Converting the animation process from a roll of the dice to certain success.

We always find it interesting how many companies and organizations we work with have been burned by consultants in the past.  You would think that something like a technical animation would be pretty straight forward, but in fact many organizations have had failed animation project that have left clients scratching their heads and wondering what happened! In the book “High-Impact Consulting” by Robert Schaffer the author finds that this problem is caused by something called the implementation gap.  In the technical animation world this implementation gap is typically created by a) all of the things that your organization would have to do so that the studio can create a cutting edge animation video, and b) the resources that you actually have on hand to get the job done. The difference between these 2 points creates a performance gap that can destroy animations if they are not handled properly. The little secret that no one talks about is the fact that the more complex your project, the wider and wider this gap becomes. Here are a few points that will help you narrow that gap and create technical animations that don’t just pull from the bottom line at your organization, but help create value for your organization.

  1. building blocksStart small and work towards the big. Keep things simple at first to make the studio prove that they have the resources to meet their timelines and costs. They should be able to prove to you that they can handle this type of work; if they are unwilling or unable to do this type of work then you know what you can expect from this studio. The beauty of this is that you hedge your bet and you don’t have thousands of dollars tied up in a project. If it doesn’t work out then you stop. Period.
  2. Build on the first project. It is really easy to reuse engineering assets once they have been converted into an animation package like Maya. What might start out as a static image can easily be turned into an animated disassembly explosion with very little effort. This also gives you another data point to consider. Were they able to handle yet another more challenging project?
  3. Suppliers should also be very transparent about the level of quality they can deliver – We have found many times that people have a tendency to promote unrealistic expectations of their work on demo and promo reels. We have even found several instances where companies have approached clients with demo reels stolen from other studios. By clarifying this detail upfront you won’t get bogged down in the end trying to get the look that is beyond the studios ability. A good way to check this is to ask the studio you would like to work with to bring samples of their work (hint: you can prove it is their work by asking them to supply a wireframe image from their animation package this way you know they made it)
  4. Look for ways to make them prove that they offer a valuable product. We feel very passionate about this point, because if a technical animation doesn’t provide value to the overall organization then why would you pay for it? An approach that we have used in the past is to create animations for clients for 10% of the total project costs with the stipulation that if we can achieve a certain metric then we will receive the balance of the project costs. This way, it is not just your organization that is at risk, but the animation supplier as well. They have to prove they can make your situation better, or they don’t get the balance of their project.

The hands down best way to ensure value for your organization when considering technical animations is identify a major project objective, and break off several smaller sub project that would allow you to reach that objective. Once you have these small pieces identified you can quickly crank out these smaller pieces that will lead you toward your ultimate goal. The hidden benefit of this approach is that it builds momentum in your organization and people can easily see that things are getting done. The other benefit of this iterative process is that you can put on the brakes at any time if the business environment changes. We know that priorities change quickly in organizations and it is typically in the Advertising and Marketing budgets that get trimmed first. This makes it very important to not overextend the organization by committing to developing a 3 month video with a studio. By following these simple guidelines you can significantly limit your exposure to risk while at the same time creating a quality product that can be used throughout your organization.

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  1. Posted June 23, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Good post. I absolutely love this website. Stick with it!

  2. Dan Brownson
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the feedback! If you have any additional questions please feel free to drop us a line.

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