Animation production phases
by Gary Goldman


Here's the Process in brief:
1) Concept – the idea or situation for the story
2) Treatment – Out line of the story and its characters, 1 to 3 pages
3) Script – flushed out story with location descriptions, character development, with dialogues, start to finish, 70 to 85 pages.
4) Character design – designing each character in the story with costumes and appropriate props to help describe each personality visually.
5) Storyboard – illustrating, scene by scene, with the script and recording of voices as guide.
6) Recording actors' voice tracks (before and after storyboarding – works both ways).
7) Editorial sound – assemble "radio tracks" of the voice recordings for timing approvals and use in storyboard assembly and for animators when working on their "acting" for each scene.
8) Editorial picture – scan in and assemble storysketches cutting scenes in sync with voice "radio track".
9) Approval by director(s)/producer(s) of individual sequences and scenes to go into animation production – approval of the storyboards.
10) "Bluebook notes", director's notes on each and every scene, purpose of scene, dialogues, number of characters, hook ups to other scenes, special effects, notes about backgrounds, color changes, dissolves to other scenes, multiplication of characters for crowd situations and any othe special notes to artists to be involved with each scene.
11) Layout – drawing of set designs and individual backgrounds for each scene in the film. Scenes per film average between 900 for The Secret of NIMH (82 minutes) to 1350 scenes in Anastasia (95 minutes). Our average scene length is about 6 feet/4 seconds.
12) Color Key – color art direction – miniature paintings using layouts (blown-down) to thumbnail size (2 X 3 inches) to determine colors that will express the mood of a sequence. Happy or "up", sad, violent and scary, meloncholy, etc. Night shots vs daylite shots. Going for imaginative uses of color and pushing the emotions in the continuity of the film.
13) Ruff character animation – first rough animation of key poses for the movement of the characters for each scene. Sometimes with live-action reference (which must be shot before handing out animation)
14) Ruff inbetween – assistant animation filling in the breakdowns and inbetweens "between" the key poses provided by the animator.
15) Scanning – scanning the drawings into the computer for use in scene planning and editorial.
16) Scene Planning – Scene Planners manipulate the camera elements to create camera moves, trucks, pans, cross-dissolves, wipes etc., multiplying and placing characters in each scene. Create special elements called for by the director.
17) Editorial – cut in ruff animated scenes with appropriate camera moves.
18) Ruff Sweatbox notes- director's approval or call for corrections of the ruff animated scene. Okay to clean up scene. Notes to call for cleanup of the characters, confirm lip-sync call for designated special effects and notes to color model and Background artist alerting them to the fact that the animation is approved and is coming thru the system.
19) Clean Up animation, key each extreme pose and prepare scene for cleanup breakdown and inbetween. Double check each drawing with the director and the animator that drew the ruffs. Confirm lipsync and levels on exposure sheet.
20) Clean up inbetween – same process as ruff but now cleaning up and creating a single line final drawing for use in registration where necessary, prop reg or layout reg or for closed-in areas for ink & paint.
21) Special Effects animation – Water, rain, snow, splashes, lightning, smoke fire, shadows, tone mattes, highlites, sparkles, pixie dust, magic or any environmental phenomena to accent the believability of each and every scene.
22) Special Effects inbetween & clean up. Self explanatory.
23) CGI Animation – sometimes this department has primary contributions and will begin at the same time as character animation (item 13). We use a lot of CGI special effects and prop animation. This animation will be combined in compositing and cleanup scene planning.
24) Clean up Scanning – scan in cleaned up character and special effects drawings.
25) Clean up Scene Planning – organize the scene according to exposure sheet and director's blue book notes and sent to compositing.
26) Compositing – composite scene in computer and make available to Editorial.
27) Editorial – cut in cleaned up scene with appropriate final special effects and camera moves.
28) Clean up Sweatbox notes – director's approval or call for corrections with notes to all that will still be working on the scene, including background, color model, Special effects, CGI, Art direction, sound editorial and final checking. This is where the scene is approved to go to color.
29) Animation Check – a quality control check to review the Exposure sheet and the assembly of all animation to what levels and to be sure that all elements are in their correct position with correct exposures for transparencies and other camera techniques to achieve scene requirements.
30) Color Model – The artists that work with the director(s) and Art Director to choose colors for the characters and special effects, including CGI animation. This department will work with animation check, special effects, scene planning, art direction and film directors to achieve the purpose of the scene with color.
31) Ink & Paint – painting the characters and special effects as directed by the approved colors approved by the director(s) in color model.
32) Final check – review each scene for correct level assembly, correct painting, correct exposures and make appropriate corrections to the color scenes before final compositing.
33) Final compositing – computer compositing of the final color scene. Here the directors can still make color changes to the backgrounds, characters, special effects and even framing of each scene.
34) Color editorial – cutting in the final color scene.
35) Color Sweatbox – directors' final approval of the colored version of the scene. Notes to approve the color or call for corrections.
36) Sound effects "spotting" – working with a sound design team of editors to agree where sound effects will apply. Foot steps, splash sounds, impacts, creative noises that characters or special effects would create when in motion. including clothes russle, rain impacts, waterfall sound effect, engine sounds, crowd sounds (walla), etc.
37) Music spotting – review the movie with the composer to talk about how the music accompanies the action and how the mood of the story continuity will change from sequence to sequence. Usually we have cut in temp music to show the composer what we thought would be appropriate for each section of the film. We pick music cues from old sound tracks (albums) from other composers/movies.
38) Film transfer – requires a compositing of the approved color scene in a high resolution 1080 X 1900 lines for transfer to film negative and printing.
39) Editorial – The film editor now creates a work "print" of the film for eventual negative cutting. This will apply to every scene in the movie.
40) Musical Score recording session. Usually takes about 5 days of double recording sessions (10 total) to create the musical score for the film. The composer usually requires 10 to 12 weeks to write the score.
41) Music editing – a music editor now cuts the music tracks to sync with the picture and prepare for the final dub or sound mix of the film.
42) Sound editing – sound editors (sound design) shares or reviews his/her sound effects with the directors in preparation for the final dub.
43) Final dub – usually around 5 weeks in a dubbing theater with mixers (3 – dialogue, music, and sound effects engineers) who will balance the sounds of the film to contribute to telling of the story.
44) Mix down – dubbing crew now creates sound tracks for various kinds of presentations, stereo, mono, Optical, digital formats plus M & Es (Music and Effects tracts only for foreign dubs in multiple languages.
45) Mix down Music – for sound track album, this is a duty of the composer and music mixer, it usually takes place just after the completion of the recording of the score.
46) Creation of Digital and optical elements to be combined with the final printing of the film on film for theater presentation.
47) Negative cutting – work prints with final approved color scenes on film are delivered to a Negative cutting company (usually located at the film developing and printing company like Technicolor, Deluxe Labs or Rank Labs), The negative will be assembled to the exact order of the work print, spliced and made available to the printer.
48) Answer Print – The Producer/Director and Art Director or Color Model designer will review the color prints for accuracy of color from scene to scene. This usually takes 3 to 5 days to perfect the final answer print. This will be the guide for checking all release prints.
49) Inter-positive – protection master of the original negative and element to create a duplicate negative.
50) Dupe Negative – a duplicate negative will be made from the interpositive to produce "Release Prints". Dupe negatives are good for about 50 prints. A new dupe negative will have to be made for every 50 prints required.
51) Release Print – one example of a release print is to be delivered with the answer print to the distributor.
52) Video Mastering – usually using the inter-positive or a dupe negative, a master video transfer will be made with the director and a color representative from the film production will be present while a scene to scene color correct correction/enhancement will be made for both Pan & Scan/full screen and wide-screen presentations.
53) Digital Mastering – scene to scene color correction for DVD and High Definition presentations.
54) Find a place to store all the art work. If you are not too tired, get another project up and running, there are a lot of people that may have to be layed off if you are not prepared to go on to the next production. It's best to start with several projects in mind.


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