Previously we explored the fundamentals of storyboarding and its defining role in the 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 is creating “animatic” by putting successive panels of the storyboard together, setting the right timing, and adding voiceover, dialogues, or soundtrack to the mix.
Let’s take a quick look at the definition and key features of a successful animatic for 2D and 3D animation.
What 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, an 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.
What software is used for animatics?
Artists choose Adobe After Effects for creating animatics. The reason is clear; With Adobe After Effects, you can create, composite, and stylize 2D footage layers in 3D space. This is ideal for creating animatics because you can use the stylized 2D footage in a 3D format.
What is the difference between animatics and storyboards?
Animatics use the same images as storyboards, but stitched together in sequence and rendered as video.
The only difference between animatic and storyboard is the fact that in the animatic, artists stitch the frames together and render them to create an animated video. In short, an animatic is the animated version of a storyboard that is more realistic than the final animation in the case of a story sequence.
Animatic vs animation
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 3D or 2D 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 it is planned and executed well.
How to make an animatic
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 showcasing 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 to use an animatic in animation
Different productions pursue different objectives from an animatic. However, there are certain reasons why animation studios like Dream Farm decide to invest in crafting and using it:
- 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 soundtrack 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 teamwork. Just like the storyboard, it helps keep everyone on the same page and work towards the same output.
- It eliminates the need for complementary explanations beneath the storyboard and speaks much more through moves, dialogues, and soundtracks.
- Compared to the storyboard, the 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 it’s done, the project would be ready to step into the last stage of the pre-production phase: design.