In the execution of producing a quality animation within the timeframe of 3 months, we had to make sure we had a solid production pipeline structure in order to be able to delegate our tasks to the animators properly. With this, we employed a few major key platforms including Trello for our online management system used for online communications, Google for the cloud network for file storage, documents, and transfer, and Pinterest for our collective brainstorming.
Online Management System: Trello
The first thing we did was to lay out the tasks that had to be done with the list of assumptions that we had. We created different columns for reference materials and contact information, cards for tasks each member was assigned to along with the deadlines, and a collective card for passwords to dropbox, google drive information, and necessary access information members can get to quickly.Great notification by emails for updates and a plus for the mobile app that keeps us updated without having to fully access the desktop site.
Moodboard and Brainstorming: Pinterest
This might or might not come as a surprise to some but a very handy tool for collaborative brainstorming is Pinterest. We decided to use Pinterest because of the ability to pin up multiple inspirations at the same time including images, videos, and other media. There is also space for comments and it allows us to see which member pinned what. We were also able to forgo collecting images and racking up space by using this tool.
STORAGE & CLOUD NETWORK: GOOGLE DRIVE
For our cloud network, we chose to use Google Drive. Previously through experience, there is a preference for Dropbox but with a demand for instant access and the fact that our members utilize Google a lot, we came to a unanimous conclusion to utilize Google Drive. Another pro to Google Drive is the offer of storage plan at 100GB at $1.99/mth in comparison to Dropbox’s 7.99/mth if we had to increase our use of storage space. Also, google documents and spreadsheets do not count towards the limits of the storage space. In testing, it is very easy to use. We also used an external hard drive and the school’s dropbox to store backups just in case. (As a rule, it is always good to have back ups in at least 3 places at all times when engaging in a long duration project). We were very impressed.
We structured our folders into Pre-production materials, production schedules, production material, film festival information, and Individual folders where we can dump random structures to each other temporarily during the process.
A Basic Production Schedule to get us going and to be able to know how many people we need on each task as well as our deadlines and deliverables. Notes include important dates that may slow down production time. Template adapted from Producing Animation handbook.
We also created an asset list from the storyboard to check for repeatable assets. Because of the nature of our film, there were many assets (such as tree cluster groups 1,2,3) that we were able to reuse a lot of elements to save time. These assets are broken down in how many shots they were used to help rank their priorities. Then we assigned these shots to our animation team.
In preparing the animated shots for the animators, we created a starter kit package which include our human style guide and cat model sheet. With this, we created particular shot guides for each segment to prevent confusion. We also include access to the full story board and animatic for further references. Other README files with instructions for uploading and naming conventions were also included to prevent miscommunication and create a unified consistency.
When the starter kits are assembled, we assign them to particular animators, their tasks, and deadlines. For our animation created in Toonboom Harmony 2D digicel software, we broke the tasks down by skill levels, urgency, and availability to determine effects animator, character animators, and clean up artists.
Spreadsheets on Google Drive are a big part of our pipeline as they are editable, almost real-time, and coherent. We do most of our task breakdowns and shot QC and checkup through them.
After we finish our duties and fixes, we go back to the board to discuss festival submissions and promotions/press kits. Even our post-production duties such as festival and submission financial accounts are done in Google Spreadsheets.
As an endnote, our preferred video link, as well as a lot of festivals’ preference, is Vimeo as it allows for a private password account as well as delivers a very high quality online format with a very good compression. We also use Withoutabox as the standard for film festival submissions as it saves us time from having to submit through multiple channels. Many festivals will also allow you to email or put the online screener password from sites such as Vimeo to save you money from paying the 2.95$ fee for the online screener submission every time.