We kick things off by discussing your specific brief and project requirements. We like to find out as much as we can about your audience and objectives so we can get the tone and message of the animation perfectly aligned with the brand. We can work with a fully formed script and concept or our specialised team can work with you to tailor a creative idea and script to perfectly suit your brief.
Design assets for stop-motion can include characters, sets, props and backgrounds. We can work with existing designs or our talented illustrators can use agreed style references to produce bespoke designs just for you.
Once all the designs have been approved they act as a blueprint for our model-making team of which the puppets, sets and props will be born from.
Next up, a storyboard is created to give us a rough visual representation of the script. This will illustrate in sequence: shot choices, general movements and/or performance within the frame and any script notes.
Unlike live-action, stop-motion doesn’t usually afford the luxury of shooting a scene in multiple ways. Once a storyboard is locked down it becomes the point of reference for our crew and animation team. The choices made here will dictate how we set up everything from lighting, the scale of the models, even to the puppets themselves. For example if in the storyboard we’re only seeing the puppet from the waste up, it is likely, in order to reduce production time/save on materials, we will only construct the top half of the puppet.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take the storyboard a step further and turn it into a rough moving video which we call an animatic. This helps with the pace, camera framing and other aspects like transitions and set-ups. It’s also at this point that an approved voiceover recording will be required so we can ensure timings match up perfectly.
For traditional character animations we will need to make all of the characters, sets, costumes, models, props and backgrounds. These will all be handcrafted by our highly skilled in-house model-making team, using all of the approved concept designs as reference.
For product animations we require all featured products to be sent to the studio to be prepped for animation. Prep can included rigging the product to secure it to set, adapting the product for animation or something simple like applying dulling spary to reduce on-set reflections.
With models, sets and products ready, it’s time to get everything in place in one of our studios. Once rigged and in position, we will set up cameras, motion control rigs, lighting and backgrounds.
As we’ve mentioned, animating stop-motion can be a time-consuming process and, unsurprisingly, the more complicated the shot the longer it will take to complete. On an average commercial shoot our animators will try to capture between 5-10 seconds of footage per day. This might sounds slow however when you compare it to the 2-5 seconds captured per week on a feature film we don’t do too badly. To shorten the shoot time we also have the ability to shoot on multiple rigs with multiple animators.
With the animation wrapped, each frame will be ‘cleaned-up’ by our compositors, removing rigs and hiding imperfections. Once complete our editors will do what is commonly referred to as the ‘offline’ or rough edit. This involves editing together all the cleaned up frames and adding voice over.
Once the offline edit is approved it’s time for the film to be polished and perfected in a process known as the ‘online’ edit. Here we can give the film the overall colour grade, as well as adding visual effects, titles, music and sound effects.
And that’s it. Once we have final sign-off, we will render and supply to you with the final high-res file, ready for the whole world to enjoy.