Power your Media I.Q. - 8 Actionable Tips to Choosing An Animation Studio [2018]



Whether you are an entrepreneur, marketing director, or a producer looking to incorporate animation in your next video, there comes a point when you need to look around and figure out which animation production company you are going to hire.

So, where do you start? Do you just Google "animation production company" and start mindlessly working through the results? Well, if you don't have a history of working with a company, that's one way to approach it.

In this post, I’m going to show you the proper way to search, identify and work with an animation production company to get the best results out of your marketing or internal efforts.

Step 1. What type of animation content do you need?

An animated social media post shouldn’t cost that same as a spot for TV. An animated spot used in research (called an animatic) has an entirely different production schedule that is foreign to traditional animation studios. While most animation companies say they do it all, start your Google search look for studios that specialize in the mediums closest to your needs.

  • Broadcast TV/Film
  • Social Media
  • Explainer video
  • Internal communication
  • Animatics
  • Mobile

Step 2. Don’t forget audio!

Sound design, sound effects and V.O. are 50% of the viewing experience and are often an overlooked aspect of your production. I’m placing this step at the very beginning so you will have it in the back of your mind before you start reviewing studio work. I find how a studio handles its audio production is a good indicator how well they understand the overall viewing experience of your spot. The best animation studios will have the ability to offer custom sound design for your spot. If your budget is tight the studio may suggest using stock music.

Step 3. Determining if you need a freelance animator or animation studio

Animation can be a very involved process and typically requires several experts to collaborate as a team to produce the desired effect. However, if your budget is under $1000.00, you may want to consider contracting a individual animator through websites like Fiverr, Upwork and Topal. You can post your job and have animators bid on your project. You will also be able to review customer comments and the animator’s reviews. I have personally used these services and can say I have had mixed results but feel I need to include this as it’s a viable option for smaller projects with smaller budgets.

Step 4. Do you like their work?

Now that you identified the type of studio you need review the studio’s online portfolio. Do you like their visual style? Does their audio enhance the work or is it generic? Have they worked with related companies in your industry? Do their videos look cool and are they professionally made? Next check out their social media accounts. Many times studios will showcase passion projects or other work that doesn’t make it on their main website. Do they offer case studies or client stories that explain what problems and successes they have successfully solved for their clients?

Here is an example of a case study we showcase for potential clients. Do they offer something similar?



Step 5. Do you need concept/story development and script writing services for your spot?

If you work at an ad agency you probably have this covered from a top notch creative team, but if you’re an entrepreneur looking for an animated spot you need to find out if the animation studio provides creative development, script writing and layout services. A common misunderstanding is that video is all about the visuals. In reality, the story and concept is the most important factor for success. See if they offer these services on their website.

Step 6. Do they fit your budget?

One of the most important questions to ask up front is- cost. The best way to phrase this question is, “For the budget I have to spend. What can you offer or suggest for me”.

Depending on the complexity of your spot, animation can be an extremely time consuming task to cost out every detail. This step checks off practicalities before going into more detail about the project — this saves everybody time. It also shows the willingness and professionalism and Media IQ of the studio when they can suggest ways to meet your budget.

Step 7. Set up a creative call

After you have determined that this is studio you’d like to work with and they can meet your budget, arrange a creative call to review your concept. At this point you’ll get a good sense if the studio is excited about your project and what insights they can bring to the table. Notice if they are genuinely interested in your organization and your goals, and whether they ask relevant and specific questions, such as: what are your objectives with the video? Who is your target audience? What will be your main message? After the call you’ll have a good feeling about whether you need to move forward or keep searching.

Step 8. Get a production timeline with milestone deliverables at predetermined dates

Producing an animated video is a complex team effort. Depending on the type of project, it can take anywhere from 10 days to over eight weeks. With that said you want a calendar with milestone delivery dates that keeps everyone on target and on the same page. Discover if the studio has an online collaboration workspace and any other collaboration tools that can streamline the process.

For example here’s a video we show potential clients about one of our online collaboration tools



Summary

Increasing your media I.Q. and picking the right creative partners for projects is an ongoing task throughout your career. You have endless options for picking an animation studio and I hope this article helps jump start your task.

We’ve helped several ad agencies and international brands that need animatics or animated social media content achieve amazing results. If you’d like to learn more please send us your script/concept and give us a call.