Three by three: How to commission a successful science animation

Animations are the perfect medium for explaining complicated ideas. We often reach for a pen and paper to sketch out ideas when words fail us. Sharing ideas visually is powerful and effective, especially when done right. We can be more precise, more concise, and show people exactly what we mean.

Not all of us have the skills to create an animation, but we can all create a clear plan to make sure that our idea is transformed into a reality by skilled writers, animators, and artworkers.

Working with an animation studio can make the process easier, but there are still three main areas that you need to consider:

Reaching the right people

  • How much do you have to say? If approximately 150 words makes 1 minute of animation, and you have five points to cover, can you cover each in just 30 words? If not, consider a longer animation.
  • Animations are meant to be seen – but who are the people who are watching? Your animation style and tone should change according to your aims. Do you want to raise funding, share your research? Think about whether you need to explain complex terminology for a general audience.
  • What next? If you want the viewer to take action, you need to include links of where they can do that.


Getting the look and sound right

  • Visual identity. Have you ever looked at something, and it feels a bit off? Sometimes, that’s because the elements don’t fit together well, or they don’t suit the brand (or institute, or company). Choose a colour palette, font, and other elements that go together and fit your image.
  • Different animation techniques will change how your animation is perceived – a whiteboard animation looks different to a fully 3D design. What is going to suit you, and your budget, best?
  • The visual elements are only one part of the animation – the soundtrack and voiceover also play a part. Choosing the right voiceover artist is crucial, so think about if you want to have a specific accent or tone to your animation.


Money talks

  • Buy in. From the get go of a project, everyone needs to be on board. A complex animation needs extra time and budget – does everyone know what to expect?
  • Creating an animation is enjoyable, but when the process gets delayed it can become time-consuming and expensive.
  • Think about when you need the animation for, and work back from then. Allow 2 to 3 months from start to finish, unless you need an animation faster. If so, you should think about the time and energy you need to put in to get it finished on time.

A well-planned project will deliver an impactful, effective animation that targets the people you want to see it, and finishes on time and on budget. Take time and work with your animation studio at the start of the project to set a timeline, budget, and clear style to maximise the impact of your work.