Getting Started With Animated Content

So you’ve decided you want to make an animation – great stuff! In this blog, we go through the steps for producing an animation and how it differs from conventional video production. 

First of all, the only thing that animations and videos have in common is that they’re story based. This means that whilst they both follow many of the same narrative conventions, from a craft perspective, video and animation couldn’t be more different.

Where video production moves through three distinct phases: Development, Production & Post-Production. The steps for producing animated content is opaque due to an extended development period which is where all the creativity resides. The craft of actually assembling your film into an animation is largely procedural.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Essential in the planning stage of any animated production is the storyboard. Often the animator will sketch out the flow of the production before beginning the work of building any assets. This is a great way of getting the whole team on-board with a general vision for the project.

Whilst storyboards on live-action productions tend to be reserved for scenarios containing complex visual effects or sophisticated camera moves; animated productions are usually entirely artificial, meaning the storyboard is of equal, if not greater significance to the overall production than the script. 

'Nothing’s occurring in animation – you manufacture everything'.

Gore Verbinski

When it comes to live action projects, generally speaking you’re not looking for an exact interpretation of the planning, you’re looking for either an approximation of your storyboard close enough to what you planned or alternatively an inspired moment which elevates the project from how it was preconceived to something more fulfilling.

With animated content, the storyboard is a key reference document because it contains everything from how the characters should move, what they interact with, to the general flow of the project. There should be little divergence from this document.

From a narrative perspective your script will follow many of same conventions as live action work however, for animated productions, many of the creative decisions are influenced by the role of the voice, i.e  will the project be voiced by the characters inside the video, or will it be voiced by a narrator.

Many explainer films for example adopt a narrated approach as this is typically cheaper than producing an animation which is in time to a characters mouth movements. For more about explainer films, check out our blog called 5 Ingredients For An Explainer That Converts.

For guidance on writing an effective script, take a look at our blog entitled From Script To Screen: How To Prepare Your Script.




We always want to bring our clients into the production process as much as possible, after all it’s your film we’re making and when done right should feel like a collaboration.

When considering an animated project of circa 2-4 mins, depending on the size of the team working on it, it could easily take between 3 and 6 weeks to do a proper job. We have produced animated content faster than this before, but it tends to depend on the type of animation you’re considering.


All too often revisions are seen as a dirty word in the animation world, and for good reason too, redoing work once it has been animated holds things up and can be frustrating. That said, we live in the real world and get that things come up, which is why we don’t cause a stir over tiny revisions and have put in place a robust process by which to reduce the chance of requiring further changes.

If you need any help producing an animated film for your business contact us today on this link here.

About the Author

Nathan Haines

Nathan is the managing director of Element 26 and an expert in video production and video marketing. Nathan enjoys supporting companies to grow their businesses using video. Get in touch on Twitter @element26uk