Styles and Techniques
I offer a variety of 2D animation techniques, and am happy to chat with clients to find the best approach to their project - one that is appropriate to the subject matter, attractive to look at and efficient in its execution. Here are the main alternatives:
Although drawn animation is now routinely done by drawing directly into the computer rather than via pencil and paper, it’s still a demanding process that requires at least 12 drawings per second of screen time. However, with clean, simple design this can still be a financially viable option for most clients. The hand-drawn method has the greatest potential to bring an immediacy and charm to animation.
Computer-based cut-out animation has become the standard production technique in the UK for 2D animated TV series. Peppa Pig, Mr Bean and many other programmes all use the home-grown CelAction software which has been designed in co-operation with animators for efficient and systematic production.
With cut-out animation the animated elements are not re-drawn for each successive image, making it more cost-effective for films or series of more than a few minutes in length, especially for character-based productions.
Note: Most of my cut-out animation work has been for TV series, which are not represented here for copyright reasons, but a showreel of this work is available on request.
This goes under a variety of names and there are a number of variations to the technique: A hand draws a series of images very rapidly on a white board or sheet of paper, usually to illustrate a narration. As relatively few drawings are being created for the film rather than hundreds, it's more economical than true animation, but can be equally dynamic, and can be combined with full animation to great effect.
There are two basic production methods: live shooting, and in-computer.
Live shooting is the more challenging approach because it requires studio photography and each drawing must be made in a single take. Also, any changes required later normally mean another photo shoot. On the other hand, anything photographed in the real world naturally looks more authentic, and has added charm and engagement for that reason.
In-computer: The illustration is drawn directly into the computer where the software records each pen stroke. The result is a picture that appears to draw itself - or images of a drawing hand can be superimposed later.
This approach makes it easier to make alterations down the line, to add fully animated elements, or to create a variety of different options and visual styles, eg: does it look better with or without the drawing hand? Can we add more animation? Also it needn't look like an actual whiteboard. Any style of painting or drawing can be applied to the technique.
You may have seen apps or services advertised that create whiteboard animation very cheaply. These may be useful if you have a very limited budget but they are limited in what they can do because they depend on a library of pre-existing artwork. All the artwork I use in my projects, including whiteboard animations, is created specifically for that project, to perfectly meet its required style and content.
I like to give a fixed quote for each project and stick to it unless your requirements change during the course of the work. Also, the cost of production will vary depending on the complexity of the artwork and the animation, and how much development time is needed for design work. For these reasons, rather than giving ‘ballpark’ figures for the various approaches represented here, I like to discuss options before quoting. Please feel free to contact me with any queries or just to discuss ideas.
Notes on the clips:
Irn Bru: Animation directed by Dennis Sisterson for Sherbet and the Leith Agency. Produced by Jonathan Bairstow for Sherbet. This clip animated by Dennis Sisterson.
Solar system: Created for a video presentation at the Roman Army Museum, Vindolanda. Produced by Studio MB for the Vindolanda Charitable Trust.
Athlete: Produced by Joseph Atkinson for Sport Scotland.
Audi: Produced by Unit 9 for Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Design based on designs used in a parallel TV campaign.
Dogs: Clip from “Paws on the Moors”, produced by World Wide Pictures for the Moors for the Future partnership.
“Three Bears” timelapse clip: Produced by TwoFour Digital for AQA. Photography by Jonathan Palmer.
Juggler: Demo presentation produced in association with Shoot You Video Production. Photography by Jonathan Palmer.
Snowman: Produced by Neon Tetra Films for the Trussell Trust.
Field WIFI networks: Produced by Shoot You Video Production for the World Food Programme.