We get many requests to do sketch animations – those engaging, hand-drawn animations made popular by the artists at RSA that you see so many places these days. My definition of a sketch animation is a hand-drawn illustration that is animated so that the drawing builds in sync with the speaker’s words. I created this simple illustrated road map to help clients think about the various steps in the process. In a bit more detail, here are the steps and tips we have found work best to create a successful animation:
1. Define the communication objectives. Who is your audience? What are you trying to communicate to them? What action do you want them to take after seeing the video? Also, how will you help your audience see your video once it’s complete? Will it live on an intranet site or on YouTube?
2. Write the script. Your script is the anchor of the project so we spend a good amount of time ensuring that the script is going to help you meet your objectives and that the tone is right for your audience. Usually there are plenty of good visual prompts in the script, but sometimes it’s useful to go back through and add a metaphor or two to create a more compelling visual story. For a 3-minute video, you’ll need to keep your copy to about 1 page. We proceed to storyboarding only when the script is finalized because the illustrations are so closely linked to each sentence in the script.
3. Create the storyboard. We break down the script into chunks and create storyboard panels for each chunk of text. There are usually a number of round of edits to each panel as we incorporate feedback around particular images and their appropriateness for that organization. For example, in some organizations “feedback” can be easily visualized as a gift wrapped in a bow. In other organizations, that doesn’t feel aligned to the culture, and a picture of two people having a conversation at a desk feels more authentic.
4. Record the audio. We recommend having a professional voiceover actor record the audio. They know their stuff and will make your stuff sound better. We like to do the recording after the storyboarding in case there are any small tweaks to the script that come up during the storyboarding process.
5. Create the animation. The animation will look very much like the storyboard, but will often have more detail, shading, etc. We often create the animation on the iPad, but it can just as well be done using pen, paper and an overheard camera (we prefer, however, not to work on whiteboard).
6. Sync the audio and the animation. This is the fun part where you see the two pieces of the puzzle come together to support your story. This step includes all of the post-production work that might need to happen, such as minor tweaks to the order of the animation or adding some special effects or other non-animated images (like your company logo).
Sketch animations are versatile, relatively quick to create, and engaging to watch. Following this simple road map will help ensure you get a result that you, and your audience, are happy with.
Lane Change Consulting is a consultancy based in San Francisco specializing in graphic facilitation and team effectiveness. We design and facilitate strategic, collaborative conversations that create clarity, focus and engagement in organizations. We can be reached at email@example.com.