It all starts with the script. What story do you want to tell? Clients often come to me with a full draft in hand, but other times they are starting from scratch. In any case, I help as much as they need; sometimes I will kick things off with a rough outline and work with the client towards a final draft. Other times I will simply provide feedback on existing materials.
The script will usually include both voice-over and visual direction. That means it's as much about selecting the right language as it is coming up with a great overall concept that utilizes visual story-telling as much as possible. When in doubt, read it aloud! Seriously. Read it aloud!
2) Animatic / Storyboards (approx. 1 Week)
Once we've gone through several rounds of revisions to the script and everyone is happy, it's time to create some rough visualization! This usually takes the form of hand-drawn sketches. This is the best time to make major changes to the piece, so it's a good idea to keep things open to easy revision! That said, I try and make sure the drawings closely represent my intended designs so we can avoid any big surprises down the road.
I usually prefer to deliver the storyboards in the form of an "animatic" - a rough video using still-frame images set to temporary voice-over and music. That way, we can get a better idea about timing right from the start:
3) Styleframes (Concurrent with storyboards)
While developing the storyboards, it's also a good time to create some static images to explore the possibilities for the final look of the piece. In many cases (such as this one) I work within an existing brand identity, creating new art and designs that can integrate with an established brand aesthetic. Other times, the look and feel is developed from scratch.
In any case, because these are works-in-progress, it's often helpful to go through several iterations till you reach a design and 'look' that's appropriate. Client feedback to these images will inform the final style and animation of the video.
4) Record the Voice Over
Once we have made any revisions we want to the storyboards and styleframes, it's time to "lock" the script! This means it's the last chance to make significant changes, as any story alterations after this point become much more time-consuming.
After an initial consultation, I usually present the client with several voice talent options, and they select the one they like best. The client will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the recording to get just the read they're looking for.
5) Animation (approx. 2 weeks)
Now the fun begins! Based on the animatic and styleframes, I get to work bringing the story to life. Often things will have changed somewhat from the storyboards, but in most cases the scope of alterations should reduce at each step.
Once initial work is done, I share a draft with the client who has an opportunity to provide feedback. With any luck, only minor changes are required and we're in the home stretch! One last client review, any small tweaks, and we're ready to call it "final" (but in video production we never actually call anything final!)