Written by on . Pegasus.

A beginner’s guide to animation

Animation can be a lengthy process that requires careful planning. So to help understand what’s involved, Joe Pearson and Howard Stagg in our design studio have broken down some of the critical stages in more detail.

Timeline

A basic animation timeline would roughly look like this (with sign off required in-between):

Concept > Storyboard > Design > Animation > Render > Upload

For those of you who have worked on animation projects previously, you’ll know that there will always be changes to be made before we have a finished project. However, it’s important to get things signed off as quickly as possible before the animation process starts, as sometimes what appear to be minor changes can actually be major tasks.

2D

We use the term ‘2D’ to talk about various outputs, which may appear quite obvious to some of you. Essentially, 2D animation refers to anything moving on two dimensions, so flat looking animations. Things this may include are:

  • Text animating in, flying in, or ‘writing’ itself 
  • Simple shapes, boxes, graphics moving or morphing (think bar graphs and pie chats)
  • Colours changing, elements growing or shrinking
  • Flat character animation

I’m sure you are all familiar with 2D, hand drawn (or ‘cel’) animation. Think early Disney, and just about any animation ever that came out before Pixar! This technique can produce some wonderful results. The process is very time consuming however. It requires the artist to draw each frame of the video by hand. For example, a 60 second video might playback at 24 frames per second (fps), so that would be roughly 1440 frames to draw (or at least consider). Because of this, careful planning goes into the design, making sure we reuse elements where possible. It’s not uncommon to reduce the playback fps to 12 or 6 for this process.

It sounds like a lot of work right? But the results are usually 100% unique and original and boast a lot of hard work, demonstrating true care and passion for the product/brand.

Narrative

Animation is a great tool for provoking emotion. It allows us to create worlds and characters that exist outside of our own reality. Maybe your brand is heavily identified by the colour blue? No problem, we can create blue trees, blue grass, blue people… You get the idea.

Narrative pieces require additional thought and planning behind them, but they allow us to tell the stories of characters by hinting at things we all can relate to.

Motion Graphics

We tend to use the term motion-graphics to refer to animated elements used over live-action video, or any flashy, typography-based design. For example, a text screen popping up next to a person reading from their phone, or perhaps overlay graphics on an advert.

It’s the perfect way to add some flare to explainer videos featuring a presenter or maybe fling a narrative video 50+ years into the future.

Motion tracking is where we track the animation to one point of the video, so that the camera movement appears to effect the animation in the same way it effects the actors, background or foreground. This effective method really makes the graphics look like they are sitting in the scene naturally, as if it was shot with the camera.

3D & VR

Virtual reality is the way it’s all heading. Gaming, videos, movies…you name it and we could probably turn it into a VR experience! These videos/animations obviously require specific equipment to view them so aren’t always widely accessible to the masses, but can be a great feature at trade shows or as part of product demonstration.

All 3D elements need to be created in a specialist program (Cinema 4D or Maya) to composite and code in Unity, and the time involved really comes down to the desired finished result. For example, a 3D, Disney-style, animated cat (fur ‘n’ all) can take months of work, whereas a four-walled white room with a brick texture may only take a day to create.

Understandably, here at Pegasus we are great advocates of using animation as a form of story-telling and brand recognition. If you are interested in hearing more then drop us a note at findoutmore@thisispegasus.co.uk.

is a designer and animator in our creative studio.