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Asking the right questions when commissioning an animation

Perhaps you've decided that you need an animation, or perhaps you're unsure if it's animation you need or a corporate video. In this guide I'll talk you through the reasons you would need animation and the questions you should ask potential suppliers.

First of all why you would need animation and not static images with call out boxes, or a video with people presenting a demo of your product? Their's lots of reasons for this, but usually it comes down these four:

  • You have a product that you cannot see inside of

  • The operating environment is hazardous

  • Your brand doesn't match the style that live footage would give you

  • Cost restrictions.

So it can be useful to ask yourself whether any of these apply, and if the answer is yes, then an animation can help. With animation it is possible to break apart a product and fly inside, looking in detail at a specific part for example. It can simulate health and safety issues, such as explosions or fire and you have more control over the look and feel and also the story that you tell.

To help you through the process, take a look at the steps below:

Step 1

Ask yourself "Do I need an animation?" Using the tips above, it should be pretty easy to identify whether animation is right for you. If the answer is yes, then read on...

Step 2

Do a web search, look for companies that supply the type of animation that you require. It may be worth noting that animators, even though they may supply one type of animation are usually secret generalists and would love a challenge to create in a different genre. So don't rule out companies that don't specialise in exactly the vertical or style that you need.

You want to be shortlisting 3 or so companies at this stage, companies that you will actively be contacting to discuss your requirements.

Step 3

Before you make your calls, list out what's important to you and what your goals are. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I have internal approval for this project?

  • Who is my target audience?

  • Can I supply similar examples of what I need? Look at YouTube for inspiration.

  • What will the animation be used for and which platforms do I need it for?

  • What's driving my deadline?

  • What is my budget and is that flexible?

Step 4

Contact your short list of suppliers. The more information you can give the better, it will inform them and they will be able to give a better response. If budget is a consideration, it's usually a good idea to ask whether they can meet this at an early stage as this will help to save a lot of time.

Provide them with a list of your questions and ask them for a link to their showreel. Request that they send you relevant work they may have completed within your sector and ask to see their process.

Some question ideas:

  • Do you have any similar examples

  • Can you provide your process?

  • How much involvement do you need form me?

  • How long have you been in business?

  • How soon could you start

  • Are you able to meet the deadline?

  • What do I do if you miss the deadline?

  • What are your payment terms?

  • What is the final specification of the animation? Think about resolution and compression formats and check they are able to provide what you need

Step 5

You may have several weeks of email and communications with a couple of your possible suppliers, but at some point you will need to inform all of them whether you intend to use their services.

For your selected supplier, ask when you can have a quick call to run through the project schedule, It's also a great opportunity for you to ask any other questions that you may have

Step 6

Once the project has started, there will be some requirements for you to fulfil. Providing company graphics, reviewing and signing off at certain stages are some examples.

Make sure that you keep in regular contact and ask for weekly updates. It can be all too easy to let the animation company run headlong into a costly mistake for both parties. Anybody from your side who will have final say in accepting the completed animation should also sign off at each stage.

During production, resist the temptation to wander off the brief, it would be fair for the animation company to ask for further funding if the requirements change

Step 7

After production is complete you will be asked to sign off the project. At this point there shouldn't be any changes as these should have been captured during production and review phases. If all is well, give prompt sign off and take delivery of your completed animation.

For more information around the animation creation process take a look at our animation process page.

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