Last night on MoChat we discussed preproduction, style frames, and storyboarding. We tried to keep everything segmented for those three topics and followed a progression of logistics to concepting. Some great advice was given and there did seem to be some general consensus on best practices. A few of the highlights:

  • Try to get a clear picture of the budget first.
  • Talk to the client to figure out what they want. Don’t rely on their brief, if it even exists. (Also try to find out who has the “final say” and see if you can speak with them directly.)
  • Inspiration pieces can be helpful, but be careful of clients wanting that exact thing.
  • You also have to be careful as a designer to not mimic inspiration pieces too much as well.
  • Most people tend to design their style frames as close as possible to the final production ready images.
  • Working right in AE/C4D can be a big help with having elements ready when it comes time to start animating.
  • If possible, present the frames to the client instead of sending them over an email.
  • It’s great to have the script done (or near done) before starting story boards, but that seems to rarely be the case.
  • If a scrips isn’t ready, make sure you and the writer are working of an outline.
  • There’s a mix of both digital and paper storyboarding.

And some overall advice:

  • Plan ahead as much as possible.
  • Work procedurally/modularly as a lot can change through this process.
  • Don’t be afraid to pitch concepts/frames/boards you think the client won’t like.
  • Don’t pitch anything you don’t like.

Sidenote: Texas was representing last night. More Texans than people from any other state participated.

Transcript

 

Welcome to #MoChat everyone. Tonight we’re talking planning out projects… Preproduction, Style Frames, and Storyboards.9:00 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

We’re roughly trying to stick to this agenda:
9:00 Preproduction
9:20 Style Frames
9:40 Storyboards
#mochat9:00 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

To start off, we realize every project is different, has different needs, and some need more planning than others. […] #mochat9:01 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

But when a project begins, how do you usually start figuring out logistics (schedule, budget, etc) and coming up with ideas? #mochat9:02 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

#mochat #tuned-in #mochat9:02 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Biggest thing for client work is finding out what the budget is. That usually determines the scope of a project. #mochat9:03 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I determine the realm of the budget first. From there my planning process has clear bounds of where I can go visually and time-wise. #mochat9:04 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

… How does it vary with availability of time? #mochat9:05 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

– begin by trying to understand the objectives my client is trying 2 achieve & how they invision the piece helping them #MoChat9:05 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Or lack therof? #mochat9:06 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick two. #mochat9:07 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

– then ask of they have seen anything that they feel accomplishes a similar objective format or style wise… #MoChat9:07 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Really, you have to decide if a project is worth killing yourself over to squeeze in. […] #mochat9:07 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I always make sure clients are comfortable with me working nights/weekends, and not always available during the day. #mochat9:08 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

– then ask for budget. Then propose a conceptual & visual solution to accomplish what they want within their budget. #MoChat9:09 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

hello party people.. #mochat9:09 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

same here man. #mochat9:09 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I wish “Concepting”, “Styleboard” and “Storyboarding” were actually words because I say them all the time. #mochat9:09 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Always a little leery of “inspiration” pieces from clients. Often that gets stuck in their head w/little wiggle room. #mochat9:09 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

😉 reality check. #mochat9:10 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Solid. #mochat9:10 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Oh man, when they give you something, they usually expect that exact “something”.#mochat9:10 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

my 6 least favorite words.. “you know what would be funny?” when dealing with clients.. cuz its never funny.. period #mochat9:11 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

How often do people figure in outside costs for projects (render farms, assets, sound guys, etc) and pass that on to clients? #mochat9:11 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

// for me, it is good 2 know what they think works and why. Use it as a guide to understand what they are tryin to achieve. #MoChat9:11 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

This. #mochat9:11 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Oh, it can definitely help. But if I can help it, I try to warn them not to open that link ever again. #mochat9:12 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I would love to know if people have a great project. Died they work from?!! #mochat9:12 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Otherwise can be a constant struggle of “It’s not quite like this…” Some clients are definitely better with this, tho. #mochat9:13 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I would love to know/see if anybody has a great project brief they work from… #MoChat9:14 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

“we want it too look like Matrix!” srsly? the matrix? what year is this?? #mochat9:14 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Do people look to other motion pieces as inspiration in prepro? If so, how do you avoid subconsciously copying the pieces? #mochat9:14 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Make it look like Apple. #mochat9:15 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Unfortunately, not really. Often it’s “We need a video for this…” and that’s it. #mochat9:15 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

1999, yo. Get with it! #mochat9:15 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Or just blatantly steal from? #mochat9:15 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Repeat viewings of the inspiration to make sure that we’re not crossing the “all too similar” line. #mochat9:16 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I like to preview colors(the messages they speak), and maybe a just some odd visual trick. To speak my message.. #mochat9:17 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

heres what Id recommend. try to source out who the “Final say” person is. sadly this is usually not the person your meeting with. #mochat9:18 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

: I try to copy pieces knowing that I won’t be able to achieve it and it’ll look different entirely anyway, lol.” #mochat9:18 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Moving on to style frames… how far do you push these? Do they end up being really close to the final product? #mochat9:20 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

for my next video Im on tutorial number 78 on Video CoPilot.. next week its on to 79.. when I reach the top I start over again at 1. #mochat9:20 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Do you put in R&D at this point coming up w/the mechanics of achieving “the look”? Or just get it close w/o worrying about process? #mochat9:20 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

What about R&D, I think this is a huge part of most of our work we skip over or don’t even account for. #mochat9:20 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Id like to think Im constantly on R&D but if your talking specifics then 4 me that comes after the initial brainstorming #mochat9:21 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I think can tell early on if pieces are too like something else; i don’t really find that too satisfying. #mochat9:22 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I usually put in R&D at the style frame stage. Try to see what I can accomplish given the restraints from the budget. #mochat9:22 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

It really depends on the project. I’ve had some style frames be almost exactly like final, and some that are way off. #mochat9:22 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I have 2 types of style frames: almost collage-like just getting across tone/mood, and polished frames near final quality/look. #mochat9:23 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I tend to do R&D throughout the entire project and let that influence the work as it’s created. Keeps my head from getting stale. #mochat9:23 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I can never get in the office the client to bit on the collage style frames they always want something to look near polished #mochat9:24 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I sometimes run into the problem of running all over… “Oh, that would be cool. I just learned this, I should add it!” #mochat9:24 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

But I also have a level in between my communication with the client that doesnt help. #mochat9:25 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Those types are usually when working w/production co. or agency. If direct to client, needs to be close to finished. #mochat9:25 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

That’s fair, I too have to hold the reins a bit, but with practice I’ve gotten a little better about it. #mochat9:25 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I personally love presenting my boards to a client. They see enthusiasm and understand better. If I just send it, they go “…what?” #mochat9:27 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

How many rounds do people average for style frames once presented to clients? #mochat9:28 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Lurking on #mochat9:28 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

It definitely helps to be there & explain the thought process and deeper concepts behind the frames. #mochat9:28 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

1-2 (usually small revisions) 3 for a troublesome client looking to art direct the project. #mochat9:28 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Stalker. #mochat9:29 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I usually stick to around 3 #mochat9:30 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

RT : Lurking on #mochat …//me too.9:30 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I confess, I dont make my own frames I collaborate with an in house artist, usually the client makes changes then we’re a go. #mochat9:30 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

That’s another good point. How many people work with art/creative directors vs everything on their own? #mochat9:30 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

How much of the assets you build for style frames are production ready? Or do you go all out and factor animation later? #mochat9:31 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

+1 on presenting boards in person to clients .. sometimes can make or break a project #mochat9:31 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Do you ever encounter infinite last minute “awesome ideas” that just have to go in? (client side) #mochat9:31 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I usually go all out unless I have specific plans. They look better and become important time saver assets if they bite #mochat9:31 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

It varies. If direct to client, I try to get it as close to production ready as possible, even keyframing at times. #mochat9:32 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

in house artist? How big is the company you work for? #mochat9:32 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

thats a given or some new footage or text or something last min to make changes.. its to be expected I’d say #mochat9:33 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

It also helps to be as clean as possible (models, layer/fx stacks) knowing you might use it later. #mochat9:33 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

That also helps free up time to better polish the actual animation. #mochat9:33 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

When doesn’t that help!? #mochat9:33 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I tend to make it as production-ready as possible within the time allowed. #mochat9:34 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Makes it easier on the workload down the road, allowing more time for polish. #mochat9:34 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

When you need to blow the clients money? Maybe if you’re a masochist? #mochat9:34 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I try to build all my own assets if/when time allows. how much asset recycling do you do? How big is your library? #mochat9:35 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Usually only 1 or 2, depending on the project deadline. More if necessary, but I like to get production under way quickly. #mochat9:35 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Not naming layers makes it a challenge later. Are you chickening out? #mochat9:35 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

big enough for an in house artist? 8) #mochat9:35 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Isn’t “life to short to name layers”? 😉 #mochat9:36 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I might have presets for FX, or maybe some abstract models, but that’s about it. I try not to recycle across clients. #mochat9:36 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

That is ideal. I try to take pictures of textures, but often end up using the same ones when time is short. #mochat9:36 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I name my layers. And I vote. #mochat9:37 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

RT : I name my layers. And I vote. #mochat9:37 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

and the artists picking up the work after you will most assuredly curse your name if layers are unnamed. #mochat9:37 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

You’re just a straight edge. #mochat9:37 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I thought everyone did every job these days… Ha. #mochat9:37 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I try to take the time to do things procedurally. that way changes later on are easy to fix #mochat9:38 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I hate myself everytime I bother doing thay one :p #mochat9:38 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

RT : I thought everyone did every job these days… Ha. #mochat9:39 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Or a bunch of missing assets because everything was on the desktop. #mochat9:39 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

dude, no. #mochat9:39 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I keep a library of stock video and textures, but try very hard not to reuse across clients. #mochat9:40 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Back when I started styleframes were largely done in illy and PS. Any one board strictly within AE or C4D, for certain plugins? #mochat9:40 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Now I know exactly how I’m setting up a project if I have to pass one on to you sometime. #mochat9:40 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Nightmare heart. #mochat9:40 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

yeah It feels like that somedays. but it took me a while to “let go” & collaborate with other depts. 8) esp if u (cont) #mochat9:41 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

The desktop should be clean! Nothing on it! #mochat9:41 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

are used to 1 man banding it.. #mochat9:41 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

there’s a motion graphics chat going on right now! follow the hash tag #MoChat for more!!9:41 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I try to. It helps double up with R&D. And helps avoid too much discrepancy if the client really loves the frames. #mochat9:41 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

So now you have a budget, schedule, style frames. On to storyboarding. #mochat9:41 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

How often do people get to storyboard in conjunction with scripting? Or is the script (near) finished by this point for you?#mochat9:41 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Every Tuesday! http://t.co/6PMaajhf http://t.co/5lvUZ3DK #mochat9:42 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Does that ever work for long? #Mochat9:42 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Script? that usually that Power Point you get at the very end.. when the projects done right? #mochat9:42 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Wowzers. Lucky to never see that, although I have endured disorganized files in general. #mochat9:43 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

And we’ll post transcripts of tonight’s #mochat tomorrow.9:43 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Gotcha. It does sound interesting to see what other people come up with… #mochat9:43 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

No, PowerPoint is how I get assets from the client. And web links. #mochat9:43 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I try to get my scripts finalised before I move into the storyboarding phase. #mochat9:44 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

if you hide the desktop from view, always. #mochat9:44 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

At my current job, I try to do boards & script concurrently. Sometimes the visual language can influence the script. #mochat9:44 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I usually work off of an outline of sorts. The script is rarely finished within a friendly timeframe. #mochat9:44 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

it seems the script sits in purgatory longer than the time we have to produce the whole piece. #mochat9:45 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I get assets..that are short-cuts on a CD 8) #mochat9:45 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

That happens a lot too. Budget killer. #mochat9:45 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

After which the storyboard and script can be revise together… in a perfect world, of course. #mochat9:47 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

crazy, I thought that was just me. #mochat9:47 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

RT : The desktop should be clean! Nothing on it! #mochat9:47 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Howdy y’all #MoChat9:48 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Do people get away with crude storyboards for clients, or do they have to be almost like the style frames for them to get it? #mochat9:48 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Welcome! #mochat9:49 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Find a happy medium, I do quality boards, but then make it clear things will be different (read better). #mochat9:49 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Most mographers talk about boards. I rarely ever do boards, mostly just diving righg into AE and making 10 sec animatics #mochat9:49 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

fellow Texan!? #mochat9:49 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

most clients I work with are pretty literal so you have to connect the dots. It can be dangerous to send a half baked one #mochat9:50 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Depends on the client. Those that I’ve worked with before, I can afford a bit more leeway. Others need it spelled out. #mochat9:50 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

honestly I was kinda using Styleframes & storyboards as a similar beast.. the onlything diffrent lately more me is animatics. #mochat9:50 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Hahahaha. It’s funny because it’s true. #mochat9:50 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I start with a pencil & paper board sequence first and get more refined as the client requires. #mochat9:50 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

That’s what I tend to do, too. It helps to be away from a computer when I’m boarding. #mochat9:51 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Shameless plug http://t.co/ROJto2TE a bunch of boards I did for Motorola. #mochat9:51 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Texas wins tonight? #mochat9:51 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I find doing refined boards is almost a time and budget suck. #mochat9:51 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

RT : Thats what I tend to do, too. It helps to be away from a computer when Im boarding. #mochat9:52 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

There’s at least 3 of you. Maybe I’ll have to pull geographic info for the summary tomorrow? #mochat9:52 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

NY, LA, Chicago = mograph towns. Texas? #mochat9:53 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I moved away from houston last year. Don’t miss it too much. #mochat9:54 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

How many people do digital boards vs paper? #mochat9:54 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Well, I’m currently Portland side. #mochat9:55 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Both? #Mochat9:55 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

If i ever do them, always digital. #mochat9:55 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

All digital, I can’t draw very well with out the ever amazing “Undo”. Hell, I find myself trying to hit undo on paper. #mochat9:55 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I run the account/meetup .. Chicago transplant moved here about a year ago! #mochat9:56 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Erasers, the original undo. 😉 #mochat9:56 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

RT : Erasers, the original undo. 😉 #mochat9:56 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

two different things. Erasers make everything dirty. #mochat9:57 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

done that :), but i love paper for problem solving. #mochat9:57 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Peeps on tonight’s #mochat – make sure your location is up to date in your profile. Gonna compile geo data for the summary tomorrow.9:57 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Unlimited undos! RT : Erasers, the original undo. 😉 #mochat9:57 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

RT : I run the account/meetup .. Chicago transplant moved here about a year ago! #mochat9:57 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

There’s a joke there somewhere. But I’m trying to keep things clean for the chat. 😉 #mochat9:58 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

We’re just about out of time for tonight’s #MoChat. Does anyone have any parting preproduction wisdom to bestow?9:58 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

I will admit to having a slight neurosis about eraser marks… #mochat9:58 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

The pink ones… #mochat9:59 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

The pink erasers do smell amazing though. #mochat9:59 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Plan. The more you can nail things down before animating, the smoother it will go and the more time you’ll have. #mochat9:59 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Never let a client make a complete directional-shift one week to deadline. #mochat10:00 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

This. Plan as much as you can. #mochat10:00 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Business 101 #mochat10:00 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

when changes are made.. dont take it personally.. learn to give and receive critique.. Im still working on this myself. 8) #mochat10:01 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

No matter how locked down a script can be, it can be changed at the last moment. Work modularly. #mochat10:01 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Never be afraid to show a client a style or board you think they may not like. #mochat10:02 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

This looks like it was a helpful #mochat tonight. We’re wrapping it up now…10:02 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

very beneficial… I was only a spectator tonight… needed this info. THANKS ALL! #mochat10:03 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

also, never show a client a board or design you dont like. Odds are they’ll choose the one you least like. #mochat10:03 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

fact! #mochat10:04 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

This. So much this! #mochat10:04 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

hahaha, true! #mochat10:05 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

night everyone.. thank you for all the info.. #NowGoMakeSomething #mochat10:05 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Happens way too often. #mochat10:05 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

but never show boards for a idea you dont like…the client will pick it almost guaranteed #mochat10:05 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

And that does it for tonight. Thanks for coming out everyone! Look for the transcript tomorrow. And as always, go make something! #mochat10:06 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012

Great #MoChat everyone, thanks for the advice/knowledge!10:07 PM (EDT) Sep 18th, 2012