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How to write an animation design or animation

How to write an animation design or animation

Give yourself the best chance of winning a design or animation project with these guidelines

Title and introduction

The first thing you’ll write on each treatment is the project name, so it’s highly recommended that you make sure you get that part right. When making a brief, it’s always a good idea to take as detailed notes as possible on all aspects of the project, including people involved, keywords, reference material, technical aspects or limitations, audio preferences, and working project titles. These notes will help you lay the groundwork for the treatment and show your fullest understanding of the brief, such as the correct title or key words the client was trying to describe the project with.

Once you have a clean landing page with the client’s name, project name, and any subheadings, you’re ready to add the first and most important piece of text, the introduction or approach.

The introduction, outline, premise or treatment approach is a vital and short 2 or 3 line paragraph that clearly tells the reader what they are going to read and why they are reading it. Ideally, this paragraph will “grab” the reader immediately and change their interest, making them want to read the rest of the document.

The writing style

Using descriptive language is an important part of the art of any writing, not least with treatments, where ideally you need to squeeze all the information into one or two pages of A4 paper to paint a clear picture in the reader’s eye exactly what they can expect the final film or animation to look like.

When describing your concept, try to use fluent and elegant phrasing while being descriptive and precise. Extensive use of vocabulary will keep the reader interested and his brain visualizing the result.

For example, the Brief is for a TV crime drama title sequence, and the director wants the style of the title sequence to reflect the period, atmosphere, and subject matter of the script. The director can use quite a few descriptive words in a short like, dark or chilling, make sure you reuse these words in your treatment and add some of your own for extra embellishment. For example; a dark foreboding blackness, or a chilling, spine-tingling finale.

Try not to repeat the same word too many times and think of alternative ways to describe the same or similar part of the project. For example; when mentioning a transition effect in animation or film, try to find new ways to write about that effect.

Your brand

Make sure your company, company or studio logo and trademark is clearly marked on the front of the edit, as well as the body of the edit, to make sure everyone who reads it knows where it’s from and who wrote it. This will also help ensure that your ideas remain your own and are not taken by someone else. Another consideration is to align your document to ensure that the logo and graphics display correctly and that no one can edit your treatment or take paragraphs to reuse in another document. Saving your MS Word or other word processing document as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file is an ideal way to achieve this.

The concept

This is the main part of the text where you can explain the idea in more detail. It is important to ensure that this paragraph is easy to read and accurate. Use this part of the treatment as a way to quickly outline the rest of the information you eloquently touched on in your introduction. Try to keep sentences short with enough space around them to make them easy to digest. Allow sentences to flow together easily to ensure the reader doesn’t get lost halfway through, it’s vital that your idea makes sense from start to finish, giving your reader the chance to construct the piece in their own mind.


Consider including images to support your concept.

You’ll probably create a storyboard separately for your treatment, but using additional reference images, illustrations of characters, environments and backgrounds, or mood board images in your treatment can really help the reader understand what you’re saying. Image positioning is also important, breaking up paragraphs can lose reader flow, so try adding an image or series of images below a paragraph.

Using a large image below the introduction can act as a real eye-catcher to the rest of the document.

Reference material

Reference material is key to helping sell your idea, especially if you can refer to your own previous work. This is another chance to showcase your work and give the client full confidence in your ability to deliver what you write about. Links can be web links, embedded links, images, sounds, music, illustrations or video. If possible, try to collect everything in one place, ftp location, website, file sharing location or as compressed attachments to make it easier for the customer to research your references and not have to visit many different internet sites. Again, keeping the treatment easy to read, follow and digest is paramount.

The technical failure

The technical section of the treatment should be very factual, very short and very clear. Clarity will once again illustrate to the reader that you have thought through the process carefully and understood exactly what it will take to achieve the end result. You can always change your mind with the kit later, but at least at this early stage you’ve approached the idea with a way to technically create your masterpiece. This paragraph will also illustrate your ability to handle the two aspects of any motion graphics project, creativity and technical know-how, the essential components of any motion graphics designer.

Consider how to map out what and how many computers you’ll need, how much storage and backup disk space you’ll need, what software packages you’ll use, and whether there are any specific plug-ins or presets that are appropriate. Also consider the amount of rendering time and hardware that will be required, backup considerations and final delivery formats, and other delivery aspects.

Music and audio

As we all know, music and sound effects can really bring animation and video to life and are an essential part of any visual experience. Touch on the ideas you have for the music and sound design, include references to other videos with a similar style, and describe the tone and atmosphere the music will evoke with your visuals.

Budget and estimated costs

Costs and bids are also a huge factor in whether you’ll be able to get the project you want, but refrain from including any mention of money in the treatment. Instead, provide a separate bid document including any reference to technical or creative specifics in the treatment.

Conclusion / Summary

The last part of your treatment should work in a similar way to the introduction.

This is a short paragraph that allows you to quickly remind the reader of the key points you have discussed in the rest of the document. It’s also a chance to use good language to make the reader want to see what you’ve described, to explore it further, to make it come alive.

List of components

INTRODUCTION – short and sweet

CONCEPT – main descriptive part of the text

IMAGES – reference material

TECHNICAL – a strange but essential failure

AUDIO – style and reference guide

SUMMARY – the last review

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