length, animation style, budget, etc., these can vary greatly in how long they will take to complete. Until you have a good idea of timelines for storyboards, don't be afraid to ask the ACD/lead creative for their time estimates. Definitions for rough storyboards, clean storyboards, and style frames are below:

    1. Rough storyboards are a means of getting verbal ideas translated into visual representation for the ACD to review. Therefore, these are low-fidelity and are for internal purposes only.

    2. Developing clean storyboards happens after rough storyboards have been approved. Clean storyboards are to be shared with the client for approval, so these will be detailed out with specific textures, brand colors, and will depict exactly how an animation will look before making it move. Clean storyboards are generally made in Procreate. Wait for final ACD signoff before sending these to the client.

    3. A style frame is a single frame mockup of a clean storyboard, and is generally used to make sure that the project's style is moving in the right direction before spending a lot of time and budget on clean storyboards. If incorporating a style frame into a project's lifecycle, this would take place after rough storyboards and before clean storyboards.

  • A voiceover artist will be found either by the client or by the studio and any necessary or helpful materials will be provided to them prior to recording (script, creative brief, storyboards if possible, etc.).

    1. Sometimes, the client will have a specific voice or music they want to use for a project, but this happens very rarely.

    2. We tend to send over a variety of options for voiceover based on the brand's style and messaging to the client for them to select from. We'll find options via Fiverr.

    3. Purchasing the VO artist is NOT included in scope and will be billed to the client separately.

    4. If a specific date is needed for the VO to be received back, make sure to communicate this to the artist.

    5. Upon the arrival of the first recording(s), send to the client to get their revisions before adding any additional revisions by the studio. Unless purchasing more than one round of revisions, send all of these comments to the artist in one message.

  • Client Revisions

    1. Any final client revisions to storyboards, music selection, or VO must be made before moving on to the production phase.

    2. Make sure all of this is approved and signed off on.

Step 3. Production

Important note: We use Vimeo review links to receive any animation feedback from clients.

Timeline: Varies, but generally 2-3 weeks.

What This Phase Includes:

  • Vectorizing assets, then rigging them to actual animation.

  • Touchbase revision/feedback internally and with the client.

  • Generally no client meetings will be needed, but, if necessary to discuss any specific feedback or if the client responds better in-person, use your best judgment.

Sub-Phases

  • Asset Creation / Vectorizing Assets 

    1. Bringing the clean storyboards/styling to life.

    2. Feedback to look at style in action.

  • First Draft (Sometimes An Animatic)

    1. An animatic shows no detailed movements and includes little motion, but provides the general context and timing of animation.

    2. First drafts are always for internal review. Make sure to include a first draft deadline and an internal revision period for creatives to make internal edits.

  • Second Draft

    1. Almost done, but not yet polished.

    2. This draft is to be shared with the client on the due date set in the discovery phase.

    3. Remember to remind the client that this is not the final cut yet, of how to make comments on Vimeo, when you need comments back by, etc.

    4. This cut is extremely important in gathering as much feedback from the client as possible, because you don't want to be making any major changes after sending over the final cut (outlined next).

  • Final Result

    1. Ideally no more revision.

Step 4. Post-Production

Timeline: 1 week.

What This Phase Includes:

  • Final Result

    1. Fine tuning movements; adding in more effects, all SFX.

    2. Rendered out in HQ.

    3. All internal and client revision details noted.

    4. Final polishing.

    5. Final delivery to client.

  • Any modulations + sizing for social 

    1. How many is really important - prior to contract signing; included in itemized list in scope of work.

    2. We make a copy of and send this spreadsheet over to clients during the production phase for clients to mark what aspect ratios they need.