An MOA from Script to Screen: 17 Tips to Get a Killer Animation Produced For Your Event

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This article originally appeared on LinkedIn

You’re a Brand Manager for a Pharmaceutical Corporation, a Product Director at a Biotech Company, or perhaps a Creative Director at a Healthcare Marketing Agency. You’re responsible for the launch of an exciting new therapeutic product scheduled to make its debut at an upcoming trade show, but you still need a stunning MOA animation for the show.

There’s still plenty of time for that, right?

There are several trade show and conference events within the healthcare industry taking place throughout the year. Lets focus on the process of producing animation for the upcoming ASCO conference on June 2nd of this year

ASCO is still 4 months away so why should you begin developing your animation now?

From script to screen, a comprehensive 3-minute Mechanism of Action video can take anywhere from 3-4 months to complete. If you’ve got a target deadline that coincides with a show coming up in that time frame, there is still time to take action and find the perfect animation team to produce your MOA.

Here are a few tips to help maximize your ability to receive the most effective and beautiful digital assets for ASCO or any other target event.

WHY IT’S IDEAL TO BEGIN SCHEDULING PRODUCTION OF YOUR MOA AT LEAST FOUR MONTH BEFORE YOU NEED IT

Lets take a look at the typical production process for a 3-minute animation.

FOUR MONTHS FROM DELIVERY: An Engaging Script

Your script is the foundation for a successful animation. It will communicate the intricate mechanisms of a disease state, and the function of the therapeutic process, but the story also needs to be engaging. A script can take an average of 4 weeks to research, write, refine, and enter the legal review process. 

  • TIP 1: Take this opportunity to strike the perfect balance between storytelling and science messaging in a way that will keep your audience engaged.
  • TIP 2: The animation team can always begin development with a general story outline so don’t rush the process. Spend this time creating a clear and appealing narrative.

THREE MONTHS TO GO: Visualizing Look & Feel with Styleframes

While the script is in development, your animation team will begin designing the players and environments in your story. Molecules, cellular environments, devices and anatomical representations will be brought to life in 3D renderings, aka: Styleframes. This process can take 2-3 weeks depending on the level of complexity or number of elements needed to tell the story.

  • Tip 3: Take this time to not only weigh in with the animation team on scientific accuracy but ask yourself if the artwork reflects the appropriate level of complexity OR simplicity for the target audience.
  • Tip 4: Determine if the imagery needs to reflect the branding guidelines, or does it need to stand apart stylistically from the current branding. 
  • Tip 5: Identify the preferred color palette and mood that the artwork needs to convey. For instance, do you want your drug/product to appear bright and shiny to visually communicate its role as the hero? Maybe you want the disease-initiating molecule to be of a darker, hotter color so it can be easily identified as the antagonist of the story.
  • Tip 6: If 3D models will need to be revised, it will have much less of an impact on production at this stage than when animation production has already been completed. Try to make sure everyone on your team weighs in on the styleframes, including the end client.

TWO AND A HALF MONTHS TO GO: Finding the Visual Flow with Storyboards

Your Animation team will usually need 2-3 weeks to produce storyboards depending on the complexity of the science.

  • Tip 7: Are you easily able to follow the story along visually from frame to frame without confusion? Try to make sure the boards not only capture the intricacies of the science story, but also follows a clear, linear narrative. 
  • Tip 8: Are there any areas where the narration covers too many details within a sentence? What works on paper may be tricky to capture visually in animation. The audience will need enough time to absorb the action onscreen. It’s OK to expand on the verbiage of the script where needed if it will help the pacing and flow of the animation. Animation studios want to produce the best results for you and an increase in word count that is beneficial to the clarity of the animation shouldn’t usually affect your budget.
  • Tip 9: This is also a great time to receive feedback from your animation team. Lean on their experience and creative advice to achieve a more fluid, visual story flow, which may require some minor structural changes to the script.

TWO MONTHS TO GO: Lets Start Animating!

Once storyboards are refined and approved, your team will begin the animation process. A rough, unpolished animatic may be provided first for initial feedback and then further refined into a second, and eventually a final pass. Towards the end of this stage, professional narration will be recorded and music and sound effects will be composed and mixed into the final video. This process of animation from rough animatic to approved final pass can take an average of 6-8 weeks.

  • Tip 10: Consider the expertise, experience and creative sensibility of your animation studio. They can provide great ideas and solutions throughout the process to various creative challenges.
  • Tip 11: The animation stage, especially the final pass, is the most time intensive stage of the project. Communication is important. Try to chime in early with any major changes to the script, look or action as early as possible to avoid any challenging last minute crunches that could jeopardize deadlines. 
  • Tip 12: Stuff happens, but if possible, try to keep to the agreed upon schedule and avoid any sudden acceleration of the timeline or addition of content. 
  • Tip 13: Make sure you’ve identified when all deliverables need to be received, including additional ancillary assets that may need to be produced. 
  • Tip 14: Find out when the AV vendor at the booth will need to test and receive the animation and be sure to identify the digital formats they require. For instance, if the booth will have vertical LED screens, and your animation team has already produced the animation in landscape format, remedying this situation can sometimes be a challenge later in the schedule. Be sure to communicate your format needs early in the process.
  • Tip 15: Be sure to communicate the appropriate mood and style of the music/sound design.
  • Tip 16: Your animation team will push themselves to create the best results they can. They will want to express their creative expertise through dynamic animation techniques and cutting edge CG tools. Animators love to let their imagination run wild, but sometimes they can go overboard! Be sure to share your feedback if you feel the animation is looking more like Star Wars than an educational science video, and the story is getting lost in the process. But by all means, if you are looking to produce a fascinating visual journey with all the bells and whistles, a skilled and talented animation team can deliver that too.

TWO WEEKS TO GO: Client Feedback and Legal Reviews

  • Tip 17: These necessary review stages can easily add an extra 2-3 weeks to any production schedule. The larger the review team, the more voices will need to be heard. This can sometimes cause delays when attempting to gather everyone’s feedback. Try to be sure reviews are factored in from the start and that all science consultants understand the importance of sticking to the review schedule.

YOUR TARGET DATE HAS ARRIVED: Success! 

Your MOA should now be in your hands and ready to go! Enjoy the accolades for producing a beautiful and effective crowd-pleasing animation in time for your event.

But what if you don’t have 3 to 4 months in your schedule? Will your animation studio be able to deliver the MOA sooner?

Yes. Animation studios are often required to accelerate production in order to accommodate shortened timelines and can still deliver on time; however, there are a few consequences to this scenario that you may want to consider.

In order to get more animation produced within a short time frame, studios may either need to put additional animators on the job, or acquire more rendering power which can increase the budget. The complexity of the animation may also need to be simplified and the length of the script reduced as well.

These decisions can potentially impact the quality and character of your MOA. A “high-end” science animation, for example can take more time and effort to produce than an animation that is less visually complex. As a solution to meeting the shortened deadline, you may be offered the simpler “Style B” animation solution which could be the most effective path to success, but not as appealing as the high-end “Style A”. This doesn’t mean your product will be inferior or inaccurate in any way, but it can mean that you could have missed an opportunity to produce the MOA that elevates your brand in more dynamic and exciting ways.

When you choose to produce an MOA animation you are investing lots of time and budget into an effective, accurate, and esthetically pleasing product that will help your brand make a significant impact. To get optimal results, consider giving your animation team as well as your own marketing, creative and science teams the time to fully work through this creative process from the start.

To conclude, if you are planning to hire an animation partner to develop your MOA assets for the upcoming ASCO show on June 2nd, consider that you probably should be looking to secure an animation studio very soon, optimally within the next 2 weeks. No pressure!

We hope to see you at ASCO this year!

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