How Long Does It Take To Produce an Animation?
9 min read
When you’re about to start a new animation project, one of the first questions on your mind will be how long does it take to produce an animation? Generally speaking, how long the process takes depends on the complexity of design and the level of detail needed (e.g. if the animation is 2d or 3d)
A simple animated video with superficial details and without animated characters can be completed in around 4 weeks. However, more intensive scenes, with more movement and animation (like a fight scene) could take up to few months.
Generally, the average time to produce an animation of around 60-90 seconds is 8-10 weeks. The time taken depends largely on the animation style you’d like to use, for example, simple motion graphics animations will be much faster than complex frame-by-frame animation.
The Standard Timeline
The standard timeline of 8 weeks to completion of the entire animation process can be broken down into a number of stages: briefing, brainstorming, scriptwriting, key illustration/concept art, storyboard, illustration, animation, and sound design.
Each stage of the process is integral to the success of your animation. The overall aim of the process is to make your creative vision a reality.
During the initial, preproduction stages, 3-6 days will be set aside for the briefing, brainstorming, script writing and concept art. It’s vital from the beginning that clients provide prompt feedback to keep the project moving swiftly.
The next stage will be 5-12 days for the storyboard and illustrations, followed by 5-10 days for the illustration itself. At the end of the animation process, you will have a quality animation of around 60-90 seconds long.
If time is of the essence, animations can be completed quicker, but to do so is often very resource intensive, and will increase the overall cost of the project. However if more people are engaged in the project, then the process can be twice as fast. An open dialogue between the client and the design studio will ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that each stage is delivered on time.
Briefing and creative offer
The first stage of producing an animation is designing a creative offer. A well-defined brief will help your designers to better understand what you’re looking to achieve with your project, and to note down the stylistic elements that you’re looking to see in your video.
A clear brief will take the target audience into consideration and help to focus the rest of the project on the desired demographic. A creative offer will take around 3-6 days to complete.
Brainstorming and Script Writing
After that stage the studio will brainstorm to bring the clients vision to life. The whole brainstorming process begins with copywriters, who work together with art directors to choose the stylistics before the rest of the team starts on the concepts.
The creative team (comprised of animators, illustrators and art directors) will list potential stylistic features, and artistic choices that can be made to bring your vision to life.
Next the script will be produced. It is the heart and soul of your creative story, and whether you’re creating an emotive story or a marketing animation, your script will play a large role in determining how your animation is received.
The script will communicate your message and narrate the overall animation. Brainstorming and script writing will take 5-8 days to complete.
Now when the script is ready, projects including narration and / or dialogues will be passed to the VO artists. The sooner the voice over is recorded the better. It determines how a final effect will look like, affecting the length and the rhythm of the animation.
It takes around 1-3 days to complete this stage, however it can be processed parallelly to the concept art stage.
After laying down the foundations of your artistic message concept art will start to visualize your message. Concept art also called key illustration aims to create a rough visual representation of your ideas, before they are put into the final product.
Illustrators and art directors will be looking to create concept art that provides a fast-track look at the visual ideas of the animation studio.
Concept art will make sure that your project has a unified artistic vision and ensure your designers are on the same page. This part of the process takes an average of around 2-4 days to complete.
Once your script and your concept art has been sketched up, a storyboard will be drawn up to detail the visual components of the video scene-to-scene. It will enable you to see how the overall animation is structured, down to the scene design and the progression of the story.
At this stage you’ll see a rudimentary skeleton of the final product before the details are finalised. Most storyboards can be completed within 4-7 days.
Once you’ve approved a storyboard that meets your brief, your initial concept art sketches will be developed into detailed illustrations. This is where the specifics of your character design and features will be narrowed in on.
This will be one of the first stages where your artistic vision starts to be realized. The illustrations will be completed in around 10-12 days.
We’ve now reached the main part of the project: the animation phase. At this point, the design studio will be using earlier illustrations and storyboards to create dynamic animated scenes.
The studio will use animation software to bring character designs and other models to life with authentic movement and articulation scene by scene. Each scene will need to be reviewed vigorously in order to ensure the scenes run smoothly. This can take between 12-16 days.
To complete your animation, it’s time to add sound effects and a professional music track. The design team will make use of music sound effects and production software to add audio to your animation.
Quality sound design sets the mood for your target audience. The sound design can be completed in 1-3 days.
The 8-week Animation Process
The 8-week animation process is more than enough to produce a high quality product that captivates viewers and gets your message across. There’s a fine line between keeping the animation process prompt and rushing through compromising your creative vision.
Entering into the process and clearly communicating your needs to the design team can pay dividends as the sooner the animators understand the effect you’re looking to create the sooner they can make the changes needed to make the content you want to see.