Previously we explored the fundamentals of storyboarding and its defining role in 3D animation pipeline as the first visual representation of what the final product would look like. However, there’s this one thing a storyboard doesn’t really achieve and that’s the portrayal of movements and timing.
So the next step in the pre-production phase would be creating the “animatic” by putting successive panels of the storyboard together, setting the right timing and adding voiceover, dialogues or soundtrack to the mix.
The artists prepare the animatic by taking the individual images of the storyboard and turning them into a movie; a rudimentary version of the final 2D or 3D animation. The animatic is created in a minimal form but will eventually evolve into the final edit of the animation project.
It is a significant stage of the journey from the idea to the screen, in both film and animation. Yet, a lot of people don’t know much about it. Almost every advert or feature film today had an animatic before production. Most animation studios make sure the it is planned and executed well.
Let’s take a quick look on the definition and key features of a successful animatic for 2D and 3D animation.
What exactly is an animatic?
Animatic is simply an animated storyboard with sound. The one thing a storyboard doesn’t do is the portrayal of movements and timing. On the other hand, the animatic is a pre-production tool that provides an exact representation of each shot’s length by timing out the storyboard. It creates a unique opportunity to test the overall visual flow and timing of the project and check if the intended meaning is conveyed or not.
Most people have somehow heard of a storyboard; simple sketches with written descriptions of what the voice over is going to say or the incidents that will happen. However, they might have no idea about the animatic. Almost every single advert, animation or feature film created these days had an animatic.
The animatic is more about conveying the narrative elements of the story/script in a visual form than to showcase the visual quality of a product. The more time spent on the staging, framing, timing, voice-over syncing and flow, the better.
Getting deep into details is not recommended, especially for lengthier productions such as feature films. However, shorter ones like 3D animated commercials can have more details. Some of the animatics made for commercials look very similar to the finished product.
Generally, there’s no “right” way of creating an animatic; they come in various forms in different projects. An animatic can be made of rough B&W 2D sketches, or colorful realistic 3D models. The same can be applied to movements: simple tricks to show movements or very smooth and realistic ones.
12 reasons why we use an animatic
- The biggest role of an animatic is to define the timing of the storyboard sketches.
- It is relatively quicker and easier to produce.
- The extra time spent on the animatic in pre-production, prevents costly reforms down the line in production.
- It provides an early glimpse of how the voice-over and picture will merge together. To guide the project, a lot of 3D animation studios use the final voice-over/dialogues for the animatic. But a preliminary version of the voice-over or sound track would also be of great help at this stage.
- It creates a tangible portrayal of the flow, rhythm and storytelling potential of the script/story.
- Animatic is a great tool to show, test and share different concepts and find the most effective.
- It can be used to test the story narrative and its effectiveness.
- It helps define the imagery needed to convey the core message as effectively as possible.
- Animatic is a very helpful tool for team work. Just like the storyboard, it helps keep everyone on the same page and work towards the same output.
- It eliminates the need for complimentary explanations beneath the storyboard and speaks much more through moves, dialogues and sound tracks.
- Compared to the storyboard, animatic is a much clearer representation of the final product.
- It provides an opportunity to refine camera angles and framing before getting into production.
Producing the animatic is a significant step in the 3D animation pipeline, enabling the animation studio or its clients to have a much clearer view of what the final product would look like. It is simply an animated storyboard with sound, primarily defining the timing of the storyboard.
The animatic is more about conveying the narrative elements of the story/script in a visual form than showcasing the visuals of a product. The more time spent on the staging, framing, timing, voice-over syncing and flow, the better. After the it’s done, the project would be ready to step into the last stage of pre-production phase: design.