October 02, 2020 5 min read

Keys to Good Short Animation 

Animation can be created in a number of ways, as long as it falls into a frame by frame technique. Animation includes hand-drawn, computer-generated, stop motion, clay, cut out, pixelation, and more. 

No matter what animation technique you choose, the best animation typically has a few things in common. Whatever story you want to tell or whatever the purpose of the animation that you are developing, here are the things that you should keep in mind.

Show, Don't Tell

This basic rule of storytelling is no less true when you are creating a short animation. The most common problem for many people who are just learning how to create short animation is how to create a story and get the desired emotional response in such a short amount of time. 

Animated stories need to rely on information that people already know or natural emotional responses to accomplish their goals. If you ever find that your characters are expounding on things that you want to communicate, it's a good idea to rethink your writing. 

One of the key characteristics of good storytelling, whether it is writing, video, or any other media, is that your audience should understand your point organically without you explaining it in the storyline. If you can't find a way to do that, it's time to either rethink your story or get help communicating your message and getting the desired result without exposition 

Make it as Short as Possible

This is a largely unintuitive rule about short film-making. It is hard to cut film that you've worked hard on, but if you expect a short film to pay off, it needs to include only the absolute best of your ideas. There are a few key reasons why shorter is better, regardless of your goal in creating the film:

Short Attention Spans

Most people don't want to devote a lot of time to watching a video. Potential viewers scan the length of the video and make a decision before they even begin watching about whether they want to engage. The shorter your video, the more likely it is that you'll get viewers to watch it all the way through. You may also cause more people to click on it in the first place. 

Reduce Budget

It's easy to fall into the trap of the sunk cost fallacy when you are creating a short film. After all, you already spent money animating or drafting ideas, so scrapping those ideas to reduce the length of the film because you think they may not be as valuable as other parts of the film can be hard. However, the sooner you can cut out an essential part of a short film design, the less money and effort will be wasted down the road.

More Shareable

Even if you can get your target audience to watch a longer film, there is less of a chance that they will try to get their friends and family to watch it. Sharing a film that is only a couple of minutes long is asking much less of friends and family. That means that your viewers may be more likely to casually share or suggest the video to other people. 

Be Practical

It can be very easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating a short animation. After all, anything is technically possible within digital animation. However, in reality, some digital images are much more difficult to create than others. 

You do not want to find yourself caught up in a project that is going over your budget and time. A quality graphic designer will be able to honestly discuss with you the realities of short film-making so that you don't end up trying to create an animation that is outside of your means or unlikely to look good. 

Pick a Moment 

One of the best ways to create a successful short animation is to focus on a key moment that can communicate larger themes. Many short films get caught up trying to communicate large ideas and end up communicating nothing at all.

Your goal should be to find a moment that communicates your larger idea. For example, if you want to sell a product on the platform of community values, you might choose to show animated figures enjoying the product over a family dinner. 

If you wanted to be even more precise, you might show a child trying to convince their parents to let them eat their dinner in their room. Perhaps a parent offers your product to convince the child to sit down to family dinner without further argument.

Create a Conflict

No story is interesting without a problem. The problem doesn't have to be big or important. In fact, a brief and simple problem that can easily be solved within the length of a short film is ideal. 

If you are trying to promote a product or service, what you sell may be the solution to the conflict. If you want to be a little bit less on the nose, perhaps your product will be there during the resolution, creating a positive association between your product or service and the resolution to the problem.

Do it Yourself or Choose a Graphic Designer?

If you are planning a high production short film or expensive commercial slot, you probably know that you will need to hire a quality graphic designer to get the job done right. However, if you’re producing a very short film for social media or other affordable advertising, you may wonder whether you can learn the skills to do it yourself. 

This may be especially true if you want to produce multiple short films, as is advisable when you are building a strong social media campaign. After all, you may worry that it could get expensive to keep paying for different short animations for your various platforms.

However, there are a few important reasons why you may prefer to choose a graphic designer on retainer rather than doing the work yourself. A high-quality graphic designer may charge by the month or per number of projects, rather than charging you one project at a time. 

This can dramatically reduce your expenses. Here are some reasons you may want to think twice about doing it yourself.

  • Quality counts. Your customers probably have very high expectations in animations. After all, most of them grew up watching animated films and were exposed to high-quality animated advertisements all the time. If your animation, however simple, gives off a sense of amateurism or inexperience, you may make a very negative impression on your customers
  • It's harder than you might think.If you have some basic design skills, you may assume that building a short animation won't be that challenging. However, you may find that there is more to it than you expect, which will end up costing you more in the end than if you had hired a graphic designer. 

Choose a Quality Graphic Designer

The graphic designer that you choose for your short design matters. Don't settle for an individual who claims to have some experience but doesn't offer professional results or a guarantee. Since you will probably have a number of short films to create to appeal to your different audiences on different platforms or for different purposes, it's best to choose a graphic designer who will give you a flat rate per number of projects or time period so that you know what to predict and can get the most for your money.

Sources

https://www.raindance.org/7-rules-for-writing-short-films/

https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/91aa_short_fi

https://screencraft.org/2018/08/01/5-tips-for-screenwriters


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